“Stuck On ME!”
Dear Dr. Bill:
My dental colleague has been boastful and arrogant lately about himself and his dental practice and centers our conversations about his accomplishments and possessions. He described his life as overwhelming and went to see a psychologist who diagnosed him with narcissism. I have a concept of narcissism as self-centeredness, but what is it really?
Dear Dr. Paul:
Many dentists deal with narcissism, as this is one of the personality traits that attract people into dentistry. Narcissism comes in many shapes and sizes but narcissism, in and of itself, is not necessarily a negative trait. The two most common types involve what I call Problem Narcissism and Healthy Narcissism. Let’s first take a look at Problem Narcissism that is characterized by an attitude of Grandiosity.
Characteristics of Problem Narcissism (Grandiosity)
- Being overly committed
- Unable to recognize personal limitations
- Boasts and brags constantly
- Inability to make mistakes
- Hypersensitive to the slightest sign of criticism
- An inflated sense of personal importance
- Relates conversations and experiences to “me”, “myself”, and/or “I”
However, there is also a positive side to narcissism when it is associated with creating balance in one’s life, being humble, remaining teachable, and developing a spirit of opportunity. This is called Healthy Narcissism that can produce a favorable outcome, especially in dentistry.
Characteristics of Healthy Adult Narcissism (Ideal)
- Appropriate Sense of Humor
- Capacity to be Self-Reflective
- Seeks and Appreciates Beauty and Wonder
- Meaningful, Satisfying and Enduring Relationships
This is not an exhaustive list but gives guidance into daily areas we can strive to address and develop. It sounds like your dental colleague may need to focus on recovering from destructive behaviors and concentrate through therapy and counseling on meaningful opportunities, developing and incorporating them into his practice and personal life.
(The comments and suggestions from Dr. Bill are not to be construed as professional medical advice or treatment but are to be use as Dr. Bill’s thoughts and opinions. Your comments are welcomed and encourage.)