How to identify an egocentric person? How to protect yourself from it?

Self-centered people are hard to put up with, to say the least: they are obsessed with themselveshave constantly need to feel admired and sorely lacking inempathy. Myriam Sanchez, clinical psychologist, takes stock with us of the deleterious consequences of this personality trait.

Definition: what is an egocentric person?

The term egocentrism, from the Latin ego (meaning me) and center (meaning center) literally means “self-centered”. This personality trait is characterized by a tendency to think only of oneself, to focus on one’s interests and to consider one’s opinion as the most important.

“Egocentric people bring everything back to themselves: what they say, what they think and what they do is much more valuable in their eyes than what others say, do or think”, confirms the expert. And to add:

Egocentrism is not a disease, but a character trait that is found naturally in all children.

Egocentrism is indeed a normal stage of development in the child. In adolescence too: we are focused on our development, our appearance and the opinion that others have of us, because we often have the impression that this is what defines us. In adulthood, this personality trait normally fades: we learn to decenter ourselves and we tend towards altruism (the opposite of egocentrism), explains Myriam Sanchez.

While we can all adopt egocentric behaviors, some people behave, they systematically in an egocentric way. Enough to push those around them to the limit.

What is the difference with a selfish or narcissistic person?

Unlike selfish people, who think only of their own interests, self-centered people stay in the bond and are able to show generosity. They listen and show attention, but interpret everything according to them. “Selfishness is also a character trait“, underlines the psychologist. And to develop: “The selfish person does what is good for him, without necessarily harming others, while the egocentric cares about his image, the gaze and the opinion of others, often to their detriment.”

Narcissists, on the other hand, suffer from a disorder of the narcissistic personality which can be diagnosed by a professional. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists many characteristics:

  • The narcissist has a self-perceived sense of grandeur.
  • He is continuously preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or perfect romantic relationships.
  • He thinks he’s special and that he can only be understood by other people at his level.
  • He has need for continuous and excessive admiration.
  • He is convinced of having more rights than others because he is himself, completely irrationally.
  • He is manipulator and takes advantage of its environment to obtain its own goods, regardless of the harm caused to others.
  • He lacks empathy and/or shows no interest in understanding others.
  • It shows arrogant and/or combative behaviors.
  • He is also envious or thinks others envy him.

Note: a patient must meet at least five of these criteria to be officially diagnosed.

Egocentric people are not so difficult to identify once you know how to identify the characteristic symptoms of this character trait, as Myriam Sanchez points out:

  • They often monopolize the conversation and seek to lead it.
  • They often begin their speech with “I”, “Me, I”, “My”, “My” and address themes that directly concern their opinions or their experiences.
  • They don’t care about othersdo not listen to them and find it difficult to put themselves in their shoes (lack of empathy).
  • They believe themselves to be superior to others and often seek to be right or to win the debates.
  • They have hard to follow the rules and often only obey their own (need for control).
  • They have trouble dealing with their emotions.
  • They are jealous of the success of others and are always looking for compliments.
  • They often neglect the comments made to them, put themselves on the defense or react aggressively.
  • They can’t stand failure and, when appropriate, tend to blame others by blaming them.
  • Finally – and this is the most problematic – they never question themselves.

So many behaviors – conscious or not – that egocentric people share with narcissistic and megalomaniac personalities, specifies the specialist.

Lack of confidence, trauma… Why can we be egocentric (or self-centered)?

Myriam Sanchez identifies three main causes – with more or less significant repercussions on the daily lives of egocentric people:

  • A lack of affection and/or recognition during childhood. In fact, self-centered people are always looking for approval and attention. They therefore do everything to get noticed, including adopting exuberant or seductive postures.
  • A lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. Egocentric people perpetually underestimate themselves and suffer from fear of being abandoned.
  • psychological trauma that go back to childhood and have stopped their emotional and social development (development of narcissistic personality disorder).

What are the consequences of such behavior on our relationships?

Self-centeredness is bearable in small doses. But when it takes precedence over the rest (pathological egocentrism), the people concerned often find themselves alone, isolated and rejected. Once unmasked, they end up scaring away those around them, tired of demanding attention or having to fight to find a place for themselves. In fact, the egocentric does not listen, finds parades to talk about himself constantly, denigrates others, loses his temper when he does not receive attention, etc.

Can an egocentric love?

However, if we refer to the dramatic triangle – or Karpman’s triangle – the egocentric will always find comfort in the arms of a “victim” in the grip of the syndrome of the savior or the nurse syndrome. In this case, relationships – especially couple relationships – tip over into a vicious circle of abuse and psychological violence.

Faced with an egocentric person, the first instinct is often to take to its heels. Some people choose, however, to support and accompany their loved ones who are prey to an almost pathological egocentrism. They try to understand them, reassure them and help them identify the consequences of their behavior in the hope of raising awareness.

An approach that does not reassure the psychologist: “In my opinion, the spouse must not replace a professional, at the risk of damaging the bond between the partners“. Benevolence and assertiveness must go hand in hand. Myriam Sanchez identifies three saving behaviors when faced with an egocentric person:

  • Always answer a question with another question.
  • Stop making yourself available as soon as the egocentric person asks for it (in other words, learn to set limits).
  • Do not justify yourself and only mention facts – not feelings (which could be turned against us).

Can an egocentric change? (Yes, self-centeredness works)

Selfishness is not inevitable. It is still necessary that the persons concerned be aware of their character trait and want to reverse the trend. As the expert points out, “self-centered people are rarely inclined to question themselves and are often reluctant to start a psychotherapy“.

The goal of therapeutic work is togradually adapt their habits to open up to others (to their needs and feelings). Patients learn to listen without interrupting, to give without reciprocity, to be interested in and compliment others, to adapt to others’ expectations, to manage frustration, to let goto apologize, etc.

How to identify an egocentric person? How to protect yourself from it?