Parents: how to spot a self absorbed teen

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Parents: how to spot a self absorbed teen

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.

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  1. bluetube March 16, 2011 at 12:30 am - Reply

    Narcissism is the result of society’s over-valuation of the individual ego, which feeds directly into child-rearing. The result is that many young people deem it their birthright to be treated as special, without having done anything to earn this special treatment. This creates a sense of entitlement which creates a spoilt child (and adult), believing that the world owes them everything, but in return they owe nothing.

    It’s not only the parents’ fault. This ultra-consumerist society profits (literally) from this idiotic behaviour, as marketers target young kids and reinforce the message that they are “special” and deserve to have anything they want, even if the parents can’t afford it. It’s obvious that our society lost its way back in the late 70s when multi-national corp’s first started to make a huge impact on not only our economic life but also our political, social and cultural life.

    So yes, it all comes back to politics, and the fact that our political elite has been “bought out” by our financial/corporate elite, who profit from youth (and adult) narcissism.

    The alternative would be a system where public institutions and the general public (ie, ordinary people) have more of a say in determining how society should be organised, instead of Wall St. Remember, cultural values don’t fall out of the sky – they are created for a specific purpose by those in power. Should we accept values that create a “narcissistic identity”, or should we question and challenge them? What do you think would be better for our society and the world at large? What kind of a world do you want to live in – one where people think only of themselves? Who benefits from this type of culture, and who doesn’t?

  2. wanton March 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Teens are self-absorbed because the social and economic environments around them are self-absorbed. When they see that everyone has to “fend for themselves” or end up losing their job, income, home etc, they begin to believe that this “normal behaviour”. If they were given a different example by adults and the media, then their behaviour would change accordingly.

    Since most “successful adults” in the mass media behave in a self-absorbed manner (ie, sport stars, celebrities), it’s no wonder that teens follow this trend. Give them better role models to aspire to.

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