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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Dimitrion, LCSW, CST

Peeling Back the Layers of Narcissism Part 11: Healthy Narcissism...What's that?!

Narcissism tends to get a bad rap both in mainstream media and in the psychological community. From news segments to recovery books to peer reviewed journal articles—each one paints a one-sided picture of narcissism. We all know that picture…and probably have that person in our lives in one form or another. The picture painted is of the pathological narcissist, who is characterized by grandiosity, entitlement, and lack of empathy. Yes, this type of narcissism is problematic, but narcissism is more nuanced than what is commonly discussed. In this article, I hope to shed light on the flipside of the narcissistic coin, discussing what some in the psychological field term as healthy narcissism.

Healthy Narcissism…Never heard of it!

So what exactly is healthy narcissism? In short, it’s all about honoring our innate sense of self-worth and self-respect. Unlike pathological narcissism, healthy narcissism balances care and compassion for ourselves with care and compassion for others. Qualities that encompass healthy narcissism can include, but are not limited to, confidence, resiliency, pride, healthy boundary setting skills, self-compassion, and self-empathy. Healthy narcissism allows you to feel good about your strengths and achievements while simultaneously respecting the intrinsic worth and effort of others. This positive self-regard is key to internal security, allowing you to embrace authenticity, foster mutually supportive and respectful relationships, and stand up for yourself in a healthy way.

Healthy Narcissism & Complex Childhood Trauma 

Healthy narcissism is especially important when you're recovering from complex childhood trauma. Complex trauma (C-PTSD) can come from long-term exposure to experiences such as abuse, neglect, and parental pathological narcissism. C-PTSD has an effect on self-esteem and sense of identity. In therapy, undoing the shaming narrative around healthy narcissism helps reinforce self-compassion that enables survivors to reclaim their truth and care for the parts of themselves that were forced to carry the weight of their traumatic experiences on their own. This not only helps with healing but also empowers survivors to more confidently enact boundaries and engage in mutually fulfilling relationships in present-day.

In Conclusion

In the end, healthy narcissism is important for everyone, but it's a game-changer for those recovering from complex trauma. It helps you rebuild a positive self-concept and develop a resilient and empowered identity. By cultivating a healthy level of self-love and respect, you can navigate your recovery journey more effectively, leading to a more fulfilling and balanced life.

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