Narcissism Traits

Narcissism Traits

How do you identify a narcissist? What are the toxic traits that best identify narcissism in a person? This guide will give you the answers you need to easily spot a narcissist in your life.

What is narcissistic personality disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by a number of qualities, including one very important one that is shared by all toxic narcissists: the marked lack of empathy.

Narcissism first identified as a “mental disorder” in 1898 by a British physician named Havelock Ellis. Today, we use the label “narcissistic personality disorder.” 

General characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder include an inflated self-image, delusional fantasies, an apparent sense of confidence and a cold-hearted approach to dealing with others. While the narcissist may appear to be very confident in his or her self, their composure can be shaken by a narcissistic injury or a situation that threatens their ability to feel superior to other people.

People who rank high on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory test (NPI) are likely to take people around them for granted and to exploit people without remorse. The term “narcissism” was taken from the mythological Narcissus, who was said to have fallen in love with his own reflection so deeply that he stared at it for so long without food or water and died.

Famed psychologist Sigmund Freud believed that while narcissism is a normal stage in child development, it should be considered a personality disorder if it remains part of the personality after puberty.

Narcissism Traits & Statistics

Signs and Symptoms of Narcissism

According to the Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) can:

  • Be envious of others and believe others envy them
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
  • Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exploit or take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office
  • Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior

And people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) will also have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

  • Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
  • Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
  • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
  • Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
  • Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation
  • Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
  • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior

How Narcissism is Diagnosed

Narcissistic personality disorder must be officially diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist through a proper clinical evaluation. While we can figure out that someone is toxic on our own, the official diagnosis must be done by a medical professional. NPD was defined by the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 2013.

Noted were the personality traits of grandiosity and attention-seeking, along with major impairments in the way these types of personalities function in society. Also noted are the following common qualities of narcissistic personality disorder:

  • Relying excessively on outside sources (other people) to regulate self-esteem. (See also narcissistic supply)
  • Seeing him/herself as exceptional
  • Obvious lack of empathy
  • More often than not, relationships are superficial as opposed to deep and meaningful

In general, people with NPD don’t change; that is, the qualities mentioned above aren’t due to any medical condition, drug use or abuse, and they aren’t related to any developmental issues.

Important to Note: Many researchers also note that there are people who seem to fall into what they call a “narcissistic personality type.” These people have many (or all) of the qualities shared here but may not be diagnosable because they are on the lower end of the spectrum, which in some cases can still be considered “within the normal range” of personalities. So, researchers say, this is a less extreme form of narcissism.

Narcissism FAQ

What are codependency and enmeshment and what do they have to do with narcissists?

Enmeshment and co-dependency are two unfortunate byproducts of toxic family relationships. In a co-dependent relationship, one or both family members involved are psychologically influenced or controlled by the other–or they may need that other person to help fulfill their own needs or even to feel whole.

Related: What You Need to Know if You Love a Narcissist

While the term “co-dependent” was originally coined by the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery group, it has since been adopted by psychologists and other mental health professionals.

“A co-dependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior,” says author Melody Beattie, in her book, Codependent No More.

Enmeshment goes hand-in-hand with co-dependence. When you are enmeshed with another person, it means that you depend on that person to define your identity, your sense of being good enough or worthy of having good things in your life, your overall sense of well-being and even your own safety and security. Or, to put it more clearly–you are enmeshed when you can’t feel like a whole or satisfied person without the approval or presence of another person.

Being enmeshed with a toxic family member is unhealthy for all involved–it isn’t compatible with being an individual. Enmeshment takes away your personal power and the ability to manifest your true desires.

If you think you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, check out this resource page – and don’t forget to join my new online support group, SPAN, right here. 

Isn't Narcissism Just High Self-Esteem?

“They tend to exaggerate in an immensely obvious way – as people they’re unusual in their personality,” says clinical psychologist Jillian Bloxham. “It becomes very evident when a person is narcissistic.”

Healthy self-esteem is important for everyone, but some people develop an over-inflated sense of self-importance that leads to the belief that other people’s feelings, thoughts and beliefs have no relevance. This is the first sign many people recognize in a person who suffers from NPD.

NPD is a tricky condition, because often, narcissists don’t even realize anything is wrong–so identifying narcissistic personality disorder can be a challenge–but mostly for the narcissists themselves.

In general, narcissists are known for their sense of personal entitlement that causes them to expect people around them to cater to their every desire, to anticipate their every need and to respond post-haste in fulfilling them.

“It is good to think highly of yourself – but for these people it is out of control,” says personality disorders expert and consultant forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes. “It has gone off the scale.”

What is the 'False Self' of a Narcissist?

