Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Exaggerating your achievements and talents
Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
Requiring constant admiration
Having a sense of entitlement
Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
Taking advantage of others to get what you want
Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Being envious of others and believing others envy you
Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
Today, let’s dive a little deeper and discuss symptoms and risk factors of NPD.
Identifying Narcissistic Personality Disorder
How do you know it’s NPD?
As you can guess from the official list of symptoms above, a 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.
What are the traits of narcissistic personality disorder?
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.
The expectation of especially favorable treatment and automatic agreement by people around him or her.
The 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.
People with NPD are good at making those around them, especially people who don’t know them intimately, believe that they are something special. Family members of people dealing with NPD will typically find themselves trying to please him or her, and feeling guilty if they fail. They may even be afraid of how the person with NPD will react if their desires can’t be met or if they are defied in some way.
Risk Factors for NPD: Why Do People Become Narcissists?
People always ask how narcissistic personality disorder develops in a person. They want to know: how are narcissists created? How do narcissists become narcissists? Does narcissism develop as a result of nurture or nature?
According to some researchers, NPD may be developed when a parent fails to act empathetically toward the sufferer during his or her infancy. This is common among those born to very young parents or those born to mothers who suffer from postpartum depression or psychosis.
Those who live in unpredictable situations and who feel they cannot rely on their parents are also at risk, as are those who are learning manipulative behavior from their parents.
When this happens, the child gets sort of emotionally “stuck” at an early stage of development and while they may later understand logically that others exist and have real feelings and needs, they may not ever fully embrace it emotionally. While a “normal” child will usually develop feelings of empathy for others around them by the time they hit kindergarten, those suffering from NPD never do–leaving them to become adults with the empathic capacity of an infant.
Are you dealing with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship?
Need support in your recovery from narcissistic abuse? If you’re dealing with a malignant narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder, you’ll definitely heal faster with the right kind of support. Which one is right for you? Here are a few options.
The term “gaslighting” comes from a 1944 movie called Gaslight in which a husband tries to slowly drive his wife insane to cover up a big secret. There are three primary stages of gaslighting, as it applies to the psychological term. Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation.
“The process of gaslighting happens in stages – although the stages are not always linear and do overlap at times, they reflect very different emotional and psychological states of mind,” writes psychoanalyst Robin Stern in Psychology Today. “The first stage is disbelief: when the first sign of gaslighting occurs. You think of the gaslighting interaction as a strange behavior or an anomalous moment. During this first stage, things happen between you and your partner – or your boss, friend, family member – that seem odd to you.”
So, in layman’s terms, that means you’ll find yourself wondering what just happened. You’ll think the person just “sort of snapped” and that the behavior might be out of character.
You’ll be shocked at some of the things the narcissist says to you and you’ll find yourself going “huh?” when they react or respond to you because the things they say are so far outside of anything anyone has ever said to you before. A gaslighter almost seems to go out of his way to make you wonder, but they’re not really trying to do that. In reality, a gaslighter is using an insidious form of manipulation that aims to throw you off-balance so you can remain under their control. They are trying to make you doubt your own perception, to question reality, and they want to essentially to render you helpless without them.
In other words, they are, in most cases, just acting in a way that feels natural to them. They are just being who they are: a narcissist.
Gaslighting Stage Two: Defense
“In the second stage, defense, the gaslightee has begun to second-guess himself,” writes TheWeek.com’s Shannon Firth.
This means that you start to wonder if maybe the narcissist is right–maybe you are the one to blame. You find yourself being constantly criticized by the narcissist and you being to think that you are really as slow, stupid, bad, lazy, or whatever other rudeness is being spewed your way.
Again, often the narcissist doesn’t even see what he’s doing here–but you won’t miss it. You’ll feel almost exhausted by the constant barrage of insults and digs being thrown your way, and you might even vow to make personal changes in order to become whatever it is the narcissist says you’re not. You lose a bit of yourself, really.
Gaslighting Stage Three: Depression
“By the time you get to this stage you are experiencing a noticeable lack of joy, and you hardly recognize yourself anymore. Some of your behavior feels truly alien,” according to Marriage Advocates. “You feel more cut off from friends – in fact, you don’t talk to people about your relationship very much – none of them like your guy. People may express concern about how you are and how you are feeling – they treat you like you really do have a problem.”
At this point, you’re probably in need of a serious life overhaul. Whether you get professional help or you simply take your power back by recognizing the serious nature of the situation and taking appropriate action to make it change–you’ve got to do something.
Staying in a gaslighting situation is clearly dangerous for you as a person, but in some cases, it can become even more serious since some narcissists will abuse their victims physically too.
Learn More About Gaslighting in Toxic Relationships
What is gaslighting? Why do toxic people and narcissists gaslight you? What does it mean and how can you stop letting gaslighting bother you? How can you overcome toxic relationships? All of these questions (and more) answered in this video that features several YouTube experts, including Angela Atkinson, Ryan Long from Unleashing Potential, Lise Colucci from QueenBeeing, Colleen Brosnan from QueenBeeing, Dana Morningstar from Thrive After Abuse, and Kim Saeed from LetMeReach.com.
