There are varying degrees of narcissism. Everyone at one time or another will exhibit narcissistic qualities and behavior. That is to be human. However, the difference between healthy and unhealthy narcissism is that it is so extreme and all-consuming that it adversely affects the relationships this person has with the outside world, especially those closest to him or her. I want to shed some light on what helped me to discover my narcissist. So, what are the signs of NPD? According to Sam Vaknin, self professed and clinically diagnosed narcissist and psychopath, these are the following traits of people suffering with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
•Grandiose feelings of being self-important, all knowing. Strong belief that one is truly unique and can only be understood by, should only have dealings with or associate with other special or unique, or important people.
Example: My narcissist never wanted to hang out with my friends husbands. He felt that he had “nothing in common” with them. He had not made one friend in the seven years that we were together. I, on the other hand, was always blessed to meet some wonderful mommies to proudly call friends. But by that time I got comfortable in my new city, and started to have consistent play dates for our children, we had to pack up and move yet again. He resented any time that I had with my mommy friends while he was at work. And he forbid me to get together with my friends when he was home, or on the weekends because he said that it was “family time.” He said that he was not a babysitter and that I have responsibilities as a mother and cannot just have a life outside of our marriage. He justified it by saying that he did not have any guy buddies to hang out with, so I should not be hanging out with my girlfriends and neglecting my family duties. As if!
•Obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, great power or omnipotence, supreme brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion.
•Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious. This attention is the drug they crave and are addicted to known as “narcissistic supply.” If they don’t have it, they will go to any extent to unearth it from those people who surround them.
Example: If I did not dish out the compliments on his appearance or his ideas on a frequent basis, he would get needy and clingy and make me feel like I was ignoring him, which could not be further than the truth. Then he would ask me straight out how he looked or what I thought. After I dispensed with the much needed compliment, he would then go back and forth talking to himself as if I was not there, agreeing. I felt like when he walked into the room, there was someone standing behind him with a cue card calling for “compliment” or “attention.” Suffice it to say, that when he was around, I was exhausted because the real world stopped in his presence and it became all about him and his “happiness.”
•Entitlement. Expects unreasonable or favorable preferential treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations.
Example: Narcissist will ask for a manager in many instances to handle their problem, instead of just dealing with the subordinate employee/waitress/telemarketer, etc. He believes that no one else is sufficient enough to be of service to him, unless they are the superior in that circumstances.
•Manipulative. Uses others to achieve his or her own ends. Will expect others to do work for him, because he believes that it is a privilege that he allows them to do things for him.
Example: After each of our six moves in six years, my parents were the only ones who helped us. My mother would also help clean each house at the move in and out. He was always somewhat nice when my parents were doing his cleaning and cooking, etc. but then he would become nasty and make jibes when he felt they were not being useful enough to him.
•Un-emphatic. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others. Incapable of showing realistic sympathy for another’s pain or unfortunate circumstance. Narcissists looks at the homeless with disdain, has hatred of overweight individuals, and sick children. Also, narcissists will go on and on about their smallest of ailments expecting to be babied, but will refuse to acknowledge or minimize any real complaint or illness that you may have.
Example: I will never forget when I had a stomach bug and my narcissist looked at me with annoyance when I was sick throwing up in the bathroom at 3 a.m. It was the first time I was sick during our six year marriage. He was angry with me and said that I needed to be quiet because I was keeping him up, and that he felt I was not being considerate of him because he has an important job and needs sleep!
•Envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her. Cannot be happy for other people’s success or happiness.
*Paranoid behavior. Feels that people are out to cause harm, or “out to get him,” or deprive him of happiness, or steal from him, etc. Will read into innocent statements and draw out insults where there are none.
Example: My narcissist always blamed my parents, or his parents, or his ex wife for any problems he had at any one of his jobs. He felt that they were somehow calling his workplace and spreading rumors about him. Insane! And if anyone at his work ever asked him where his wife was from, he would come home and interrogate me asking if his co-workers were trying to insinuate that we should move back to my hometown. He even accused me of putting those ideas into his co-workers heads! This is ludicrous because I had never even met any of those people. I told him that he was reading into people’s innocent questions and that those are common conversation starters when you begin a new job in a new town, which we did many times over six years. Talking him down from his paranoid perceptions of other people’s comments was a common occurrence for me.
•Arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted. Overly sensitive to any perceived criticism. Quick to order people around.
Example: My narcissist acted shocked and offended when I asked him, very nicely, to please pick up the pillow that he threw on the floor, or place his dirty dish into the dishwasher. He would react indignantly when I asked him to pick up after himself, then he would tell me to do it, because that it was “my job” since I stayed at home. Also, he was never shy about telling me to get this or that for the kids, when he was perfectly capable of doing so himself. Even if I was busy doing laundry, or making dinner, he would call me into the room to order me to fetch something for the children or him. I was expected to cheerfully stop whatever I was doing in order to cater to his every whim. This was “mommy’s job” according to him. Therefore, when he was home, I would become overwhelmed and anxious and felt like I had three kids instead of just the two.
So there you have it, the multitude of alarming traits that narcissists commonly display. I hope this post helps you to see your narcissist in a brighter light and begin to reveal the deeply deformed emotional, and warped psychological distortions of their condition.
Narcissists use many forms of abuse to control their victims but that is a topic for a later post.
***Much of the above criteria for NPD comes from American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition, Text Revision (DSM IV-TR). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association as well as Sam Vaknin.