Narcissistic personality disorder is a psychological disorder that, while not common, can be very destructive to people in relationships. It is estimated that about 1 percent of the population has this disorder. It is thought to be rooted in childhood experiences and in poor parenting, although some researchers believe it is highly heritable.
Arrogance and Sense of Entitlement
The most obvious sign of narcissism in a person is a tendency to be arrogant. A narcissist feels that he is special, better than other people and entitled to special treatment as a result. He may feel as if he should be able to go to the front of a line rather than waiting in line like everybody else. He may brag a lot and exaggerate about his own accomplishments. He has an insatiable need for attention, otherwise known as "narcissistic supply." Others must be constantly adoring and admiring of him and his brilliance and talent. He must be the center of attention at any gathering, and any person who does not hang on his every word will be rejected, criticized or even attacked. If someone talks about themselves incessantly and is not interested in hearing about you at all, then you can suspect that the person may be a narcissist.
A narcissist does not see other people as being as fully human as he sees himself. As far as he's concerned, he's the only person who really exists; other people exist as sources of narcissistic supply and to do his bidding and help him get ahead. For this reason, the narcissist frequently exploits people at work and in the family. He may expect others to do all the boring parts of his work for him, and he won't give them any credit for it. He may expect family members to work for him for free. Some narcissists prey on others sexually, seducing and abandoning lovers in rapid succession. A sociopathic narcissist may turn into an outright criminal.
Lack of Empathy
It is impossible for narcissists to have healthy relationships with others because of their arrogance and exploitative behavior. But perhaps the most destructive quality of a narcissist is her lack of empathy. Narcissists prey on, exploit and devalue other people around them with little or no remorse. It becomes obvious after a while that they don't believe other people's feelings matter at all compared to their own. They don't seem able to notice or care about the inner lives of other people. There is a stunning lack of imagination in their ability to ignore the pain of the people that they hurt.
Narcissists exhibit what psychologists call "bad boundaries." What this means is that they disregard normal limits on social behavior: They may borrow things without permission; make rude comments about other people's appearance; touch people inappropriately and generally disregard other people's rightful "boundaries," boundaries that normal people respect. To them, other people are inconsequential, so why not violate their boundaries? A narcissist becomes enraged, however, if you resist his violation of your boundaries or try to re-assert a boundary with him.
Dealing with Narcissists
According to Sandy Hotchkiss, an expert on narcissism, you can protect yourself from narcissists in your life in four ways. First, you must understand yourself and your own vulnerability to the attractions of the charming, charismatic narcissist. Second, you should take off your rose-colored glasses and admit to yourself that the narcissist is not a normal, empathic person like you. Third, you must set boundaries with this person, making clear statements about what is and is not all right with you. Finally, you can cultivate reciprocal relationships where both parties give and take equally, and nobody is the "star."
- "Why is It Always About You?"; Hotchkiss; 2003
- MayoClinic.com: Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Photo Credit Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
Dealing With Narcissistic Personalities
Dealing with narcissistic personalities is frustrating and exhausting. The only way to effectively deal with a narcissist is to understand how the...
Narcissistic Victim Syndrome
Narcissistic personality disorder is a debilitating condition that wreaks havoc on those who have it. Because their condition often involves the callous...
How to Understand a Narcissist
Many people looking for a nice person end up being seduced by a narcissist. To avoid this you should understand how they...
How to Stay Sane Around Manipulative People and Situations
It seems that some people, no matter the circumstances, can't help but manipulate. Everyone has done it, but there is a point...
How to Recover From a Narcissistic Marriage
A narcissist is someone who is infatuated and obsessed with himself. He is egotistical and ruthless in his chase for dominance, gratification...
How to Tell if your partner is narcissistic
Do you find yourself confused by your parnter's behavior? Do you feel that your parnter thinks of himself as special? Do you...
How to Know If My Girlfriend Is a Narcissist
The classic signs of a narcissistic personality are anything but subtle. Self-absorbed, grandiose, obsessed with personal appearance, controlling, manipulative, shrill and hyper-sensitive...
Signs You Are Dating a Narcissist
Narcissists suffer from a personality disorder that causes them to have an exaggerated sense of worth and a strong need to be...
The Signs and Symptoms of Narcissism
Although many people can seem self-centered at times, full-blown narcissism is called narcissistic personality disorder, or NPD. People with this disorder deviate...
Signs of Narcissism in Teenagers
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, is a condition in which people have an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with...
Signs of Egotism
Everyone needs a reasonable degree of self-love to function normally. However, some people love themselves so much that it destroys their relationships...