What Are 12 Signs of a Narcissist?

Reviewed on 5/19/2021
12 signs of a narcissist
Narcissistic personality disorder typically involves an inflated sense of self-importance

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition that typically involves an inflated sense of self-importance, extreme need for attention and admiration, superficial relationships and lack of empathy.

NPD is often accompanied by other psychiatric disorders and can be difficult to treat. It’s also a significant risk factor for suicide and suicidal attempts and should be addressed by a medical professional.

12 signs of a narcissist

1. Grandiose sense of self

  • Feels superior to others and believes they deserve special treatment
  • Often accompanied by fantasies of unlimited success, brilliance, power, beauty or love

2. Excessive need for admiration

  • Must be the center of attention
  • Feels slighted, mistreated, depleted and enraged when ignored
  • Often monopolizes conversations

3. Superficial and exploitative relationships

  • Bases relationships on surface attributes and not unique qualities of others
  • Values people only to the extent they are beneficial to themselves

4. Need for control

  • Perfectionistic
  • Becomes upset when things don’t go their way 

5. Lack of empathy

  • Severely limited or totally lacking the ability to care about the emotional needs or experiences of others, even loved ones

6. Identity disturbance

  • Sense of self is highly superficial, extremely rigid, often fragile and easily threatened
  • Self-stability depends on maintaining the view that one is exceptional
  • Retreats from or denies realities that challenge this view of self

7. Difficulty with attachment and dependency

  • Relies on feedback from environment
  • Relationships exist only to shore up positive self-image
  • Tends to avoid intimacy; interpersonal interactions are superficial

8. Chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom

  • Feels empty, bored, depressed or restless when attention and praise are not available

9. Vulnerability to life transitions

  • Difficulty maintaining reality-based personal and professional goals over time
  • Feels overwhelmed by compromises required by school, jobs and relationships
  • May have “failure to launch” syndrome when young

10. Lack of responsibility

  • Blames others for their faults
  • Deflects responsibility onto others, often with those close to them

11. Lack of boundaries

  • Believes others think the same as they do
  • Feels shocked and insulted when told no

12. Fear of rejection

  • Afraid of being wrong or seen as bad or inadequate
  • Does not develop trust in the love of others

How is narcissistic personality disorder diagnosed?

While the traits above are examples of how people with NPD behave, a clinical diagnosis of NPD is based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria. Someone is diagnosed with NPD if they meet at least 5 of the 9 traits below:

  1. Grandiose sense of self-importance
  2. Sense of entitlement
  3. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
  4. Belief that they are “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
  5. Require excessive admiration
  6. Interpersonally exploitative and take advantage of others
  7. Lack empathy
  8. Envy others or believe others are envious of them
  9. Show arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes

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References
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5819598/

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1519417-overview

https://www.medscape.com/answers/1519417-101764/what-are-the-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria-for-narcissistic-personality-disorder-npd

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