WHAT IS A NARCISSIST?
“Narcissism” has become the go-to word when describing the personality types that are characterized by selfishness, entitlement, validation-seeking, and lack of empathy. In today’s society, we hear the words ‘Narcissist’ or ‘Narcissism’ tossed around casually to describe the people whom we find obnoxiously pompous and arrogant. Although these descriptions may be accurate, these individuals might actually be living with, what clinicians call, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
In order for an individual to be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder as defined by the DSM-5, he or she must meet the following criterion:
In addition to the above traits, one must also exhibit:
Not only must these traits remain stable throughout time but also across various environments
This individual’s behavior mustn’t be understood as normal by his or her surrounding community and/or culture and mustn’t be caused by a medical condition and/or drug use/abuse.
Although most Narcissists never actually get diagnosed by a mental health professional with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, one can usually figure out if someone they know is a narcissist if the individual exhibits at least a few of these characteristics:
Now, you’re probably thinking how awful it must be to be in direct contact with someone that exhibits the above characteristics; however, the worst is yet to come.
There are those too who exhibit displays of both Narcissism and Antisocial Personality Disorder. We call these individuals Narcissistic Sociopaths.
Clinically, one must meet all the DSM-5 criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder in addition to all of the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder in order to be diagnosed as a Narcissistic Sociopath.
The DSM-5 criteria for Anti-Social Personality is as follows:
Similarly to Narcissists, most Narcissistic Sociopaths never actually get diagnosed with either of the above disorders. So, we have gathered a list of characteristics that compile the Prototypical Narcissistic Sociopath so that you can steer clear of them:
SIGNS OF NARCISSISM: HOW TO TELL IF SOMEONE IS NARCISSISTIC
In addition to meeting some or all of the above characteristics that make up Narcissists and/or Narcissistic Sociopaths, common Narcissistic behaviors are as follows:
If someone you know exhibits some or all of these behaviors, you are more likely than not dealing with a narcissist.
Often, the above behaviors evolve into what we call Narcissistic Abuse. Most narcissists actually end up abusing the people in their lives as they continue their never-ending quest for what we call narcissistic supply.
The most common forms of narcissistic abuse are:
The above examples of narcissistic abuse are just a peek into the types of behaviors that one night use when abusing the people in his or her life. Narcissists will find every possible way to use and abuse their victims.
Outside of the DSM-V, there are other diagnostic tests one can take in order to see where on the spectrum one might fall in regards to narcissism. Some of these tests might be given by a mental health professional in order to properly diagnose while others are less clinical and more readily accessible to the public. In addition to spotting the behaviors and characteristics of a Narcissist, there are several Narcissistic Personality Tests out there so that you can see where on that spectrum an individual might fall. Here are just some of them:
A larger part of the global conversation happening surrounding Narcissism, is how they act in romantic relationships; however, narcissistic family members can do just as much damage as romantic partners- especially since they are often harder to escape from!
The below characteristics are often exhibit by Narcissistic Parents:
Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes. If a parent can be a Narcissist, then surely a child can as well. Due to the close proximity, siblings often find themselves being the target of their narcissistic brother or sister. The behavior in this dynamic looks no different than in other relationships, as Narcissists exhibit similar behaviors across their different environments. Siblings of narcissists often find themselves being subjected to emotional, verbal, physical, and sometimes even sexual abuse. Due to the Narcissist’s need for validation and admiration, parents are often manipulated by the narcissist so that their abusive behavior is never caught on to - leaving the sibling victim even further isolated and devalued.
Due to the complexity of family dynamics to begin with, having a Narcissist as a family member can often create a deeper sense of trauma to the individual that is being exploited by the Narcissist.
NARCISSISM IN RELATIONSHIPS
A large aspect of the conversation about Narcissism is in response to the consequences caused by involving oneself in a romantic relationship with a Narcissist. Although most Narcissists exhibit similar qualities, there are some gender differences when it comes to Narcissism in relationships.
Excessive care for one’s physical appearance is found in nearly all narcissists; however, narcissistic women usually use their appearance to gain superiority and often adjust their physicality through plastic surgery to do this. Although, to an extent, this is true for men as well, males usually use their appearance as a way to manipulate a situation to gain a specific desired outcome. Both men and women will use their appearance to threaten infidelity in relationships.
While both men and women use seduction tactics as a means of obtaining control and narcissistic supply, narcissistic men typically use charm to seduce a potential partner while women use their bodies and sexualities to do so. Women often use sex and withholding sex in relationships as a way to devalue their partners while men are seen engaging in sexually abusive behaviors (as listed above) more often.
Another difference you might find between narcissistic men and women in relationships is when dealing with money. While narcissistic men are often found striving to gain and keep an endless amount of money and power, narcissistic women will be found enjoying excessive spending. In relationships, narcissistic men are more often found controlling their partner’s access to money while narcissistic women might be found financially abusing their partner through maxing out credit cards, depleting funds, etc.
You will usually find narcissistic men exhibiting more aggressive behaviors in relationships while women are found using more covert devaluing tactics. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule.
NARCISSISM IN MARRIAGES
Narcissism in marriage is no different than narcissism in any other relationship; however, you will usually find narcissistic behaviors to be exhibited in a more dramatic and intense way. Due to the legalities of marriage, you will often find both narcissistic wives and husbands using the court system as a weapon to obtain narcissistic supply- especially in divorce and co-parenting settings.
Living with a Narcissist? Tips for Dealing with a Narcissist
Living with a narcissist, whether it be a family member, romantic partner, or roommate, is incredibly exhausting and painful. Narcissists do not change so the best way to free yourself from the pain associated with dealing with one is to get out. For good. If you are unable to do so at the moment, here are some tips to hopefully help ease your pain when dealing with a narcissist on an intimate, daily basis:
Narcissistic Victim Syndrome: X Signs you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse
If you have or are still experiencing any of the below symptoms, there’s a good chance you have been a victim of narcissistic abuse.
If you think you might have Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, it is important that you seek legal and psychological help as soon as possible. You are not alone.
BONUS: How to Negotiate with a Narcissist
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Do yourself a favor and get this course. You can thank me later.