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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

The Value of Narcissism and the Denial of Truth

“Narcissistic” is often used pejoratively to describe an immature person though it, and the denial of truth, are normal ego defenses against anxiety. While these mental mechanisms, if broadly used, are pathological for adults, they have valuable benefits.

When confronting knowledge of an exceptionally painful situation such as a serious illness or severe emotional limitations, they reduce awareness of the painful reality maintaining an adequate level of self-esteem and hope. Lacking this, the person may retreat into suicidal despair or substance abuse.

For example, a new college graduate possessing deficient psychological capacities (stable identity; good control over their behavior; adequate ability to modulate their mood) will have little career and life success. Remaining ignorant of the depth of their difficulties enables them to continue their struggle and, through mental health treatment, make the personality changes needed to avoid a lifetime of pain.

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