It is not always easy to spot a narcissist, but these 10 signs will help you tell if someone close to you has this disorder.
If you feel that your partner, friend, or family member is experiencing these symptoms, it may be time to reach out and seek help.
Because narcissists tend to be charismatic and charming on the first encounters, it cannot be easy to detect their true selves. But if you have reason to believe someone close to you may have NPD or even minor narcissistic tendencies, there are some warning signs you should look out for.
What is Narcissist?
Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a lack of remorse.
The term narcissism is derived from Narcissus, a handsome Greek youth who became infatuated with his own reflection in a pool of water.
While today’s psychologists don’t necessarily agree with their ancient counterparts that excessive self-love and vanity are signs of mental illness, they recognize that there can be serious consequences for those afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
It is characterized by a fanatical obsession with the perception of being special, superior, and superior compared to others.
People who struggle with this disorder tend to be competitive, arrogant and possess little empathy. These traits are often accompanied by a flash of anger and a tendency toward violence.
The disorder is present from early childhood (around age 3) and is often associated with low parental bonding. The person may also be referred to as a "narcissist" or "narcissistic".
Types of Narcissism
To help understand what narcissism is, it’s helpful to know how many types of narcissists there are.
Three major types of narcissists are grandiose, vulnerable, and compensatory.
Grandiose narcissists are confident, dominant people who might feel superior to others.
Vulnerable narcissists often feel inferior and want to achieve personal success through someone else’s achievements.
They can seem more dependent on their partner or co-workers than other types of narcissists. Finally, compensatory narcissists attempt to make up for negative feelings with positive ones (in other words, they use external validation).
The following 10 signs can help you identify these narcissistic traits in yourself or others.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
What It Is and How to Deal With It: Perhaps you’ve heard of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), but you’re not exactly sure what it is.
Chances are, if you’re dealing with someone who suffers from NPD, you already know something about it. Take note of these ten signs that indicate that you may be dealing with someone who has NPD and how you can deal with them accordingly.
Here’s how to spot a narcissist in your life: The person makes him- or herself seem very important: As mentioned above, one of the defining traits of narcissism is an inflated sense of self-importance.
A person suffering from NPD will go out of his way to make himself seem more important than everyone else, and he'll expect others to feel sorry for him when things don't go his way.
He often feels put down by others: He’ll often say things like you never understand me or I could never love anyone as much as I love myself, all while taking no accountability for his actions.
This is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others.
But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism. That's why narcissists are notorious for taking any perceived attack on their character or reputation very personally.
They also tend to be hypersensitive, reacting with disdain (or violent revenge) when they feel humiliated. If you notice someone displaying these traits, especially if you are attracted to them, it might be wise to step back and take stock before getting involved too deeply.
What are the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder are very similar to those of other personality disorders. It is, therefore, important to get rid of the symptoms so they can be diagnosed and treated properly.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a diagnosis that describes a person with a high need for admiration and self-esteem. The main symptom is the need for constant attention, admiration, praise, and affirmation from others. This disorder can be triggered by an abusive childhood or an abusive relationship.
This disorder is often diagnosed in people who have:
A rare disease, Fabry disease (also called Frisian dwarfism), is a rare genetic disorder that results in the abnormal development of growth hormones, insulin-like growth factor 1, and other endocrine hormones.
What are the Causes of narcissistic personality disorder?
The exact cause of NPD is unknown, but it is believed to be linked to environment and upbringing. People who were consistently praised for their achievements as children or rewarded by gaining attention from others may be more likely to display narcissistic traits as adults.
It may also have something to do with low serotonin levels in the brain, which is often linked with depression. NPD often occurs alongside other mental disorders like ADHD, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse issues.
Depending on other symptoms present with NPD (depression, impulsivity, etc.), psychotherapy or medication treatment may help relieve some symptoms and make life more manageable for those suffering from NPD.
Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder
Treatment for NPD often includes therapy and medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective approach to treating narcissism.
For those living with someone with narcissistic personality disorder, counseling can help you deal with your feelings about your relationship and find healthy ways to cope and respond.
This can be helpful whether or not your partner gets professional treatment. If you have symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, talk to your doctor about what treatments might work best for you. Some people with NPD may also experience symptoms of other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety disorders.
That’s why looking for a therapist experienced in treating co-occurring mental health conditions is important.
Living with narcissistic personality disorder
There’s something about narcissistic personality disorder that many people find odd. They may want to appear better than others or even feel special, but then they begin to act out in ways that are beyond petty.
That’s because when you’re living with someone who has NPD, it can be both frustrating and challenging. To make matters worse, when you try to point out their flaws, they often try to make themselves look good by talking badly about others or making excuses.
For themselves and trying to blame other people for problems instead of taking responsibility for them.
How do you live with someone like that? It isn’t easy, but there are some things you can do.
How to Identify a Narcissist
Often, people who display narcissistic tendencies can be quite charming. If you’re in a relationship with someone you suspect to be narcissistic, it may take some time to confirm your suspicions.
They rarely come out and tell you that they have an inflated sense of self-importance or lack empathy for others.
How to Spot a Narcissist
It's easy to assume everyone is narcissistic. After all, no one in their right mind would be that arrogant. Of course, that's not true.
Some people have genuine confidence, while others have something more serious called narcissism.
So how do you know if you’re dealing with someone with a narcissistic personality disorder?
Keep an eye out for these 10 signs.
They Think They're Attractive (No Matter What). Narcissists think they’re incredibly attractive even if they aren’t considered conventionally good-looking or especially attractive by society's standards, and it doesn't matter how many times you tell them otherwise.
Narcissism in the Workplace
In organizational settings, narcissists are sometimes tolerated and even rewarded for their bold self-confidence. In fact, many corporate cultures value people who know how to self-promote people who can convince you they’re great at their job when they may or may not be.
