30% of young people are self absorbed

How parents can spot a self absorbed teen (teen narcissistic personality disorder)
• Fantasies about having exceptional success, attractiveness or power 
• Expectations of special treatment 
• Over-emphasis on achievements and exaggeration of one’s skills 
• Exploits other people 
• Need for constant praise and validation 
• Does not consider others’ feelings 
• Belief that others envy the person, and 
• Arrogant and haughty behaviour.

Developmental factors that contribute to teen narcissisms
• Excessive admiration that does not receive a balance of realistic feedback 
• Overindulgence from parents 
• Parents over-praise and value as a way to increase their own self-esteem
• Severe childhood emotional abuse 
• Oversensitive temperament from birth 
• Unreliable or unpredictable care giving from parents, and 
• Learned manipulative behaviours from other sources.
Professor Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, said “Parents have been told for 20 years or so that it’s a really good idea to raise your children’s self esteem to praise them alot and to let them to get their own way alot, tell them that they’re special and they can do anything they want. The problem is most of these things don’t teach self esteem they teach the inflated sense of self called narcissism.”

She went on to say “What most parents mean when they say that to their children is I love you, so say that instead. It’s a much better message.”

Jean Twenge, believes that this new generation of narcissistic young people has grown during the last 30 years. She cited a study conducted in the USA of 16,000 university students.

The study showed that according to psychological testing, 30% were narcissistic as compared to 15% in 1982. “They are all 18 and 19-year-olds, so this is clearly a generational shift,” she said.

This supports an earlier study which interviewed 35,000 people of varying ages.

“Usually the oldest people have the highest rates, because they have lived for more years, but this data showed the opposite,” she said. Only 3% of those over 65 had had symptoms, but for people in their 20s it was 10%” said Professor Twenge.

“These were shocking numbers because you can only diagnose this starting at age 18, so there weren’t that many years for people in their 20s to develop this, yet their rate was three times as high as people over 65.”

Professor Twenge feels there are 3 main contributing factors to this new phenomenon:

  1. Permissive parenting
  2. Celebrity culture, and
  3. The internet.

Professor Twenge is concerned about a culture ”that seems to not just accept narcissism but finds it laudatory … It worries me, when I talk to college students, that they are not surprised at all that their generation is more narcissistic.”

“They say, ‘We have to be this way because the world is more competitive.’ But the problem is that narcissism doesn’t help you compete. It blows up in your face eventually.”

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders Congress.