Narcissism has been a hot topic in the last few years, and it's been the subject of some overblown freakouts of the kids-today-are-such-assholes variety. That said, there's mounting evidence that actually being a narcissist is pretty bad for you — and the people around you. Let's take a look at some of the interesting ways self-centered people can fuck things up.
They're immoral, even if they're religious.
While the religious right would have you believe that simply being godly makes you a good person, that's not actually true. A recent study surveyed 385 undergrads who identified themselves as either skeptical, nominally religious (ie. not showing up at church all that often), or devout. The study authors asked them to evaluate the ethical status of situations like "an underpaid executive padded his expense account by about $3,000 a year." Nominally and devoutly religious folks turned out to be more ethically strict than their skeptical counterparts — unless they had high levels of narcissism. Says study author Chris Pullig, "Both the nominal and devout groups show degrees of poor ethical judgment equal to that of the skeptics when accompanied by higher degrees of narcissism, a finding that suggests a dramatic transformation for both nominals and the devouts when ethical judgment is clouded by narcissistic tendencies." So basically, being a narcissist brought religious folks right down to the level of the godless. Previous studies have found no difference in moral judgment between religious and non-religious people, so it's interesting that this study did find a discrepancy. Regardless of what you think about religion and morality, though, it's interesting that narcissism appears to cancel out love-thy-neighbor values.
They're stressed out.
Earlier this year, a study found that narcissistic men have a more active stress response, which could lead to heart problems over time. Study author Sara Konrath speculated, "Given societal definitions of masculinity that overlap with narcissism - for example, the belief that men should be arrogant and dominant - men who endorse stereotypically male sex roles and who are also high in narcissism may feel especially stressed."