Narcissism and psychological distress among civilians exposed to war trauma

Michael Weinberg, Avi Besser, Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Aaron L. Pincus, Yuval Neria

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The residents of the state of Israel have been exposed to terrorism for more than 60 years. In 2012, Israeli and Palestinian civilians on both sides of the border witnessed yet another round of escalation of the ongoing conflict, leading to a full-scale military operation referred to as Operation Pillar of Defense. During this escalation, Hamas and Islamic Jihad forces in the Gaza Strip fired more than 1,500 missiles and rockets at Israel, aiming to reach cities and villages in central Israel. Previous research has demonstrated that certain intrapersonal characteristics related to personality traits are essential for dealing with the emotional stress of war. The goal of this chapter is to discuss the role of the personality characteristic of narcissism, which has been shown to play a key role in coping with stressful situations, but has yet to receive sufficient scientific attention. To address this gap, the current chapter will present and discuss findings from a recent study that examined how individual differences in pathological narcissism interact with trauma exposure and how that interaction predicts symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The study was conducted among 342 female Israeli adults as they faced different levels of potential ongoing threat from missile fire. The results of this study revealed an association between exposure severity and acute PTSD symptoms and GAD symptoms for individuals with high levels of pathological narcissism, but not for those with low levels of pathological narcissism. These results suggest that individuals with narcissistic personality features are at greater risk for acute anxiety symptoms following exposure to uncontrollable and ongoing life-threatening trauma, as compared to their low-level pathological narcissism counterparts. Clinical and theoretical implications will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of the Psychology of Narcissism
Subtitle of host publicationDiverse Perspectives
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Pages399-416
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781634630344
ISBN (Print)9781634630054
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)

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