Healthy Living

What Is Narcissism? Signs and Symptoms of Narcissism

What Is Narcissism? Signs and Symptoms of Narcissism

Key Takeaways

  • Behind the disguise of overconfidence lies a deep sense of shame, which makes a narcissistic individual weak when it comes to dealing with criticisms. 
  • Narcissists often have shallow relationships that only serve to satisfy their constant need for attention.
  • Males are also more prone to developing the disorder than females and often manifests in early adulthood. 

What is narcissism?

Narcissism in today’s world has become a more complex term. In 2009, there was a study done where it estimated that 6 percent of people in the US are suffering from a full-blown narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Narcissism is a personality disorder, wherein people tend to be extremely selfish, have a grandiose view of themselves, have a need for admiration, and with a lack of empathy for other people. However, behind the disguise of overconfidence lies a deep sense of shame, which makes a narcissistic individual weak when it comes to dealing with criticisms. Moreover, narcissists would often monopolize conversations because they have a constant feeling of insecurity and humiliation. 

Narcissistic people often feel that they are very important to anybody they meet. This type of behavior is considered as normal for royalties in the 16th century, but now, it can be termed as abnormal. The pattern of such behavior is totally inflexible, which affects social and personal life situations.  

A narcissistic personality disorder can cause problems in many areas of life such as relationships, work, school, or financial matters. Most narcissists tend to be unhappy if special favors are not given to them. However, this personality disorder can be cured through talk therapy.

What are the signs of narcissism?

Narcissists are usually conceited, boastful, and pretentious. They are also incapable of handling any crisis. They would try to destroy other people and make themselves superior. They would often feel depressed and moody if there is no perfection. They would often believe that they are truly special and extraordinary, which are some of the reasons why they show arrogance in their behavior. Other common narcissistic traits include:

1) Wants to be the center of attention

According to psychotherapist Joseph Brugo, PhD, the author of “The Narcissist You Know”, a narcissist dominates conversations. Narcissists always like to talk about themselves and exaggerate their accomplishments. They would always consider themselves as popular in their group or neighborhood.

2) Gives unsolicited advice

Narcissists according to Brugo, pretend to know everything. They seem to be having all the information about everything. They always try to look for opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge.

3) Detests while waiting in line

Narcissistic people feel that they deserve special treatment all the time. They are always seeking automatic compliance as they think they are very important.

4) Highly ambitious

The classic symptom of narcissists is that they aim too high like shooting a star or going to the moon. They believe that they are naturally special, who deserve the best. They are always daydreaming of how powerful and richer they would become in the future.

5) Making other people feel important

Narcissists tend to make other people feel so important. However, all the importance showered to that person would only be an unspoken deal of returning the same level of importance to the narcissist.

6) Competitive

A narcissist always views the world with competition. They only think of winners and losers, and never in between. A narcissist has to win in any field. They always have the urge to make themselves superior to other people. 

7) Holds grudges

Narcissists are often overconfident and busy making an idealized image of themselves. Moreover, they would get troubled on any disapproval or insult from another person. Even small matters would seem a huge assault or a personal attack to them. Instead of dealing with hurt feelings, they would get angry and start seeking revenge.

8) No fault

They would never admit to doing anything wrong nor apologize or try to fix the negative consequences of their actions. It will be never their fault. They are inclined to always blame other people for their mistakes. 

9) Takes advantage of people

Narcissists people often take advantage of every situation due to lack of empathy. They would expect for something from other people and would refuse to do anything in return. In the end, it is always about their own gain.

10) Addiction

Narcissists constantly want to experience grandiose feelings. If these feelings wear off, they are filled with shame. Like drug addiction, narcissists would turn into the drug until they get the feeling of being on top of the world again. If they cannot achieve the "high" they want, they are filled with unbearable shame.

When to see a doctor

Narcissists are usually blinded about their disorder. However, medical help is needed when they start experiencing symptoms of depression. Their depression would develop from criticisms and rejections. If a person is feeling overwhelmed with sadness, then medical intervention is a must.

Causes of narcissism

The causes of this disorder are not fully known by most researchers because of its complexity. However, many researchers talk about biopsychosocial model of causation such as biological and genetic factors, social factors, and psychological factors. It is difficult to identify which factor has contributed to the disorder. Researchers also claim that narcissism can be passed from parents to children. Children who are either excessively pampered or highly criticized by their parents tend to develop this personality disorder. 

Risk factors

Narcissistic personality disorder can affect individuals as early as childhood and teenage years. Signs of narcissism may be typical in children as they grow. However, it does not necessarily mean they will develop a narcissistic personality disorder later in life.

Males are also more prone to developing the disorder than females, and often manifests in early adulthood. 

Some studies report that extreme parenting styles may somewhat lead to the disorder--parents may always exert extra emphasis on their child’s remarkable attributes or always criticizing the failures of their child.  As a result, children may secretly develop low self-esteem and a behavior that craves for neverending admiration. 

Complications

If narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is left untreated, complications may include relationship difficulties, problems at work, depression, drug addiction, and suicidal thoughts.

Treatment 

NPD can be treated with the help of trained mental health professionals such as psychologists or psychiatrists.

Psychotherapy or talk therapy can be done for people with narcissistic personality disorder. Talk therapy can help patients by:

  • Helping them adjust or relate better with other people to create worthwhile and enjoyable relationships.
  • Being aware of the reasons behind their drive to compete, emotions, distrust, and self-hatred.

Such therapy may require years to take effect since most personality disorders are quite difficult to treat. The most common areas of change include the following:

  • Learning how to maintain genuine relationships toward family members, friends, or co-workers.
  • Identifying one’s strength and weaknesses to be able to accept negative criticisms and failures.
  • Balancing one’s moods and emotions.
  • Understanding important issues about one’s self-esteem.
  • Learning how to let go of unrealistic goals and expectations as well as accept achievable aspiration.

Narcissistic personality disorder does not require specific medications. However, if the disorder is accompanied by anxiety, depression, and other mental conditions, antidepressants or anxiolytics may be prescribed.  

Home remedies

Aside from talk therapy, it is also important to:

  • Keep an open mind and try to focus on the rewards of treatment.
  • Commit to the treatment plan by regularly attending therapy sessions and take any medication when recommend.
  • Be aware and educated about narcissistic personality disorder to better understand its symptoms, risks, and treatment process.
  • Treat symptoms of depression and other mental health problems such as addiction and anxiety.
  • Try other relaxation techniques to effectively manage one's stress.
  • Remain patient and focused since it takes a longer time to recover from such personality disorder. 

Prevention 

There is no specific method to prevent such disorder. However, the following may help you deal with the condition:

  • Childhood mental health problems should be treated as soon as possible.
  • Get involved in family therapy to improve communication problems, conflicts, and emotional distress.
  • Parenting classes and guidance from therapists can also be taken.