While a narcissist may appear to be an upbeat, happy person to outsiders in his or her life, people who know him or her intimately are likely to see a whole other personality. This can manifest in several ways–but a primary marker is that they are unable to empathize with those around them, and they consistently blame others for problems they’ve caused.

How do you deal with a narcissist in a relationship?

As with any other toxic family situation, it may be best to distance yourself from a person with NPD. This is especially true because they don’t generally realize that anything is wrong. Plus, there is currently no known “cure” for NPD–though if a person affected with it seeks therapy, change is possible. However, it’s very unusual for a person with NPD to seek therapy since they don’t see a problem with their behavior.

“Why would someone who thinks they’re special and great come for therapy?” Bloxham says.

How do you know if you have a narcissist in the family?

In general, if you feel like you’re being emotionally, physically, spiritually or otherwise abused, manipulated or mistreated by any family member on a regular basis, there is an element of toxicity.

Related: 44 Warning Signs You’re Being Emotionally Abused

These family members can include your spouse and other nuclear family members, but also extended family such as parents and in-laws, siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents and other relations.

Your toxic family member may over-criticize you or openly judge you for your personal choices, or they may be a little sneakier about it by gossiping or telling lies about you (or your choices) behind your back.

Related: Top 10 Warning Signs You’re Being Gaslighted by a Toxic Narcissist

Some family members may take it to a whole other level and actually attempt to wreak havoc in your life or even to control, destroy or alter your nuclear family, domestic situation or other outside relationships.

What are signs of a narcissist in a relationship?

  • Overstepping Boundaries–Psychological boundaries are defined as perceptions or beliefs that people hold in relation to their social group memberships, including but not limited to families, as well as their own identities and overall self-concepts. In part, boundaries help us to distinguish ourselves from other people–you know, that thing which separates “I” from “We.” Boundaries also help us define how we are linked together within our families and extended families. Toxic family members often have trouble with boundaries. That is, they will often feel entitled to involve themselves in your life on an unhealthy level. They may try to make you feel responsible for their emotions or their circumstances, blame you for things that you have no control over or try to control you and your choices.
  • Unfair or Unrealistic Requirements–Toxic family members generally have different beliefs or perspectives than you when it comes to things like trust, responsibilities, money, time and attention. They may become angry if you don’t do as they wish, even if it doesn’t directly affect them–but especially if it does. For example, if you are unable to attend a family gathering, a toxic person might try to make you feel guilty or simply stop speaking to you.
  • Double Standards–Many toxic family members hold tightly to their own double standards. For example, they may expect you to keep their secrets or “have their backs” when other people gossip negatively about them, but they can’t or won’t offer you the same courtesy.
  • Manipulation–Toxic family members are master manipulators–and they will deny it if you call them on it. They will use every manipulation technique at their disposal in order to control you. They may cry, scream, argue, beg–anything they can think of to get you to do what they want, even if what they want isn’t what’s best for you. And, if the first technique doesn’t work, they’ll often move down the list.

How do you know it’s NPD?

As you can guess from the official list of symptoms above, diagnosis of NPD would typically be made when five or more of the characteristics are identified – but generally, the condition goes undiagnosed because narcissists see nothing wrong with their behavior.

NPD goes undiagnosed because narcissists see nothing wrong with their behavior.

People who are involved with narcissists and those who have NPD typically report the following kinds of behaviors and characteristics – do we see a pattern?

  • The belief that he or she is “special” and the desire to only associate with people he or she perceives are on their wavelength or who will “appreciate” them.
  • The need for excessive admiration from those around him or her.
  • An expectation of especially favorable treatment and automatic agreement by people around him or her.
  • Exploitation of others around them for their own benefit or advancement.
  • Inability to empathize with others.
  • Feels envious of others, but also feels that others are envious of him or her.
  • Acts arrogant, and may try to disguise arrogance with ethics.
  • Displays an exaggerated sense of self-importance and is typically extremely judgmental.

How can they not care how others feel?

Since narcissists tend to see other people as objects or possessions, they cannot fathom it when they are not obeyed or catered to. If the person is a friend or acquaintance, the narcissist may just discard them and pretend they don’t exist–but if it’s a family member, things can get more serious.

For example, the narcissist may try to pressure the family member into conforming to his or her wishes, and if that doesn’t work, additional and potentially life-altering steps may be taken to get what is desired.

Because narcissists are incapable of empathizing with others, they don’t even consider (or care) how their words or actions could affect others–and they will never admit that they are wrong. Instead, they will play the victim and use the situation to gain more attention from others around them.

Are you a survivor of narcissistic abuse?

