All those suffering with Anxiety are Narcissists

Wrong! Sorry, the title was just to get your attention. But as with any human characteristic, there’s an element of truth to it. Let’s investigate.

So, lets begin with a definition. What is a narcissist?

According to Mr Google, narcissism ‘is a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance’.

Put simply then a narcissist is someone who has an overly inflated sense of importance and needs to have everyone and everything around them, focussed on them. They need to be the centre of attention and struggle when this is not the case.

This is probably why the word has such a bad rap, a real air of negativity.

A couple of examples, a lady I met had recently completed a massive personal, physical challenge and was the centre of a great deal of attention. Her fella, unable to cope with not being the centre of attention chose that moment to propose to her.

You might say, but that’s lovely, however, think about it. She could hardly say ‘no’, even if she wanted to. But also, all the attention is then shifted to him. Taken as a single event, then maybe, but if it’s just one example……

Another example, recently, there was a lady who had a birthday, despite many good wishes from her family and gifts sent, she didn’t acknowledge any gifts, but threw a tantrum because although the good wishes arrived on the correct day, the phrase we hope we’ve got the day right, was used. The lady focussed on the fact that ‘after four years you should know’, and didn’t say thank you or acknowledge any gift. Again, if it was a single incident…

Now, lets put that into context. We are all born as narcissists. We have to be. It may be unconscious, but we are utterly dependant on those around us to survive.  We then to learn to use that need. Most babies have worked out how to push a parent’s buttons by the time they are six months old.  And as they turn two begin to push boundaries as far as they can.

So, narcissism is at one end of the scale, at the other is total empathy.

Again, a definition, ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of anothers’ (Mr Google).

Taken to an extreme, if you put others thoughts, feelings, dare I say needs, to the forefront of your actions, then extreme empathy is probably as dangerous as extreme narcissism.  If you give everything you have to share and understand the needs of others, it’s draining. My wife is a hairdresser and she offers a ‘one to one’ service; many of her clients are there as a result of life altering illnesses, so she spends a lots of time receiving stories of trauma, hardship and difficulty. Some days she comes home and is utterly drained. Mostly from listening and absorbing the distress of others.

We have all off loaded onto others our difficulties from time to time, and we know how much better we feel afterwards.  Imagine if you are the one receiving that!

Fortunately, most of us, with the right level of nature and nurture find ourselves somewhere in the middle, which is healthy. We need a bit of both, and the ability to swing towards either end occasionally depending on what the world throws at us and the choices we then make.


Anxiety is heavily based on fear, and worry. For a more in depth analysis of what anxiety is, please refer to previous blogs. But if you are dealing with anxiety is and don’t know what you are dealing with, or are unwilling to address it, ‘because you don’t have a problem’, you still have to address the feelings you are experiencing.

In my case, I numbed the pain with alcohol for many years.

Another option is to try to control everything that happens to you or is around you. Desperate to keep those feelings of worry and distress at bay. Make sure that you are always the centre of attention, that those around you always put you at the top of their list and do as you wish.  It very quickly becomes easy to lose focus of what is actually important and what you believe to be so. It becomes simple to quickly see the wrong in small things and loose sight of the bigger picture.

In the examples given earlier, I suggest, the proposal should have been a little more private, the answer should be given willingly and let the lady have her moment in the spotlight, and the second, well blokes, especially this one are rubbish at birthdays, and even worse come to that, on anniversaries, just accept the good wishes and gifts…

Are all those with narcissism suffering from anxiety? Probably.

Are all those suffering with anxiety narcissists?  Far from it.

Simon Pollard   Urban Countryman    June 2024.

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