Narcissistic men more prone to health problems?

Narcissism is a condition which is characterized by excessive love of oneself. It can be characterized by a sense of grandiosity and entitlement. A new study published this week indicates that narcissism is not only an irritating psychological glitch but it may be physically damaging for men. However, this does not appear to be the case for women.

The team of researchers gave 106 students a questionnaire that assessed components of narcissism. They found an unhealthy narcissism score by adding up the entitlement and exploitative-ness subscales, and then generated a healthy narcissism score by summing up others, including authority, superiority, vanity and self-sufficiency. The researchers took salivary samples to assess the undergraduate students’ cortisol levels. Cortisol is the primary hormone secreted by the body to manage stress.

Individuals with certain narcissistic personality traits may have elevated levels of cortisol, which put them at a higher risk for long term health problems, particularly cardiovascular events (i.e. incidences that cause damage to the heart such as a heart attack).

In general, narcissism was not predictive of cortisol in females, but did correlate to cortisol levels in men.

“Past research has stressed narcissists out and then looked at their cortisol levels, which were higher in men,” explained senior author Sara Konrath, an assistant research professor with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, referencing a study from another University of Michigan researcher from 2010. “Here, we didn’t have that stress, but they still had high cortisol [levels]. If men’s bodies are always kind of ‘activated’ like this, it can predict cardiovascular problems in the long term.”

Dr. Yik offers salivary testing of cortisol and other hormones, and treats a variety of health conditions. To learn more, click here.


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