TC 298: Healthy Narcissism?

TC 298: Healthy Narcissism?

Are you dealing with a narcissist at home or at work? Is there such a thing as “healthy narcissism?”

Amy often conducts workshops on dealing with difficult people at work. She is currently reading Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed by Wendy Terrie Behary, LCSW. In this episode Robin, Amy, and Gloria discuss traditional narcissism (an undesirable psychological condition) and “healthy narcissism”.

A Narcissist’s World View


This book contains a checklist to find out if you are dealing with a narcissist. Some examples of the thirteen narcissistic traits listed by Behary include:

  • Self-absorbed (acts like everything is about him or her)?
  • Entitled (makes the rules and breaks the rules)
  • Demeaning (puts you down and is bullyish)
  • Demanding (demands whatever he or she wants)
  • Distrustful (is suspicious of your motives when you’re being nice to him or her)
  • Unempathic (is uninterested in understanding your inner experience or unable to do so)


Healthy Narcissism

“Narcissism sounds like a disaster, doesn’t it? But is narcissism always bad? Actually, it’s not. Healthy narcissism contains the seeds of assertiveness and self-respect. While “healthy narcissism” sounds like an oxymoron, in reality narcissism occurs along a spectrum within the human condition. Embodied in human nature itself is a tendency for narcissistic expression. And that isn’t all bad.”

“So how might we characterize healthy adult narcissists? Typically, they possess many of the following traits and display them frequently and with intensity:

  • Empathic: They are attuned to the inner world of others.
  • Engaging: They are charismataic, socially literate, and interpersonally companionable.
  • Leadership: They can conceptualize a purpose or a vision and can formulate a direction when collaborating with others.
  • Self-possessed: They are confident and rigorously commtted to generosity and authenticity.
  • Recognition Seeking: They are fueled by positive approval and motivated to make a difference.
  • Determined: They can push beyond dense briers of opposition.
  • Confrontational: They hold others accountable, but without assassinating their souls.
  • Wisely fearful: They can discern between reasonably disquieting solicitation and destructive seduction.

In this episode Robin mentions the Huffington Post article 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Healthy Narcissism.

Amy also recommends an article called The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath and a Narcissist from the Minds Journal.

Here’s a short animated video from TED that explains narcissism.

The myth of Narcissus in modern life and Art

The Myth of Narcissus has inspired several artists as well; the most known is Caravaggio who painted a young man admiring his reflection in the water.


The painters Turner and Dali were also inspired by the myth, while poets, such as Keats and Housman, used his example in many of their works.

The myth of Narcissus is known also for one additional reason; the flower Narcissus (also called Daffodil or jonquil) that is found usually at the banks of rivers and lakes, took its name after the mythical character. It is a graceful flower featuring 40 different species, mostly grown in Europe. It blooms in early spring and is considered fragile and very beautiful, with white, yellow and pink blossoms.



About the book:

Disarming the Narcissist, Second Edition, will show you how to move past the narcissist’s defenses using compassionate, empathetic communication. You’ll learn how narcissists view the world, how to navigate their coping styles, and why, oftentimes, it’s sad and lonely being a narcissist. By learning to anticipate and avoid certain hot-button issues, you’ll be able to relate to narcissists without triggering aggression. By validating some common narcissistic concerns, you’ll also find out how to be heard in conversation with a narcissist.

This book will help you learn to meet your own needs while side-stepping unproductive power struggles and senseless arguments with someone who is at the center of his or her own universe. This new edition also includes new chapters on dealing with narcissistic women, aggressive and abusive narcissists, strategies for safety, and the link between narcissism and sex addiction.

Finally, you’ll learn how to set limits with your narcissist and when it’s time to draw the line on unacceptable behavior.

Additional Books:

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