Narcissism

Why Narcissism May Be a Risk Factor for COVID

What is it about narcissistic habits that may put individuals at higher risk?

Posted Jan 27, 2021 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch

c) stevanovicigor/fotosearch
"What, you expect me to ...."
Source: c) stevanovicigor/fotosearch

Narcissism is the label clinicians give to a stance of "It's all about me."  As I wrote in an earlier post on the nature of narcissism, narcissism creates, in a sense, a state of being in love with oneself.  People with narcissistic habits tend to dismiss others' ideas and concerns because their own ideas and concerns loom so large, taking up all the space in their minds. Trapped within their bubble of self-preoccupation, these individuals may not realize the extent to which the comments and feelings of others do not penetrate their awareness.  Their listening skill deficits can definitely use an upgrade.  Why though would this narcissistic way of being-in-the-world potentially increase the risk of becoming ill with COVID?

When someone is locked in an all-about-me bubble, they become likely to regard what they want as holy, and what others say as essentially irrelevant. This habit can lead to taking less seriously the rules that others set or follow. "The rules don't apply to me" becomes a way of life. 

Similarly, as my post on narcissism as Tall Man Syndrome explains, narcissism subconsciously promotes the belief that "I'm big and important. Rules are for the little people. I'm above the rules." Think about celebrities and political figures who routinely ignore the normal rules for extra-marital sex: "The rules don't apply to me."

Since narcissism invites an assumption that rules in general do not apply to them, rules for corona safety may seem irrelevant to someone whose stance in the world is narcissistic. "Others need to wear masks; not me. Others need to keep a distance of six feet or more between them and others; I do not need to concern myself about social distancing."

Hmmm. What happens then? Alas, the risks that the tiny COVID viruses will happily enter someone's nasal passages zooms upward. COVID viruses do not care how big and important people are, or think they are. They just seek out a host organism, any host organism that they can invade. 

The rules for COVID safety clearly do apply to everyone, including to individuals with narcissistic habits. No mask, no social distancing—higher COVID RISK. So if you or someone with whom you spend time, talk, live, or work tends to exhibit the narcissistic belief that "the rules don't apply to me," beware.