Orally speaking, collective narcissism employs an inflated sense of the superiority and dominance of the “group”. In particular, people who score high on the Collective Narcissism Scale are sensitive to even the smallest insults. Collective narcissists often focus on out-group bias rather than in-group loyalty.
Definition of collective narcissism
In 2020, a research paper on narcissism was published led by Agnes Gulick de Zavala, Professor of Psychology and Lecturer at University College London. The paper defines collective narcissism as “an individual’s belief that the group to which he belongs is exceptional and superior, and that he does not receive what is worthy of being valued by others”, or in other words, it is a form of “in-group love” closely related to “out-group hatred”.
Collective narcissism is associated with reduced personal control, and therefore excessive sensitivity to provocation, and is characterized by authoritarianism, desire for dominance, and prejudice against the in-group (whether it is ethnic nationalism, a religious sect, a political party, a sports team, a student group, a social group, a family, or any faction or a group to which the individual belongs), in which they are constantly threatened, have a tendency to retaliatory aggression from other groups, and delight in the suffering of others as enemies.
This is revealed through statements such as “My group deserves special treatment” and “I insist my group receives the respect it deserves.” Thus, the thirst for recognition and attention is never satiated.
When your group becomes a sun, others revolve around it
Whereas individual narcissism stems from an individual’s self-love, collective narcissism employs an inflated sense of superiority and “group” dominance that turns into “a narcissistic entity built on a kind of collective self-aggrandizement that leads dominant individuals to believe they are,” says Isabel Wilkerson in her book “The Cult.”
Wilkerson explains that “collective narcissism is the sun-dominant group around which all other groups revolve, making themselves the standard of beauty, their way of living a normal standard of life, and their members looking at the world only from this perspective, and we expect others to do the same.”
Therefore, de Zavala says, “she is horrified by how widespread this type of narcissism is around the world,” although she sees collective narcissism as not just about team cheerleading; Humans are tribal by nature, have a special social identity, adopt a certain attitude, or belong to a certain group that can be healthy and has a significant positive effect on well-being; Collective narcissists often focus more on out-group bias than in-group loyalty, which prevents groups from listening to each other and, in extreme cases, may fuel extremism and violence.
A contradiction that fuels narcissistic extremism
Narcissism in its individual image is embodied in a person who is arrogant and exaggerated in his appearance, overconfident in himself “from the outside”, but suffers from a feeling of weakness and a lack of many things “from the inside”.
Collective narcissism is also manifested in the individual’s glorification of the group to which he belongs, the “demonstration” of an exaggerated belief in his superiority over other groups, but this exaggerated belief is matched by “hidden doubts” that enable him in himself to the true situation. Of this group, which explains his extreme in getting others to recognize this position, as described by science journalist Christian Jarrett.
Garrett adds, “There is some evidence that certain behaviors in collective narcissism appear to be a way to compensate for a person’s feelings of personal weakness or inadequacy,” just as individual narcissists do, who may brag about their importance in managing their anxiety.
Among these indicators is what Alexandra Chekhotska, a researcher in the School of Psychology at the University of Kent, concluded in a study published in 2016, that “people who felt less able to control their lives were more likely to show signs of collective narcissism.”
“One of the things that are intriguing and consistent with the way group narcissists think is that they are more likely to believe the validity of conspiracy theories, especially those that talk about outside conspiracies,” Jarrett says.
He stresses that collective narcissism is different “in that it has a defensive, paranoid, and bloated tone, as well as being filled with an insatiable thirst for recognition and esteem that others deserve.”
Collective narcissism is highly toxic
In a 2018 scientific article by Gullic de Zavala, group narcissism was described as “a highly toxic syndrome, most dangerous, that can take over an entire group, leading to sudden, unexplained outbursts of anger and biased reactions between groups.”
The researcher pointed out that in all cases of anger and emotions, those who felt that their group was offended believed that they gave the group a great deal of respect through their violent reaction, while others who have a high appreciation for their group may not feel offended and want revenge. Although there are real or expected threats to her image.
This made her wonder, “Why do some feel that their group has been offended, and some do not? Why do some feel that their group has been offended, even if it is unintentional, or explanations are given to denying it?”
Based on her research at University College London, she replied that “people who score high on the collective narcissism scale are sensitive to even the smallest insults to their group images, and have no sense of humor; they respond aggressively and respond disproportionately to what they consider an insult to their group, even when The insult is debatable or not intended by others.”
De Zavala attributes this behavior to “their insistence on extracting appreciation and respect because they believe that they are the acquired rights of their group at any cost, even by force.”
She adds that collective narcissists “are not preoccupied with devoting their energy to contributing to the improvement and value of the group, but rather by observing everyone around them, to ascertain whether they recognize and recognize the extraordinary and great value of their group.”
So, she recommends “teaching people to be proud of their group, without being obsessed with appreciation” as the best solution.