If you have ever been called self-absorbed, you can be sure you were not getting a compliment. Not only is the root definition of the term negative, but it is also saturated with unfavorable connotations.
The concept is synonymous with self-preoccupied, self-centered, self-obsessed – and even egotistical and selfish.
People who have the tendency to use more self-referential terms (I, me, myself) tend to have more health problems and earlier deaths.
‘Preoccupied with oneself or one’s own affairs and to the exclusion of others or the outside World.’ That is, self-absorbed individuals do not show much concern about anyone or anything outside their (narrow) self-interest.
As such, they typically make little effort to understand others’ thoughts and feelings. And overly focused on themselves, they can easily miss the mark when they try to.
Whether you are feeling extremely bad or nervous about yourself, worriedly ruminating about how others perceive you, or indulging in grandiose thoughts about your ‘specialness,’ you are descending into a state of toxic self-absorption.
And as a personality trait, attending excessively to yourself is regarded not only as abnormal but as unethical, too.
From a variety of phobic, anxiety, and obsessive-complulsive impairments to many depressive disturbances, to various addictions, to post-traumatic stress disorder, and to most of the personality disorders, self-absorption is playing a major role.
Experts on pathological narcissism routinely speak of self-absorption as perhaps the most identifying trait of this personality disorder. The self-absorption of narcissists betrays their grandiosity, sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, and exploitative relationships.
Borderline personalities are also characterized as self-absorbed – so self-absorbed that these individuals frequently can not discern what is going on around them, not only interpreting what others say and do but regularly arriving at false conclusions as to how others regard them.