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Self esteem

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Self esteem

Postby GadSitar » Wed May 22, 2019 8:20 pm

What is an accurate definition for self esteem and does it apply to narcissism? I have come across the term many times and I vaguely know what it means. But I'm not so sure what an accurate definition of it is? Is it simply how one perceives oneself? Does it apply to narcissism?

For example, a narcissist may be aware that they behave badly with people (because they tell them and they see their reactions in day to day interactions) and that therefore, they are a bad person. Now if they uphold such a personal belief about themselves is it necessarily low self esteem? What if they don't care if they are bad? Or more accurately, what if they relish their "badness" or accept it as being good (for them). Can we still say they have low self esteem?
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Re: Self esteem

Postby SelfSerf » Wed May 22, 2019 8:46 pm

Not an absolute definition by any means but I reckon it´s taking pride in who you are and what you do, with narcissists being incapable of the former due to not receving unconditional mirroring for the person that they are and substituted the ideal image of what their parents (and society) might expect of them in lieu of the true feelings that they disowned. So there begins the chase of proving to the world that you are worthy through all other means but your Self (because that is too flimsy of an artifice, being so unstable)

And your final recognition sure rings true and is a tricky question. Going from NPD as a primary disorder to secondary psychopathy is somewhat quite like that. There is a realization that the things idealized as the perfect object in the world to align are not worth anything/the grandiosity gap grows too wide so as to be undeniable and the narcissist loses relationships, thus losing their main source of validation - leading to all that "supply" being devalued. This loss of all fortification to self-worth will induce a pwNPD to derive self-esteem from their mere existence as a final option "I´m perfect regardless of how bad my life is/I am" (they are interchangeable). Taking it in stride that they are bad and subsisting regardless.
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Re: Self esteem

Postby GadSitar » Wed May 22, 2019 9:18 pm

SelfSerf wrote:Not an absolute definition by any means but I reckon it´s taking pride in who you are and what you do, with narcissists being incapable of the former due to not receving unconditional mirroring for the person that they are and substituted the ideal image of what their parents (and society) might expect of them in lieu of the true feelings that they disowned. So there begins the chase of proving to the world that you are worthy through all other means but your Self (because that is too flimsy of an artifice, being so unstable)

And your final recognition sure rings true and is a tricky question. Going from NPD as a primary disorder to secondary psychopathy is somewhat quite like that. There is a realization that the things idealized as the perfect object in the world to align are not worth anything/the grandiosity gap grows too wide so as to be undeniable and the narcissist loses relationships, thus losing their main source of validation - leading to all that "supply" being devalued. This loss of all fortification to self-worth will induce a pwNPD to derive self-esteem from their mere existence as a final option "I´m perfect regardless of how bad my life is/I am" (they are interchangeable). Taking it in stride that they are bad and subsisting regardless.


Hence the need for narcissistic supply to improve self worth... even if only momentarily. Narcissism is basically a self image disorder.

Your analysis on the crossover from NPD to sociopath is quite intricate. That's exactly how it occurs.

I think self worth is an issue in narcissism not only due to what you mentioned but also because of possible childhood traumas. I am mainly referring tones that have impact on self esteem such as being devalued constantly by primary caregivers. I think this is a common pattern seen in owned and ai might even add that it's seen as one of the prerequisites that cause NPD to begin with.
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Re: Self esteem

Postby Cassandre » Wed May 22, 2019 9:30 pm

SelfSerf wrote:Not an absolute definition by any means but I reckon it´s taking pride in who you are and what you do, with narcissists being incapable of the former due to not receving unconditional mirroring for the person that they are and substituted the ideal image of what their parents (and society) might expect of them in lieu of the true feelings that they disowned. So there begins the chase of proving to the world that you are worthy through all other means but your Self (because that is too flimsy of an artifice, being so unstable)


Pretty much agreed. Bouncing of/emphasizing, a lot of children victims of poor parenting do not receive unconditional mirroring, but what is specific to NPD is the relationship to image. An image is unstable by definition so it's not something you can rely on to establish a strong sense of self. Confidence, in contrast, is the ability to rely on what you know is true about you and make the most out of it.

Not a fan of the term unconditional mirroring tho. I prefer unconditional acceptance. As acceptance is concerned about the person behind an image while mirroring is a lot less precise.

GadSitar wrote:I think self worth is an issue in narcissism not only due to what you mentioned but also because of possible childhood traumas. I am mainly referring tones that have impact on self esteem such as being devalued constantly by primary caregivers. I think this is a common pattern seen in owned and ai might even add that it's seen as one of the prerequisites that cause NPD to begin with.


I don't think it's a prerequisite although it could lead to comorbidities (avoidance etc.) Seems to me that NPD people who have been devalued develop a shier form of grandiosity.
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Re: Self esteem

Postby Akuma » Thu May 23, 2019 4:33 am

GadSitar wrote:What is an accurate definition for self esteem and does it apply to narcissism? I have come across the term many times and I vaguely know what it means. But I'm not so sure what an accurate definition of it is? Is it simply how one perceives oneself? Does it apply to narcissism?


