Saying Goodbye to Narcissism

Is it “normal” to be selfish?

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Comments (35)

(33) Anonymous, May 16, 2016 7:40 PM

what it does

this disorder is aggravating at best, to those who are connected to the Narcissist. In the Jewish community, they hold people emotional hostages.....they turn stories around. for instance if a mother in law has NPD, she will find a reason why her child's inlaws did something which violated their well being, so she has to cut them out to not see the grandchildren etc. They also will causually and carefully and cleverly spread rumors about the people they want to discredit....AND MORE. It is a terrible Disorder and there are people suffering out there from being connected to it, who can't and won't say anything, so as they say : be kind to others, for you never know what battles they are fighting, what kind of challenges they have. Another important point is that when the accused is being picked on, if YOU hear that someone didn't behave properly in a situation, you should never judge, because those reports could have been distorted by the narcissist. We know from Jewish law, not to listen to, or believe rumors, and we must know that Jewish law is wiser than us, so beware and be smart and be educated in this. theres more to learn. If you want to help potential sufferers, then help educate others in what this horrible disorder is. Its insidious and hideous and more.

(32) chani, January 16, 2011 2:38 AM

narcissism

Interesting way of noting behavioral changes in people. I can see this trend, and I am glad to hear it being verbalized. It just cements for me the need to counterbalance narcissism with giving. It can be very hard to give when you feel you are not receiving, but it helps to remember that others may not be aware of the much greater "pleasure" of giving. And by giving to others, you may just help to spread that message.

(31) Mati, December 25, 2010 8:23 PM

What's the object here?

Is the object of R.Salomon's video to complain about psychology? Or is it the object of this video to point out that the world has made selfishness a norm? I think it is the latter. People think that S'dom and Amorrah were destroyed because of homosexuality. People are too simpleminded to see that homosexuality was the indicator of what was really going on with the city: Narcissicm. Everyone wanted to satisfy themselves and didn't care about their fellow man. They wanted the angels not because they were "gay". They wanted to oppress the angels like prisoners want to show their dominion over the fellow inmates. That is, rather than being hospitable and giving to the angels, they wanted to take and overpower them. Have homophobes even asked themselves, "Why would daughters be offered to "gay" men?" if homosexuality was the issue? A selfish "it's all about me" world is exactly what is predicted as a birthpang to the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic Age...to what xtians call "the end of the world." Selfishness narcism will grow even worse and I think this is what is bothering the rabbi and not whether or not it is a disease or what psychiatry thinks. One can see this "all about me" trait in divorce reasons, equality issues, gay and other "rights" (which are not seeking "human rights"), parent-teacher-student relationships, commercials, pursuits of happiness paradigms (ie., what makes happiness), lawsuit activities, abortion, and on and on....

Alvin, October 26, 2011 3:40 PM

Why would daughters be offered?

Maybe Lot offered his daughters because he KNEW the people were not interested in his daughters sexually. I think it's a rather good plot. Makes him look like a sicko to us, but in reality quite smart considering the crowd he was dealing with.

(30) Anonymous, December 19, 2010 6:12 AM

A very thought provoking issue

You ask a good question. Although just because the American Psychiatric Association no longer lists it, doesn't mean it isn't a problem. It just means that if psychiatrists can't prescribe Prozac for it, then it doesn't concern them. I don't have a high opinion of psychiatry. Surely, there must be unbearably narcissistic people that will run every one of their relationships into the ground. I can't remember the last time I met one. However there is a mild form of narcisissm in our society that is very prevalent and growing more so, I feel. I have been guilty of the "hoarder" mentality, to save every cent because you may get laid off tomorrow. And if you don't, you save every cent, because how do you know if you will have enough to retire. I remember being chided by a secretary who made a fraction of what I was making, because I failed to contribute to the department charity drive. Judging by statistics on the amount of charity given by the average American, this attitude is very common. Since I have become Baal Teshuvah, I have met many frum people that exemplify selflessness and helping others. This is in marked contrast to the society-at-large. I've met people that have an open Shabbos table for all guests. There are people who make the rounds of the city hospitals just to visit patients with Jewish names. They will even bring you chicken soup, challahs, and Shabbos lights for Shabbos if you ask them. I've met people who give food out of their refrigerator to an unemployed person. They readily open their purses for Tzedakah. This is not to mention the many support groups for unemployed people in the community. You take a look around and you see that very often these very same people are blessed with financial stability, and lots of grandchildren. "Man does not live by bread alone, rather by everything that emanates from the mouth of G-d does man live." (Devarim 8:3)