Here are some ways you can get help!

One-on-One Coaching

Schedule an appointment with one of our certified life coaches.

Free Support Group

Join our free online support group for narcissistic abuse survivors.

Small Group Coaching

Check out our lower-priced, small group coaching sessions!

There Are Two Pandemics Happening: Coronavirus And The Rise Of Mental Illness

There Are Two Pandemics Happening: Coronavirus And The Rise Of Mental Illness

You’re aware of the risks when it comes to not social distancing right now, as well as not wearing masks and gloves when you are out. Maybe you’re young and healthy, but you’re still trying to be extra careful with not putting yourself at risk for catching the virus. You may be not so much concerned about yourself. But you may be worried about passing the virus onto those who are physically vulnerable such as the elderly and those who have weak immune systems.

The goal is to protect yourself as well as your community. That’s understandable.

However, there is one major problem that is not getting enough attention. That is this pandemic has also increased the mental health risks such as increased depression and anxiety. That is not the worst part of it. Those who have mental illnesses who are trying to not regress into a hole are often judged if they go out to a hardware store to get ‘non-essential’ items. Their thinking is why bother putting the community at risk while going out to get an item that is ‘non-essential’.

You may see a man head over to the hardware store who is buying plenty of cans of paint. You may be thinking ‘how can he be selfish and put those at risk by going out to get items that he does not really need’. But here is the thing. Maybe for him, the cans of paint are essential. Maybe those cans of paint are helping him cope with his depression. Maybe he needs to so some home improvement during the time of quarantine for the sake of his mental health.

The same goes for the woman who is buying seeds and soil, as you may think that she is being selfish for risking others by purchasing a non-essential item. But what if she is an alcoholic who is doing her best to stay sober during this stressful time? Maybe buying seeds and soil to watch something grow is the very thing she needs to do in order to keep her sober.

The point is you cannot judge those who are leaving their homes to buy non-essential items. Sure, there is also a curbside pickup option. But that is not quite the point. You may be so focused on staying home unless you absolutely need to go out to get essential for the purpose of protecting those who are physically vulnerable. But don’t forget people are struggling with their mental health right now. There are more suicides, addiction relapses, and at the very least people who were doing well with their mental health have been regressing. Let’s not forget the wellbeing of those who are struggling as well.

Coronavirus is not the only epidemic going on right now. Mental illness is as well and this means you have to consider the needs of those who may not be physically vulnerable but are vulnerable due to the fact that they are struggling with mental illness right now.

Narcissistic Friends

Narcissistic Friends

The sad truth is I have had to let go of a lot of people in my life in order to be free from abusive situations and toxic relationships. Narcissistic friends can be so hard to see and very challenging to remove from your life. I know I doubted the narcissism I so blatantly saw and wrote it off as “just how they are” in an effort to let people be themselves and be a friend anyway. Once I saw the patterns I was repeating with similar people to the narcissistic abusers I had as partners it became clear that the only way to truly be free from abuse was to be very discerning with whom I keep and nurture as friends. 

Narcissistic friends can look like someone that has your interest at heart, who would have your back, someone that even though they are difficult to others seems to be ok with you. They will groom you to need them and push your boundaries ever so slowly until you are no longer able to say no to them. They will set you up to fail with the illusion of being your biggest fan. The narcissistic friend will lie to you and go behind your back to smear you. They will find ways to destroy other relationships you have and make you reliant upon their friendship as the only true support you have in your life. Eventually, they will turn on you, knocking you off the pedestal they had you on down to a devalued position. If there is conflict because of this devaluing they will cut you out and give the silent treatment likely while smearing your name to anyone that will listen,  The problem then becomes the issue of no one else knowing or believing that person is a personality-disordered abusive friend. You are left with losing more than one friend in the process often and can feel quite alone. 

Seeing Toxic Truths

After you leave an abusive relationship it often happens that you begin to see other toxic relationships in your life. This happens to many survivors because once your eyes are open to what a toxic relationship really is and especially once you start researching what a healthy or emotionally safe relationship is you begin to see truths about those around you. When your only pattern of relationship is one that has you as an abused survivor, it’s all you know of relating even if it never feels quite right. As you heal you begin to need healthy interactions and hopefully become less tolerant of anyone pushing your boundaries or gaslighting you or any other toxic behavior a narcissist will throw at you. Seeing the truths, while painful, is necessary for many of us in our healing. Narcissistic friends keep you in the abuse cycle that you are trying to free yourself from. There is no way to “manage” those relationships in a healthy and constructive way just as there is no way to do so in a romantic relationship with a narcissist. Narcissists make terrible friends. 

