A narcissist is someone who excessively admires and loves themselves. They have an inflated sense of self-importance and a strong need for attention and admiration. Some other common signs of narcissism include: a sense of entitlement, a preoccupation with power and success, a lack of empathy, and a need for control.
Narcissists are often very charming and charismatic, which can make them hard to spot. If you think you might be dealing with a narcissist, it’s important to set boundaries and to stick to them. Narcissists can be very difficult to deal with, but by knowing what to look for, you can protect yourself from their manipulation.
What’s a Narcissist? The DSM-5 definition of narcissism
The DSM-5 is the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is a guide used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders. This diagnostic manual contains the criteria to be used to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder, which is defined as a pattern of grandiose self-importance, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.
The essential feature of narcissistic personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes.”
How do narcissists behave and why do they act that way?
Narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance and a deep need for admiration. They believe they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings.
They are often uninterested in hearing about other people’s accomplishments or what’s going on in their lives. Instead, they’re usually more focused on talking about themselves and their own successes.
Narcissists also tend to be very manipulative. They may use flattery or other tactics to get what they want from people. It’s thought that narcissists behave this way because they’re trying to compensate for low self-esteem. They may believe that if they can convince others that they’re special or better than others, it’ll help them feel better about themselves.
Unfortunately, this behaviour often alienates those around the narcissist and can lead to problems in both personal and professional relationships.
What to look out for if you are worried you are dealing with a narcissist
Narcissists can be found in every walk of life, and they can be difficult to spot. They are often charming and charismatic, and they may seem like someone who is really easy to get along with.
If you think you might be dealing with a narcissist, here are a few warning signs to watch out for –
- Narcissists tend to talk about themselves a lot, and they may try to control conversations by steering them towards topics that they’re interested in.
- A narcissist may also become easily offended or defensive if they feel like they’re not being given the attention they feel they deserve.
- Narcissists may also try to belittle or demean those around them, especially if they feel threatened in some way.
- Narcissists often demand a lot of attention and can be very possessive. They may also try to control every aspect of their partner’s life.
- Narcissists can be very difficult to deal with, and they may make those around them feel like they’re constantly walking on eggshells.
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you may find yourself feeling constantly frustrated or even invisible. It’s important to pay attention to your gut feelings and be willing to walk away from the relationship if it starts to feel harmful.
What’s a narcissist and what is narcissistic abuse?
Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse that’s inflicted by a narcissist.
The following are some of the typical abusive strategies used by a narcissist:
Gaslighting – This is when a narcissist tries to make their victim question their own reality or memory. For example, they may constantly deny ever saying something that they know they said, or they may try to make their victim feel like they’re always forgetting things.
Manipulation – Narcissists often use manipulation to get what they want from their victims. They may try to convince their victim to do something they don’t want to do, or they may use flattery or other tactics to get what they want.
Verbal abuse – Narcissists may constantly put their victim down or make them feel worthless. They may also talk to their victim in an aggressive manner in order to control or frighten them.
Emotional blackmail – This is when a narcissist threatens to hurt their victim emotionally if they don’t do what the narcissist wants. For example, they may say things like, “If you don’t do what I want, I’ll never speak to you again.
Isolation – A narcissist may try to isolate their victim from their friends and family. They may do this by criticisms or by making demands that make it difficult for their victim to see other people.
What are the effects of narcissistic abuse?
Narcissistic abuse can have a number of negative effects on its victims. These effects can include
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Sleep problems
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Suicide ideation
How can you protect yourself from narcissistic abuse and what should you do if you’re already in a relationship with one?
Narcissistic abuse can be incredibly difficult to deal with, both for the person being abused and for those who love them.
The first step in protecting yourself is to understand what narcissistic abuse is and how it manifests.
Narcissists are often charming and charismatic at first, but over time their true colours begin to show. They become controlling and manipulative, gaslight their partners, and play mind games in order to keep them off balance. These behaviors can take a toll on the victim’s mental and emotional health.
If you suspect you are experiencing narcissistic abuse, it’s important to reach out for help. There are many hotlines and resources available to victims of domestic violence, and you don’t have to suffer in silence.
If you’re already in a relationship with a narcissist, there’s still hope. With patience and a lot of hard work, it is possible to change the dynamic of the relationship and build a healthy, mutually respectful partnership. But it’s important to remember that it takes two for real change to happen – you cannot do it alone.
You always have the right to walk away from an abusive situation, no matter how much you care about the other person. You deserve to be safe, happy, and loved – never let anyone make you feel otherwise.
Can narcissists change their behaviour and, if so, how can we help them do that?
It’s a common question: can narcissists change their behaviour? The answer is, yes, they can. But it’s not going to be easy.
Narcissists are defined by their grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement, as well as their need for constant admiration and validation. These qualities make it difficult for them to accept responsibility for their own actions and to empathize with others.
In order to change their behavior, narcissists need to do some serious introspection and reflection. They need to be willing to look at themselves honestly and critically, and they need to be open to feedback from others.
It’s also important for narcissists to build strong, supportive relationships with people who can help them stay accountable for their behaviour. Ultimately, the decision to change rests with the individual narcissist. But if they’re willing to put in the work, it is possible for them to make lasting changes.
If you think that you may be in a relationship with a narcissist, the most important thing to do is prioritize your own mental health. You deserve to be treated with respect and love, and no one has the right to make you feel otherwise.
If you are being abused, please reach out for help. There are many hotlines available (such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline) staffed by trained professionals who can help you create a plan to get yourself to safety. Remember: you are not alone and there is help available.