Narcissism can be understood as a cognitive strategy because it uses self-interest and a strong sense of self as central or unifying components of general cognition.
It is intellectually a fairly simple strategy as these central components are always close at hand and usually apparent to the narcissist.
Narcissism is often the choice of children and teens, though not always.
Many cultures are fundamentally narcissistic. In some ways, they all are though a non-narcissistic culture is possible.
In terms of FIML theory, narcissism is a dominant network of semiotics centered around self-interest and self-aggrandizement.
The value of seeing narcissism as a network of signals—both mental and emotional—is it allows us to quantify narcissism and view its smallest parts in detail.
Today, the only tool we have to do this is FIML practice, but I am confident that within the next 3-10 decades we will have instruments that are capable of measuring semiotic networks with enough detail and accuracy to replace FIML in many situations.
(See Researchers can identify you by your brain waves with 100 percent accuracy for more on this.)
In the case of narcissism, such measurements will be able to show where even very small signals are embedded in larger networks and how they function within those networks. They will also be able to show the size and outlines or architecture of those networks.
The defining feature of a narcissistic network is (it is) a reduced and magnified understanding of the self. It is reduced because too many cognitive signals are taken into it. It is magnified because almost everything is understood in those terms.
FIML practice is able to access narcissistic networks and open them up by working with lots of small signals over a medium-longish period of time.
The greater reliability of many FIML-corrected signals gradually overthrows the hegemony of the erroneous self-oriented network of narcissism.