Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,


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What is the fine line that seperates self-respect and narcissism?

How much can you respect/love yourself before it becomes narcissism?

I know that narcissism is someone who is completely self centered and would marry themselves if they could.

To me self-respect is someone who is confident in themselves and caring of others, whereas narcissism disregards everyone else.

My descriptions are the extremes or polars for both self-respect and narcissism.

Where would you see yourself along the spectrum of self-respect and narcissism (assuming you capacitate either of the facets in your personality)?

  • Aug 10 2012: thanks for the great question Derek.
    Seems to me, one is opposite of the other. A narcissist excludes others and focuses on the self, while someone with self-respect can only come to that view by including others. One cannot have self-respect without knowing how others do the same thing. We need a reference of what is normal and see where we are, related to that.

    One of the worst (but often) heard advice is to love yourself first, so you can love others. We are born loving ourselves so we do not need any help with that, and spend the rest of our life to change the focus from self to others.

    We may look after ourself first (after all you gotta eat) but not love ourself. Even a company has to set up shop first, in order to serve others.
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    Aug 9 2012: Narcissist is a term that was not in fashion in the year 2000. It represents very unhealthy behaviour in adults and the term comes from mythology in the story of Narcissus- the young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pond. Daffodils also have this name and that whole familty is called Narsissi (I think for their beauty and ablity to almost asexually reproduce).
    You see it in more benign forms when people fall in love with others who look just like them or very similar. I will share more if you want more information.
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    Aug 9 2012: Hey Derek love your avatar the Hare and the Tortoise. First time I read it was in Aesop's Fables I think. Have you read a book called 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman. He is an American academic who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2002. I understand his argument to be fast thinking leads to creative ideas, slow thinking leads to the actual research and evidence based practice of the ideas. Apparently melancholy is a good driver for a thinker and experimenter but it can also distance people who are looking for happy people in the hope the happiness might rub off on them. Apparently a successful thinker also has a strong internalised locus of identity, this is also someone else's concept not mine and so can feel sufficient self-respect to sustain themselves.
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      Aug 9 2012: Hehe...your comment made me feel just a bit more aware and confident of myself. I will have to find time to check out this book! =)

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    Aug 9 2012: The truth. Pat Gilbert called it reality, but I'll call it the truth.
    The self centered human thinks the world revolves around him or her, and thinks he or she is the only perfect and flawless human;
    Self-respect involves appreciating other people's peculiarities and flaws, and knowing that one has flaws and peculiarities as well.

