What Constitutes a Narcissist and How to Deal With Them with W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D.

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In this dialogue we delve deeply into the narcissistic personality: What is it and what strategies we might employ to work with the narcissists who are close to us. Campbell describes a narcissist as one who creates a space around him or herself where they are not connecting to other people because their ego doesn't let them. They end up creating what is sometimes termed a narcissistic cocoon, a narcissistic bubble, or a narcissistic echo chamber. Campbell describes the three different aspects to narcissism, “Most commonly, we're talking about a personality trait, meaning we all have some level of it, some more than others. And it's a combination of this core of self-importance or a sense of entitlement . . . You think you're better than other people, you deserve special treatment. . . . [This is] what we call grandiose narcissism.” He says that a lot of political leaders and celebrities exhibit that kind of narcissism. Many of us know, work with, or date someone like this and even though it might be fun in the beginning, it turns out to be a kind of disaster after a while. Another kind of narcissism is a combination of this selfishness but also with insecurity or vulnerability. This is a conflicted personality where there is a combination of somebody who thinks they're important and should be treated specially but are a little insecure and even a little shy. These are vulnerable narcissists. Often they are the ones who end up seeing clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, or therapists because they're suffering. People in the clinical field when they see narcissism are often seeing this more vulnerable form. The third way people use narcissism is the clinical disorder, narcissistic personality disorder. This causes someone’s life to be impaired such as losing a marriage, money, work. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Keith Campbell, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, and is a nationally recognized expert on narcissism, society, and generational change. Both his work and lectures expose the rise of narcissism and individualism more generally, and its influence on every level of society.

Keith Campbell’s books include: 

  • When You Love A Man Who Loves Himself, How To Deal With A One Way Relationship (Sourcebook 2005)
  • The New Science Of Narcissism : Understanding One Of The Greatest Psychological Challenges Of Our Time-- and What You Can Do About It. (Sounds True 2020)

To learn more about W. Keith Campbell go to www.wkeithcampbell.com.

 Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • What is the mythological history of the term narcissism
  • How a narcissist lives in an echo chamber
  • Why is the topic of narcissism so prevalent in the public conversation today
  • What are the different kinds of narcissism
  • What is the CPR for combating narcissism: Compassion, Passion, Responsibility
  • What is the DNA element to narcissism? Can it be inherited
  • What are some of the positive aspects of narcissism
  • How is General Patton and General Bradley compare on the narcissistic scale
  • Can psychologists and psychiatrists offer professional opinions about public figures
  • What is a downside effect that the Covid-19 pandemic has on narcissistic political leaders
  • Can narcissists feel empathy
  • What is the Energy Clash Model of psychology
  • Why podcasting and zoom meetings are booming now and what is positive about sheltering in place
  • How social media is changing from its narcissistic ways of 10 to 12 years ago
  • What can people do when they are working or living with a narcissist
  • How can parents raise children to have confidence, respect of other people, and excel in life
  • What is the DSM (The American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and why is it important

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 8/4/2020   Program Number: 3707

Music Playlist

From Album:  Sanctuary
Artist: Radhika Miller

Opening Essay: Track 01 - Journey Home
Music Break 1: Track 05 - Jubilate
Music Break 2: Track 07 - World Peace
Music Break 3: Track 13 - Surrender