Narcissism protects against stress and depression

Narcissism protects against stress and depression

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Narcissism as a self-protection mechanism

Self-admiration and self-love are values ​​that are associated with the character trait of narcissism. If these traits take over, one speaks of a narcissistic personality disorder. A study team from Belfast has now shown that people with narcissistic personality traits are less susceptible to stress and depression.

In a recent study, researchers from Queen’s University Belfast found that narcissism was associated with a lower risk of stress and depression. People who are narcissistic are more "mentally tough", which can protect them from the effects of stress. With so-called grandiose narcissists, the effects are particularly clear. The results were recently published in the specialist journals "Personality and Individual Differences" and "European Psychiatry".

Narcissism as part of the dark triad

In most societies, narcissistic personality traits tend to be perceived as negative. "Narcissism is part of the so-called dark triad," explains head of research Dr. Kostas Papageorgiou. The dark triad describes the connections between the personality traits narcissism, Machiavellism, psychopathy and sadism, in which overlaps are repeatedly found.

Grandiose and vulnerable narcissists

Narcissists focus their actions on their own person and their own advantages. They often use an insensitive and manipulative style to achieve their goals. A distinction is made between two different types of narcissism: the vulnerable and the grandiose narcissist. While vulnerable narcissists tend to be more defensive and often perceive other people as hostile, grandiose narcissists view their actions with an exaggerated sense of importance. Occupying status and power is especially important for many narcissists.

Is narcissism always negative?

"Individuals who are narcissistic tend to be risky, have an unrealistically superior view of themselves, are overly confident and have little sympathy for others," summarizes Dr. Papageorgiou together. As some studies have shown, the number of narcissists in modern societies is increasing. In order to better assess the consequences of increasing narcissism and to find out the positive aspects of this trend, the researchers examined data from three independent studies on narcissism with a total of over 700 participants.

Narcissism increases mental resilience

As the researchers report, one of the key findings of the research is that people with grandiose narcissism tend to be mentally harder and this helps to offset symptoms of depression. In addition, the perceived stress is lower and thus the harmful effects of stress are lower. "The results of all the studies we have carried out show that grandiose narcissism correlates with very positive components of mental resilience," summarizes the study director. While not all dimensions of narcissism are of course good, certain aspects can lead to positive results.

Say goodbye to black and white thinking

“This work promotes diversity and inclusiveness of people and ideas by advocating that dark features like narcissism should not be viewed as good or bad, but as products of evolution and expressions of human nature that are useful or depending on the context can be harmful, ”comments the psychology expert. This step could help reduce the marginalization of individuals. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Queen's University Belfast: Narcissism might be a dark trait but it can lower stress levels and reduce chances of depression (accessed: 29.10.2019),
  • Kostas A. Papageorgiou, Foteini-Maria Gianniou, Paul Wilson, u .: The bright side of dark: Exploring the positive effect of narcissism on perceived stress through mental toughness, Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 139, March 2019,
  • Kostas A. Papageorgiou, Andrew Denovan, Neil Dagnall: The positive effect of narcissism on depressive symptoms through mental toughness: Narcissism may be a dark trait but it does help with seeing the world less gray, European Psychiatry, Volume 55, January 2019, sciencedirect .com

Video: Narcissists And Depression (August 2022).