Social media opens door to narcissism

‘‘No-one likes to be around people who are narcissistic because they’re only interested in themselves.’’

‘‘No-one likes to be around people who are narcissistic because they’re only interested in themselves.’’

Social media is making us more narcissistic, according to University of Wollongong psychologist Professor Brin Grenyer.

Prof Grenyer, the director of UOW’s Project Air Strategy, hosted a conference on Friday that focused on understanding narcissistic and borderline personality disorders. More than 300 health professionals from across the world were attracted to the event, which was officially opened by NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley.

Prof Grenyer said with a growing culture of narcissism and entitlement, it gave a chance for experts to discuss world best practice in the treatment of these disorders.

‘‘There’s more opportunity now for people who have the need to feel powerful and grandiose, and who want to attract attention to themselves,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s a lot more opportunity for them to project those kinds of images through social media.

‘‘And what that does is it creates distortion in the way we normally interact with each other so some people are getting more airspace and attention than normal, which is not good for them.

‘‘Meanwhile, it can make other people feel more isolated and socially disconnected because they’re not prepared to join in.’’

Prof Grenyer said a preoccupation with one’s own beauty, wealth or success often led to difficulties in maintaining meaningful relationships or more severe personality disorder problems.

‘‘While these people might superficially appear attractive and interesting,  underneath narcissism is a lot of emptiness, loneliness and difficulty in understanding what it takes to have truly genuine interpersonal relationships,’’ he said.

‘‘No-one likes to be around people who are narcissistic because they’re only interested in themselves.’’

Prof Grenyer said there were no clear guidelines on the treatment of narcissism, which was why the international conference on personality disorders, now in its eighth year, was vital.

‘‘Having experts like US-based Professor Ken Levy, who has studying narcissism for 50 years, present at the conference helps other clinicians understand what good treatments might look like.’’

Meanwhile, stop taking selfies and ‘‘chatting’’ on social media – instead, pick up the phone and have a genuine chat with someone.

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