Let’s be honest, we all have our “diva” moments, but being a narcissist is a whole other condition entirely – one which can affect almost every aspect of your life, especially relationships. In fact, it is estimated that 6.2% (or roughly one out of 16 people) of the population are in fact narcissists.
This is a topic which I hold near and dear to my heart – I have a close family member who is a raging narcissist and he has managed to not only mentally and emotionally abuse those around him, but he has destroyed relationships, both personal and professional, and has scarred our family with his erratic behavior.
I sat down with the lovely Robin Craycroft, MS, PLPC – a counselor who has worked with people from all walks of life and who can officially diagnose a person who is a narcissist. She is fun with a bubbly personality, loves her vocation and is warm and welcoming… A little TOO welcoming in fact. After five minutes of meeting with her, she knew my whole life story. Regardless, I was happy to sit down with her and pick her brain on her area of expertise – counseling!
How Does a Narcissist Act?
Narcissism is a personality disorder which manifests itself in a grandiose style of thinking, feelings and an unnatural preoccupation of one’s own personal power, prestige and vanity. Narcissists often have a strong desire for admiration and praise but lack empathy for others. Psychology Today states, “they are frequently described as cocky, self-centered, manipulative and demanding.” But underneath their mask lies a fragile self-esteem which can be incredibly vulnerable to criticism.
Robin goes on to say that many narcissists are quite charming, sociable and fun to be around. They are often the life of the party, and can have the ability to make an impression. Even so, many have experienced some kind of abuse or trauma growing up. It can be an extreme defense mechanism to emotionally shield themselves from re-experiencing the trauma of abuse and powerlessness from their childhood. Funny how victims, if left unchecked, can often turn into perpetrators!
An Example of Narcissism in Marriage
Robin told me of a story about one couple she was counseling and she experienced first-hand the violent behavior of a narcissist. She had seen this couple a few times before “the incident.” The wife asked her husband for more of his time and respect, and he became very angry. He waved at her with his hands before Robin called him out on his behavior. The wife asked again and he exploded – he stood up, bent over his wife and threatened her with his balled up fist. Robin, being the professional she is, could not allow this behavior and asked him to be seated, but then he came at Robin with clenched fists and threatened her too. At that point Mrs. Craycroft was ready to call the police if he did not leave her office – he stormed out never to be seen again.
While not all narcissists become physically violent, they do have a tendency to emotionally manipulate people and leverage their emotions to suit their own needs while completely disregarding the other’s feelings. Don’t worry – we have some examples coming up!
Robin Craycroft was kind enough to go through her “Diagnostic Bible” known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) which is published by the American Psychiatric Association.
The Signs and Behaviors of a Narcissist:
Keep in mind that you cannot be diagnosed by anyone other than a licensed professional. If you have a trait or two, don’t panic – we’ve all had a trait or two at one time or another!
1. A narcissist has an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
In other words, they feel they are more important than others and that their needs should be met. Period.
2. A narcissist expects to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it.
Self-proclaimed experts, narcissists often feel hurt or disrespected if someone doesn’t recognize them as the amazing person they are.
3. Narcissists exaggerate their achievements and talents.
They often proclaimed to have done amazing things, been awarded accolades, and stretch the boundaries of fact and fiction.
4. Narcissists are often preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate.
Often without loyalty or fidelity, dreaming about having the most beautiful woman, or of being better than others, or fantasizing about how brilliant they are, a narcissist fantasizes about being great or better than others and is often a player when it comes to romantic relationships. A perfect example is Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
5. Narcissists believe they are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people.
Hello highschool! They are too good for the “peasants” and need to rub elbows with “the royals.” They may even pretend to not have enough time for people they don’t deem important.
6. Narcissists require constant admiration.
They have a tendency of surrounding themselves with YES people and those who will never challenge them. As such, they seek validation and admiration from outside themselves and feel angry when they don’t receive the attention and compliments they yearn for.
7. Narcissists often have a large sense of entitlement.
“I deserve this,” is a golden phrase of entitlement. The feel they should get what they want, when they want it, and will even justify hurting others in order to get what they want.
8. Narcissists often expect specials favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations.
The notion of “I did this for you so you owe me,” sums up this point beautifully. Everything is business with them – tit for tat, I did you a favor so you have to do what I say when I say it, etc..
9. Narcissists take advantage of others to get what they want.
A perfect example can be observed in the workplace. Someone might steal a project or idea and make it their own so they can look good in front of their boss or peers.
10. Narcissists have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
This is especially true if it doesn’t suit them. In essence, they don’t really care how others feel.
11. Narcissists are envious of others and believe others envy them.
Robin gave the example of her father here. He believed everyone was envious of how smart he was, and at the same time, he was jealous and envious of others.
12. Narcissists behave in an arrogant or haughty manner.
They build themselves up by tearing others down and proclaim how they are better than everyone.
If you want to take a narcissism quiz, click here and answer the questions! Keep in mind that only a licensed professional can diagnose you and that this quiz is for entertainment purposes only – if you feel you may be a narcissist, Robin offers a free 20-minute phone consultation and you can contact her here or call (417) 210-9175.
She is incredibly easy to talk to, has a Masters in Counseling and will work with anyone 12 years of age or older. As our resident counselor, I will definitely be interviewing her again! And besides, she is a good friend to meet up over a cup of coffee or muffin! Stay tuned Springfield – we will have plenty more from where this comes from!