Tuesday, June 21, 2011
It is rare for a narcissistic individual to be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder because those who really should be don't seek help and so don't get clinically assessed; it is usually members of their family or work colleagues who seek help to cope with them.
Here are a few pointers that may help you identify one:
Their lack of empathy colors everything they do. They may say, "How are you?" when you meet, but they are working from memory. They are not interested in how you are.
Virtually all of their ideas or ways of behaving in a given situation are taken from others, people they know and perhaps think of as an authority (mirroring).
Their sense of self-importance and lack of empathy means that they will often interrupt the conversations of others.
They expect others to do the day-to-day chores as they feel too important to waste their time on common things.
Listen for the constant use of "I", "me" and "my" when they talk.
They very rarely talk about their inner life, for example their memories and dreams.
They feel that the rules at work don't apply to them.
They will always cheat whenever they think they can get away with it.
If you share workload with them expect to do the lion's share yourself.
They love to delegate work or projects, then interfere by micro-managing it. If it goes well, they take the credit, if it goes badly they blame the person they delegated it to.
There tends to be higher levels of stress with people who work with or interact with a narcissist, which in turn increases absenteeism and staff turnover.
They get impatient and restless when the topic of discussion is about someone else, and not about them.
Another frustrating aspect of the narcissist's behavior is how he (or she) will cause an argument just to protect himself from a perceived ego threat. Behind the Narcissist's Mask is an extract from the book Narcissism: Behind the MaskRef. It is an argument between a typical narcissist and his wife. The narcissist had forgotten to pick up milk from the shop whilst his wife was at work, as agreed that morning between the two of them. It then goes on to explain the real meaning behind what the narcissist says. The behavior of the narcissist is typical of how a narcissist will create and distort an argument solely to protect his self-esteem. Click here to read the argument.
There are many other behavioral characteristics exhibited by the narcissist. A good account of them is given by Joanna Ashmun. Or you can do a free online test for narcissism.
One way to recognize a narcissist is to trust in your own intuition. As Sam Vaknin put it, "One feels ill at ease in the presence of a narcissist for no apparent reason. No matter how charming, intelligent, thought provoking, outgoing, easy going and social the narcissist is – he fails to secure the sympathy of others, a sympathy he is never ready, willing, or able to reciprocate."
Hotchkiss identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:
Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person's ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an "awkward" or "difficult" person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
Bad boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other.