Remember: Gaslighters make you feel crazy because they act like your reactions to their abuse are not rational. If you’ve ever had a friend, family member or co-worker who is a narcissist or who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), chances are you have been the victim of gaslighting.
How do you know if you’re married to a narcissist? How can you tell if your spouse is a narcissist, or if they’re just unwittingly submitting to their own trauma? Can they heal, or is your marriage doomed to be toxic forever? Married or not, if you’ve ever been in a sexual or romantic relationship with a narcissist, you might already understand that they often seem to be more interested in sex and pleasure than actual emotional intimacy.
It isn’t quite that simple, though, because some narcissists – specifically those of a more covert and/or cerebral nature, actually tend to reject sexual experiences, and are less likely to cheat on a partner – but more likely to slide under the radar of even their own victims.
Narcissists, Intimacy and Sex in Marriage
In fact, narcissists and those diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) “are more likely to philander and dump their partners than people who view important parts of a relationship,” according to psychologist Ilan Shrira.
“Narcissists have a heightened sense of sexuality, but they tend to view sex very differently than other people do,” said Shrira, whose 2006 study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. “They see sexuality more in terms of power, influence and as something daring, in contrast to people with low narcissistic qualities who associated sex more with caring and love.”
That’s why some narcissists tend to bounce from one relationship to the next—and most often, the relationships don’t last long and they don’t involve much emotional intimacy.
Lack of Emotional Intimacy and Connection in Toxic Relationships
“Even when they’re in a relationship, they always seem to be on the lookout for other partners and searching for a better deal,” Shrira said after the study. “Whether that’s because of their heightened sexuality or because they think multiple partners enhance their self-image isn’t entirely clear.”
“Performance Anxiety is what happens when you focus on yourself and your anxiety, rather than your presentation or performance. It stems from a tendency to resist and fight your anxiety, rather than to accept and work with it. It’s the result of thinking of the performance situation as a threat, rather than a challenge.” ~AnxietyCoach.com
A Startling Fact About Performance Anxiety
Choking under pressure is a common response whether you’re playing the lead in the third grade Christmas play or giving an important business presentation. Unfortunately, about 90% of people handle stressful situations poorly.
A recent experiment shows that getting excited works better than trying to calm down. During a public singing contest, students were given various instructions. Those who said, “I am excited,” scored an average of 81% compared to 69% for those who said, “I am anxious,” and 53% for those who said, “I am calm.”
Learn how to use anxiety to your advantage when you’re in high stress situations. These tips will help you to perform better even when your palms are sweating.
Encouraging Yourself to Get Excited
Remain fired up. It’s difficult to calm down when your body is on high alert. Excitement is an easier state to capture when you feel anxious and your heart rate is up.
Distract yourself from self-doubts. You may have an interior monologue going on criticizing what you’re saying or how you look. Divert your attention to pleasant mental images or focus on the people around you.
Focus on the positive. Think about what you have to gain in the situation. Focus on entertaining or helping your audience rather than worrying about forgetting your lines or losing your job.
Generate flow. Put aside the outcomes for the moment. Lose yourself in the process. Enjoy what you’re doing for its own sake.
Rename your feelings. Tell yourself you’re excited. Your brain will like that better than being anxious.
Remember the benefits of anxiety. Anxiety has its positive side. It motivates us to take action. Without some anxiety, we would have little incentive to work or do anything challenging.
Accept your feelings.Realize that anxiety is natural. Everyone experiences uncertainty and wonders what will happen in the future. By some estimates, about 20% of people report that their performance suffers when they feel tense.
Seek long term peace. While it’s difficult to calm down on short notice, serenity is still a worthwhile goal. Your mind and body need time to recover after demanding experiences. Manage stress, get good quality sleep, and make time for relaxation.
Evaluate advice. High anxiety makes people more likely to seek outside advice and less likely to assess it accurately. Think before you follow someone else’s recommendations. Consider how to adapt them to your own circumstances.
Engage in rituals. Even irrational practices can help. Many athletes hold onto lucky bottle caps or wear a certain pair of socks. Find your own good luck charm!
Beware of manipulation. Unfortunately, researchers also found that anxious people were more likely to attract advisors who would deliberately mislead them. Be extra careful if you have any doubts.
Acknowledge genetics. There’s a strong hereditary basis for stress responses. Some people are more physiologically sensitive. But, everyone can learn to become more resilient.
Empathize with yourself and others. Anxiety is often confused with weakness. While you’re learning to manage your emotions, give yourself credit for becoming more adept. Encourage others who are going through similar struggles.
Seek professional advice. If anxiety is interfering with your life, there are effective treatments. Talk with your doctor to see if medication or therapy may be helpful.
You can make anxiety work for you. Just stop calling it anxiety and tap into your excitement. You’ll feel better and enjoy more success.
“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. They have a 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.”
Do you know a narcissist?
Narcissists tend to be caught up in their own lives, their own personal worlds. This means that in general, they have no time to consider the feelings, thoughts or needs of the people around them.
Rather than offer sympathy if you are dealing with pain or frustration, they’ll just share some of their own with you (which, of course, will be far more serious than your own.)
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.
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.
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.
Do you think someone you love might have NPD? Tell me in the comments.