What Does Egotism Mean?

December 21, 2018

Although it may seem otherwise, the term egotism is not a synonym of egoism. The terms were pretty much used interchangeably in literature prior to the 19th century. However, in the field of psychology, its current meaning is different. Although it’s equally linked to the concept of “I” and “ego,” it doesn’t refer to selfish people who take care of their own interests without worrying about others.

According to Merriam-Webster, egotism is “an exaggerated sense of self-importance”. It could also be described as an insatiable desire to show others their own importance, regardless of whether the egoist has reasons to self-assign such importance. However, this is often not the case.

An egotist is a person who doesn’t pay attention to what happens to the people around them. They also disregard the needs of the people who live with them, believing their own issues and needs are above other people’s. Their lack of empathy leads them to see others as a means to an end – their end. Extreme egotism is also a distinctive feature of type B personality disorders, mainly histrionic and narcissistic.

Traits of an egotistical personality

They have excessive self-confidence and self-esteem

Having self-confidence necessary in order to travel the road to success. On the other hand, you become presumptuous if you have too much of it. Egotists assume everyone else is wrong and are unable to recognize others’ achievements.

The egoist wants a lot. And from time to time they say things like: “I don’t deny it: there are times when I talk to myself… because sometimes I need an expert’s advice“. They say it as if it were a joke, but to them it’s not.

Egotism, in short, keeps us from learning more about ourselves. Why should we bother changing when we already believe we’re perfect? In this sense, it’s worth remembering that, in the words of Jillian Michaels: “A bad day for your ego is a great day for your soul”.

Egotism causes people to believe they are incredibly important.

They live in fantasy worlds

Egotistical people spend a lot of time thinking about the great things they imagine they’ll achieve in the future. Their projects are based more on impressing others than anything else. They tend to embellish things to increase others’ interest. In general, they tend to exaggerate and dramatize most aspects of their life.

They have a “difficult” personality

Egotists only take into account their perspective. They usually believe that they know exactly how things should be done and how others should behave. When everything doesn’t go “as it should”, they feel they’ve lost control and this irritates them.

These people don’t accept “no” for an answer. They consider discrepancies aggression and are capable of disturbing the peace of those around them until everything goes the way they want it to.

They have low self-esteem

It seems contradictory, but it isn’t. Egotism makes people try to hide their own insecurity to avoid rejection. They do this by presenting themselves as more competent than they really are. They try to uphold an image they believe is perfect. And, above all, they try to never lose control of a situation.

Egotism causes people to want to always be in control or to appear in control.

Egotism in Gestalt therapy

Egotism is also one of the neurotic mechanisms contemplated by Gestalt therapy: its main function is to increase and strengthen contact through the narcissistic aggrandizement of the ego.

This mechanism is promoted by Gestalt therapy during the therapeutic process, while the patient has to be responsible for their needs. It helps diminish inhibition and encourage self-support.