Understanding the Narcissistic Need for Perfection: The Most Dazzling, Perfect, and Comprehensive Review Ever

  • Martin M. SmithEmail author
  • Simon B. Sherry
  • Donald H. Saklofske


Over 100 years of theory, research, and clinical observations suggest perfectionism is a defining feature of the way narcissists’ think, feel, and behave. Our chapter first offers a comprehensive review of how trait perfectionism and perfectionistic self-presentation relate to the two core themes of narcissism: narcissistic grandiosity and narcissistic vulnerability. We conclude that narcissistic grandiosity has unique positive relationships with self-oriented perfectionism (i.e., demanding perfection from the self), other-oriented perfectionism (i.e., demanding perfection from other people), and perfectionistic self-promotion (i.e., promoting one’s supposed perfection) and a unique negative relationship with non-display of imperfection (i.e., concern over behavioral displays of imperfection). Likewise, we conclude that narcissistic vulnerability has unique negative relationships with socially prescribed perfectionism (i.e., perceiving others demand perfection), perfectionistic self-promotion, and non-display of imperfection. Next, we provide an overview of an emerging construct termed narcissistic perfectionism, using Armand Hammer’s life as a case example. Overall, the literature reviewed suggests narcissistic perfectionism is a promising theory-driven and empirically supported construct. Additionally, our case history of Armand Hammer describes a man who believed he was perfect and justified in demanding and expecting perfection from his family, friends, and coworkers (i.e., a narcissistic perfectionist). Lastly, we highlight exciting and important areas for further inquiry on narcissistic perfectionism.


Perfectionistic strivings Perfectionistic concerns Other-oriented perfectionism Self-presentation Narcissistic perfectionism Armand Hammer 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin M. Smith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Simon B. Sherry
    • 2
  • Donald H. Saklofske
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Dalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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