Personality Disorders: The Narcissist

Understanding different personalities helps us protect ourselves, teaches us how to deal with people who have these personalities and how they might affect our lives.

Narcissism is actually very common to some degree, but it depends how it affects daily life.

We have to think:

  • How do we react to criticism? Do we go on the defense and justify the criticism? OR Do we learn from mistakes and experience?
  • How do we behave towards how others feel? Are we considerate? OR Do we gloat on our superiority and criticise that person?
  • How do we view ourselves? Do we recognise our faults? OR Do we feel we have no faults or do not recognise them?
  • What do we look to achieve in life? Do we work towards selfless goals and have positive plans for the future? OR Do we want constant attention and drama in our lives?
  • How do we treat others? Do we work towards what we want with consideration for others? OR Do we exploit others to get what we want?
  • How do we feel about ourselves? Do we feel equal to others? OR Do we feel we are entitled to special treatment and that we are better than those around us?

We all have a certain amount of narcissism in us but it depends on how harmful it is to the people around us.

The person who is a Narcissist is focused on themselves through vanity. They are only interested in their own physical and intellectual characteristics. It is very high levels of self-confidence but underneath are very insecure and feel threatened by others achievements. They lack the compassion and humility of normal, balanced people. They are defensive towards others, especially if their self-esteem has been threatened by someone and as a result they will become hostile to that person. It is very destructive on society and the people around them.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

We can all have traits of narcissism but with Narcissistic Personality Disorder it is more severe and the Narcissist damages their relationships with the people around them. They think they are the most important people in the world who deserve special treatment. They think they are the only priority because they feel they are more important and they should be dealt with first. They are always seeking attention and appreciation from others. What really scares me the most and is very dangerous about one of the traits, they have a total lack of empathy for others. They manipulate people and treat other people in a negative way. An example of this lack of empathy could be being critical towards another person, maybe because of a haircut that the Narcissist does not like, the person being criticised tells the Narcissist that they have hurt their feelings and rather than the Narcissist reflecting or apologising for their actions they disregard the victims feelings because they feel that the haircut hurts their feelings and not the victims as they don’t like it. They are very selfish, manipulative and too self-assertive. Assertiveness is about putting your point across without being aggressive, having reflection and respecting others. However, the Narcissist is aggressive in putting their point across and they put others down to make themselves look better. It is about jealousy, competition and comparison. An extreme Narcissist denies or is unaware of their condition so they will not seek treatment.

What causes Narcissism?

It is not fully known what causes Narcissism, however, there are a few factors that could be the cause such as genetic, parenting, society and culture.

How To Identify A Narcissist

These are the qualities that identify a Narcissist:

  • They have very extremes of self-confidence, self-absorption and self-praise.
  • They manipulate others to get what they want.
  • They brag about things in their life, if they have nothing to brag about they become angry and hostile towards others.
  • They hang around the people who agree with them, give them praise and admiration.
  • They are snobs who put others down and talk behind their backs.
  • They are unaware of their extreme behaviour as they are unable to reflect.
  • They think their behaviour is acceptable and find it difficult when someone does not like them or does not agree with them.
  • They manipulate others to achieve their goals and to cover up their real selves. Once they have got what they want out of you, you get dismissed and they will not want anything to do with you.
  • They don’t like criticism. If you criticise them they will become very hostile. Some will accept this face on but will be very bitter about it underneath.
  • They will not spend time with people unconditionally, they are more likely to spend time with people they get something out of. They want to satisfy their own selfish desires.
  • They are very judgmental.
  • Have a very jealous nature.
  • They are hostile and aggressive if they are criticised or fail at something.
  • They are the focus of every conversation and take over.
  • They always want to feel superior.

The patterns of behaviour with a Narcissist and a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are the extremes. People with a healthy self-esteem will get success in life such as getting jobs and accomplishments but they consider other peoples feelings and help others. They have self-respect. Most people who have their feelings hurt don’t act out with anger and rage. Healthy people are not cruel to people if they do not give them what they want. Healthy people do not exploit others, do not gossip spread and start rumours that will harm other people’s reputations. Healthy people do not act the victim and they accept responsibility for their mistakes.


Photo credit: mattcornock via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

How To Deal With A Narcissist

Dealing with a Narcissist is very difficult. If it causes significant harm the best way is to spend little time as possible with them or walk out of the relationship altogether. A good way to deal with them is to have compassion. In the end, the Narcissist has feelings of inadequacy and self-hatred towards themselves. However, this does not mean allowing them to do what they want to you. Having an attitude that is non-responsive is best. Narcissists love drama so don’t give it to them. Give them genuine praise on the qualities they do have. Be more docile in criticism. Don’t demand or expect support as a Narcissist is unable to provide it. Offer them support and a way to get help. However, some Narcissists do not recognise they have a problem so this is easier said than done. Above all keep your emotions neutral and give no emotional reaction. Keep your dignity and don’t sink to their level, leave them to look stupid.

My final point is that most people have some mild levels of Narcissism, however, this does not mean they are a Narcissist or have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It comes down to how extreme is their behaviour. If they have no empathy towards others, take great enjoyment out of harming others and are unable to recognise this, we have to consider how much time we want to spend around this person.

Rivers, C. (2014). Personality disorders and mental illnesses. [Place of publication not identified]: [publisher not identified], chapter 11 to chapter 14.

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