According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, the official list of symptoms is as follows.
- Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
- 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.
How do you know it’s NPD?
As you can guess from the official list of symptoms above, diagnosis of NPD would typically made when five or more of the characteristics are identified – but generally, the condition 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.
- 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.
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 People Become Narcissists
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.
Kids who don’t feel safe during childhood or who suffered from a lack of affection and parental praise may also develop NPD, as can those who were neglected and emotionally abused.
Those who live in unpredictable situations and who feel they cannot rely on their parents are also at risk, as are those who are learn 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.
Do you know someone with narcissistic personality disorder? Tell me in the comments.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.