What Is A Narcissist?

The label narcissist is used in reference to a person displaying narcissistic traits. The medical diagnosis is actually Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). To meet this diagnosis it is necessary that a person meet at least 5 of 9 criteria.

According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Addition (DSM 5) NPD is defined as a Cluster B personality disorder comprising of a on going pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by the presence of at least 5 of the following 9 criteria:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance

  • A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

  • A belief 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

  • A need for excessive admiration

  • A sense of entitlement

  • Exploitation of others

  • A lack of empathy

  • Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her

  • A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes

     

Grandiosity, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy appear to be the hallmark traits of a true narcissist, someone likely to meet the criteria for an NPD diagnosis. 

Grandiosity goes beyond self-confidence and high self-esteem. It is an unrealistic sense of superiority over others. Believing that they are better than others, narcissist expect to be treated as such.  The grandiosity is often expressed as cocky, rude, pretentious, demeaning, behavior.

Admiration and validation are the essential needs for a narcissist. While most people appreciate being admired and validated for their gifts and achievements in life, a narcissist must have such attention and recognition, and lots of it. The inflated ego that the narcissist has conjured is fragile and must be reinforced and stabilized from outside sources.

In the eyes of a narcissist other people are regarded as objects with the sole purpose of meeting the needs of the narcissist. There exists no empathy or compassion for another person's experiences, feelings, and view points. Narcissists simply do not care about how their words and behavior effects others. The only concern is for their own needs.

For those in a relationship with a narcissist, feeding the narcissist's demanding ego can be both mentally and physically exhausting. To make matters worse such efforts are not met with any semblance of reciprocity.  In the end, one will find that the relationship lacked depth, mutuality, comradery, not to mention respect and compassion.

A narcissist is incapable of forming such bonds with another person.

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DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL CARE. PLEASE CONSULT A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER FOR GUIDANCE SPECIFIC TO YOUR CASE. If this is a clinical emergency please contact emergency services in your area.

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