Everyone can act narcissistic at times, especially when something happens to make us feel special. However, when someone is obsessed with his self-image to the exclusion of friends’ or relatives’ interests and needs, they may have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A psychologist or psychiatrist can provide an accurate diagnosis, but the following symptoms and behaviors may indicate the need for a professional consultation.
Most people like to feel important at times like while doing their job or performing community service, but individuals exhibiting narcissistic behavior want to feel important all the time, in all or most situations. Their need to be in the limelight takes precedence over others and they have a tendency to take control of conversations in order to project their importance.
Another common symptom of this disorder is an inflated sense of self. People experiencing narcissistic personality disorder seem to expect others’ lives to revolve around his wishes. The narcissists’ needs are prioritized over those of anyone else, including family members or close friends.
Strong need for admiration
We all have been guilty at one time or another of fishing for compliments. It’s normal to occasionally desire recognition for the way we look or our personal achievements, however individuals who constantly preens and struts around in new clothes, a trend-setting hairstyle, or by adopting affected attitude traits will likely call attention to himself, but not in the desired way. This person may ask if you like how he looks or if you noticed his new shoes, deliberately calling attention to himself to get the praise he desperately craves.
No empathy for others
Those with NPD usually think far more highly of themselves than they do of others. In fact, they seldom show compassion or empathy for those who are struggling because they are more focused on meeting their own need for appreciation.
Surprisingly, narcissists typically have low self-esteem, although few would believe it because they are often boastful of their own achievements. This self-esteem issue may have resulted from personal traumas, such as an abusive childhood or constant criticism and neglect. As a result, the person develops a need to over-admire himself to compensate for natural family affection that did not develop or thrive during his early years.
Hypersensitive to criticism
Criticism can be tough for anyone to accept, but someone who overreacts to constructive criticism may be a narcissist. Someone with NPD is unable to objectively process negative feedback, instead of accepting and learning from any negative feedback, these individuals would most likely react disproportionately and inflate their self-image to mask hurt over the criticism.
While there may be a bit of narcissism in each of us, a small percentage of individuals go on to develop narcissistic personality disorder which ultimately restricts their realistic perceptions of themselves. This can be an obstacle to healthy relationships, leading to loneliness and even more isolation. Those who believe they may have a problem with this personality disorder should consult a psychiatrist for testing and possible treatment, if needed. It can be lonely living as a narcissist, even though they behave as though they are better than everyone else. A professional diagnosis can open the door to a brighter, more harmonious future.
For more information on narcissistic personality disorder or to get help in managing it, visit the New Horizons Community Center.