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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

The proliferation of egomaniacs

Sat, 10 Aug 2019 14:32:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

Egolatry consists in the worship, adoration or excessive love of oneself. The term comes from the Greek ego, which means "I" and latreis, which means "worship". An egomaniac feels a disproportionate affection for himself. He considers himself superior to others and tries to arouse in them the same admiration he feels for himself.

Egolatry should not be confused with narcissism and self-esteem, although the three concepts are linked to each other. Being in love with one's own physical image, like the vain Narcissus, is not the same as having an opinion of oneself based on self-concept.

Psychology recognizes egolatry as a personality problem. When it reaches extreme levels, it receives the clinical name of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The current proliferation of egomaniacs would not be explained without reference letter to the individualistic context in which they were born and raised.

Individualism is a philosophical current that defends the freedom, dignity and individual rights of people, against the imperative mandates of society or the State. But this is not the meaning that is usually attributed to it in the usual language and that is also included in the dictionary of the language in one of its meanings: "tendency of a person to act according to his own will, without taking into account the opinion of the other individuals belonging to the same group and without paying attention to the rules of behavior that regulate their relationships".

Paradoxically, individualistic behavior has recently had a social origin: many of today's cultures are individualistic; it is society itself that has become individualistic, giving primacy to individual choices over social norms. In this process was core topic the rise of consumerism with the financial aid of the advertising, starting in the second half of the 20th century.

The advertising tries to persuade us that the identity staff is in the chosen product, which has an associated image of social success. Items cease to be mere objects and become part of the identity of each individual. I am the clothes I wear, the bottle of beer I drink, the mobile I use, etc. We are in the age of difference; we need to feel special and stand out from others (not because of effort and merit, but because of what we buy).

Are egomaniacs born or made? Clarín Blog answers: "they are not born with that condition, but are formed that way from their cradle environment". Many egomaniacs were raised under the umbrella of overprotection, considering that this way they would have an advantage over those not protected by their parents. This is a reflection of a society that gives priority to material things and constantly compares people with each other according to their triumphs, whether real or apparent.

How can you recognize an egomaniac? In the following: he constantly needs to receive compliments, in order to cope with his insecurity; he presents himself as infallible so as not to be seen for what he is: a lonely and weak person. The arrogant attitude of the egomaniac, combined with a lack of empathy and contempt for others, leads to social rejection. Nevertheless, egomania is an inexhaustible source of humor. Some jokes portray it better than a scientific article . For example, those that allude, with affection, to the small ego of Argentines:

"How does an Argentine commit suicide? First he climbs on his ego and then...jumps!".

For some authors, egolatry is not only a personality disorder; it is also a moral defect linked to pride and vanity, which could generate a feeling of guilt. This is expressed in a text by Rabindranath Tagore:

"Who is this who follows me in the silent darkness? I swerve to avoid his presence, but I cannot escape. With his boasts he raises dust, and with his mighty voice he mimics all the words I utter. He is my own miserable self. He knows no shame, but I am ashamed to come to your door in his company."

Is it possible to reorient the egomaniac? It is not an easy task, precisely because his or her "self" is impaired. Experts say that the most appropriate treatment is the cognitive-behavioral therapeutic procedure , focused on changing the cognitive distortions that patients have about themselves. They add that training in social skills that promote empathy and assertiveness is highly recommended.

The integration in small groups of work, leisure and coexistence can help him to know and contrast different types of personality. This behavioral therapy at group can also help him/her to recognize other people's problems and collaborate with them in solving them; also to start listening instead of always talking about himself/herself.