Letting go and making room for healthy friendships

One very positive thing is that letting go of toxic friendships makes a lot of room in your life for healthy ones. Toxic people take time, a lot of time. They take your energy and focus in order to keep them happily full of your supply so being free from that means being free to welcome in positive friendships. It may feel like you have no one after abuse because of how many people it seems you have to let go of. Use this time to focus on your own wants, wishes and

Get personal support in your narcissistic abuse recovery.

 

The Altruistic Narcissist Gives With Strings Attached

The Altruistic Narcissist Gives With Strings Attached

Have you ever met someone who was always happy to help you out of a jam, but who always did so with strings attached? You know the kind I mean. The ones who will cover your rent when you lose your job, or who will loan you a few bucks for groceries when you’re a bit short because you had to pay for something unexpected. Or maybe you know someone who gives big, expensive gifts, or who makes generous, sweeping gestures that impress everyone they know. Or someone who would “literally give you the shirt off their back if you needed it.”

Or someone who isn’t really even much of a giver, but who very occasionally demonstrates a monumental act of kindness, or who saves the day in some unexpected but somehow life-saving way every now and then?

Meet the Altruistic Narcissist

If you ever met a generous narcissist, one who goes out of their way to be charitable in some way or to “save the day” whenever possible, you know that there are nearly always strings attached to any kindness they dole out.

This kind of person is called an “altruistic narcissist,” or one who uses their ability to give as a way to gain control of the people around them.

We are going to cover that in this video, plus ways to deal with an altruistic narcissist.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources

Confusion in Toxic Relationships: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Confusion in Toxic Relationships: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

After my first marriage, I found myself missing my toxic ex. It was the strangest thing! I knew logically that it was not healthy for me to feel this way but I couldn’t stop remembering the good times. The longer I was away, the more the bad times seemed to slip my mind.

As it turns out, I’m not alone here.

So often, I hear survivors of toxic relationships are sad about the loss of a narcissist – not the toxic person they currently know, but the person they thought they’d known – or the person they believed they were involved with.

Today, we’re going to talk about why there’s so much confusion in toxic relationships (video) – and what you can do to eliminate it.

So why is there so much confusion in and around toxic relationships?

Well … on an essential level, its because the narcissist hides behind a sort of “armor” that is their “false self.” That means that they fool you from very early on.

Your first impression of the narcissist may have been a very good one; that’s because he or she showed you only the best parts of themselves when you met – they constructed a series of qualities and traits that are those they present to the outside world.

They make it very difficult to see who they truly are – you’re stuck deciding whether you’ve really got the sweet and charming love you signed up for, or whether the wool was pulled over your eyes and the real narcissist is actually the toxic, abusive, insulting and manipulative narcissist you’re dealing with in real life.

Of course, this leads you to a serious kind of mental torture that causes you to literally be at odds with yourself – we call that cognitive dissonance. You’re trying to reconcile the illusion you were initially presented with the person you have now got to deal with.

In a lot of cases, in order to cope with this mess, you start trying to improve your SELF – to change for him/her. But in reality, you’ve done nothing wrong and you’re not the issue at all – you’re just subconsciously trying to uphold that initial impression you had of the narcissist – the image of his or her false self that is challenged during the inevitable devaluation phase.

By the time you get to the discard phase (also inevitable with a narcissistic person – the cycle, like the beat, goes on), you’ll be treated to glimpses of the truly ugly face of the narcissist – the one that spews out the cruel and painful poison that causes you to lose all faith in yourself faster than you can say boo.

And you see the coldness, the callous indifference that leads to what feels like absolute torture to you.

While your first reaction is that everyone has a bad moment and this can’t be who they really are, the truth is that this is probably the closest you’ll come to actually seeing the narcissist’s REAL self.

This is about the time you recognize that the amazingly charming or engaging or otherwise awesome person you got involved with in the beginning is gone – and suddenly you see this horrible contempt that they have for you. And when you realize they felt that way all along, your heart breaks a little more, if that’s possible.

But what you have to realize here is that none of this is your fault. In reality, narcissists are not capable of feeling genuine love or empathy for anyone else – they just use people to meet their own selfish needs. Once they exhaust one source of supply, it’s on to the next.

Don’t let yourself believe in the magical connection you once thought you had – it was just a part of the whole narcissistic abuse cycle – an illusion, just like the narcissist’s identity.

So now that you know all of this, what do you do with it?

You start picking up the pieces of yourself, and you begin the healing process. You go forward, and you go no contact (or low contact, if you’re forced to deal with him/her – say at work or as a co-parent). You aren’t to blame – you were simply used as a pawn in the narcissist’s game.

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