    The truth is that as humans we are the same in our humanity. The narcissist thinks he or she is immune to the realities of the human community.
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      Aug 9 2012: Feyisayo,
      Good Explanation.i do agree with the distinguished points between narcissim and self-respect you have stated.so do you think narcissists are egoist?
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        Aug 9 2012: It is good for one to look after one's interest; but it becomes undesirable when one becomes obssessed with one's interest without any care for other people. I believe that narcissists are egoists; but egoists are not narcissist, but they are on their way to it.
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    Aug 12 2012: Who needs a plane ticket when you have Google Earth. Anyway suggest you think about mulberry trees as part of a planting scheme to reclaim the semi-arid areas. Hugely useful tress, the bit hat makes the colour change can be extracted and is useful in fabric production. The pulped fruit is very nutritious. The leaves can be used to feed the silk worms that make silk, far better than polyester or any man-made fabric. Mulberry tress no longer planted in big cities due to excessive pollen giving hayfever sufferers a hard time. Lavender is also a really hardy plant that like semi-arid soil and so are many other herbs. A silk/cotton mix fabric is far healthier in hot dry places than man made fabrics because it lets the skin breathe and our skin is the largest organ of our bodies. Trapped moisture and pheromones only attract nasty biting insects. Citronella and camphor coils are a brilliant way of keeping away night time midges and everyone knows about the useful properties of onion and garlic. Not a luddite, want useful progress. Mixing rotting plant fibres into sand helps rebuild the humus to make productive soil without introducing too many microbes and bacteria by using animal dung. Shredded newspaper is similar as long as the ink content is not too acidic. Horse or cow droppings are great but tend to carry a lot of weed seedlings as well as the plant fibre aforementioned. All this knowledge is out there and has to be better than intensive farming and genetically modified cereal crops. Some flowers among the crops would be a start, something for the bees. Bees love lavender. Insects like butterflies and ladybirds are great indicators of environmental pollution. Just grow something and feel capable of nurturing and creating. It's a lot of fun, you eat better and live longer. Namaste.
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    Aug 12 2012: Hi Derek and everyone else - have you seen today's inspirational talk on TED. The one about there being no new iIfnfornation just information waiting to be rediscovered. I would have loved to have gone to Harvard. I have studied at Goldsmith's University and University of Greenwich here in U.K. but life keeps getting in the way. If such a place existed I would be a Professor at the University of Life, School of Hard Knocks. My cousin is a Professor who studeis genetics, my other cousin is a G.P. who teaches other G.P.s, another cousin is a research scientist at Kew Gardens, my other cousins include lawyers and teachers and medical staff. My sister got a 1st in her degree as a Physiotherapist. Anyway regarding today's talk Revisiting Words or something like that, I would so support that message. Give people the wisdom to interpret the information and there is the progress. Please keep thinking and experimenting. If you get a chance lisen to Pokarekare Ana on the link that I posted and also read all the information on the site. It is a folk tune for the globe. Like me and you it is a hybrid but not sterile, very productive. In real time I do not have the resources or know the right people to achieve my dreams of opening a holistic treatment centre for people suffering the effects of traumatic abuse, whether P.T.S.D. in veterans or P.T.S.D. in civilains. I want to be a midwife to people like you who might be able to make a real diference. What do you think about reclaiming some of the now arid agricultural regions, not planting G.M. cereal crops but fruit trees and olive trees and grapevines and strawberries. Got lots of ideas about that sort of thing but now body isn't working so well finding other bodies to do it for me on the allotments and virtually in people like you.
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      Aug 12 2012: Send me a plane ticket and I'm there! =P
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    Aug 11 2012: IF you are getting this feedback from people, especially in light of how much current literature is out there using this term, whether lightly or not, you are probably hurting someone. i believe that no one needs to hurt others to get what they need in this life. So IF you are getting this feedback you really need to listen, change your approach and perhaps your mentations that lead you to act this way. No one means it as a compliment.
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      Aug 11 2012: Is this comment towards a general audience or someone specific?
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    Aug 10 2012: Natasha you are so right. It is in the discoveries we make about our world when we are at peace in ourselves that the most useful personal growth occurs.
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    Aug 9 2012: What about self-awareness and a sense of gratitude. Narcissists think it's all about them and that they are entitiled to whatever they think is great about themselves. Hope you know the story of Narcissism and the consequences - I understand the young man involved drowned after falling in the river admiring his own beauty or something along those lines. Maybe there was a jealous god or goddess or an ill-fated love iinvolved, depends on the cultural tradition. Just playing with a few thoughts and thought I'd add them to the mix.
    • Aug 9 2012: elizabeth,
      thank you for bringing Greek Mythology here, it explains a lot.
      The word "narcissism", meaning self-love or admiration for ones self, is derived from the story of Narcissus, a handsome young man who loved no one but his own reflection, most literally, he fell in love with his REFLECTION in the lake not himSELF.
      It is crucial for the understanding of the phenomenon. We erroneously think , that narcissism is an excessive love for himself, but it has nothing to do with love, actually it's totally the opposite ; it's kind of a self denial.
      There is no such thing as 'excessive love' :)
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        Aug 9 2012: It is such a sad story isn't it, a young man who would rather love what he thinks others see on the outside than the beauty of what he is and may become on the inside. It's a very clever idea expressed in the usual ancient Greek form of a tragedy. Keep seeing echoes in modern pop songs etc. O.K. young people want to love and feel loved but it's like today's society says you are only lovable if you are seen to wear the right clothes, be in the right places and talk to the right people. We all make mistakes it is how we learn. It seems cruel to add complications like clothes and hairstyles to the mix So much pressure on young people stops them from exploring other ways of being. Got a teenage son so do think about these things.
        • Aug 9 2012: That is what is called 'image', you are right, our kids are the most vulnerable ; they want to fit , to meet the demands of the society, they found themselves in. But haven't we all come trough that period of confusion?
          It will pass and and they learn to love themselves for what they are not for what somebody else wants them to be, at least i hope , it will happen :)
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        Aug 9 2012: Hi natasha,

