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The Narcissist Next Door

Does this sound like anyone you know?


- Highly competitive in virtually all aspects of his life, believing he (or she) possesses special qualities and abilities that others lack; portrays himself as a winner and all others as losers.

—— 在人生的方方面面都很争强好胜,总觉得他(她)拥有什么特别的能力和品质是别人没有的;总表现得好像个赢家,其他人都是输家。

- Displays a grandiose sense of self, violating social norms, throwing tantrums, even breaking laws with minimal consequences; generally behaves as if entitled to do whatever he wants regardless of how it affects others.

—— 表现出超强的自我意识,违背社会规范,脾气暴躁,即使违犯法律也没有严重后果,平时表现得好像自己有特权做任何事,不管对别人会有什么影响。

- Shames or humiliates those who disagree with him, and goes on the attack when hurt or frustrated, often exploding with rage.

—— 羞辱那些有不同意见的人,如果自己感觉受伤害或是受到挫折,经常愤怒地爆发,攻击对方。

- Arrogant, vain and haughty and exaggerates his accomplishments; bullies others to get his own way.

—— 傲慢、虚荣、自大,会夸大自己的成就,威吓别人按自己说的做。

- Lies or distorts the truth for personal gain, blames others or makes excuses for his mistakes, ignores or rewrites facts that challenge his self-image, and won’t listen to arguments based on truth.

—— 为了个人利益而撒谎或扭曲事实,责怪他人,或为自己的错误找借口,无视或改造威胁到自己形象的事实,拒绝听建立在事实基础上的辩论。

These are common characteristics of extreme narcissists as described by Joseph Burgo, a clinical psychologist, in his book “The Narcissist You Know.” While we now live in a culture that some would call narcissistic, with millions of people constantly taking selfies, spewing out tweets and posting everything they do on YouTube and Facebook, the extreme narcissists Dr. Burgo describes are a breed unto themselves. They may be highly successful in their chosen fields but extremely difficult to live with and work with.

这就是临床心理学家约瑟夫·伯戈(Joseph Burgo)在他的《你身边的自恋者》(The Narcissist You Know)中称为极端自恋者的人表现出的一些普遍特征。尽管有人把我们今天所处的文化称为自恋文化,成千上万人不停地自拍,没完没了地发tweet,把自己做的一切都晒到YouTube和Facebook上去,然而伯戈描述的那种极端的自恋者完全是另一路人。他们在自己选择的领域内可能极为成功,但是也非常难以相处或合作。

Of course, nearly all of us possess one or more narcissistic trait without crossing the line of a diagnosable disorder. And it is certainly not narcissistic to have a strong sense of self-confidence based on one’s abilities.


“Narcissism exists in many shades and degrees of severity along a continuum,” Dr. Burgo said, and for well-known people he cites as extreme narcissists, he resists making an ad hoc diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association.


The association’s diagnostic manual lists a number of characteristics that describe narcissistic personality disorder, among them an impaired ability to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others, grandiosity and feelings of entitlement, and excessive attempts to attract attention. 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com


Dr. Giancarlo Dimaggio, of the Center for Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy in Rome, wrote in Psychiatric Times that “persons with narcissistic personality disorder are aggressive and boastful, overrate their performance, and blame others for their setbacks.”

罗马元认知人际治疗所(Center for Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy)的贾恩卡洛·迪马齐奥(Giancarlo Dimaggio)为《精神病时报》(Psychiatric Times)撰文写道,“自恋型人格失调的人有攻击性,喜欢自夸,会夸大他们自己的表现,责怪他人拖了自己后腿。”

According to the Mayo Clinic, people with a narcissistic personality disorder think so highly of themselves that they put themselves on a pedestal and value themselves more than they value others. They may come across as conceited or pretentious. They tend to monopolize conversations, belittle those they consider inferior, insist on having the best of everything and become angry or impatient if they don’t get special treatment.

根据梅奥诊所(Mayo Clinic)的说法,有自恋型人格失调的人把自己想得极为重要,因而把自己捧上神坛,认为自己比其他人更有价值。他们给人以自负或装腔作势的印象。他们倾向于垄断谈话,贬低他们认为不如自己的人,坚持自己什么事都要优先,如果没有受到特殊对待就会感到愤怒或不耐烦。

Underlying their overt behavior, however, may be “secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation,” Mayo experts wrote. To ward off these feelings when criticized, they “may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person.”


Dr. Burgo, who sees clients by Skype from his home in Grand Lake, Colo., noted that many “grandiose narcissists are drawn to politics, professional sports, and the entertainment industry because success in these fields allows them ample opportunity to demonstrate their winner status and to elicit admiration from others, confirming their defensive self-image as a superior being.”


The causes of extreme narcissism are not precisely known. Theories include parenting styles that overemphasize a child’s special abilities and criticize his fears and failures, prompting a need to appear perfect and command constant attention.


Although narcissism has not been traced to one kind of family background, Dr. Burgo wrote that “a surprising number of extreme narcissists have experienced some kind of early trauma or loss,” like parental abandonment. The family lives of several famous narcissists he describes, Lance Armstrong among them, are earmarked by “multiple failed marriages, extreme poverty and an atmosphere of physical and emotional violence.”

伯戈医生写道,尽管自恋无法和某一种特定的家庭背景挂钩,但是“有数量惊人的极端自恋者曾经经历过早期的创伤或损失”,诸如父母遗弃等等。他描述的若干著名自恋者,包括兰斯·阿姆斯特朗(Lance Armstrong)在内,他们的家庭生活都历过“多次婚姻失败、极度贫困,以及身体和情感暴力”。

As a diagnosable personality disorder, narcissism occurs more often in males than females, often developing in the teenage years or early adulthood and becoming more extreme with age. It occurs in an estimated 0.5 percent of the general population, and 6 percent of people who have encounters with the law who have mental or emotional disorders. One study from Italy found that narcissistic personality traits were present in as many as 17 percent of first-year medical students.


As bosses and romantic partners, narcissists can be insufferable, demanding perfection, highly critical and quick to rip apart the strongest of egos. Employee turnover in companies run by narcissists and divorce rates in people married to them are high.


“The best defense for employees who choose to stay is to protect the bosses’ egos and avoid challenging them,” Dr. Burgo said in an interview. His general advice to those running up against extreme narcissists is to “remain sane and reasonable” rather than engaging them in “battles they’ll always win.”


Despite their braggadocio, extreme narcissists are prone to depression, substance abuse and suicide when unable to fulfill their expectations and proclamations of being the best or the brightest.


The disorder can be treated, though therapy is neither quick nor easy. It can take an insurmountable life crisis for those with the disorder to seek treatment. “They have to hit rock bottom, having ruined all their important relationships with their destructive behavior,” Dr. Burgo said. “However, this doesn’t happen very often.”


No drug can reverse a personality disorder. Rather, talk therapy can, over a period of years, help people better understand what underlies their feelings and behavior, accept their true competence and potential, learn to relate more effectively with other people and, as a result, experience more rewarding relationships.




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