(29) Anonymous, December 19, 2010 1:29 AM

Narcissists in the mental health community are not rare and I mean the therapist, psychologist or psychiatrists. I have run into all in the above. It is horrible the damage that they can do. I don't believe that NPD should be removed from the list. The people that are removing it are probably all narcissists! :) Go Figure.

(28) Elana, December 17, 2010 3:55 PM

Tired of all the labeling

Rabbi, I am tired of all the labeling on people as a disease. So what it was removed from the book. Good. Being selfish is not a disease, it is something a person has to work on. I'm tired of people not taking responsibility for their actions. I'm married to a compulsive gambler...so his parents make excuses...he's sick they say. So what. You still have to learn to control yourself. Labeling people is in essence enabling. Blaming it on the disease is not helpful. Teaching the right ways and how to behave, maybe with therapy, is helpful.

Alvin, October 26, 2011 4:04 PM

Elana - right and wrong

Elana, You are right that labeling isn't very nice. On the other hand there is a big difference between being selfish and being a narcissist. A narcissist is so blind to how flawed he or she might be that if you say they are selfish, they don't even realize how bad it is. A selfish person, on the other hand, will more often tell you outright "I'm selfish. I'm not happy about it, but that's how I am." And the rabbi's point is that the narcissist will not longer be subject to (as you put it) "being taught how to behave, maybe with therapy...." If there's nothing wrong, what need is there for therapy?

(27) Anonymous, December 16, 2010 9:02 PM

DSM 3 was the one we used 1979- 1980 Just bringing back memories...you taught us way back then...when telling a story change some of the info. so the person will be disguised.. how many times does it happen without even naming someone..then we think it's not Loshon Hora...But wait a minute I know who he is talking about from the info. recented.... do as Rabbi Y.S. taught us when saying the story change the location, weight, age or other,etc. ...We haven't heard this topic for many years maybe you can put it out there again...We all could use some reinforcement....

(26) Sarah Gehrman, December 15, 2010 5:49 AM

I agree with your statement Rabbi, life is full of surprises and we need to be there for each other. I'm from a large family and we all pitch in at a moments notice. Children need to be taught at an early age to help out in their community. I don't personally know anyone of whom you speak but if I did I would encourage that person to become involved in Shul and the community.

(25) Anonymous, December 15, 2010 5:30 AM

Agree with #6

People can still reach out for assistance from a social worker or therapist to help overcome a bad 'habit' or change a poor lifestyle choice. And, he or she may actually assume more responsibility for that habit, rather than wave the white flag of surrender because it will no longer be easy to say' I was born this way, I have a disorder, I dont need to change'.

(24) Anonymous, December 15, 2010 4:42 AM

too judgemental

Just because someone talks about there accomplishments doesn't make them a narcissist. They just need validation and are probably lonely.

(23) Anonymous, December 15, 2010 3:02 AM

I know a person with NPD...

A good friend of mine was married to a man with NPD. She spent 10 years in HELL with him. They are now divorced. He is now single and looking on the dating sites. I wish I could warn other women about him...

(22) Rosen, December 15, 2010 3:01 AM

narcissism, human nature, and the "me" generation

I can see why narcissistic personality disorder will be removed from the DSM book, which may be because it can be human nature to be narcissistic and self-absorbed, especially for the past 30-40 years, which have been regarded as the "me" generation.

(21) , December 15, 2010 2:48 AM

We are above the animals because we have the ability to help others.

