What is Narcissism?
Narcissism, also referred to as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), is a serious condition that is one of ten known types of personality disorders. The condition is often characterized by having an inflated sense of self, a deep need for admiration and attention, lack of empathy for others, and is typically accompanied by difficulties with both platonic and romantic relationships.
4 Signs That You May Have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder
While the word itself is used as a common label for self-centered people, the disorder is rare, affecting between 1-5% (50-75% being men) of the population. The exact cause of NPD is unknown but is thought to be the cause of a combination of factors such as childhood trauma, genetics, personality, and temperament to name a few.
While all of us will, at some point in our lives, display some narcissistic qualities, the difference between flaunting your favorite outfit and having full-blown NPD is quite drastic. Most cases will often be diagnosed in someone who displays multiple signs, often five or more, of NPD.
Below are four of the most common signs of narcissistic personality disorder and tips on how to spot them in yourself or someone you know.
1: A Lack of Empathy for Other People’s Feelings
One of the most common signs of NPD is a lack of empathy for those around you. Narcissistic people will typically be obsessed with how others view them, oftentimes going out of their way to appear superior or more important than those around them.
While this level of attention towards others’ thoughts may seem like caring, the important distinction to make is when that attention stops. If you have NPD, you may find it difficult to understand, or you may simply not care what others’ opinions or thoughts are when they do not pertain to you.
A lack of empathy is the hallmark of NPD. Narcissists cannot make others feel seen or understood, simply because they cannot understand the basis of feelings. If you find yourself unable to understand others’ feelings or opinions, it may be worthwhile to see a therapist to understand why.
2: An Exaggerated Sense of Self-Importance
Another major sign of NPD is having an inflated, grandiose sense of self. If you have NPD, you often feel like you are superior to others, even when you know nothing about them. This can sometimes be difficult to see, as narcissistic people can oftentimes present themselves as confident, and even self-deprecating, at times.
However, no matter how you go about it, if you have NPD you believe yourself to be far better than those around you.
Some ways in which you may perceive yourself as being better than others can be how you talk about yourself and your possessions. People with NPD will often insist they have the best of everything. If you have NPD, you have the best clothes, cars, home appliances, everything. If you have NPD, you may even find yourself exaggerating your own personal accomplishments to one-up your friends.
3: A Constant Need for Attention
Let’s be honest, we all love when we get a compliment on our favorite outfit. It makes us feel noticed and can put a smile on our faces even when we’re feeling down. However, if you have NPD, you crave these compliments, and will oftentimes seek them out.
This need for attention and admiration stems from the fact that if you have NPD, you struggle to have a defined sense of self. As a result, people with NPD actually lack self-confidence, which can help explain why they seek out attention at every opportunity.
Narcissists need a lot of praise, and when they are not getting it, they will seek it out. The difference between someone who is simply self-confident and those with NPD is that those who are self-confident do not rely on others to feel good about themselves.
If you have NPD, you will often find yourself exhibiting other attention-seeking behaviors such as conversation hogging and unsolicited advice-giving. These types of behaviors help you keep the attention of others, while also taking the spotlight away from others.
If you find yourself craving compliments from others, or always needing to be the focus of every conversation, you may be displaying signs of NPD.
4: Difficulty Receiving Criticism
If you have NPD, you have extreme difficulty receiving criticism. This is another clear sign that you may be a narcissist, and can often help determine whether or not you have a personality disorder.
Those with NPD will often struggle to accept any form of criticism, as it seems to them to be an attack on their self-esteem and identity. For someone with NPD, criticism or negative comments can lead to that person lashing out and attempting to undermine the individual who they feel has wronged them.
Another hallmark of narcissists is a lack of personal responsibility. When you have NPD, nothing is ever your fault. You may find it difficult to apologize for even the simplest of things, even when they are clearly your fault. When faced with having to apologize for something, a narcissistic person will often resort to using phrases such as “You made me do this,” or “It’s because you did … ”
This type of behavior is a telltale sign of narcissistic individuals and can be a helpful tool in diagnosing your condition.
Other Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
It’s important to note that for someone to fall under the category of a narcissistic individual, these qualities must be a steady, unchanging part of their everyday personality. If you have a short stint of self-absorption after getting a haircut or changing your style, you are not a narcissistic person, you’re just displaying perfectly normal, healthy behavior.
For someone to be diagnosed with NPD, they must check all of the boxes all of the time. It’s also important to understand that the words narcissistic and narcissism are meant to refer to someone who has an existing personality disorder and should never be used as a degrading label for someone who may be a little too self-confident.
Some other signs of NPD to look out for can include some of the following:
- Difficulty with relationships
- Being envious of others and believing others to be envious of you
- Taking advantage of others for personal gain
- Expecting others to perform special favors without question
- Major difficulty dealing with stress
- Feeling depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection
- Having secret fantasies about success, admiration, power, or beauty
- Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
- Difficulty regulating emotions and controlling behavior
- Believing that you are superior, and only willing to conversate with those you feel are “worthy” of your time
- Being easily slighted
People with NPD will often have an accompanying mental disorder such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
If you think you are living with NPD or other personality disorders, it’s important to talk with your doctor. Your health care team should be able to provide you with resources and information to help you find the best treatment that fits your individual needs.
Do You Know Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Tell us about your experience in the comments.
What Topics Related to Mental Health Would you Like to See Us Explore?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
Are you on Facebook?