What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Understanding the problem is the first step to overcoming it.

Understanding NPD

What is the official diagnosis criteria for narcissistic personality disorder?

A victim of narcissistic personality disorder will exhibit at least five of the following traits

1. A grandiose sense of self-importance

2. A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

3. A belief that he or she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

4. A requirement for excessive admiration

5. A sense of entitlement – unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

6. Interpersonal exploitativeness – taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

7. A lack of empathy and an unwillingness to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others

8. Enviousness of others – along with the belief that others are envious of him or her

9. A tendency to arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes

Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV

What is the NPI (Narcissistic Personality Inventory) Test?

The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) is the test most used in psychological research of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder. While there are actually several versions of the NPI, this 40-question, “forced-choice” version is the one most researchers prefer. Based on the DSM clinical criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), the NPI means to measure these features in the general population.

Warning: this test is considered controversial because it’s possible to score high even if you aren’t a toxic narcissist – because, based on the test, ALL narcissism is “bad” – but in reality, there is such a thing as a healthy amount of narcissism.

That is what makes the test so controversial for some: it’s possible to score high even if you aren’t a toxic narcissist – because, based on the test, ALL narcissism is “bad” – but in reality, there is such a thing as a healthy amount of narcissism.

Researchers say that people who score high on the NPI are more likely to cheat in game-play and romantic relationships. They also put themselves before others by taking more resources for themselves and leave fewer for others, and they value material things above people. They also might be obsessively concerned with their outer appearance – unless, of course, they’re a covert type of narcissist.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

NPD Diagnosis Criteria Explained

Where can I take or view the NPI Test?

What are narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury?

Ever have a “frenemy” – you know, the “friend slash enemy” combo, all neatly wrapped up into one friend, relative, co-worker or acquaintance? Not sure? Well, let me ask you another question.

Have you been just SHOCKED at the level of betrayal to which someone subjects you on a regular basis? Whether it’s a friend, a family member or even a co-worker, a “frenemy” is also often a narcissist, which is officially defined as “person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish.”

Do you know and/or love a narcissist? If so, have you ever had one tell you that he or she “knows you better than you know yourself?” How about being told that your feelings and thoughts aren’t real or legitimate? And depending on the point in your life in which you met the narc and the intensity of his manipulation, you might even believe him. 

But everyone’s got a touch of narcissism – it helps us stay alive. Still, some have what might be considered “toxic” levels of narcissism – and one of the most telling signs is when someone from whom you expect (and deserve) loyalty goes the other way and betrays you.

For example, the boss who doesn’t back you up on a project – or the one who steals your idea and takes credit for it. Or the wife who just can’t seem to get it through her head that you are a person with feelings and emotions, too. Maybe it’s your child or your father who is “touched” by narcissism – it could be almost literally anyone you are in any type of ongoing relationship with. Read more.

Related: Narcissists and love bombing

How do I deal with an angry narcissist?

Narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury go hand in hand. While they often claim that their raging behavior is related to stress, the opposite is true. In fact, a narcissistic rage is triggered usually by some perceived insult, criticism or disagreement that results in a narcissistic injury.

Read more: Understanding Narcissistic Rage and Narcissistic Injury

The average raging narcissist thinks that her victim intentionally caused this so-called “injury” and that the victim did so with a hostile motive.

The reaction to this trigger is often intensely disproportionate to the actual “offense” committed by the victim—and invariably, the victim in these situations sees the narcissist as unreasonable, out-of-control, mean or even just plain old crazy.

If you’re the regular target of narcissistic rage, you need to know that it is REALLY not your fault! The rage isn’t about you, and it never was—it’s always been about the narcissist. Learn more. 

Is our society fostering NPD?

One study found that many parents are “too soft” on their kids, offering too much praise and not enough criticism, according to CNN’s Ruben Navarette.

This, according to researchers, can apparently lead to narcissism. 

I think there’s definitely a certain amount of validity to the theory, but in my experience, there’s a more prominent group of narcissists who grew up thinking they weren’t good enough for whatever reason.

The researchers listed traits and experiences that contribute to narcissism: public schools that tolerate mediocrity; a nurturing culture where everyone gets a trophy; social media, where everyone with an opinion can share it; a celebrity and reality show culture that tells Americans anyone can be famous. At the top of the list though: parenting.

How can I learn more about narcissists?

What else should I know about NPD?

The following are important statistics about narcissistic personality disorder that may be helpful for you if you’re struggling with narcissistic abuse and gaslighting – and they will help you by teaching you to understand and identify the issue – that is, like I always say, the very first step to recovery.

  1. NPD is estimated to have affected 1% in the general population and 2-16% in clinical populations.
  2. A study was published in 2009 that suggests the incidence of NPD had more than doubled in the US in the prior 10 years, and that 1 in 16 of the population have experienced NPD.
  3. Anecdotal evidence suggests that narcissists may be common within the financial sector as they are “able to make quick, bold decisions without any thought for the consequences these might have on other people.” (Donald Trump, anyone?)
  4. Narcissistic personality disorder can be co-morbid with DSM Axis 1 major depressive disorders.

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