Is Your Ego Killing You?


Being narcissistic isn’t just bad for social relationships. Having an ego could kill you.

In a study released earlier some time ago, researchers found that certain types of narcissism can lead to higher risks for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, and could make it more difficult to survive other diseases such as cancer or diabetes.

“We generally see narcissism as a personality trait that’s bad for others but not narcissists,” the study’s co-author Sara Konrath said in a USA Today story.

An assistant research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, Konrath told the USA Today the study was a way of “getting under their skin to see if there are physical consequences.”

And it seems, according to researchers’ results, that men are more negatively affected by narcissism than women.

A 40-plus question survey was given to 106 college-aged students — 79 women and 27 men, with an average age of around 20. The survey measured five areas of narcissism and also measured cortisol levels in saliva of the students.

While some of the components of narcissism can be healthy, the fragile views narcissists have of themselves can actually lead to increased stress levels, defensive actions and aggression.

There is no doubt we all need to have at least some self-esteem, but too much of a good thing obviously can be bad for a variety of reasons.

I’ve never considered myself a narcissist, but do people actually admit to that? I’ve seen my fair share of folks who appear to have narcissistic traits, and I’ve always wondered what led them to that point.

You know the people I’m thinking of … the ones who constantly have to one-up you on every story, experience or item you have — their cars are better, their food is better, their clothing is better, their dog is better.

These days, though, either narcissists are on the rise or social media sites like Facebook are bringing out the worst of the worst of us all. There certainly are varying degrees of narcissism, and it truly can be a severe disorder.

Anymore, I look at the pictures and messages friends post on Facebook and wonder why anybody cares to know some of those things, or why people even broadcast to such large audiences about simple, inane things with their family, their job and their life.

Nine times out of 10, I consider leaving a snarky comment on a post where a self-absorbed Facebook friend explains to the world about a new work project or that a child used a toilet. But that’s probably fodder for another column, eh?

On some level, however, we all are narcissists, and people were narcissists before the Internet was even an idea. Some careers even lend themselves to allowing people to become narcissists — television and movie actors, television reporters and anchors, and professional athletes.

Many celebrities build brands around their narcissism and profit from it.

While it is healthy to be proud of your accomplishments and tell them to close family and friends, there is a fine line between sharing good news and making one’s self the focal point of every situation.

Step away from the mirror and tell somebody besides yourself how much you appreciate them before your ego kills you.

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Alex Wise served over 5 years as relationship expert helping women from around the world figure out the men in their love lives from an honest, male perspective. Alex is one of the contributors and editors for dating website. He is passionate about thought leadership writing, and regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and online dating communities.