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Can there be a sinister side to a person’s charisma? Psychotherapist and counsellor, Ahi Wheeler, reveals the underworld of charm…


What is narcissism?

Narcissism is generally classified as a sense of self love. It comes from Ovid’s Metamorpheses, the Greek myth of Narcissus, which first identified a person being incapable of experiencing love external to themselves because there is such a great degree of self love. It entered the field of psychiatry and psychotherapy as a personality disorder, providing difficulties in functionality across several areas of life. It’s generally thought to first manifest in adolescence, but continues through the person’s life.

We all have traits of narcissism in us. We’re born with an instinctive self. If you think of toddler tantrums, this is the ‘id’ trying to make its mark upon the world – it’s a very primal nature. Then we develop the ‘ego’, which is a learned or conditioned self, and it’s this conditioning that makes us fit to live within society. The ‘superego’ is then the higher values that we’re taught by our carers or society; the idea of who you want to be or what you should be like – the idealised version of our sense of self. It will fire off feelings of pride and jealousy, which the ego will then try to make sense of. It also follows values such as telling the truth, not harming others, depending on what our carers taught us.

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Psychologies January 2017 - How To Be Charming