Narcissistic behavior in a work environment is often destructive and detrimental to team morale. Most narcissists are notorious job hoppers because they constantly compare themselves to those around them; it’s very difficult to see someone else’s strengths as greater than their own.
When these behaviors become prevalent in an organization, they can stunt productivity and make employees feel worthless or undervalued.
Manual of mental disorders
The first line of defense against narcissism is simply awareness. Recognize some of these key signs to keep yourself from getting involved with someone you suspect may be narcissistic.
10 Signs You're Dealing With a Narcissist
1) They think they are always right
For example, they dismiss your opinion by saying you don’t have all the facts. Or they might tell you that you are just too sensitive.
A narcissist will also point out your flaws to make themselves look superior. For example, if you talk about your vacation to Hawaii, they might say, " Well, I went to Jamaica for my vacation, and it was so much better than yours.
I would have been happy to just stay home because there is nothing really special about Hawaii.
2) They can be charming
As with many personality disorders, narcissists have learned to control their behavior to manipulate others.
However, occasionally, you might get a glimpse of who they really are, which might be surprising. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be wary of them, but rather that their charismatic personalities can make them appear appealing at first.
Knowing someone takes time and energy, so try not to jump into anything too quickly or let yourself become isolated from friends and family as you figure out what’s happening.
That is part of how they gain control in your life through isolation and all-consuming relationships with themselves.
Listen carefully to what he or she says, then do that except in your own time.
For example, if someone says something like I’m running 10 minutes late for our meeting, and you have no idea when to expect them, don’t take it personally. The truth is that narcissists don’t keep other people waiting on purpose; they simply believe their time is more important than yours.
So while they may be late again and again (as if it were your fault), never be annoyed by tardiness because it doesn't mean anything. You'll be fine if you are willing to put up with their inane behavior without complaining and getting angry.
4) They make you feel responsible for their happiness
If someone you’re dealing with is a narcissist, they probably expect you to cater to their every need. This can range from doing things like always being ready to listen whenever they want to talk and validating whatever they say or do.
Whenever someone is unreasonable like that, it means they’re unwilling to do their part to ensure that you are happy together.
If your relationship makes you feel like you have to change who you are just so they can be happy, then chances are good that it’s with a narcissist. No one should ever be expected to put another person’s needs above their own.
5) They have delusions of grandeur
A narcissist will often feel that he or she is entitled to certain privileges. These can be materialistic (wealth, influence, power) or opportunities to shine in front of others.
The narcissist assumes that these things should naturally fall into his or her lap, as he or she deserves them more than anyone else.
It doesn’t matter whether they are actually deserving; their overblown sense of self-importance leads them to think they are more worthy than those around them and usually worse off than they actually are.
A narcissist will rarely admit wrongdoing and takes advantage of his privileged position by constantly being unapologetic and demanding apologies from others instead.
6) They need constant praise
Give your partner some praise, and she'll be fine. But give her constant praise, and you may be dealing with someone who can't get enough of it. Narcissists are never satisfied with what they have, says Hanks. They always want more.
That constant striving for self-gratification is one of their key traits—in that way, they're similar to people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In fact, studies have shown that narcissism and OCD share some genetic risk factors.
For instance, having one type of gene may put you at risk for both types of disorders, even if those disorders don't run in your family otherwise.
7) They never take responsibility for anything negative
If someone mentions something negative that happened at work, they won’t ever say something like I’m sorry it happened. Instead, they will always say things like It wasn’t my fault.
They refuse to take criticism: If someone gives them constructive criticism, they tend to dismiss it or view it as an attack on their character instead of listening and trying to learn from it.
They think only about themselves. They always see things in terms of what is good for them or will make them happy.
8) They become resentful when things don't go their way
When you disagree with a narcissist, they have trouble coping. It's not that they can't deal with it, per se; they don't feel like dealing with it.
They'd rather numb out and deal with their feelings another time when someone is around to listen to them. They make accusations when feeling threatened if you criticize or judge them in any way, don't be surprised if they lash out at you.
A narcissist is incredibly vulnerable to feeling threatened and will often react by assuming you've treated them unfairly somehow (even if that isn't actually true).
Keep going. Not letting their fear of being criticized control their life is important.
9) Their mood changes quickly
A narcissist is likely to be friendly, charming, and engaging when they want something from you. However, if you say no or otherwise reject them in any way, they’ll flip on a dime and become angry.
They’re not big on empathy. The inability to relate to others has been said to be one of the defining characteristics of narcissism.
A narcissist will appear very self-centered and often have difficulties with empathy. They just don't get why anyone would do things differently than they do.
They put other people down in addition to putting themselves on a pedestal; narcissists will also tend to devalue and put down those around them.
10) If your gut tells you something, listen to it
Empathy is an important part of any healthy relationship, but you can tell you’re dealing with a narcissist if they have no interest in listening to your thoughts or feelings.
If they are only focused on their needs and desires, there’s not much room for emotional honesty. It’s hard to develop any emotional connection when one person never considers how someone else might feel about something.
And when you try to talk about your feelings?
Expect harsh criticism instead of sympathy. They may insist that what you said wasn’t true or was somehow your fault, and if it continues, don’t be surprised if people start looking at you like you have an issue instead of them.
The first step to dealing with narcissism is accepting that you’re dealing with a narcissist. Unfortunately, many people try to sugarcoat or ignore issues until they can no longer cope.
This method will only make things worse, so be upfront and direct with your loved one before it’s too late. If he or she doesn’t respond positively, seek help immediately.
The most important thing to remember when interacting with someone who suffers from narcissism is not to take it personally. Remember that it isn’t about you and your value but how they feel about themselves.