Acquired Situational Narcissism

Acquired Situational Narcissism: Understanding the Psychology

Acquired Situational Narcissism

Acquired Situational Narcissism: Understanding the Psychology

In the world of psychology, the term “narcissism” often brings to mind individuals who display an inflated sense of self-importance and a relentless need for admiration.

Narcissism is a Janusian personality construct, associated with both grandiose self-assuredness and dominance, as well as vulnerable insecurity and reactivity. Central questions of intra- and interpersonal functioning in narcissism are still a matter of debate.

Can neuroscience help to understand narcissism? A systematic review of an emerging field, Emanuel Jauk and Philipp Kanske

However, there’s a nuanced aspect of narcissism known as “Acquired Situational Narcissism” that deserves our attention. This phenomenon delves into the intriguing territory where environment and circumstance can temporarily turn an ordinary individual into a narcissist, albeit temporarily.

Understanding Acquired Situational Narcissism

Acquired Situational Narcissism, often referred to as ASN, is a fascinating concept that explores the idea that narcissistic traits can be triggered or intensified by specific situations or environments. It challenges the conventional belief that narcissism is a fixed personality trait and instead suggests that it can be acquired under certain conditions.

The Role of Fame and Celebrity

ASN is often associated with the world of fame and celebrity. When an individual experiences sudden fame or recognition, they may develop narcissistic tendencies in response to the adulation and attention they receive. This doesn’t mean that everyone who becomes famous becomes a narcissist, but rather that certain personalities are more susceptible to this transformation when thrust into the limelight.

The Psychology Behind Acquired Situational Narcissism (ASN)

Note that the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) does not include ASN.

Psychologically, ASN can be understood through the lens of social identity theory. When people are placed in situations where they are constantly admired and praised, they may begin to identify strongly with their celebrity status. This heightened sense of self-importance can lead to narcissistic behavior patterns.

Acquired Situational Narcissism (ASN) is a construct developed by the late Robert B. Millman, a professor of psychiatry at Cornell Medical School, to describe the late-onset Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) he identified in some of his celebrity patients.

What is Acquired Situational Narcissism?,” Manya Wakefield, Published in We Are Warriors, December 27, 2019

The Spectrum of Narcissism

It’s important to note that narcissism exists on a spectrum. Not all individuals who experience ASN will become full-fledged narcissists. For some, these narcissistic traits are temporary, dissipating once the situation changes. However, for others, ASN can be a gateway to more permanent narcissistic tendencies.

Examples of Acquired Situational Narcissism

Let’s look at a few real-world examples of ASN:

Reality Television Stars

Many reality television stars start as regular people but experience a surge in fame and attention after appearing on TV. Some individuals who were once humble may develop narcissistic traits as they bask in the spotlight.

Child Stars

Child actors who achieve stardom at a young age can also be susceptible to ASN. The constant adoration and special treatment can lead to a sense of entitlement and narcissistic behavior.

Successful Entrepreneurs

Even in the business world, entrepreneurs who achieve extraordinary success may experience ASN. The power and wealth that come with success can sometimes lead to narcissistic tendencies.

The Impact of Social Media

In today’s digital age, the rise of social media has created new opportunities for ASN. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok can turn ordinary individuals into overnight sensations. The constant validation and the pursuit of likes and followers can fuel narcissistic traits.

Recognizing Acquired Situational Narcissism in Ourselves and Others

It’s essential to be aware of the signs of ASN, both in ourselves and those around us. While it’s not inherently negative to experience some level of narcissism in certain situations, it’s crucial to recognize when it becomes problematic.

Signs of ASN

  • Excessive Self-Importance: Individuals experiencing ASN may become overly focused on themselves and their achievements.
  • Lack of Empathy: They might show reduced empathy toward others, as their own needs and desires take precedence.
  • Attention-Seeking Behavior: A strong desire for attention, admiration, and validation is a common trait of ASN.
  • Difficulty Handling Criticism: Those with ASN may struggle to handle criticism or any form of negative feedback.

Coping with Acquired Situational Narcissism

If you or someone you know is dealing with ASN, it’s essential to take proactive steps to manage it effectively.


Engage in self-reflection to understand the root causes of your narcissistic tendencies. Identifying the triggers can be the first step toward change.

Seek Professional Help

In cases where ASN leads to severe narcissistic behavior and negatively impacts relationships and well-being, seeking the help of a mental health professional is crucial. Therapists can provide strategies to manage narcissistic traits and promote healthier self-esteem.

Practice Empathy

Developing empathy for others can counteract narcissistic tendencies. Try to understand and connect with the feelings and experiences of those around you.


Acquired Situational Narcissism is a fascinating aspect of human behavior that reminds us of the malleability of personality traits. While some degree of narcissism can be a normal response to certain situations, it’s essential to recognize when it becomes problematic and take steps to address it. Understanding ASN allows us to navigate the fine line between confidence and ego, helping us become more aware and compassionate individuals.


QR Code






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *