6 Differences Between Being Self-Centered And Being A Narcissist

Last updated by Katie M.

When it comes to mental health disorders, the parameters of each condition often seem blurry, and this explains why many of us have trouble identifying them. Plus, certain disorders frequently encompass similar symptoms and traits, making recognizing and therefore understanding them even more complicated. Let’s take being selfish and having a narcissistic personality disorder, for example. Because they overlap on such a huge scale, upon first glance, they do in fact seem indistinguishable to many of us. That being said, when you dig a little deeper, the differences do become more and more apparent.

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Are the definitions of these disorders different?

Yes, according to the dictionary definition, being self-centered is to be preoccupied with oneself or one’s affairs, which we are no doubt all guilty of (I certainly know I am). On the other hand, narcissism is a disorder which definitely includes being selfish, however, it also touches on a lack of empathy, a need for admiration, and an unhealthy obsession with physical appearance.

The word narcissism is often thrown around a little too much and has become a blanket term for many undesirable traits that many of us display. Plus, for the most part, it is also a very misunderstood condition. Although, selfishness and self-centeredness are symptoms of narcissism, they don’t encompass the whole illness. Indeed, this disorder has many facets and can’t simply be reduced to a few toxic behaviors that most of the population display at one moment or another. 

>>> Take this test and discover if you are a toxic person

What are the differences between a narcissistic and self-centered personality?

Here's what makes these tendencies starkly different…

1) Empathy

Narcissists are characterized by their blatant disregard for other people and their feelings. Despite how bad or low other people feel, they’ll never show an ounce of sympathy for them or even attempt to understand their situations. Self-centered people may seem wrapped up in their own lives, however they are able to take a step back from their own little world in order to put themselves into other people’s shoes.

2) Lies and manipulation

Now, lies and manipulation are definitely specialities of narcissists. In effect, these folks use these underlying tactics to keep their victims under their influence. Making people feel powerless and helpless isn’t exactly something selfish people are accustomed to doing, however, they are at times guilty of embellishing their success stories. In short, their lies are more superficial than hurtful.

>>> Learn how to put a stop to emotional blackmail

3) Constant competition

Self-centered people are too insular to acknowledge other people’s triumphs, which is why they fail to analyze their worth and reject the idea of competition with them. On the flip side, narcissistic people are very aware of other people’s qualities, which motivates them to bring them down in the most violent way possible. The truth is, jealousy drives them forward and thereby provides them with a great source of entertainment.

4) Entitlement

The self-centered people out there seem to hide behind an air of false self-confidence, whereas narcissists genuinely believe that they are untouchable and deserve more than anyone else. They truly believe that they are worth more and will therefore never abandon their entitled attitude, despite how penalizing it can be.

5) Intense overreactions

After all, what works better than massive overreactions in order to get people on side? Because narcissists are so cunning, they know exactly what to do to pull on people’s heart strings and drum up their support. Conversely, selfish and self-centered people lack the devious element to their personalities to actually do this.

6) Lack of accountability

The last difference between these two diverging personality types is the accountability factor. On the one hand, narcissists will go above and beyond to deny their responsibility, whereas selfish folks do in fact have the decency to hold their hands up and accept their wrongdoings.

Editor’s opinion — The differences are vast, but the danger remains

Each personality type can present dangers, however, being aware of the degree and extent things could actually go to is essential. Mental illness is not something that should be taken lightly, which is why when it is detected, a support system needs to be put in place immediately for the wellbeing of everyone involved. That being said, creating good and solid understanding is equally an essential part in protecting the welfare of the sufferers.

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Article presented by Katie M.

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