What Is Somatic Narcissism?

Therapy may be helpful for someone with somatic narcissism.
A somatic narcissist obsesses over his looks.
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  • Written By: Crystal Cook
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2014
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Narcissism is a personality disorder that leaves the sufferer obsessed with himself or herself. While a cerebral narcissist will focus on his or her intellect and boast of academic or career achievements, a somatic narcissist will obsess over his or her beauty, personality and sex appeal. Narcissists require psychiatric treatment if they are to have satisfying relationships with other people, because the disorder prevents them from being able to relate to others on an emotional level, and the narcissist does not feel anything beyond his or her own desires. This self-involvement leads somatic narcissists to believe they have a right to anything they want, which often results in numerous sexual encounters.

People who suffer from somatic narcissism see themselves as being irresistible. They may develop a sexual attraction to themselves and may prefer their own company to having a true relationship with someone else. They often flaunt their bodies in an effort to show just how beautiful they are and to win admiration.

Symptoms of somatic narcissism are often obvious, though they may only appear at certain times. The somatic narcissist craves attention, and those who are in a relationship with one may not recognize the problem at first. Somatic narcissism prevents sufferers from being able to have meaningful relationships and, because they cannot relate emotionally to their partners, they often are unfaithful. They see relationships as games of power and are always looking for something better or more worthy.

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Psychiatric help is required for someone to overcome somatic narcissism. Therapy can help a narcissist discover how to properly handle emotions. This can help the sufferer develop satisfying relationships with others. The families of narcissists are often in therapy, as well, to learn how to deal with the narcissistic behavior and otherwise help their narcissistic loved one. Treatment can be successful if the root cause can be identified.

Somatic narcissism can be genetic. Tests have shown that the disorder can be passed from one generation to the next in some families. A genetic cause can make treatment more difficult but also can help pinpoint what therapies will be successful.

This form of narcissism also can be caused by sexual or mental abuse. Children who are abused for a long period of time by someone to whom they are very close can develop the disorder as a result. Psychiatrists believe the child rationalizes the abuse and sees it as his or her fault. The child may become convinced that he or she is simply too irresistible, even for family members who should be trustworthy. This belief eventually can develop into somatic narcissism.

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fBoyle
Post 3

@MikeMason-- I don't know for sure, but I assume that it doesn't matter much when it comes to treatment.

The difference between somatic and cerebral narcissism is actually not as clear cut as it seems. My professor says that a narcissist will usually have a dominant type and a recessive type and can turn into the other if the situation requires. For example, a narcissist may be mainly a cerebral but he or she may also portray somatic narcissism at different times.

stoneMason
Post 2

When it comes to treating narcissism, does it matter whether the person is somatic or cerebral? Is one type easier to treat than the other?

burcidi
Post 1

I think I'm dating a somatic narcissist. Of course, I'm not a doctor and I can't diagnose anyone but many of the symptoms match.

My boyfriend is obsessed with his looks and is a total flirt. He flirts with other girls in front of me. I don't think he's cheating (maybe I'm in denial), but I know what he wants to keep his options open. He thinks that he can have a sexual affair or relationship with anyone he wants and the way girls respond to his charm doesn't help.

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