Dr. Brené Brown Nails Narcissists in 4 Sentences Flat

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Dr. Brene Brown is known for her research into shame and she shared a fascinating reframe with Tim Ferriss in a recent interview.

The dislike towards narcissists is shared among many of us, but what’s surprising is that they themselves also hold hatred towards their own being. Dr. Brené Brown is a respected professor and researcher who focuses on resilience against shame. She gained popularity after her 2010 TEDx talk on vulnerability and has since authored several successful books, made appearances on various media platforms, and even gained recognition from influential personalities such as Oprah Winfrey. In a conversation with Tim Ferriss on his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, Dr. Brown mentioned how she never intended to become a celebrity. During their two-hour exchange, they delved into the topic of narcissism, and Dr. Brown impressively redefined the concept in just 44 words.

What Truly is (And is Not) Narcissism

Recently, the term “narcissism” has gained widespread attention. A therapist named Claire Jack, Ph.D. summarized the concept neatly in a Psychology Today article, stating that narcissists “thrive on drama, playing people against each other, keeping dangerous secrets, and leaving a trail of powerless individuals in their wake.”

To diagnose someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) lists nine criteria, and an individual must exhibit at least five of them.

These criteria include:

  1. a grandiose sense of self-importance,
  2. preoccupation with fantasies of success,
  3. belief in being “special,”
  4. requiring excessive admiration,
  5. a sense of entitlement,
  6. lack of empathy,
  7. interpersonally exploitative behavior,
  8. envy, and
  9. haughty attitudes.

While researchers have studied the relationship between narcissism and upbringing, studies show that today’s youth are not necessarily more narcissistic. Instead, social media and technology have given them more tools to focus on themselves at an earlier age. Additionally, cultural background can impact individuality, with those from more individualistic cultures often exhibiting greater desires for grandiosity, as shown in a 2018 study.

Dr. Brené Brown, an expert in shame resilience, shared a valuable insight during a conversation with author Tim Ferriss. She revealed that narcissism is the most shame-based personality disorder, driven not by self-love, but by high performance and self-hatred. According to her, narcissism is a fear of being ordinary.

The conversation on Narcissism starts at 32:05, played above.

At the end of the day, unprocessed shame can be damaging for both narcissists and their peers. However, there are some helpful reminders that can make a difference:

  1. Reconsider your relationship with technology. Remember that social media is not an accurate representation of real life, and consider taking a break from your phone to detox.
  2. Keep an open mind. Don’t let confirmation bias poison your thinking, even unintentionally.
  3. Pursue excellence, but do so with sportsmanship. Being competitive can motivate you to be your best self, but it shouldn’t be about beating everyone else.

Dr. Brown notes that personal growth is not always an efficient process and can be uncomfortable, but by increasing self-awareness, we can improve our relationships with others and set better boundaries. Ultimately, these steps can lead to a happier, more authentic life.

Here’s what Brene Brown has to say about Narcissism:

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”

― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Recommended Reading:

10 Recognizable Traits Of A Narcissist You Need To Know

These 10 Awful Things Happen When An Empath Loves A Narcissist

7 Tricks Narcissists Use To Make You Look Like The Problem

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