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.
NPD usually develops in adolescence or early adulthood, whereas ASN can develop in the late teen years or deep into adulthood.
Dr. Millman noted those who develop ASN are driven by a preexisting high level of narcissism to pursue wealth and status.
In these cases, highly narcissistic individuals develop full-blown narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) once they reached their goal of obtaining fame and power.
The Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) does not include ASN.
Characteristics of Acquired Situational Narcissism (ASN)
Some of the characteristics that distinguish ASN from NPD are:
- Late-onset – ASN develops during late teens or adulthood.
- Real power – Someone with ASN has acquired real and measurable power as opposed to grandiose fantasies.
- Response to the environment – ASN develops in part as a response to the enabling behaviors of members of the individual’s support system, entourage, and society as a whole.
What are some of the risks of Acquired Situational Narcissism?
Like anyone else with NPD, someone with ASN becomes maladaptive. They may experience high levels of anxiety and depression. Their relationship with reality may become distorted.
Some of the ways this plays out are:
- Poor decision making.
- Inability to maintain stable relationships resulting in divorce.
- Dysfunctional relationships with their children.
- Substance dependency to self-medicate, and
- Abuse of power in the form of criminal behavior to test the limits of their influence.
Prevention of Adult Situational Narcissism
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are some actionable steps you can take to prevent the development of ASN:
- Work on your character – Develop personal and moral qualities to create an internal compass.
- Adopt a value system – Clearly identify the values that reflect your moral qualities.
- A strong support group – Your inner circle should include a small group of people who reflect your value system. These friends should not be impressed by wealth or status. They should not fear to call you out when your behavior is in conflict with your values. They should care about who you are not what you can do for them.
- Develop a healthy attitude to power – Learn about how power can be used for its highest purpose so that you can create a positive and constructive relationship with it that’s in line with your character and values.
Photo by Ahmet Yalçınkaya.
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