What is a Narcissistic Person?

The term “narcissistic” is often used casually in popular culture to describe someone who is self-centered, vain, or egotistical. But in psychology, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a serious condition that goes beyond just being self-absorbed. A narcissistic person has extremely high levels of self-focus, grandiosity, and a lack of empathy for others.

In this post, we’ll explore the main characteristics and behaviors of a narcissistic person, and discuss treatment options and how to deal with these difficult personalities.

Define Narcissistic Personality Disorder

What is a Narcissistic Personality?

A narcissistic personality is a cluster of personality traits that are characterized by an excessive focus on self, an inflated sense of self-importance, and a lack of empathy for others.

Individuals with this disorder often feel entitled to special treatment, are preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, or ideal love, and have trouble accepting criticism or blame.

They may be viewed as charming or charismatic at first, but over time, relationships with them can be draining and damaging.

It’s important to note that not all self-centered behavior is indicative of a personality disorder, however. Narcissistic personality disorder is typically diagnosed when these traits are so pronounced that they significantly impair social, work, or other areas of functioning.

How is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

How is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

To diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), a mental health professional typically follows specific criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

It’s crucial to note that diagnosing NPD should be done by a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, who has experience in assessing personality disorders.

Self-diagnosis or informal assessments may not provide an accurate representation of the disorder.

Here are the general steps involved in diagnosing NPD:

Initial assessment

The process begins with an initial evaluation where the mental health professional gathers information about the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and personal background.

They may conduct interviews with the individual and, in some cases, even involve their close relatives or friends to gain additional insight.

psychiatric assessment

Diagnostic criteria

When assessing for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), mental health professionals rely on the diagnostic criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

The DSM-5 provides a set of nine criteria, and to receive a diagnosis of NPD, an individual must meet at least five of these criteria.

Here are the expanded diagnostic criteria for NPD:

Grandiosity. A person with NPD has an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a belief that they are special and unique. They may exaggerate their achievements and talents and expect others to recognize and admire them.

Fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, or beauty. Individuals with NPD often fantasize about obtaining limitless success, power, intelligence, or physical attractiveness. They may daydream about being famous, influential, or exceptionally talented.

Need for admiration. People with NPD have a constant need for admiration and praise from others. They seek validation and attention and may become upset if they feel ignored or unappreciated.

Sense of entitlement. A narcissistic person has an entitled attitude and believes they deserve special treatment. They may expect others to cater to their needs and desires without question or consideration for others’ feelings.

diagnosing a narcissist

Exploitative behavior. Individuals with NPD may exploit others for personal gain or advantage. They may manipulate or take advantage of others to achieve their own goals, showing little regard for the feelings or well-being of others.

Lack of empathy. A narcissistic person will struggle to recognize or identify with the emotions and needs of others. They may disregard or dismiss the feelings of others, displaying a lack of empathy or compassion.

Envious of others or belief that others are envious of them. Narcissists experience intense envy towards others who they perceive as more successful, attractive, or accomplished. Alternatively, they may believe that others envy them for their perceived superiority.

Arrogant or haughty behavior. A narcissistic person will often display an arrogant or condescending attitude toward others. They may exhibit a sense of superiority and belittle or demean those they consider inferior.

Interpersonal difficulties. Narcissists frequently have strained relationships due to their excessive need for admiration, lack of empathy, and exploitative behaviors. They may struggle to maintain healthy and meaningful connections with others.

diagnosing a narcissist

Clinical interview

The mental health professional conducts a clinical interview to further assess the individual’s behavior, personality traits, and emotional functioning.

This interview provides an opportunity for the individual to discuss their experiences and for the professional to observe any patterns of grandiosity, lack of empathy, entitlement, and other characteristic features associated with NPD.

Differential diagnosis

The mental health professional considers other possible diagnoses that may share similar features or symptoms with NPD.

It is essential to rule out other mental health conditions such as borderline personality disorder or histrionic personality disorder, which can present similar traits but have different diagnostic criteria.

what is a narcissistic person

Professional judgment

Based on the gathered information, the mental health professional uses their expertise and clinical judgment to determine whether the individual meets the criteria for a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The Main Characteristics of a Narcissistic Person

They Need Constant Validation

Narcissists are driven by an insatiable need for constant validation and admiration.

They have an inflated sense of self-importance and firmly believe they are superior to others. This grandiose self-perception fuels their relentless pursuit of external affirmation to boost their fragile self-esteem.

The craving for attention from others can consume the lives of those dealing with narcissistic individuals.

walking on eggshells

Friends, family members, and partners often find themselves walking on eggshells, constantly tending to the narcissist’s need for praise and admiration.