        So in your opinion, you believe that narcissism is self denial. That is an interesting perspective indeed. So, the more you have self respect, the more you see your own flaws? Isn't there extreme cases, where that becomes a perfectionist?
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          Aug 9 2012: Not replying for Natasha. Am going to suggest a perfectionist is also in denial about what they might be because they feel they have to 'contol' what is ultimately uncontrollable. That might show up as O.C.D. or be labelled a personality disorder if it is extreme enough to badly impact on that persons relationships with other people and objects. I think the term from psychology is ego defenses. I think it is to do with the ideas of Sigmund Freud and the Freudian school of psychoanalysis. BTW this is not Natasha speaking, she might have other information that better answers your query.
        • Aug 9 2012: Derek,
          Self is much bigger than any kind of image,we associate ourselves with ; all possible flaws or virtues are nothing more than intrinsic qualities of image or reflection, not self.
          As it was said : know thyself ...
          the rest will come with, i truly believe so.
          And being perfect is a kind of impossible condition for a human being. Forgive yourself for being not perfect, do the best you can with what you have and stay in peace.
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    Aug 9 2012: The state of self-respect involves concerns about other people around while narcissism doesn't
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    Aug 9 2012: I love to start with a dictionary definition and this one is from dictionary.com:

       [nahr-suh-siz-em] Show IPA

    inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity. Synonyms: self-centeredness, smugness, egocentrism.

    Psychoanalysis . erotic gratification derived from admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development.
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      Aug 9 2012: So are adult narcissists immature infants?!
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    Aug 9 2012: Fine line? I would agree that narcissists tend to have exaggerated views of their own qualities, not realizing that they are surrounded by people as proficient or more proficient than they are.
    Self respect to me involves assessing ones own strengths and weaknesses with accuracy and typically also noticing the strengths and weaknesses in others.
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      Aug 9 2012: Hurrah! Fine line? Fritzie is right again!
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      Aug 9 2012: In my own personality, I sometimes get confused if I am either narcissistic or I have a lot of self respect. I can take critique, but I don't like it. Sometimes I think something like this "this person is such a douche, I no longer want to be near them because they aren't worthy of me...". Is that a sign of self respect or narcissism?
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        Aug 9 2012: Well..... If you really think someone isn't "worthy" of you, I can understand why you are asking yourself this question. On the other hand, if you realize that some people don't seem worth spending time with (because they never listen, can't stop talking, cling to an ideology you think is severely objectionable), that doesn't seem narcissistic.

        Many if not most people have trouble being criticized, so I don't think that goes in the narcisstic column.

        On this one I would ask, what would your friends say about you? I am guessing no one finds you narcissistic. I say this because you do not flood the page with personal philosophies or relentless cleverness. I bet you don't spend a long time in front of the mirror either.
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        Aug 9 2012: Well, hard to tell from this but from interacting with you over the course of many questions, it is pretty clear that you are no narcissist. It is normal to be uncomfortable with criticism for someone is mirroring to you some part of yourself that you were determined not to see and they might have forced you to see it. Think here in terms of denial. That requires the facts to be addressed and some people use blanket denial and others are able to assimulate the new perspective - sometimes it is wrong but sometimes it is right on. That might include a time of aversion such as not going back to a therapist who gave you too much information too fast for a while but eventually, if it is true, you will see it reflected back to you in other ways and you will eventually be able to take it in and restore that relationship, I hope.

        You should know that there is more than one approach and I did my masters in Social personality psychology. I think the most important personality factors are Openness to experience, conscientiousness, Extraversion/Introversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. Narissism is an also ran to me BUT it becomes important where is contributes to psychopathy. Psychopaths are very high on this dimension of personality.

        I think self respect is an entirely different thing altogether.

        ***Addition; i think people with true self respect are normally very kind.
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    Aug 9 2012: Narcissim equates Love!
    Self-Respect equates both love and hate!
  • Aug 9 2012: Narcissism involves an unrwalistic view of one's self that is outside the boundries of reality.

    Self respect is to hold one's self in high enough regard to not allow others to mistreat you.

    A person having self respect will shower before a date.
    A person having narcissism will marvel over the beauty of their own body and rationalize that no other person could possibly be worthy of this most outstanding prize.
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    Aug 9 2012: Reality.
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    Aug 9 2012: Sense of humor : )

    If you have issues with narcissism, and over confidence, let that be evident, admit that as a flaw, and make fun of yourself for it. In doing so you open yourself up to criticism.
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      Aug 9 2012: hmm I ran out of likes for you, thought you should know that :)

      That said, I know some really hilarious narcissist guys.

      They be like
      "Damn I'm so freaking pro and badass, I'm too good at this game"
      *makes a mistake and kicks self for doing it*
      "FML this game sucks!"