To quote a popular talk show host in New York, Bob Grant (l' havdil) "The world is sick and getting sicker" If narciccism is now becoming acceptible then the world is sick and getting sicker. Now to quote Hillel "If I'm for myself only, What am I?" This simply means that if I thnk of myself only then I am of no value for my fellow man and of no value to G-d. It's true that man's base nature is selfish and lazy BUT man has the ability to overcome it. That's what makes us higher than an animal and gives the potential of rising above the angels. Sandy

(20) Meira, December 14, 2010 11:35 PM

Thanks for sharing this news with us, though it is not the best one… Following its logic next decade altruism might be put in the list of diseases…? Long ago we had this only in a movie, like “This Crazy, Crazy World!” or in a play, like “That strange Mrs. Savage” and now it’s a part of reality.

(19) Anonymous, December 14, 2010 11:05 PM

Immaturity?

Children , perhaps being born to fight for survival, are very self-centered. And may remain so, until they are taught or learn from society that they should be concerned about others. So in my opinion, a self-centered person is immature and insecure regarding his/her self-image. Normal or not? I am not educated enough in that area to make a decision.

(18) Margaret, December 14, 2010 10:37 PM

Another Meaning

Do you think the Bible would have labeled a narcissist as an idolater ?

(17) uziel yochevet, MA psychology, December 14, 2010 9:59 PM

Naricism is a tricky thing

It would be a crime to eliminate narcisism from the DSM because being inivolved with a narcissist can make the other feel really crazy, and if you know what it is, you have a handle on it. To my way of thinking, there is a difference between a personality disorder, which is entrenched and may not be curable because the narcissist is fine with how they are and they think everyone else is the problem; and a moral or behavioral,choice, which may cause the actor pain. I believe the person who has narcissistic traits can't really help it until they can feel the pain it unwittingly inflicts on others. I am just discovering how much narcissism I have. The diagnosis is mainly there to help the affected people, so thye know not to try to change the person. To say the narcissist is making a moral or ethical choice is akin to telling a depressed person to 'snap out of it.' Usually it cannot be done.

(16) Karen, December 14, 2010 9:58 PM

Narcissism

Rabbi, It is sad that Narcissism will no longer be considered a disorder.I have had so-called friends in my past, who were narcissistic, and my friendships with them did not last. They were people who felt that it was OK to be selfish. I also work in a Psychiatric Hospital with some people who have Personality Disorders and some are Narcissistic and Grandiose. What happened to what Rabbi Hilell said, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me, however if I only think of myself what am I?" In other words, everyone needs an even balance. People should look out for themselves, but also help other people when they are in need. At the same time, people who are narcissistic usually end up losing in life because they have trouble holding jobs, if they get married they usually get divorced, and friends come and go in their life. In other words, they have problems getting along with people.

(15) Anonymous, December 14, 2010 9:42 PM

So timely for me in my work

I am a school psychologist who was asked to give a workshop to some Chassidish teachers about mental illness and one of the topics I wanted to use for discussion was Can improving one's middos help a person be more emotionally healthy. Your video is an amazing addition to what I want to convey. Thanks

(14) chansi, December 14, 2010 5:14 PM

sign of the times

Sesame street has a song sung by Faith Hill and Tim Mcgraw about sharing and letting others have a turn. The gist is that we share, not because it's virtuous to be generous, but because we want to make sure we get what we want too. And this is supposed to be a song that teaches values! so yes, we're in trouble as a society. And i agree with #4. you can't "help" a narcissist. A close relative of mine definitely fits the description. Everything that happens bad to anyone she knows is because of something they did bad to her. Anything good that happens to anyone she knows is because they did something good for her. The things I have heard her take credit for are mind boggling. She really feels that G-d is running the entire world around her. She is completely unable to see her own shortcomings (which abound.) Anyone who has a problem with her is obviously just wrong. But there's no help possible for this person; she thinks everyone else has the problem!

(13) Avi, December 14, 2010 4:45 PM

Narcissist-in-Chief

Do you think the Narcissist-in-Chief (our president) had something to do with this?

(12) Anonymous, December 14, 2010 4:42 PM

So were here to help one another?

