We’ve all met people who are vain and self-centered.
But those suffering from narcissistic personality disorder take things several steps further, wreaking much more havoc on the world around them than your typical drama king or queen.
Narcissists are not completely intolerable – you just need to take special care when dealing with them in order to protect yourself and your professional or personal relationship with them.
Luckily, spotting a narcissist is very easy if you know what to look for.
8 Red Flags of Narcissism
These criteria come from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
1. Exaggeration of Ability and Accomplishments
Narcissists have an overwhelming sense of self-importance that leads them to exaggerate their prowess and achievements.
For example, a narcissist might brag about being the right hand to their boss when in reality, their employer doesn’t interact with them much more than they do with other employees.
Over time, that warped narrative becomes truth to the narcissistic person, fueling their self-importance even further.
2. Preoccupation With The “Ideal” Life
It’s no coincidence that many narcissistic individuals are famous.
One of the diagnostic requirements for narcissistic personality disorder is a preoccupation with success, power, brilliance, money and beauty.
While we generally accept these qualities as standard fare for rock stars and A-list actors, it can appear in non-famous individuals who engage in reckless spending sprees and plastic surgery as part of an attempt to become the “ideal” person.
3. A Sense of Entitlement
Narcissistic people tend to feel as though they are entitled to favorable treatment or compliance.
This is because they see themselves as above everyone else. In effect, they are saying “I clearly possess more intelligence and ability than anyone else here so why wouldn’t they treat me favorably and follow my instructions?”
4. People-Pleasing Tendencies
The narcissistic individual lives in a very fragile world in which their largest fear is failure or weakness.
As such, they are constantly looking for confirmation of their success and strength from others in the form of admiration. When that admiration is absent, it becomes very difficult for them to function.
As a result, they might attempt to please or charm individuals until they are rewarded with admiration.
5. Lack of Care For the Feelings of Others
Narcissists lack empathy. This makes it difficult for them to recognize the feelings of others and adopt their behaviors to match.
You might notice that a narcissist has difficulty caring for those around them during tough times.
This tends to be the most striking characteristic of the narcissist.
When a narcissist comes across someone they perceive to be more successful than themselves, they often experience intense envy.
This can lead to constant competition and the desire to ‘out-do’ their rival. The narcissist can also come across as extremely sadistic due to their inflated sense of self-worth when their rival hits a stumbling block.
7. Inability to Grasp Mistakes
They don’t accept their ability to make mistakes and respond to errors by making excuses, avoiding discussion, projecting blame onto others or lying about the error outright.
Narcissists often manipulate others to fit their narratives of self-importance and superiority.
This can include surrounding themselves with enablers or manipulating others into “allies” that confirm their ability or lack of blame in times of error.
How To Treat A Narcissist
Narcissism is a mental illness. People suffering from it don’t need to be thrown in a room and locked up away from society.
Rather, they need professional help and understanding from those around them.
Psychologist Krauss Whitbourne recommends the following strategies for dealing with a narcissist:
- Maintain a sense of humor regarding the narcissist’s behavior.
- Do not give them center stage in your life.
- Acknowledge your annoyance and frustration.
- Try not to appear ruffled by the narcissist’s attacks; that’s exactly what they want.