In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter who was known for his beauty and wanted by everyone. Rejecting all offers, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and punishing him for his self-centerdness, the gods turned him into a flower.
Today, his name, now narcissist, is a buzzword that people love tossing around. Almost everyone knows at least one person who thinks they sit at the center of everyone’s universe. There’s the arrogant co-worker who boasts over his accomplishments, a friend who loves their reflection and a partner who cheats because no one person is good enough.
But did you know that narcissism is a legitimate mental health disorder? And is it possible you’ve been using narcissism to just describe someone with a huge ego?
Here we will give you a few tips on identifying the behaviors of a narcissist so you can try establish healthy boundaries with people who fall into this category!
Tell-tale characteristics of a narcissist is extreme self-absorption, grandiosity, exploitation of others and lack of empathy. Never accountable for their own actions, they effortlessly project, blaming others without looking inward.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is described as “a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance. They need and seek too much attention and want people to admire them. People with this disorder may lack the ability to understand or care about the feelings of others.”
Validation and admiration
One of the most common signs of a narcissist is a constant need for praise or admiration. People with this behavior need constant validation from others and tend to brag or exaggerate their accomplishments for recognition. The ego is very fragile, so they are always searching for admiration and appreciation to boost their moods.
A hallmark sign of a narcissist is that they believe they are superior to others and deserve special treatment. Because their brilliance is unequaled, rules don’t apply to them, and others must be dutiful servants to their needs and wants.
The term gaslighting comes from the 1944 film Gaslight, where a husband tries to convince his wife that she’s insane by causing her to question herself and her reality.
Coined a buzzword by Washington Post in 2022, its meaning is oftentimes twisted and too loosely used.
Gaslighting is defined as “a form of psychological abuse in which a person or group causes someone to question their own sanity, memories, or perception of reality. People who experience gaslighting may feel confused, anxious, or as though they cannot trust themselves.”
This tactic involves persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt her/himself, ultimately losing a sense of perception, identity, and self-worth.
Developing further on the gaslighting strategy, a narcissist will play out the problem where they are the victim and the other person involved is the abuser.
If the victim is unaware that someone is playing the victim card, they’ll end up feeling bad and apologizing for nothing. With a narcissist, it is never about being truthful but being the one who earns attention and praise, which boosts their self-esteem.
This is a common approach of the narcissist who’s looking to tip the scales in their favor.
Healthline describes triangulation as “one or both of the people involved in the conflict [trying] to pull a third person into the dynamic.” This is done with the goal of “deflecting some of the tension, creating another conflict to take the spotlight off the original issue and/or reinforcing their sense of rightness or superiority.”
The majority of times, this happens between family members, or within close social circles. The narcissist needs a scapegoat and a situation will quickly spiral when it becomes two, or more, against one. An example of this is two friends having an argument, and the narcissist involving a third party, encouraging them to pick sides or help deescalate, which only escalates the burning discussion.
This is manipulation tactic generally makes the victim feel off-balance and deeply distressed, with insecurity and self-doubt at a boiling point.
Another common trait is manipulative or controlling behavior. When a narcissist is in a relationship, friendship or otherwise, they will go to great lengths to please and impress you, but eventually, their own needs will always come first.
When relating to others, narcissists try to keep people at a distance to allow them control and oftentimes, they may exploit others to gain something for themselves.
Narcissists will always make sure you question yourself and will often discredit the things you do for them. They have excuses, are often unreliable and make promises with no follow through. But when they don’t get what they feel is deserved, they might turn to name calling, or highlight the weakness of others. Over time, the attacks–that often start as jokes–increase in frequency to the point where the other person is so familiar with the abuse that the mental harm starts to bubble.
Grudges and revenge
When a narcissist feels as though they have harmed or insulted in any way, all their insecurities and deepest fears come to the surface. Because they are unable to process, understand, or release internalized pain in a healthy way, they instead hold grudges and seek revenge.
Narcissists tend to believe that everyone else is less competent, and their inflated sense of self-importance leads them to feel they can achieve the impossible. This arrogance comes from envy or jealous towards others, which they twist, believing it’s others who envy them.
And if they are doubted, and don’t receive the treatment they think they deserve, they may respond with hurt or rage, attacking those that they consider inferior.
Lack of empathy
A narcissist will never recognize the needs, wants, or feelings of other people. This also explains why they are unable to take responsibility for their own behavior.
Simply put, a person with NPD does not care about another’s feelings, specifically when those feelings conflict with their own agenda.
Having a relationship with someone who has NPD can be very draining and harmful. NPD can be treated with therapy, but it might not be easy to convince a narcissist they need help. There are many sources available that will offer support on dealing with a narcissist!
Please share this story and let others know the traits of a narcissist!
If you found this story informative, you’ll likely enjoy reading the story about why Meghan Markle is being called a narcissist!
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