Signs of Collective Narcissism 

Written by Eric C., MA., PhD Candidate

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“In the final analysis I believe in man in spite of men.” ~Elie Wiesel

I recall as a young boy thinking of girls as alien beings inhabiting the same planet but playing by a whole different set of rules. They were seen as the enemy and I was convinced that boys were superior to girls. I recall my sister arguing that boys had cooties and that girls rule. I believe she won that argument. Without awareness, we were taking part in collective narcissism. Collective narcissism, also known as group narcissism, is a type of narcissism where an individual has an inflated self-love for their in-group. The individual will see his or her group as superior to all other groups and it may function as a narcissistic entity. At that point of my young life, my sister and I were actively part of our respective in-groups; boys versus girls. We both idealized the group we belonged to and believed it was superior to the other group. It appears that collective narcissism is natural for children. Studies show that children between 6 and 9 generally have a higher opinion of their in-group and will directly and indirectly exhibit aggression towards those who are not part of their in group.

While collective narcissism in children appears to be innocent and part of creating self-identity, for adults it often takes a darker tone. Collective narcissism has the potential to create the same destructive chaos of an overt narcissist. It is interesting to note that the term “Collective narcissist” was first used by Theodore Adorno to describe the sentiment that gave support to Nazi rule in Germany in the 1930’s. It is normal and part of our society to identify with many diverse groups throughout our lifetime but we must be careful not to let the pride we feel for our group turn into hate or hostility for another group. Once in a while, put yourself in the other group’s place and try and see things from their point of view. If possible, engage in discussions. Perhaps, by having an open discourse we can learn to respect each other’s differences and get along.

Here are some characteristics of collective narcissism:

1. Person exhibits an exaggerated belief in the superiority of their in-group
An individual who is taking part in group narcissism believes that their group is superior than all other groups. They are not able to find any fault in their group. They seek to be validated as superior and will seek revenge towards anyone who does not recognize their group.

2. The group requires constant validation
Much like the narcissist who outwardly displays an over confident persona to hide a weak and vulnerable inner self, the group is comprised of individual’s who may doubt the prestige of their in-group and will seek constant validation. The individuals are the source of the group’s narcissistic supply. Validation may be gained by engaging in group building behaviors such as political rallies. The group activities will feed the group’s narcissistic need for a continuous flow of praise and validation. Further, the group will constantly seek validation from outside its group and will become hypersensitive to any perceived or imagined slight.

3. The more involved a person is in a group the higher their opinion is of that group
As a person becomes more invested in the group, they begin to see the group as an extension of the self. The group becomes a manifestation of their narcissistic ego and they will praise it to no end.

4. Individuals with a low or damaged ego may seek strength by belonging to a group
Studies show that the individuals within a group of collective narcissists have low self esteem and tend to rely on negative emotions. They avoid interpersonal closeness and are vulnerable to shame. They fully embrace the group’s exaggerated image in order to experience positive emotions and connections.

5. Collective narcissism goes beyond cultures and ethnicities
The group may be comprised of different cultures and ethnicities all sharing the same blind devotion.

6. The collective narcissistic group will create a common enemy
The group will cultivate hate and reject or attack any group that threatens their group’s grandiose image. They may believe in conspiracy theories about the other group, however unrealistic it may be.

Here are some examples of group narcissism:

1. Leader/follower
In this group, the leader is the mirror-hungry narcissist who wants an endless flow of admiration and respect while his followers, the ideal-hungry narcissists find confidence and comfort in the charisma of their leader. The two groups within the group feed off each other and exist only to raise the other’s weak ego. They will go to great lengths to praise and insure the other’s existence. They will convince each other of their greatness.

2. National Narcissism
An example of this would be, “My country is better than yours.”

3. Religious Groups
An example of this would be, “My religion is better than yours.”

4. Political groups
The daily news is often filled with narcissistic entities opposing one another.

5. Specialized groups
Some examples of this are branches of the military and police forces.

If you found this post helpful or insightful please remember to like, comment and share.

Best wishes,
Eric


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25 responses to Signs of Collective Narcissism 

  1. Fascinating…totally makes sense and explains some of the horrible things that humans do. Also, I suppose it links with the fear of the unknown as people fear what they don’t understand and seek the comfort and validation of other like minded individuals…great post. 😺💕x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Growing up in a house with our mother suffering from this disease made all 3 of us kids acutely aware of what we needed to do to fight and survive. With all our education about this matter Ive never heard of groups in this way. You are so spot on tho and now I see what some afflilations do not work for me. I choose to be positive and appreciate the people in my life that promote peace and success. Looking forward to more of your thoughts and posts.-Laurel

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the analogies you employ to demonstrate your exact point. It makes your writing relatable and easy to follow along with, while always remaining informative.

    My mind immediately went back to my grade school days – I was relieved to recall that though my primary friend group was comprised of females, that I also played a lot of sports with the boys and always preferred being included in with them since they seemed to have so much more fun! I genuinely can’t recall a time I ever thought ‘ew, boys, cooties!’. So I felt a tad smug for half a moment thinking I had managed to bypass this as a child… And then I recalled the Catholic school just blocks away from my rough and tumble public school, and our perceived rivalry with them… and then the name we had for them…. the L—- Losers. Ugh. Please remember, we were in a single digit age bracket then. Your reference to collective narcissism being natural in children – spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent. You simplify the reality that is in actuality complex in a positive way. I agree with Samantha that fears can play off of which group people identify with and can also be the match that lights the flame of not only dissention but acts of violence and hatred.

    Liked by 1 person

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