It is important to understand that this excessive need for validation is rooted in deep-seated insecurities.

Beneath the surface of their self-assured facade lies a fragile ego that relies heavily on external validation to maintain a sense of self-worth.

As a result, narcissists will go to great lengths to ensure their needs for attention and admiration are met, even at the expense of others.

Their Behaviour can be Irrational

Narcissists exhibit highly irrational behavior, characterized by unpredictability and a lack of consideration for others.

Their emotional state can fluctuate dramatically, leading to sudden outbursts of anger or distress over perceived slights, no matter how insignificant.

This erratic behavior can catch those around them off guard and create a tense and volatile environment.

Their sense of entitlement and grandiosity often leads narcissists to believe that their opinions, desires, and needs should take precedence over everyone else’s.

They disregard the feelings, perspectives, and suggestions of others, dismissing them as inferior or irrelevant.

In their minds, things must be done their way, without compromise or cooperation.

narcissistic personality disorder leads to a lack of empathy

They Refuse to Own Their Mistakes

A prominent characteristic of individuals with narcissistic personality disorder is their refusal to acknowledge and own up to their mistakes.

When faced with criticism or confronted about their faults, narcissists react defensively, avoiding any accountability for their actions.

Rather than accepting responsibility, they employ various tactics to deflect blame onto others, thereby absolving themselves of any wrongdoing.


When challenged, narcissists often respond by denying any involvement in the problem altogether.

They may vehemently deny their role or even distort the facts to support their narrative of innocence.

By doing so, they attempt to protect their inflated self-image and avoid any damage to their fragile ego.

narcissistic rage

Narcissistic Rage

Another common reaction exhibited by narcissists when confronted with their mistakes is anger and defensiveness.

They become highly reactive and lash out at those who dare to question them, viewing any critique as a personal attack.

This defensive behavior serves as a shield to safeguard their sense of superiority and maintain control over the situation.


Blame-shifting is a key strategy employed by narcissists to evade accountability.

They redirect the focus away from their own missteps and place it on someone or something else.

By shifting blame, they manipulate the narrative and turn the spotlight onto others, effectively absolving themselves of any responsibility.


They Will Try to Control Others

When things don’t align with their expectations, narcissists are often unwilling to compromise.

They have an all-or-nothing mindset that leaves little room for flexibility or considering alternative viewpoints.

Instead of seeking common ground or finding mutually beneficial solutions, they insist on having things exactly as they want them, disregarding the needs and perspectives of others.

In conversations, narcissists frequently employ tactics to dominate and marginalize others’ opinions.

They may interrupt, talk over, or dismiss opposing viewpoints, seeking to assert their dominance and establish their superiority.

By silencing dissenting voices and elevating their own, they maintain a sense of control and ensure that their perspective is the dominant one.

Another method narcissists employ to control others is the use of guilt-trips.

They exploit others’ emotions by making them feel responsible for their unhappiness or dissatisfaction.

Through emotional manipulation, they evoke feelings of guilt and obligation, coercing others into complying with their wishes.


They Are Charismatic and Charming

Narcissists possess a remarkable ability to exude charm and charisma, which can be captivating and alluring to those around them.

They often present themselves as confident, self-assured, and successful individuals, effortlessly drawing others into their orbit.

Their charm is a key tool in their manipulation arsenal, allowing them to create a positive impression and gain the trust and admiration of others.

They have a natural talent for captivating attention, engaging in witty conversation, and making people feel special and seen.

These qualities make it easy for them to establish rapport and build relationships swiftly.

Narcissists excel at crafting an image of themselves that is highly appealing and desirable.

They carefully curate their public persona, showcasing only their most impressive achievements and qualities.

narcissistic person

This selective portrayal reinforces their sense of superiority and helps them maintain a veneer of perfection.

Their charismatic demeanor allows them to effortlessly navigate social situations and attract a significant following.

People are drawn to their confidence, magnetism, and seemingly limitless self-assurance.

However, it is important to recognize that this charm is often superficial and serves as a means to an end for the narcissist.

Behind the charm and charisma lie manipulative intentions.

Narcissists use their charm to exploit others’ vulnerabilities, seeking validation, control, and admiration. Once they have achieved their desired outcomes, their true motives may become evident.

somatic narcissist

They Struggle With Empathy

Narcissists tend to view the world through a lens that revolves around themselves.

They prioritize their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences above all else, and they have no interest in stepping outside of their own perspective and considering the emotions and experiences of others.

