Narcissistic Personality

Gwen Randall-Young

The word “narcissist” is heard a lot lately. We can think of a narcissism spectrum. A person can exhibit narcissistic tendencies without having a full blown narcissistic personality disorder.

A person also need not have every one of the traits of narcissism to be considered narcissistic. They can have as few as fifty-five present of the traits, to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. It is particularly difficult to deal with a narcissist in relationships that are important to us.

Narcissism is diagnosed on the basis of behaviors. There are no blood tests or other exact determinations of this condition. Even therapists have to go on the behaviors and attitudes the person presents. 

What are the traits of a narcissist? Narcissism is extreme self-involvement to the degree that the person ignores the needs of those around them. They frequently disregard others or their feelings. In addition, they do not understand the effect their behavior has on others. 

Narcissists can be very charming and charismatic. Their negative behaviors are not shown right away, especially in relationships. They often have a sense of superiority and entitlement. This is different from self-confidence. Their world is all about good/bad, superior/inferior, and right/wrong. They have to be the best, the most right, do everything their way and control everyone.

They tend to be manipulative and controlling. A narcissist will try to please and impress you, but eventually their own needs come first.

A common sign of narcissism is the constant need for praise or admiration. They often brag or exaggerate their accomplishments for recognition.

A glaring sign of a narcissist is lack of responsibility, including blaming, deflection and gas lighting. They put all the blame and responsibility on others to maintain their façade of perfection. It is always someone else’s fault.

Most often the narcissist blames the one person who is most emotionally close, most loving, attached and loyal in their life. The victims of narcissistic abuse are the safest to blame as they are the least likely to leave or reject them.

Narcissists lack boundaries. They become upset if told “no”. If they want something from you, they will go to great lengths to get it through persistence, demanding, rejecting or pouting.

They frequently misread subtle facial expressions, biased towards interpreting them as negative. They can tend to interpret a neutral comment as an attack and become defensive. 

You cannot use reason or logic to get them to understand how their behaviors hurt you. One assumes if they know how they make you feel, they will change. They won’t, since your explanations don’t make sense to them. They are only aware of their own thoughts and feelings.

As a result of their inability to understand feelings, their constant need to protect themselves, and their lack of empathy, narcissists cannot truly connect with, or love others. 

They have anxiety, which they project onto their closest loved ones. They accuse them of being negative, mentally ill, unsupportive or selfish.

If there is a narcissist in your life, self-care becomes crucial. It may include working with a therapist to understand why you suffer so much pain, no matter how hard you try to make it right.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.