The word “narcissist” is overused these days. Narcissism isn’t just selfishness. There are many more sides to this way of thinking and behaving. If you’re unsure, below are common traits of a narcissist:
They live by the statement, “What’s in it for me?”
Narcissists are only nice to you if they think you can be of use to them.
They rarely do anything charitable if it won’t show them in a good light. Narcissists rarely do anything unless it will make them look good.
They always put themselves first and tend to be very selfish (They will put someone else first if it makes them look good but it will be the exception to the rule). Refer to previous point.
Narcissists tend to be self absorbed and focus on themselves most of the time. They focus on their goals to the detriment of relationships.
They lack empathy for others. They tend to treat family members with disdain.
They can be exceedingly charming and know all the right things to say even though what they are saying often isn’t heartfelt.
They like to be in control and often display controlling behaviour towards their partner/spouse.
There is a clear overlap between Sociopaths and Narcissists. Sociopaths use people as objects to achieve their goals and narcissists do the same. A narcissist is unaware of the aggravating effect he has on others, while a sociopath is very aware of the effect on others.
They tend to overestimate their importance and see themselves as superior to others.
They can be preoccupied with success, using people to get where they want to go with no feelings of guilt.
Narcissists regularly show arrogant behaviour and believe others are envious of them, which often isn’t the case. They believe their own hype.
Diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
In order to receive a formal diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), there needs to be at least five of the following nine symptoms:
- A grandiose sense of self importance (eg, the individual exaggerates achievements and talents and expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
- A need for excessive admiration
- A sense of entitlement (ie, unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations)
- Interpersonally exploitive behavior (ie, the individual takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends)
- A lack of empathy (unwillingness to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others)
- Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
- A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviours or attitudes
In addition, NPD is characterized by the presence of both of the following pathologic personality traits,
Grandiosity (an aspect of antagonism) – Feelings of entitlement, either overt or covert; self-centeredness; firm attachment to the belief that one is better than others; condescension toward others
Attention seeking (an aspect of antagonism) – Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of the attention of others; admiration seeking. This is often due to their underlying insecurities which they keep well hidden.
Prognosis for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The natural history of NPD, like those of all personality disorders, is unfavourable, and the condition is typically lifelong. However, many patients can and do show improvement with appropriate treatment. Research also suggests that corrective life events, such as new achievements, stable relationships, and manageable disappointments, can lead to considerable improvement in the level of pathologic narcissism over time.