The narcissistic people do not usually frequent the consultations of psychology and mental health professionals, but it is quite common for some patients to refer problems as a result of living with people with a narcissistic profile.
Likewise, there are people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder in many areas, and of course also in public life or the media.
What is Narcissism?
We usually associate Narcissistic Personality Disorder with personalities from the world of show business: artists, actors, singers, intellectuals… They are those characters that, as they say colloquially, “have had their fame go to their heads”.
Of course, narcissism is not directly linked to the socioeconomic position of a person, but to the self-perception of the individual (that is, the perception of his/her worth, regardless of his/her social or economic position). The true essence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder lies there: the narcissistic person is absolutely convinced that one’s self is superior to other people. The narcissist systematically compares himself to the people around him, and he does not see anyone above him, but he does place many (or even all) below him.
In more technical terms, narcissism is characterized by a general pattern of grandiosity, little empathy in personal relationships, and need to be admired by others.
What does a narcissistic person look like?
People who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder often show themselves as individuals with a strong self-esteem. This high self-confidence does not make them better people, since in the area of interpersonal relationships, they have important deficiencies .
The narcissist needs to always consider himself on a higher plane than other people, either because he cannot bear some trait of these close people, or because he has disassociated himself from his former contact with them. Because of this affective detachment towards others , people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder lack a genuine interest in others, which we can summarize by their lack of empathy. They are not very concerned about what might happen to people in their environment, but focus all their attention on themselves.
They only approve of third parties when they revolve around their orbit, when they positively reinforce them with flattery and thus ratify their self-perception and airs of grandeur. Unfortunately, it is common that some relatives and friends of narcissists play this role of unconditional “admirers”, surprised by the halo of confidence that the narcissist exudes.
The Narcissist’s Personality and Daily Life
People who suffer some degree of Narcissistic Personality Disorder export their self-sufficiency and airs of grandeur beyond the family environment. They are usually individuals who develop in life and take advantage of their way of thinking about themselves.
Narcissists often feel uncomfortable when they have to travel on public transportation or when they have to be admitted to a hospital, because they will tend to think they deserve better treatment or will complain if they are not granted certain privileges . If they have a good job, they often use their money to buy watches, shoes, clothes or sports cars of high standing , because they feel they deserve these distinctions: their status and image of success is very important to a narcissist.
The narcissist’s discourse tends to be self-referential . The narcissistic person expects his words to receive superior attention; it is not uncommon for them to be petulant, talking about themselves, about their life, their (unquestionable) opinion on things, demanding full attention to everything they say.
Although we are used to seeing people with narcissistic profiles on TV or in the movies and may even consider them funny and eccentric, the truth is that routine personal contact with a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be irritating. In addition to their self-centered behavior that we have already discussed, they are also characterized by being very spiteful people, and they often maintain attitudes of resentment and revenge towards others. They usually enjoy making others feel bad, and in this way they swell their ego and their feeling of superiority. They are competitive and if they believe that someone can overshadow them, they will try to undermine that person’s prestige and reputation.
We are going to know some aspects of great relevance in the clinical performance for cases of people with tendency to the narcissism.
Diagnostic Criteria of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
According to the classification developed and published in the DSM-V-TR, Narcissistic Personality Disorder has the following signs that may be helpful to mental health professionals in establishing a diagnosis :
- They feel an excessive sense of grandiosity.
- They are permanently preoccupied with fantasies of power, success, beauty or love.
- They are people who think they are special and who are trying to get their status recognized.
- They demand excessive admiration from others.
- They express their feeling of “being in their right”. That is, they have irrational expectations about the treatment they deserve.
- They take advantage of other people for their own purposes ( machiavellianism ).
- Lack of empathy, that is, they are unable to identify themselves or recognize other people’s feelings and emotions.
- They are jealous of others, or they think others are jealous.
- They tend to be arrogant.
On the other hand, we must remember that people whose behaviors fall into the category of Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be very varied in their way of expressing this disorder. In the end, each person is a world and we cannot capture all the nuances of someone’s personality from diagnostic manuals.
- AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION (APA). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. Barcelona: Masson. 2002.
- Alarcón, R. D.; Sarabia, S. (2012). “Debates on the Narcissism Conundrum: Trait, Domain, Dimension, Type, or Disorder?”. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 200 (1): 16 – 25.
- NHL.NIH.GOV (MEDLINEPLUS). “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” Rescued from this link.
- Schulze, L.; Dziobek, I.; Vater, A.; Heekeren, H. R.; Bajbouj, M.; Renneberg, B.; Heuser, I.; Roepke, S. (2013). “Gray matter abnormalities in patients with narcissistic personality disorder”. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 47 (10): 1363 – 69.