Posted by: healingtheworkplace | April 12, 2015

The Narcissism Epidemic is Growing

The Narcissism Epidemic is Growing

Recently my friend Ulf recommended a book to me: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell.

Yes, apparently we are rapidly becoming a society of narcissists, especially in North America.

And what is a narcissist you may ask?

According to Twenge and Campbell, authors of The Narcissism Epidemic, there are “normal narcissists” and people who suffer from “narcissistic personality disorder” or NPD.

The authors go on to further differentiate between introverted narcissists and extroverted narcissists. However, the focus of their book is the extroverted narcissist. I’m not certain why they chose to ignore the other 50% of the population, perhaps because introverted narcissists do more damage to themselves while extroverted narcissists damage themselves and the people around them.

Narcissists are experts at self-promotion. This in itself is not a bad thing as self-promotion is a necessary tool in a world of increased competition. In other words if you want to get ahead in your career you will need to promote yourself at some point.

The difference between “normal” folk and narcissists is that many narcissists behave arrogantly and abuse power and are unable to see how their behavior may be destructive to themselves or others. Examples of this behavior in the workplace includes stealing other people’s ideas, putting people down, not listening to others, lacking in compassion and constantly seeking attention. In short, narcissists put their personal needs in front of the needs of their team or their organization.

Narcissism is also detrimental to leadership and research has proven that some of the most effective leaders are the opposite of narcissistic; they are humble, avoid the limelight and are continually trying to improve both themselves and the organizations they work in.

One study, made famous by Jim Collins in the book Good to Great, found that the most successful CEOs were excellent team players—something that narcissists aren’t able to do.

Twenge and Campbell do a nice job of explaining how our society has become more narcissistic over the past decades. The internet seems to be at the top of the list of reasons why this is happening.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Twenge and Campbell,

“Future Americans will be extraverted and socially confident—even the shyest people will have appeared on the internet many, many times…”

What do you think? Can we do anything to slow down this narcissism epidemic or are we destined to become a bunch of loud, aggressive, self-centered bores? And what will this do to our workplaces?


The Dynamic Introvert







  1. Very interesting thoughts here. I definitely think we’ve developed a culture that makes people need to self-promote, which then led to people becoming “narcissists” like this book says. Hopefully awareness of the problem can lead to a change.

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