This self-centeredness thus prevents them from truly understanding and relating to the struggles, joys, and challenges faced by those around them.

When confronted with someone else’s emotions or feelings, a narcissistic person will diminish or dismiss them as insignificant compared to their own.

They will not validate or even acknowledge the experiences and concerns of others, as they struggle to see beyond their own needs and motivations.

This lack of empathy can lead to a breakdown in relationships and a sense of disconnection from those around them.

covert narcissist mother

They are Jealous and Envious

Narcissists have a pervasive sense of entitlement, which often manifests as envy and jealousy towards others.

Their insatiable desire to possess and control everything can fuel their envy when they see others possessing what they believe should be exclusively theirs.

When faced with someone else’s success, achievements, or possessions, narcissists may experience intense feelings of jealousy, as they see the accomplishments of others as a threat to their own sense of superiority.

Consequently, they may seek to undermine or belittle others’ achievements in order to restore their own sense of superiority.

narcissistic trait of envy

How to Deal with a Narcissistic Person

Dealing with a narcissistic person can be challenging, but there are several strategies that you can use to preserve your sanity and effectively interact with them.

Here are some tips on how to deal with a narcissist.

Establish Healthy Boundaries

Narcissistic persons will push your boundaries and test your limits. It’s essential to set boundaries and make them as clear as possible. Let them know what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.

For example, if they’re lashing out, let them know that you’re willing to listen when they’re calm but you’ll leave the conversation if they continue disparaging you or threatening you.

Refuse To Engage In Their Drama

Narcissistic persons thrive on causing drama and conflict. One of the best ways to deal with them is to refuse to engage in their drama. Don’t get drawn into arguments or petty disputes, especially when they insult or verbally abuse you. Be calm, factual and assertive.

Stay Focused On The Facts

When interacting with a narcissistic person, it’s helpful to stay focused on the facts. Avoid giving in to their charm, attention-grabbing language, and make-believe stories. Speak factually, clearly, and firmly without much emotion. If you let the conversation stray into their invented version of events, you’ll never get anywhere.

Play To Their Ego

Narcissistic persons have an enormous ego, and they often respond well to flattery. If you want a narcissist to do something, appeal to their ego. Once they feel like they’re the hero or center of attention, they may be more willing to cooperate or even help you reach a beneficial compromise. Flattery can be a helpful tool, so long as you don’t lose sight of your objectives or values.

Limit Exposure

If you can establish good boundaries, you can limit your exposure to a narcissistic person. You should set firm boundaries for the time, space, and energy that you’re willing to offer them. Don’t expose yourself to dramatic situations, and limit your contact with them if possible.

Be Prepared For Manipulation

Narcissistic people are experts at manipulation, and you need to be prepared for it. They’re often skilled in playing the victim or turning the conversation around to work in their favor. Don’t take responsibility for their abuse or manipulative behavior, and don’t put up with it either. Be authentic and steadfast in your interactions with them, and don’t allow yourself to be manipulated.

Get Support

Remember that you don’t have to deal with a narcissistic person all by yourself. Talk to friends, family, or mental health professionals to help navigate your interactions. Seek support from those who have gone through a similar experience or rely on therapy to regulate your emotions and move forward positively.

Final Thoughts on Dealing with a Narcissistic Person

Dealing with a narcissistic person can be an emotionally challenging and draining experience. It is important to remember that their behavior is rooted in deep-seated insecurities, and their actions are not a reflection of your worth or value as an individual.

It is important to keep in mind the fact that you have the power to protect your emotional well-being and set boundaries in these relationships.

By maintaining a strong sense of self-worth and focusing on your own growth and happiness, you can navigate these challenging dynamics with greater clarity and resilience.

Frequently Asked Questions about Narcissism

Frequently Asked Questions About Dealing With a Narcissistic Person

How do I recognize if someone in my life is a narcissistic person?

Look for signs such as a constant need for admiration, lack of empathy, grandiose behavior, manipulation, and a sense of entitlement.

What should I do if I have to interact with a narcissistic person?

Set clear boundaries, practice self-care, and remember that you cannot change or fix them. Focus on taking care of yourself and maintaining healthy boundaries.

Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with a narcissistic person?

Building a healthy relationship with a narcissistic individual is challenging, as their self-centeredness and lack of empathy can strain relationships. It’s important to prioritize your well-being and seek professional advice if needed.

Should I confront a narcissistic person about their behavior?

Confrontation may not yield positive results, as narcissistic individuals are often resistant to accepting criticism or acknowledging their actions. It’s best to focus on setting healthy boundaries and prioritizing your own well-being.

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