Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is diagnosed when an individual exhibits a cluster of symptoms related to an elevated sense of self-importance or worth. Online narcissism refers to the emergence of these symptoms on the internet.
Many individuals on twitter and facebook believe the world should be interested in every aspect of their lives. Similarly, on writing and blogging websites, narcissists take advantage of the self-publishing platform to soothe their vulnerable egos, and it is this phenomenon that will be focused on here. The symptoms that manifest in someone suffering from NPD are varied, but often include:
- A willingness to emphasize and exaggerate traits or achievements that may prove to be reputationally beneficial.
- A belief in being special and unique in the world.
- Is callous, exploitative, and envious of others.
- Requires persistent positive reinforcement from those considered allies.
- Has an inability to apologize or take responsibility for one’s actions or words, but is quick to demand apologies from others.
- Suffers from extreme self-preoccupation to the point of being paranoid about the opinions and conspiratorial motivations of potential critics.
- Has a sense of entitlement and a preoccupation with fantasies of success.
- Has delusions of grandeur that are sometimes derived from supernatural beliefs, including astrology, past-life regression, and some forms of religion.
- Demonstrates superficial charm or glibness, which is used to derogate critics without alienating allies.
- Will only experience short-lived egocentric emotions, with a complete lack of empathy (coldness)
These traits can be described as a dispositional defense mechanism. NPD develops over many years to cope with a vulnerability to psychological pain. NPD sufferers are remarkably insecure, and this persecution complex is strengthened when they are inevitably trolled online. Unfortunately, the trolling intensifies their detachment from the world, and perpetuates a need to comfort their bruised ego with further narcissistic behavior.
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