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An entitlement is a provision made in accordance with a legal framework of a society. Typically, entitlements are based on concepts of principle ("rights") which are themselves based in concepts of social equality or enfranchisement.

In the 2000s, the meaning of the word has extended to encompass informal expectations of social relationships, social conventions and social norms which are considered unreasonable or unduly prescriptive upon others.[citation needed]


While an earned sense of entitlement is usually seen as more beneficent than purely psychological entitlement, it can also have a destructive counterpart in the sense of a felt entitlement to revenge based on the accumulation of grievances.[1]

Psychoanalysis differentiated among children three main varieties of the sense of entitlement: normal; inflated; and compromised.[2] The inflated sense of entitlement sought special privileges for the individual alone, perhaps to compensate for childhood suffering or narcissistic injury; while the compromised sense involved an inability to expect the basic rights enjoyed by those around one.[3] A normal or healthy sense of entitlement included an expectation of responsiveness from significant others,[4] a sense of agency, and a sense of one's right to one's own feelings - all forming positive elements in self-esteem.[5]

Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy distinguished in adult life between (ethically) earning entitlement in relationships, through care and consideration, and a subjective feeling of entitlement the real basis for which may be very different.[6] Thus the depressive may have an unjustifiably low sense of entitlement, the manic an exaggeratedly high one.[7] The gambler may feel entitled to expect a big win, to compensate for childhood deprivation; those who clamour most loudly for such reimbursement from fate may in fact unconsciously doubt their entitlement to anything at all.[8]

An inflated sense of what is sometimes called psychological entitlement[9] - unrealistic, exaggerated, or rigidly held - is especially prominent among narcissists. According to the DSM-5, individuals with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are likely to have a "sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others", typically without commensurate qualities or accomplishments:[10][11] Similarly, according to Vaknin, the narcissistic personality attempts to protect the vulnerable self by building layers of grandiosity and a huge sense of entitlement.[12]

See also[edit]

Social and psychological[edit]



  1. ^ Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, Between Give and Take (2013) p. 110
  2. ^ Vamik Volkan, Psychoanalysis, International Relations, and Diplomacy (2014) p. 36
  3. ^ Vamik Volkan, Psychoanalysis, International Relations, and Diplomacy (2014) p. 36
  4. ^ A. Goldberg, Advances in Self-Psychology (2013) p. 25
  5. ^ E. Ronningstam, Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality (2005)
  6. ^ Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, Between Give and Take (2013) p. 109-10
  7. ^ Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, Between Give and Take (2013) p. 164
  8. ^ Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis. (London 1946) p. 372 and p. 499
  9. ^ L. Ashner, When is Enough, Enough? (1997) p. 106-7
  10. ^ American Psychiatric Association (2013), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.), Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing, pp. 669–672, ISBN 0890425558
  11. ^ Mayo Clinic Staff (18 Nov 2014), "Narcissistic personality disorder: Symptoms", Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, retrieved 29 Apr 2016
  12. ^ Mary Farrell, Acts of Trust (2010) p. 191

Further reading[edit]

  • Twenge, Jean M.; Campbell, W., Keith The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2009)

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of entitlement at Wiktionary