Narcissism poisonous for men

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5 februari 2012 | American researchers found that narcissistic men exhibit increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone related to cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks.”Despite their grandiose self-perceptions, narcissists have fragile views of themselves” leading to aggression, David Reinhard comments.

Being narcissistic and male appears to be an unhealthycombination. American researchers published findings in the open access journal PLoS Oneindicating that men with narcissistic character traits havechronically higher cortisol levels correlated with cardiovasculardiseases and heart attacks.

Past research already showed that narcissism is more likely tobe found among men. Psychologist Sara Konrath (University ofMichigan) and her colleagues now conducted tests with undergraduatestudents ranking their personality and measuring cortisol levels, ahormone related to stress.

Narcissism consists of five different personality traits amongwhich are “unhealthy” ones like Exploitativeness and Entitlement(correlated with anxiety and depression), and healthier ones likeLeadership/Authority, Superiority/Arrogance,Self-Absorption/Self-Admiration. Tests now showed that especiallymale study participants with unhealthy narcissistic traitsexhibited significantly higher levels of cortisol.

Aggression as a defensive mechanism

Co-author David Reinhard commented that “even though narcissistshave grandiose self-perceptions, they also have fragile views ofthemselves, and often resort to defensive strategies likeaggression when their sense of superiority is threatened.”

“These kinds of coping strategies are linked with increasedcardiovascular reactivity to stress and higher blood pressure, soit makes sense that higher levels of maladaptive narcissism wouldcontribute to highly reactive stress response systems andchronically elevated levels of stress.”

The question remains why women seem to be less affected by thisphenomenon. Konrath hypothesizes: “Given societal definitions ofmasculinity that overlap with narcissism-for example, the beliefthat men should be arrogant and dominant-men who endorsestereotypically male sex roles and who are also high in narcissismmay feel especially stressed.”

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