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BRAINPLAY SUMMARY: Narcissism

Our recent Brainplay held here at THECUBE tackled the complex subject of Narcissism.

As with many Brainplay’s the purpose of them is to help build some clarity around a topic, to help refine our own views on something so that it can improve our use of that subject. Narcissism was no different.

Our key anchor for the evening was Ales Zivkovic who is a Cube member and more importantly currently works as a psychotherapy counsellor within NHS in SW London. Whilst the table went around discussing their interest in and knowledge of the topic to varying degrees of certainty, Ales was keen to state what science has to say regarding Narcissism.

There are in fact 3 types of narcissism, however the general public most associate itself with one type, perhaps brought on by a cultural and media let image, but also that it’s more evident than the others. The 3 types are

  • Exhibitionist
  • Closet
  • Devaluer

The ‘Closet’ Narcissist is perhaps one that took most people by surprise, in its description you mostly brush the person with being insecure rather than a narcissist. However, narcissism works on a spectrum and within diagnoses psychotherapists and psychologists would look for a series of facets that would relate. The Closet Narcissist is harder to spot, rather playing a lot of emotional blackmail games. Ales referred the tendencies of a Closet Narcissist to a person who had little to no bond with their mother as an infant, as such finding their own path and believing that they can only rely on themselves, they find love in other people only as a result of knowing that the love is coming back to them. It becomes an empathy breakdown. Some in the room made some correlations to family members, friends and loved ones that helped explain a lot about their past.

Other issues around Narcissism involved how when an image of themselves is tarnished, when the bubble they have built, perhaps falsely, bursts, they have a tendency to fall into depression. This depression can be long lasting. In the diagnoses of depression, psychologists and psychotherapists aim to identify the root of the depression; clinical (chemical imbalances) or situational. This helps in devising effective methods for rehabilitation.

Needless to say the Brainplay shed light that, once again in the English language, we use a word too loosely, and often incorrectly. Narcissism is a far more diverse subject that not only needs more professional study but actually better awareness in the general public.

Perhaps a timely sending of this summary however the key line taken from the evening was in fact from regular attendee Mo citing a Tom Waits lyric, “Get off that cross, we can use the wood”.

You may find more about narcissism on his website under tag of “narcissism


Ales currently works as a psychotherapy counsellor within NHS in SW London and also runs his own private psychotherapy practice in North London. (You can find more about his psychotherapy engagement here: https://aleszivkovic.com/) He also works as an executive and transformational coach to high level entrepreneurs, executives and corporates, where one of his specialities is one-on-one negotiations coaching. (You can find more about what he does for professionals here: http://zebrafive.co/)

His greatest value is in connecting psychology and business. His business experience ranges from investment banking, to corporate finance and government affairs in a large UK based pharmaceutical giant. He was also involved in public policy consulting and economic research and as health care financing reform advisor to the Minister of Health. Later on he was appointed State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance in Slovenia, responsible for state budget and taxes. He was also an advisor to one of Slovenia’s bank boards, member of the Slovenian government negotiations group and various other negotiating groups of the government, supervisory board member in the largest Slovenian insurance company and advisor to boards of various other companies. After that, he set up a London-based broadcasting business, raised funding, expanded it throughout CEE and EE region and exited.

Ales Zivkovic

w: zebrafive.uk

w: psychotherapylondon.org

THECUBE is a coworking space in East London hosting a diverse selection of bright thinkers. Innovation comes not only from collaboration but also from an ability to view a subject from another lens. We aim to provide this intellectual set up to our members, helping them learn throughout their time at THECUBE.