I dont think Ive ever come across an exact definiton, but the psychoanalytic angle sees the two as being very closely related. Basically self-esteem forms out of representations of experiences from your parents teaching you what is good or bad. The actions, reactions and part of the caregiver image where they originate from are internalized after a time forming conscience or super-ego. Along those lines there is also a development what you are striving for or what you want to be at some point in the future, called a self-ideal. Self-esteem is then based on how much positive investment there is in parts of this structure and how much activites in your life are aligning with the self-ideal. So lets say your conscious ideal is being as good a baker as your father, but you constantly produce horrible cakes, then your self-esteem will suffer; or it will rise up, when you are able to create great bakery items etc. The self-ideal itself is unconscious though to my knowledge, as is the whole structure, so this is just exemplary.
Narcissism, psychoanalytically, is only this investment, so if there is positive / libidinal investment in parts of the self thats defined as narcissism.
Pathological narcissism arises if for example idealized, unreachable ideals have been identified with. So there is basically a fusion / diffusion of the different parts. This accounts for example for teh inability of many pwNPD to tolerate development or to work towards goals, because this dynamic between the current moment and an idealized goal has been fused into what most psychoanalysts have to call grandiose self.
Kernberg seems to have used "trust in one's own goodness" as an alias for this, this might be a way to look at it, too.

For example, a narcissist may be aware that they behave badly with people (because they tell them and they see their reactions in day to day interactions) and that therefore, they are a bad person. Now if they uphold such a personal belief about themselves is it necessarily low self esteem? What if they don't care if they are bad? Or more accurately, what if they relish their "badness" or accept it as being good (for them). Can we still say they have low self esteem?


That wouldnt matter imo. Its very well possible to idealize horrible stuff and to strive for to be the best asshole there is and feel good about it.
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Re: Self esteem

Postby GadSitar » Thu May 23, 2019 8:00 am

Appreciate you weighing in Akuma.
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Re: Self esteem

Postby xdude » Fri May 24, 2019 6:41 pm

As I wrote in a different thread, there are at least two definitions of self-esteem, and probably more if you want to get into the weeds.

I want to throw in a 90 degree curve ball though...

What is it that you wanted from me? I don't mean you the OP of course, I mean redefine it in terms of what did others want from me?

Why do others care if I have self-esteem anyway, what do they get out of it? Once you turn it around like this, it opens up new doorways about what is really going on.

And on a personal level, every time I heard there is nothing as attractive as 'self confidence' I want to bang my head, why, what are you getting out of that?

I could write some more thoughts here, but deconstructing assumptions is a good starting point. Why does self-esteem matter and to who for what reasons?
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Re: Self esteem

Postby GadSitar » Sat May 25, 2019 9:27 am

xdude wrote:As I wrote in a different thread, there are at least two definitions of self-esteem, and probably more if you want to get into the weeds.

I want to throw in a 90 degree curve ball though...

What is it that you wanted from me? I don't mean you the OP of course, I mean redefine it in terms of what did others want from me?

Why do others care if I have self-esteem anyway, what do they get out of it? Once you turn it around like this, it opens up new doorways about what is really going on.

And on a personal level, every time I heard there is nothing as attractive as 'self confidence' I want to bang my head, why, what are you getting out of that?

I could write some more thoughts here, but deconstructing assumptions is a good starting point. Why does self-esteem matter and to who for what reasons?


Well it is true that self confidence does matter. This is an indisputable fact.

As to why that is I would probably look for an explanation in evolutionary biology, not psychology. Ancient hunters were attractive when they were able to secure a hunt, to secure food. This level of competence is linked to someone who is confident in their abilities. Someone who knows they can hunt. It's the same concept just extrapolated into our modern times with an understanding that confident people seem more competent, they know how to get $#%^ done.

You ask another question though... why do I need self esteem? Why is this needed by others? This is an interesting one and I would say it's not so much "needed" by others. Most strangers wouldn't care if you have low self esteem. As a matter of fact they might relish it. Many people enjoy pretending to give advice to those who struggle with the basics of life. I would say that self esteem is needed by the individual themselves to go around functioning and getting the things they want from life.

What you really should be asking is why does society put such a massive focus on success, which incidentally leads to disorders like narcissism? Why does society have such massive expectations from the individual to assert themselves in life and achieve as much as they can and even more.
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Re: Self esteem

Postby xdude » Sat May 25, 2019 11:23 am

GadSitar wrote:Well it is true that self confidence does matter. This is an indisputable fact.

As to why that is I would probably look for an explanation in evolutionary biology, not psychology. Ancient hunters were attractive when they were able to secure a hunt, to secure food. This level of competence is linked to someone who is confident in their abilities. Someone who knows they can hunt. It's the same concept just extrapolated into our modern times with an understanding that confident people seem more competent, they know how to get $#%^ done.

You ask another question though... why do I need self esteem? Why is this needed by others? This is an interesting one and I would say it's not so much "needed" by others. Most strangers wouldn't care if you have low self esteem. As a matter of fact they might relish it. Many people enjoy pretending to give advice to those who struggle with the basics of life. I would say that self esteem is needed by the individual themselves to go around functioning and getting the things they want from life.

What you really should be asking is why does society put such a massive focus on success, which incidentally leads to disorders like narcissism? Why does society have such massive expectations from the individual to assert themselves in life and achieve as much as they can and even more.


A very thoughtful reply, and true ;)

I'm a big believer in evolutionary theories, so think you've nailed it. A follow-up reply after I've had a cup of coffee.
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Re: Self esteem

Postby GadSitar » Sat May 25, 2019 11:39 am

Take your time. I'm not going anywhere. I have taken a sebatical from life until I fix myself.
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