What Are the Traits of a Narcissist?

Reviewed on 11/24/2020

What are the traits of a narcissist?

People need five out of nine traits to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.
People need five out of nine traits to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

The traits of a narcissist have been defined by the American Psychiatric Association. They have been described under the section of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). NPD falls under the umbrella of personality disorders described in psychiatry.

Doctors diagnose NPD by looking for the presence of at least five of the following nine criteria (traits)

  1. A grandiose sense of self-importance (the person keeps on exaggerating their achievements and talents).
  2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
  3. A 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.
  4. A need for excessive admiration (the person wants to be at the center of attention).
  5. A sense of entitlement (the person has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment).
  6. Interpersonally exploitive behavior (the person always tries to take advantage of people around them, such as family members, friends and colleagues).
  7. A lack of empathy (the person is inconsiderate of the feelings, emotions and opinions of others, even their loved ones).
  8. Envy of others or thinks that others are envious of them.
  9. Exhibits arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes.

What causes narcissist personality disorder?

What exactly causes a person to become a narcissist is not known. Like other mental disorders, the causes seem to be complex. The causes may be linked to the person’s upbringing, substance abuse, genetics or some specific connections between their brain and thinking.

How is narcissist personality disorder diagnosed?

No specific laboratory tests are needed to diagnose NPD. The diagnosis of NPD is made by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist with the help of various guidelines available under the aegis of the American Psychiatric Association. The psychiatrist takes the person’s family history, personal history of any other psychiatric illness and asks questions to determine if the person has alcohol or drug addiction. They might give a questionnaire to the person who needs to answer honestly. A family member or some other close one is typically involved in the whole process.

What is the treatment for narcissist personality disorder?

A person with narcissistic personality disorder needs long-term therapy that requires consistent follow-ups with the mental health care professional. The treatment involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication management.

Options for psychotherapy include the following

Violent behavior of the person may necessitate hospital admission to avoid dangerous situations.

There are no psychiatric medications that are specially dedicated to treating NPD. The medications used for treating other psychiatric illnesses are usually helpful in dealing with the traits of NPD. These drugs include

How do you deal with a narcissist?

Dealing with a narcissist who may be a loved one, a friend or a boss, is very challenging, but not impossible. Here are some ways that you can deal with them when they are around you

  • Do not try hard to change them to avoid disappointment.
  • Confront the narcissist in person and not in front of other people.
  • Create a good support system for yourself to let go of the negativity created by the narcissist.


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