Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Spot a Narcissist

On my radio show that airs on Monday, August 29th, I introduced the first in a three-part series on narcissists: who they are, how to spot them, why they are so seductive, how to leave them, and how their insatiable desire for adoration makes them so seductive to codependent people.

Narcissists are decidedly a mixed bag. They are very appealing at first. They have a keen interest in charming the opposite sex. They are entertaining and exciting, but they are also aggressive and manipulative. They have a powerful need for attention. There is a strong link between narcissism and physical attractiveness, which is part of their initial charm. There is also a strong connection between narcissism and leadership. Because they are so desirous of admiration and even adoration, they tend to sweep into a leaderless group and take charge.

The more emotionally attached you get, the easier it will be for a narcissist to manipulate you. Often, however, being dazzled by first impressions turns sour because of their manipulativeness, lack of empathy, and demand for adoration.

The following nine characteristics distinguish someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the DSM-IV which is a clinician’s “Bible” for diagnosing disorders. NPD is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power and love
3. Believes s/he is special and unique
4. Requires extensive admiration
5. Has a sense of entitlement
6. Is interpersonally exploitative
7. Lacks empathy
8. Is envious of others or believes that others are envious or him/her
9. Shows arrogant or haughty behaviors

Six elements should be noted. 1) There is a fine line between being an extravert and a narcissist. 2) There is such a thing as healthy narcissism which forms a constant, realistic self-interest, mature goals and principles, and an ability to form deep relationships. 3) Healthy narcissism is the antithesis of the insecurity or inadequacy that plague a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. 4) A certain amount of narcissism is a required element within normal development. 5) We all are narcissistic to one degree or another. 6) Although there are female narcissists, the majority are males.