Just ask your local name brand Rabbi for a shidduch then you'll find out how limited the application of this idea is. I've heard responses like I don't do shidduchim period, only to read about a match the man proposed in his published book. On another marketing venue a different Rabbi responded by saying "I don't specialize in shiduchim". Personally I don't specialize in giving charity with my limited resources but I'll part with change should a needy person approach. If Jews are indeed "Arev" guarantuers that their fellow Jews keep the Torah, then where is the special dispensation granted to the above for excluding who ever these Rabbis does not like? Would that situation be addressable with a large four figured monetary donation? Or would the donation blind the man destroying any incentive to do the mitzva for its own sake? I'm tired and weary of people who say do as I say and not do as I do.

(11) Brett, December 14, 2010 4:28 PM

narcissism and faith

In my opionion which is based on observation, the Rabbi is absolutley correct. I have noticed within the church that because narcissism is so prevalent that the result is a faith that looks kind of like gnosticism. People are self autonomous and interpret the Holy Scriptures based on opinion rather than revelation. The "Self" is central and God is secondary and formed by creative thought. They make a god that suites them based on personal need. This narcissism is deeply hurting the community of faith. I was wondering if it is the same for the synagogue. Thanks for the timely truth Rabbi Solomon.

(10) ruth housman, December 14, 2010 2:59 PM

a Greek Story: Narcissus and Echo

Yes, I couldn't agree with you more, and I am a psychotherapist who did have to use the DSM in my Clinic work, to justify what I was doing, and to constantly "label" people. There is actually a lot that could be said about this alone, meaning, the other side of labeling, and how we try to put people in boxes. But that's another story. I try to love my patients, meaning all of them. And mostly I have in the years of working with people in deep despair for so many reasons. There was one patient I could not love, and he was a total narcissist, and sadly, I don't think I ever got through to him. You couldn't be more right about Tikkun, about the need to share, to help each other, and to get out of our own skin, a path known as empathy, and for me, the only true path in life. Yes, something to think about. Narcissism is a deep disorder of our times.

(9) Raisy, December 14, 2010 12:19 AM

hard to help them

I agree with #4. I too had/have a friend who, I've finally come to realize, is likely a narcissist. The funny thing is, she is involved a lot in 'chessed'--drives people to and from the hospital, hosts guest. She speaks publicly and loves to give shiurim. She constantly lets everyone know about the good things she's doing and publicizes when and where she'll be speaking. My friendship with her has become more superficial. She has little emotional honesty or self-awareness. I think there is a lack of real empathy as well. I feel sorry for her, but since I do not have to have too much contact, I feel some affection for her, too. I learn not to expect too much.

(8) Yocheved, December 13, 2010 5:51 PM

To TMay, comment #5

Though I do agree with you on several statements you have made in your comment, such as teaching children only truth and gratitude. However, I believe that you are sorely misguided in many of your ideas. It would take up to much room to list my objections, but I hope others can see them.

(7) Anonymous, December 13, 2010 2:23 PM

Having only recently come across a great description of NPD...

I am not sure how to think about this...that description helped me to understand and accept some things... And to view it as being "emotionally disabled" much as a physical ailment of some sort...thus able to excuse the bad behavior. Necessary perhaps when dealing with someone related....acquaintances come and go...but if you are related, then ways must be sought to cope.

(6) Paul, December 13, 2010 7:19 AM

Narcissism

Perhaps it will be helpful to no longer recognize narcissism as an illness which can absolve the person of responsibility. If narcissism can be seen as more of an ethical lapse instead of a sickness, maybe the person will be more motivated to care more about his neighbor and less about himself.

(5) TMay, December 13, 2010 4:42 AM

How to teach a child to not be a narcissist.

IMHO, narcissists overcompensate for feeling worthless by concentrating on themselves. They lack empathy. It exists. "A rose by any other name...." I have heard it stated on radio that anyone who objects to the celebration of Xmas in public in the US is a narcissist because it is a birthday celebrated by the majority of Americans and that objecting to others celebrating it with decorations and music makes about as much sense as objecting to people celebrating a birthday other than one's own. Teaching Jewish or any children about Xmas is a good lesson to children that they are not the center of the universe, and that is a good lesson, and so is teaching them that they are a minority because that is truth. Teaching truth to children is a good thing. If minorities want tolerance from the majority culture, they owe tolerance to the majority culture. Give and take is required on both sides. Show gratitude and graciousness to the society that has given Jews a home. You can say Happy Birthday to a person so wish a Christian a Merry Xmas Christians in the US are aware that Christ was Jewish and Christians worshipping a Jewish man is not so bad. We have Judeo Christian values in common. Our differences matter in the event that the messiah comes and when he comes we can ask him. The Jewish community is not unified, and Israel is under attack from the Left and the Islamists via delegitimization, and hostility is generalizing to Jews. American history is different from European history. Our immigrants are different. The US is different from Europe. Also please remember that Evangelical Christians are tremendous supporters of Israel. How about working with people who value Israel to save Israel so we don’t have to wait another 2,000 years for another chance? Why would we treat Christians differently than we would treat an individual? Better to see reality and give up on the Democratic party which is dominated by the Left, and give the Republican party a chance.

