At some point in time, you may have heard someone being labeled as being narcissistic. Or, someone may even have told you that you display narcissistic behavior. And so, you have wondered what exactly that term means.

In short, narcissism is a type of personality trait that can be classified as a type of disorder. People with this disorder are identified as being egotistical, vain, conceited, and just plain selfish. The term can also be applied to more than one person simultaneously. When it is applied to a group of people, it usually denotes a sense of elitism or an indifference to the plight of other people within that group as a whole.

The term "narcissism" was first introduced by Havelock Ellis and was later expounded and further developed by Sigmund Freud. In Greek mythology Narcissus was a very self-absorbed man who being so enamoured with his own reflection in a pool of water he fell in love with his own reflection.

Sigmund Freud believed that a healthy level of narcissism is actually an important aspect of every human being. Andrew P. Morrison claimed that adults should have a healthy amount of narcissistic tendencies if they are to have a balanced relationship with others because it allows an individual to perceive their own needs as being of equal importance to the needs of those around them. This is what we would now refer to as someone with a healthy self-esteem.

Narcissism manifests in a series of signs and these signs are as follows:

* The narcissistic individual experiences a high level of self-importance and behaves as though his achievements are somehow bigger and better than they are in reality. He desires the attention of others to view him as being superior and does not recognize that he might not necessarily have done or achieved anything to really warrant this status.

* He is usually preoccupied with fantasies of extreme success, power, beauty, and perfect love.

* He believes that he is in some way more special and unique and as such need to be discerning about the company that he keeps. He seeks out people who are suitably high ranked or who will be able to appreciate his achievements.

* He craves the admiration of others.

* He believes that he is entitled to special treatment and unreasonably expect others to show him respect.

* These expectations and self-opinion result in a tendency to take advantage of other people for their own particular reasons.

* Narcissism results in a lack of empathy making it almost impossible for the individual to sympathize with others.
He cannot and will not see things from another's perspective.

* He tends to envy others and believe that other people envy him with good reason.

* He displays an arrogant and haughty attitude toward other people.

Some might ask what the difference is between narcissism and self-love or positive self-esteem. Are there differences and if so, what are they?

There are three major differences between self-esteem and self-love and narcissism:

1. The narcissistic individual is not able to differentiate between reality and fantasy, whereas the individual with healthy self-love and esteem is able to.

The narcissist has a false sense of self and this results in false assumptions with a contorted self-opinion, an erroneous worldview, and an inflated sense of importance and being. This feeling of being entitled even when he has not achieved anything to warrant it is all-pervasive, demanding and aggressive. It often leads to verbal, psychological, and even physical abuse of other people.

A person with healthy self-love and self-esteem understand who and what they are and what they hope to become. He understands his own limits and he is not reliant upon the opinion of others. He is centered and grounded in reality.

2. The narcissistic individual has difficulties with empathy but not those with healthy self-love and esteem.

Because the narcissistic individual predominantly exists in a world of fiction where he is a fictitious character who follows a grand script he is not able to see others as human beings like himself. He is unable to to put himself in another's position in order to empathize.

The truth is that in order to be able to love properly and maturely a person needs to be able to love himself. Without self-love, it is impossible to attain healthy relationships with others. The irony of the situation is that a narcissist needs the love of others and yet, he is forcing isolation upon himself.

3. A narcissist operates out of fear-consciousness and not love-consciousness.

A narcissist, preoccupied with getting and keeping the admiration and approval of others, operates out of fear. He fears that others do not know about his good points and thus feels the need to constantly bombard others about his achievements. He wants to be known as perfect and to be admired. He operates out of fear.

Someone with healthy self-love and esteem is able to accept his flaws and imperfections. He is not self-centered but is able to consider the needs of others. He does not feel the need to boast. He is at peace with himself. His actions and behavior are driven from love consciousness.

Author's Bio: 

Author, life coach and intuitive consultant, Evelyn Lim believes in mastering the self for manifesting abundance. She is passionate about helping others in the areas of visioning, emotional healing, creativity, and attraction. Her personal creed is: Change Begins with You. Be a Luminary of Love and Light.

Her site attracts thousands of visitors every month. She is the author to the books, Self-Love Secrets and Abundance Alchemy: Journey of Gold. For free articles, please subscribe to her newsletter when you visit her site at