Have you asked yourself lately, "Am I a narcissist?" Or "Am I narcissistic?" If you have, it means you must have been doing some brain work on some of your attitudes. While the word "narcissist" seems common, being a narcissistic person or having a narcissistic personality disorder is more complex than that. Learn more in this article as we dissect what it means to be a narcissistic person and the common signs of a narcissistic personality disorder.
What is the Meaning of Narcissism?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, narcissism is a mental health condition comprising a pervasive pattern of grandiosity in behaviour, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.
Narcissism is considered a healthy part of teenagers' personal growth. In other words, everyone on earth has a bit of narcissism to some extent, as some amount of narcissism helps us find fulfilment in our lives. But when does self-admiration cross the line to obsession and unhealthy personality traits?
That's where Narcissistic personality disorder comes to play. It is not as common as the typical narcissism traits in most humans. A study of a group of people in the United States revealed that narcissism is only prevalent in about 6% of the population, with higher rates for men.
NPD as a personality disorder makes it hard to relate with friends, family, and co-workers. People around narcissistic people may sometimes see them as over-confident and self-concerned about their wants and needs, but they feel insecure, empty, and have low self-worth. So, what are the signs of a narcissist, and how can you tell if you are a narcissist?
Signs of a Narcissistic Personality
The signs of a narcissistic personality disorder usually start from late adulthood and are exhibited differently depending on its severity. For people who sometimes ask, "Can you be a self-aware narcissist? Yes, if you have the following narcissistic traits:
- Having fantasies of unlimited power, success, power, beauty, intelligence, and self-worth.
- A belief that you are more special and unique than others.
- A high sense of entitlement
- A belief that others envy your perceived superpowers
- Envying others
- Arrogance and haughty behaviours
- Exploitative attitudes
- Lack of empathy
Other Signs of a Narcissistic Person
Need for attention
People with NPD strive for attention from other people. They find relationships unworthy if they aren't getting the attention and praise they think they deserve.
A high sense of self-importance
Grandiosity is a notable characteristic of people with NPD. They constantly feel superior and better than others, which can be misconstrued as overconfidence. As such, narcissistic people reject anything below their "high standard." For instance, they may reject a job perceived as mundane or belittle certain groups unworthy of their achievements.
Lack of empathy for others
Another common trait with people with NPD is disregard for other people's emotions and feelings. They care a lot about others' opinions about them but give no attention to their feelings or emotions. Therefore, when challenged, narcissistic people may be antagonistic or hostile to others.
The need to dominate the conversation
The urge to be at the centre of the conversation is similar to an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Unless the discussion is about them, NPD people have little interest in it. The experience of others is not essential to them.
Difficulty receiving criticism
Criticism damages narcissists’ self-esteem and sense of identity. Consequently, they may become aggressive or lash out at others who dare to call them out.
Narcissists and their Relationship with Others
Sometimes, in their attempt to understand their traits, narcissists wonder, " Am I a narcissist or a victim?" While you can easily take the "Am I a narcissist quiz?" online to get an answer, you can tell if you are a narcissist more from your relationship with others. In other words, narcissistic traits and emotions are best expressed within the context of significant interpersonal relationships, like romantic partners and family members.
A study on the interpersonal features of individuals with traits of pathological narcissism from the perspective of those in a close relationship with them revealed that people with NPD are:
In essence, there is generally a need to use others to make yourself feel better regarding narcissism. Every dark trait of a person with NPD revolves around the validation and perception of others, which in itself might be faulty.
While NPD may be similar to other mental health conditions, like anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, research has placed grandiosity as a distinguishing factor.
What is the Treatment for Narcissism?
If some of your attitudes are consistent with a narcissist personality disorder, seeking treatment is normal. There is no cure for being a narcissist, but the common treatment methods address the significant behaviours that negatively impact your relationships with others. For instance, psychotherapy can help narcissists:
- Understand their emotions and motivations
- Manage and control negative emotions
- Accept responsibilities and failures
- Respond to criticism appropriately
- Regulate behaviours
- Recognize and accept their abilities and potential
- Set realistic goals
- Relate better with people
- Empathise with others
- Work on self-esteem issues
In addition, therapy and relationship counselling with loved ones might help those with NPD foster healthy relationships. While these treatment methods have proved to work effectively, a narcissistic person must have a strong will to want to change.
Narcissistic individuals have an elevated sense of grandiosity, self-importance, and lack of empathy. Therefore, people with signs of narcissistic personality disorder have trouble maintaining a healthy relationship.
Am I a narcissist quiz might be accurate in confirming some of your suspicions, but speaking to a doctor or therapist is much more accurate. They can help you improve your life, initiate and maintain meaningful relationships with yourself and others.
Looking to understand your personality in more depth? Why not take our Big 5 Personality Test.