Narcissism: A Qualitative Study

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The study of narcissism has recently transitioned from the clinical study of narcissistic personality disorder to a more comprehensive study of subclinical narcissism as a personality trait lying on a spectrum. The broad trait of narcissism is commonly compartmentalized into grandiose and vulnerable narcissism (Kohut, 1971; Wink, 1991). Like any other personality trait (conscientiousness, agreeableness, &c.), varying levels of narcissism will lead to different responses to social stimuli. Recent research has suggested, for example, that vulnerable and grandiose narcissists vary in their responses to hypothetical achievement failure. The current study aims to build upon this finding, examining the affective reactions of vulnerable …show more content…

This form of narcissism is characterized by the diagnostic criteria for narcissistic, antisocial and histrionic personality disorders, as described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and either secure or dismissive attachment styles (5th edition; American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Bartholomew and Horowitz, 1991; Dickinson and Pincus, 2003). Vulnerable narcissism tends to be distinguished by defensiveness, hypersensitivity, and anxiety (Wink, 1991). The diagnostic criteria for avoidant personality disorder, as outlined in the DSM-V, seem to fit with the general description of vulnerable narcissism (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Dickinson and Pincus, 2003). They also typically possess negative attachment types, namely fearful or preoccupied attachment (Bartholomew and Horowitz, 1991; Dickinson and Pincus, 2003). Though narcissism is generally split into these subtypes, it has been suggested that vulnerable and grandiose narcissism coexist in varying degrees, rather than being mutually exclusive (Pincus et. al., 2009). Those who score high for vulnerable narcissism appear to have a significantly lower self-esteem compared to the average, while grandiose narcissists have a self-esteem that is significantly above average (Atlas and Them, …show more content…

Besser and Priel (2010) had subjects imagine themselves in various situations involving either personal rejection (specifically the emotional loss of a significant other) or achievement failure (losing out on a promotion at work). These two conditions were further split into “high-level” and “low-level” scenarios. The participants’ affect was measured both before and during the imagined scenario. In the context of failure and stressful situations, in which this study will focus, vulnerable narcissists tend to respond especially strongly to interpersonal rejection with increased negative affect and anger (Besser and Priel, 2010), while using submissive hostility and denial as their main coping strategy (Fernie, Fung, and Nikčević, 2016). Grandiose narcissists differ from vulnerable narcissists in that they tend to respond to achievement failure with increased negative affect and anger (Besser and Priel, 2010), with hostile-dominant reactions as the preferred coping strategy (Fernie et. al., 2016). These coping styles suggest that grandiose narcissists’ responses to criticism and failure closely mirror those who score high on the psychopathy portion of the Dark Triad, while vulnerable narcissists correlate more with those who scored high on the Machiavellian portion (Rauthmann and Kolar,

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