By: Rachel Despres
Possessing a sense of importance and uniqueness are important aspects of being a happy and fulfilled person, but those with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) take these things to an extreme.
According to WebMD, the word ‘narcissism’ comes from a Greek myth about Narcissus, a man who “sees his own reflection in a pool of water and falls in love with it.” While an exaggerated sense of one’s attractiveness is certainly one characteristic of NPD, there are many other symptoms that can indicate someone is suffering from this mental illness—including these seven.
1. Always Talk About Themselves
Those with NPD tend to think and speak only of themselves, often about their physical appearance, talents or achievements. However, these comments tend to be exaggerated and are not necessarily accurate reflections of their lives.
They also have little regard for those around them, rarely, if ever, asking others for their thoughts or feelings. This is because people who suffer from NPD lack empathy, and are therefore unable to recognize or understand the needs and feelings of others.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the minds of people with NPD tend to be filled with elaborate fantasies about “success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate.” As a result of these imaginings, they feel they should have the best of everything—including houses, cars and clothing or other status-affirming things like their level of medical care and where they attend school.
Unfortunately, these fantasies are a way for narcissists to “fend off inner emptiness, feel special and in control, and avoid feelings of defectiveness and insignificance.” And because they are rarely rooted in reality, it can lead to immense frustration and anger when these visions are not achieved.
3. Believe They Are Superior
Psychology Today states that people with NPD often have “a grandiose sense of self-importance,” leading them to feel superior to most. They believe that only others who are just as special as they are can truly understand them, and those are the people they want to be surrounded by.
In order to maintain feelings of superiority, they will resort to belittling others by focusing on their flaws—whether they’re real or imagined. For narcissists, this is an effective way to hide their own shortcomings and preserve their self-image.
4. Require Constant Praise
Despite how outwardly confident narcissists may portray themselves, they are often incredibly insecure and have very fragile self-esteem. In order to continually prop themselves up, people with NPD require near-constant praise and admiration. They also expect to be “recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it,” says the Mayo Clinic.
This fragility when it comes to sense of self also makes narcissists highly reactive to criticism. Any comments that shine a spotlight on their deepest insecurities or flaws may be met with a burst of “narcissistic rage,” causing the person to lie or divert the conversation in an entirely different direction.
5. Sense of Entitlement
People with NPD tend to have a sense of entitlement, expecting others to offer them special favors and fulfill their requests without question. If such treatment isn’t awarded to them, they may become impatient or angry. According to Psychology Today, this is because narcissists view others as “existing primarily to serve their own needs.”
BPDCentral.com likens such behavior to that of a toddler “who never learned he is not the center of the world and becomes enraged when others don’t meet his immediate demands.”
6. Take Advantage of Others
According to WebMD, people are naturally drawn to narcissists, finding them “attractive, charismatic, and exciting.” As a result of this, people with NPD may not have any issues getting people to do what they want.
But in cases where the narcissist’s needs are not being met, they have no problem taking advantage of others—with little to no regard for the feelings or interests of these people. As a result of this behavior, narcissists often have very tumultuous friendships and romantic relationships that are quite short-lived.
7. Envious of Others
Experiencing envy of others is another common symptom of NPD. Because of their low self-esteem and need to be superior to others, narcissists see people who have things they don’t—such as tangible items, status or admiration—as threats.
Narcissists may also believe that others are envious of them. And while this is exactly the type of attention the narcissist wants, accusing people of such feelings may put an immediate end to the relationship.