Ego Inflation and Narcissism

Ego and Ego Inflation

What is ego inflation? There’s a simple answer to that. It’s when we think too much of ourselves. Now, we all want to feel good about who we are. There’s nothing unhealthy about that. But we can carry things too far. We can exaggerate our importance. And we can exaggerate our accomplishments, too.

We all need ego. We need ego to navigate through life. So, having ego is a good thing. Some folks have a very impoverished sense of self. We say such folks have weak egos. And that’s not good. Having a weak ego can cause some very big problems. It can lead to a poor self-image. It can even lead to tolerating abuse. We all need a solid sense of self and self-worth. That’s why, in itself, ego is definitely not a bad thing.

A sound ego may be central to good mental health. But a healthy ego is all about balance. Some used to think you couldn’t have too much self-esteem. However, we now know you can. My clinical experience actually taught me that years ago. And in recent years the research has confirmed it. Unfortunately, in our narcissistic times, developing a balanced sense of self is not easy. (See also: Cultural Narcissism Fosters Character Disturbance.)

How to Inflate an Ego

You may wonder how ego inflation occurs. I wondered about this too, many years ago. So, I studied it. And I wrote about my observations in both In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance. At the time, there was no research to validate my findings. Today, however, there is. Turns out, there are indeed some reliable ways to inflate an ego.

Brummelman and some colleagues have conducted several “praise” studies. They’ve looked particularly at how we praise children. Specifically, they’ve looked at what we praise them for. The results proved more than interesting. Want to give little Johnny or Suzie a big head? Praise them for their beautiful blue eyes. Tell them how smart they are. Fawn over their talents or good looks. In short, encourage them to feel good about and value their God-given or nature-endowed characteristics. Claiming credit for and valuing what you didn’t cause can lead to ego inflation.

So how do you promote a healthy self-image? The praise studies have something to say about that, too. Pay attention to what little Johnny or Suzie does with their gifts. Watch how they conduct themselves. Most especially, praise them for meritorious conduct. Look for and recognize their little acts of heroism. The choices we make and actions we take distinguish us. They bespeak our character. That’s because they’re strictly of our own doing. And it’s not vain to claim credit for our pro-social choices and actions. Moreover, doing so is what builds healthy self-respect. (See: Merit: Healthy Self-Esteem – Part 2) (See also: Cultural Indifference to Meritorious Conduct.)

Ego Inflation in a Narcissistic Age

Our narcissistic culture has fueled much ego inflation. Our society tends to glorify talent. Moreover, we tend to overly reward it, too. And we place a premium on such things as good looks and achievement. Unfortunately, we pay too little attention to how folks conduct themselves. We simply don’t place much emphasis on character anymore. But that doesn’t mean that character doesn’t matter. In fact, it probably matters today more than it ever has.

Healthy self-esteem will flourish when society decides to make character matter again. As a culture, we have to recognize character again and to reward it. Some countries have formal institutions that recognize character. And they confer titles upon individuals for distinguishing themselves. It’s not about their wealth. And it’s not about their talent or accomplishments. Rather, the recognition has more to do with the contribution they’ve made. It’s more about what they’ve done for the betterment of all. That’s what reflects on on their character.

Some Changes Coming

Some changes are coming to the blog. First, The Judas Syndrome will be getting its own page. I’ll be posting some special content on that page. And there will be room for discussion there, too. It’s best not to have heavy religious content enter the discussion of other issues. So, having a separate page for such discussion should prove beneficial to many.

The new Character Matters program remains in development. Expect some announcements soon about the projected launch date. Additionally, expect an announcement on another new program that will focus more specifically on spiritual growth.

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4 thoughts on “Ego Inflation and Narcissism

  1. I have just recently had an in-depth discussion with a loved one who has been trying to manipulate and hurt us in a very devious way. This person tried everything he possibly could to excuse or hide behind his actions. I read and re read all of these posts of yours Dr. Simon. I have printed most of them. I refresh my memory OFTEN by reading them. I must say the conversation I had with this person was one of the most focused ones I have ever had with him. I gently confronted the behavior and gave examples of the past behavior that I have to go by. As he was insisting I had him pegged all wrong.
    Each time I hit on a truth or a fact his head went down and he seemed to concede. I’m not fooling myself thinking he is going to change because of this however. I am simply reporting to you how good it feels to stand up for myself and the others he is trying to inflict pain on. I’m tired of these battles but I am NOT quitting. I do have plans to move to another state in the near future. Whether I go NC is yet to be determined, but I am preparing myself for that if I have to so I can leave this world at peace with it and those in it. That is when it is my time to be called home!
    Thank you so much for the truly helpful insight you have and offer!!! You are truly blessed by God and have blessed me!

  2. Off topic

    I got my pay rise from $32,500 to $42,000 a year. I can now buy my House.

    My the mother used to call me A USELESS FCUKING C*#T.

    Am I, something tells me I am not. In just 3 1/2 yrs , I have purchased my own home, and soon to buy a bigger one, with a garden. And now earn $42,000 a year which is my third pay increase this year.

  3. Joey
    You’re a great inspiration to what can happen to one’s life when you break connections with people who emotionally abuse and strive to have control over another’s life.
    Sounds to me like she’s the usless ———
    I still get angry hearing stories such as yours. For people to abuse and torment another for their own sick purposes still sends anger through me. It comes from the abuse directed at myself and children (now adult) by the X husband.
    I too have just bought a home, on my own, without the X. I’m doing it all on my own, and doing a fine job, as you are.
    So you should be in your new home and settled and ready to plant herbs and flowers by next spring!

  4. Priscilla,
    I’d sure like to be a fly on the wall during your discussions with the CD. Isn’t it something that once you have the knowledge and tools how to deal with this type how differently the whole conversation goes? My X, when confronted in these ways, would end up “playing angry” and storming off. Used to me leaving due to his fake anger, then he would be the one to leave.
    Yes peace is the ultimate gift we get when separating from this type of person.
    I’m happy for you, you’ve found your way out of the clutches and are turning it around.

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