A new study from New York University shows that grandiose narcissists might not be considered narcissists at all, because their behaviour could resemble psychopathy – a related condition in which people act with no empathy in self-serving ways. The research team suggests vulnerable types are the true narcissists, because they don’t seek power or dominance, but rather affirmation and attention that elevate their status and image in the minds of others.
“They do not feel good about themselves at all,” says Pascal Wallisch, clinical associate professor at New York University and senior author of the study. “The paper is not to demonise narcissists at all – on the contrary, we need a lot more compassion.”
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The study involved nearly 300 undergraduate university students, who answered questionnaires that measured personality traits, like being insecure or unempathetic, with statements like “I tend to lack remorse” or “It matters that I am seen at important events”. They found that unlike grandiose narcissists, vulnerable narcissists were the group who most manifested insecurity and other related traits.