If you are wondering if you are a narcissist, here’s a simple test put forward by Scott Barry Kaufman, Writer and Psychologist:
Step 1: Take a moment to think about yourself. Step 2: If you made it to Step 2, you are not a narcissist.
Narcissism is a personality disorder (Narcissistic Personality Disorder — NPD) that has the following features — a sense of grandiosity, need for attention/admiration, lack of empathy and having superficial relationships with others. All of us have a degree of narcissism at times but NPD is a much more significant issue and often accompanies other psychiatric disorders. It is also hard to treat as most people with NPD see no need to change.
Here are 8 symptoms of narcissism:
- Exaggerated Sense of Self-importance. This may include an air of superiority and thinking that one deserves special treatment. These feelings can be accompanied by fantasies of unlimited success, power, love, beauty or brilliance. They can react with contempt or rage to make themselves appear superior or belittle someone else.
- Excessive Need for Admiration. Narcissists must be the center of attention. They tend to monopolize conversations and exaggerate their talents or achievements. They often feel slighted, annoyed, mistreated or enraged if they are ignored. They can be very impatient if they are not receiving special treatment.
- Superficial and Exploitative Relationships. The people they associate with are chosen based on surface attributes and not the unique qualities of others, in other words, they are very manipulative in relationships. People are only valued for what the narcissist can get from them. They often view other people as inferior and have an unwillingness (inability?) to recognize the feelings and needs of others.
- Lack of Empathy. Narcissists are severely limited or totally lacking in their ability to care about the emotions and needs of others, even their closest loved ones. As a result they tend to have very poor relationships and tend to act in inconsiderate ways.
- Disturbance in Identity. A narcissist has poor stability of self and relies on the view that they are exceptional. They tend to be highly superficial, very rigid and are often fragile.The grandiose sense of self is easily threatened. They often harbour secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. Situations that deny the person’s grandiosity or sense of self-importance can cause them to retreat and withdraw.
- Difficulty with Attachment and Dependency. The narcissist relies on feedback from the environment and others, however, relationships only exist to bolster up the person’s self-image. Intimacy is avoided and interactions are quite superficial. They tend to struggle with stress and adapting to change and transition.
- Feelings Wise — there are chronic feelings of boredom and emptiness. The narcissist is never satisfied and a streak of perfectionism keeps them depressed and moody. When attention and praise are not available, the person tends to become bored, depressed or restless. Typically, they struggle with regulating their own emotions and behaviour in appropriate ways.
- Life Transitions are Difficult. There is difficulty in maintaining realistic personal and professional goals over a long period of time. Compromises or negotiations required by normal relationships, work or schooling, can feel unbearable for the narcissist. Young adults with narcissism tend to experience ‘failure to launch.’
If you have these traits or are in a relationship with someone who does, there are resources online, books, and counselling available to help you navigate the challenges brought on by narcissism. FYI, sometimes a narcissist will try to manipulate their partner/loved one into believing that they are the narcissist, or the selfish, self-absorbed one in the relationship. This is part of the manipulation that is seen in relationships and how they become exploitative. This is a form of emotional abuse we call crazy-making. It attempts to make a person doubt their own view of reality and can be very distressing.