The Difference Between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Traits

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Narcissistic Personality Traits (NPT) are two distinct concepts that have some traits in common but also many differences.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a diagnosable mental disorder that affects an individual’s behaviour, self-image, and sense of self-worth. People suffering from it often display grandiosity, lack of empathy, and an excessive need for attention or admiration.

On the other hand, Narcissistic Personality Traits refers to behaviour patterns which appear in people with high levels of narcissism but do not pose a mental disorder diagnosis. These behaviours include feeling envious of others’ success, the need for adoration or admiration from others, difficulty taking criticism or disagreement easily, and the tendency to put one’s own needs before those of others.

Though both present some similar characteristics, such as a heightened sense of self-importance or a desire for constant validation, there are also stark differences between NPD and NPT. Those with NPD exhibit symptoms to a much greater extent than is common among people exhibiting narcissistic traits alone.

Furthermore, those who suffer from NPD often experience distress or impairment in relationships due to their condition while those who only have narcissistic traits can be quite successful in managing interpersonal interactions when they learn how to properly balance their needs with those of others.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

People suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) display symptoms such as grandiosity, lack of empathy, and an excessive need for attention or admiration. They often appear overconfident and arrogant, but they struggle to handle criticism or disagreement well.

People with NPD often exhibit excessive pride in their appearance, achievements, and abilities and may have a excessive sense of entitlement. They take advantage of others to get what they want and can be very manipulative.

In addition they typically require excessive amounts of admiration and attention from others and often feel entitled to special treatment. In fact they can be very hostile and aggressive when they don’t get the attention they believe they deserve or when they feel criticized.

NPD can have a major impact on everyday functioning and relationships due to the individual’s difficulty in understanding the perspectives and feelings of others. People with NPD can initially come off as charming or likeable, but these traits are often overshadowed by their manipulative nature.

To diagnose mental illnesses such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), psychiatrists and mental health experts turn to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which was produced by the American Psychiatric Association.

Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

  • An excessive need for admiration and attention from others.
  • A heightened sense of grandiosity or self-importance, feeling superior or better than those around you.
  • Lack of empathy towards others, difficulty understanding the perspectives and feelings of those around you.
  • Easily hurt by criticism or disagreement; an inability to take constructive feedback well.
  • Unreasonable expectations of special treatment from others.
  • Difficulty forming and sustaining lasting relationships with others due to their own entitlement and inflexibility in interpersonal interactions.
  • Preoccupation with fantasies of power, success, beauty, or ideal love that can lead to unhealthy behaviors in pursuit of those imagined outcomes.
  • Exaggerated self-importance when communicating with others; may use grandiose language to make themselves seem more impressive than they are in reality.
  • Appearing arrogant or haughty even when interacting with people close to them such as family members or loved ones which can lead to strained relationships over time if not addressed properly within a therapeutic setting..

Narcissistic Personality Traits

On the other hand, people with narcissistic personality traits (NPT) do not receive an official diagnosis of a mental illness but rather display behaviors which fall on the spectrum of narcissism.

These behaviours include feeling envious of others’ success, the need for adoration or admiration from others, difficulty taking criticism or disagreement easily, and the tendency to put one’s own needs before those of others.

Though they may have similar traits to people who have NPD, such as a heightened sense of self-importance or a desire for constant validation, generally their symptoms are milder and don’t cause distress or pursue impairment in relationships when managed properly.

People with NPT can be quite successful in maintaining interpersonal relationships when they learn how to balance their demands with those of others.

Most Common Narcissistic Personality Traits (in People Who Do Not Have NPD)

  • An inflated sense of self-importance, believing they are better or more important than others.
  • A need for constant admiration and approval from peers, leading to putting themselves in positions to receive praise and recognition from others.
  • Jealousy of others who have achieved greater success than them, causing feelings of anger or resentment when someone else is praised or celebrated.
  • Grandiosity or exaggerating the truth in order to seem more impressive than they are in reality.
  • Unrealistic expectations for those close to them, demanding special treatment which is not necessarily deserved.
  • A lack of empathy towards the perspectives of those around them which can lead to hurtful behavior if not appropriately addressed in a therapeutic setting.
  • An entitlement complex; feeling like they deserve more than what has been given or earned due to their self-importance and taking advantage of other people without considering the consequences their actions could have on those around them.

