Am I a Narcissist?
It’s possible that you are in fact a narcissist, given that narcissism, like many things, exists on a spectrum, but you might not meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This means that you might have some tendencies, that others have picked up on, that identify you as self-centered and lacking compassion or empathy. This might also mean that your tendencies are more dynamic and exploitive of others. It’s helpful to examine the thoughts and behaviors that might be contributing to this perception and label.
How do know if I really am a narcissist?
If you’re interested in being assessed for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you will want to work with a mental health professional that can assess and diagnose this condition. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, like myself, can provide a mental health diagnosis, if needed. In my experience working with clients that have strong narcissistic traits, the label is less helpful than the exploration of how these tendencies came about, and how they have impacted their relationships. It’s a good idea when beginning this exploration to consider the following 20 behaviors that are often exhibited by narcissists.
•Selfishness and self-centeredness
•Lying and gaslighting
•The need to control all experiences and outcomes
•Seeking to create chaos in all settings
•Hypersensitivity to what others think of them
•No concern for how their behavior impacts others
•Lack of empathy and compassion
•Outrage over perceived slights
•Braggadocious about connections with people of status or social relevance
•Intimidated by others that they perceive to be better or smarter than them
•Commandeering conversations and acting as an authority on all subjects
•Inflated sense of entitlement, beauty, talent, wealth, power, and superiority
•Total disregard for facts and data that contradicts their claims
•Inability to accept constructive criticism or a difference of opinion
•Excessive need for admiration and accolades
•Easily provoked and extreme anger follows even minor provocations
•Extreme criticism and demeaning comments of others
•Taking unfair advantage and exploiting others with total disregard
•Accepting no responsibility for conflict
•Expectation of unrequited love and loyalty
Can narcissists recover with therapy?
Typically, people who exhibit narcissistic behaviors come to therapy as a last resort, only after they’ve destroyed the important relationships in their lives. I find that these people are not usually interested in investing the time and resources necessary to create the real change necessary to improve their relationships. For real change to occur, there must be a strong desire for change, as well as the capacity to do things differently. Relationships are give and take, requiring both people to accept responsibility for bad behavior and hurtful transgressions. Narcissists don’t view the world through a healthy relationship lens. It’s important to realize that narcissists are not born, they’re groomed. This is a trans-generational dilemma. These are people that likely grew up in families where this dynamic was present, and if siblings were part of the mix, this golden child was above the other children in the hierarchy. Often, they were informed by a narcissistic parent, or other primary caretaker, that they were different from others – better than others. They were special and didn’t have to follow the rules. They were treated as an exception, where excuses were made for them, if they failed to deliver the results that were expected of them. Interestingly, children that grow up with this experience develop an extreme lack of self-worth, along with a strong bravado as a coverup what they perceive they are lacking. Sadly, the young narcissist grows into an adult narcissist that then seeks romantic relations with a partner that will worship them above all others, and never question their toxic behavior.
Dealing with any realm of narcissism is difficult as the behaviors and perceptions can be extreme and confusing. If you find yourself somewhere along the narcissism spectrum and you deeply desire change, then therapy can help. Call or email me for a free consultation.
Katey Villalon, LMFT
Photo by Raj Eiamworakul