(4) , December 12, 2010 6:18 PM

HELP THEM??

They dont think they have a problem so how can we help?? What we can do is arm ourselves when we are around them to know what to expect of them ...or on the other hand not expect. I know a narcissistic person & she cloaks herself in a sheitel & "Baruch Hashems"....there is nothing or nobody on earth but her.....it took me a long time to "get it" but once I pegged her my friendship with her is now just very surface. Sometimes it is nice to know where you stand instead of pretending that she is a good friend & cares about you, when she doesn't. It's very liberating, albeit sad. And its also sad to know that that behavior is now labeled "normal".....OY...where how far have we sunk???

(3) Harry Pearle, December 12, 2010 2:28 PM

RX 4 Narcissists-Help Other People Fulfill THEIR Dreams

Perhaps the story of Yosef can help us. We learn how he was rejected by his brothers, after interpreting HIS dreams. Later, we learn how Yosef was freed after he interpreting Parohs dreams. Finally we learn how Yosef helped to fulfill Parohs dreams and how he was then reunited with his brothers. I hope that the DSM will reconsider the narcissistic personality disorder. Maybe all or most of our problems stem from our inability to help others, as thethe GOLDEN RULE states.Thank you so much Rabbi Salomon for reaching out to us with your great insights. Harry@RochesterNY

(2) Anonymous, December 12, 2010 1:46 PM

Narcissism : Mental Disorder or a Bad Character Trait?

Some people debate whether narcissism is a metal disorder or just an extreme act of selfishness. When one is narcissistic, is he/she diagnosed with a disease or does he/she have an inflated ego? I may think the diagnosis seems far fetched but I do believe that narcissism is stemmed from arrogance and conceit. It can very well mask one's low self esteem. While its natural for humans to have selfish tendencies, unfortunately narcissism is a widespread problem that has plagued our youth. Even adults have been infected by it. It may be all due to how we were nurtured or the messages we receive from the media. We all like to feel special and important. We all desire to be the center of the world. We all would rather get than give. We all would like to believe that the world owes us everything.But as we grow up and mature, we have to face the harsh reality that we are not the only ones that exist. That's what distinguishes us between mature adults and infants.It may take longer for some than others to move past that milestone. Its not easy to accept other people in your life but overtime it helps shape our character and defines us.We have to move past that infantile stage of everything being about us only and advance towards adulthood which entails taking responsibilities for ourselves.Can narcissism be overcome by improving our character or does it need to be cured through therapy and possibly medication? I still stand by my skepticism that personality disorders are neurotically triggered.Certain habits need to be changed in order for us to find mental/emotional serenity.

(1) C.D.Urbach, December 9, 2010 2:13 PM

the antidote to narcissism

I try to teach my children from a very young age different ways to be aware that they live among others and that teamwork is everything.Here are a few examples. "That was so considerate of you to bring forks/napkins for everyone!" "I noticed when you went to the frig to get yourself a fruit,you asked who else wanted one." "Wow!Look how fast the house got cleaned up because we were all working together!" Other scenarios: When a large family share one washroom(bathroom),someone about to take a shower makes that general announcement,in case someone wants to use it quickly first. Any act of consideration from one family member to another is noticed and praised.Eventually,it becomes a healthy habit. I tell them that no one will ever be able to control "the world out there",but IN HERE,we are going to care about one another.In here,is where we all land up at the end of the day.It needs to be pleasant and safe for everyone.

 

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