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Narcissists pay a price for their self-centered, inflated view of their importance, their inability to exercise empathy and their need to see themselves as superior to others. In addition to being loathed and laughed at, they also pay a price with their health. It seems that even when the narcissist is not under stress he maintains a high level of cortisol in the blood increasing the risk for developing cardiovascular problems.
As distasteful as narcissism is, it’s on the rise, especially in America and is more prevalent in men according to study co-author Sara Konrath. She is a psychologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Narcissistic men may be paying a high price in terms of their physical health, in addition to the psychological cost to their relationships,” she said.
Still it’s not all negative for the self-absorbed.
The researchers assessed subjects on three positive aspects: leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance and self-absorption/self-admiration. And on two negative ones: exploitativeness and entitlement.
High levels of cortisol where there are no stress challenges suggests that the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is active all the time. This has strong implications for long term health and increases the risk of cardiovascular problems.
For the study, they found that the highest levels of cortisol were in the people who had the most negative aspects of narcissism. Konrath stated, “Our findings suggest that the HPA axis may be chronically activated in males high in unhealthy narcissism, even without an explicit stressor.”
David Reinhard, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville explained, “Even though narcissists have grandiose self-perceptions, they also have fragile views of themselves, and often resort to defensive strategies like aggression when their sense of superiority is threatened.”
Source: PLoS ONE, MedicalNewsToday
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