Can a person reduce their narcissistic personality traits?

Yes, people with Narcissistic Personality Traits (NPT) can improve their behaviour and relationships with others by seeking help and being open to making changes. This includes learning to listen to other perspectives, taking responsibility for their actions, and managing their emotions in a healthy way.

With the right kind of support, it’s possible for those who suffer from narcissistic personality traits to create more meaningful connections with those around them.

Become aware of the narcissistic tendencies: You need to be conscious of when you’re showing signs of Narcissistic Personality Traits (NPT). This may mean reflecting on your behaviour after conversations, or keeping a journal to track your thoughts and actions.

Seek professional help: Speaking with a therapist or counsellor can provide an objective perspective on how to manage narcissism in a positive way. It also allows you to learn more about yourself so that you can work towards improving relationships with others.

Learn to really listen: It is important to actively listen and take into account what other people are saying rather than always talking about yourself. This means being open-minded, understanding different perspectives and not dismissing them without considering them first.

Accept responsibility for your actions: Being aware of how your behaviour affects other people is crucial for self-improvement when it comes to narcissistic traits. Acknowledging the impact of your words and deeds is essential in creating strong relationships with those around you.

Practice empathy: Empathy helps you see things from another person’s perspective and understand their feelings and experiences better. Practicing empathy requires practice, but it is essential for managing narcissistic traits in order for you to create meaningful connections with those around you.

Dealing With Someone Who Has High Narcissistic Personality Traits

Dealing with a friend, family member, or colleague who has high narcissistic personality traits can be difficult. Here are some tips on how to handle your relationship with them. .

  1. Recognize that individuals with narcissistic traits may struggle to self-reflect and accept responsibility for their actions, so be open and patient when addressing them.
  2. Keep in mind that people with high narcissistic tendencies can be forceful in conversations, so do not take their pushiness personally.
  3. Remain firm in your boundaries and expectations, refusing to reward inappropriate behavior or tolerate any forms of abuse from someone who has narcissistic traits.
  4. Acknowledge the person’s perspectives and feelings, even if you do not agree with them – this will help to foster understanding between both parties.
  5. Focus on creating a healthy environment by practicing self-care and setting limits. Ensure that the other person is aware of how their actions affect you and those around them.
  6. Encourage honest communication and seek guidance from a professional if necessary, as they can help identify patterns of behavior which can be addressed in order to create healthier relationships moving forward.
  7. Remember that dealing with someone who has high narcissistic personality traits is difficult. Maintain patience while also placing value on your own emotional well-being first and foremost.

Final Thoughts

It is important to remember that narcissistic traits do not only exist in people who have narcissistic personality disorder. In fact, each and every one of us has some level of narcissistic traits. When we refer to Narcissistic Personality Traits (NPT) we are talking about people whose narcissistic traits are higher than average, resulting in higher levels of narcissism.

People with high narcissistic tendencies struggle to self-reflect and accept responsibility for their actions, making it a challenge to manage their behaviour. However, with an open mind and an understanding that these individuals need help managing their emotions and relationships, it is possible to move forward and create healthier connections with them.

Ultimately, the outlook for those who have high narcissistic personality traits depends on their willingness to seek help and to implement changes in order to build healthier relationships.

Sharing is caring!

4 thoughts on “The Difference Between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Traits”

  1. “people with narcissistic personality traits may be less likely to exhibit aggressive or hostile behaviors and are more likely to feel bad about themselves when they don’t receive the attention they desire.” This defines me! How do I change?

    • Hi there 🙂 Well, it is positive that you have the insight to identify behaviours that you want to improve. That is the first part of the battle, in my experience. However do not worry too much – we ALL have some narcissistic traits. Wanting to be noticed and appreciated is not a bad thing in itself – it only becomes problematic if you will stop at nothing to get what you want, trampling over other people in the process.
      My advice is this – when the negative voice in your head tells you that you are not worthy, or not good enough, and that people do not appreciate you, answer back. You need to remind yourself that you do matter, that you are worthy, and that although at that point in time people are not “noticing” that does not mean that they have never noticed, or that they will not notice in the future. Learn to give yourself the validation you need – do not depend on others for validation.
      Hang in there!


Leave a comment