Narcissism vs. Selfishness — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on September 21, 2023
Narcissism is an excessive preoccupation with oneself, often accompanied by a lack of empathy and a grandiose view of one's own talents. Selfishness is a focus on one's own needs and desires, usually to the detriment of others.
Difference Between Narcissism and Selfishness
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Narcissism is a psychological term that refers to excessive self-love, self-centeredness, and an inflated sense of self-worth. It often includes a lack of empathy for others and may manifest in manipulative behaviors. Selfishness, in contrast, is a less clinical term and represents the prioritization of one's own needs and interests over those of others.
Both narcissism and selfishness can be damaging to relationships, but they differ in intensity and underlying motivations. Narcissism usually implies a more pervasive and ingrained set of behaviors, often resistant to change. Selfishness, however, may be situational and easier to address or correct.
From a grammatical perspective, both "Narcissism" and "Selfishness" are nouns, with the adjectival forms being "narcissistic" and "selfish," respectively. While narcissism is often a diagnosis within the realm of psychology, selfishness is commonly used in everyday language to describe a character flaw.
Narcissism can be a diagnostic criterion in the field of psychology, under conditions like Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Selfishness is generally not classified as a medical disorder, but rather as a behavior that may arise in various contexts and can often be corrected through social or psychological means.
In summary, narcissism is a more complex and often clinically recognized condition, whereas selfishness is a simpler, more general term describing a behavioral tendency to prioritize oneself over others. Both can negatively impact interpersonal relationships, but they are different in their scope and implications.
Broad, can be clinical
Narrow, generally not clinical
Focus on own needs
May be part of a clinical diagnosis
Not clinically diagnosed
Compare with Definitions
Excessive preoccupation with oneself.
His narcissism prevented him from seeing others' needs.
Prioritization of one's own needs over others.
Her selfishness led her to take the last slice of pie.
Inflated sense of personal ability and importance.
Narcissism fueled his delusions of grandeur.
Lack of consideration for others.
Selfishness made him cut in line at the store.
Lack of empathy and grandiosity.
Her narcissism made her believe she was above everyone else.
A character trait often seen as negative.
Selfishness is frowned upon in many cultures.
A psychological condition marked by self-centeredness.
Narcissism can be a diagnostic criterion in psychiatry.
A tendency to focus on personal gain.
Selfishness can damage friendships and relationships.
Excessive preoccupation with or admiration of oneself.
Can be situational or occasional.
His selfishness only appears when he's stressed.
A personality disorder characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. Also called narcissistic personality disorder.
Concerned chiefly or excessively with oneself, and having little regard for others
A selfish child who wouldn't share toys.
Pleasure derived from contemplation or admiration of one's own body or self, considered in psychoanalytic theory to be a fixation on or a regression to an infantile stage of development.
Showing or arising from an excessive concern with oneself and a lack of concern for others
A selfish whim.
Excessive love of oneself.
The quality of being selfish; the condition of putting one's own interests before those of others.
Sexual desire for one's own body.
The quality or state of being selfish; exclusive regard to one's own interest or happiness; that supreme self-love or self-preference which leads a person to direct his purposes to the advancement of his own interest, power, or happiness, without regarding those of others.
Selfishness, - a vice utterly at variance with the happiness of him who harbors it, and, as such, condemned by self-love.
An exceptional interest in and admiration for oneself.
Stinginess resulting from a concern for your own welfare and a disregard of others
An exceptional interest in and admiration for yourself
Often a manipulative behavioral pattern.
His narcissism led him to manipulate those around him.
What is Narcissism?
Narcissism is excessive self-love and preoccupation with oneself, often including a lack of empathy.
How do Narcissism and Selfishness differ?
Narcissism is broader and can be clinical, while selfishness is a more general, non-clinical term.
Is Selfishness always negative?
Selfishness is usually seen as negative, but self-care is sometimes mislabeled as selfishness.
Is Narcissism always bad?
While some self-focus is normal, excessive narcissism is generally considered negative.
Is Selfishness a medical condition?
No, selfishness is not considered a clinical diagnosis.
What's the adjective for Selfishness?
The adjective is "selfish."
Can Narcissism be diagnosed?
Yes, narcissism can be part of clinical diagnoses like Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
What's the adjective for Narcissism?
The adjective is "narcissistic."
What is Selfishness?
Selfishness is the tendency to prioritize one's own needs and desires over those of others.
Is Narcissism a modern phenomenon?
While the term is modern, the behavior it describes is age-old.
Are Narcissism and Selfishness related?
They are related in that both involve a focus on self, but they differ in scope and intensity.
Is Selfishness inherent or learned?
Selfishness can be both inherent and learned, depending on individual circumstances.
Can Narcissism and Selfishness coexist?
Yes, narcissism often includes elements of selfishness but is generally more complex.
Can Selfishness be corrected?
Selfishness can often be addressed through social or psychological means.
Can Narcissism be treated?
Treatment for excessive narcissism often involves psychotherapy.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.