What do The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestley and Cruella’s The Baroness have in common? They’re both very narcissistic. Persons with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are vain and inordinately think highly of themselves at the expense of those around them. There’s this strong sense of self-importance that they need to be the center of attention, and their ego is fed with constant admiration.
NPD is a type of personality disorder and is considered a mental condition. Success, power, brilliance, beauty, and self-image are what they superficially care about. Other people perceive them as conceited and snobbish; thus, others do not enjoy being around them.
Do you interact with an individual with NPD? Perhaps your boss, a colleague, or even a family member? You can meet people from different walks of life with this personality disorder. Here’s what you should know about NPD to better understand why they act this way, how to spot one, and how to deal with them.
DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is a manual used to assess and diagnose mental disorders. According to DSM-5, there are two types of people with narcissistic personality disorder as distinguished by their traits:
- Grandiose Overt Narcissism: Characteristics include grandiose personality traits (in behavior or fantasy), arrogance, fantasies about success, and boldness. Individuals with grandiose personalities even see themselves as always better than others. They have an exaggerated sense of importance, knowledge, and power. People with a grandiose overt type of NPD are likely to lack empathy for others, manipulate people for their benefit, and aggressively behave when not praised.
- Vulnerable Covert Narcissism: People with this type of NPD usually have oversensitive and defensive behavior. They are vulnerable to emotional and mental hurt, especially when not praised by others.
Are self-love and narcissism the same? Not exactly.
Narcissism is an excessive regard for oneself and one’s physical appearance. Narcissists have inflated self-confidence and are self-centered, while self-love is taking care of one’s well-being and happiness.
Persons who practice self-love likely have high self-esteem, while narcissists have low self-esteem but use their narcissistic traits to mask it. How do you spot a person with NPD? Here are the traits or symptoms you should look out for:
1. Grandiose Behavior
People with Narcissistic personality disorder have agrandiose sense of self-importance. Grandiose means having a sense of entitlement that they think they deserve special treatment and are superior to everyone. In the workplace, grandiose individuals volunteer to deliver a task that is way beyond their capabilities but is unable to deliver. This is just to receive praises and devalue what others in the office can contribute.
2. Exploitative Behavior and Superficial Relationships
Individuals with NPD engage themselves in exploitative behaviors and superficial relationships. For example, they get into a superficial relationship with a person whom they view as beneficial for their status. A guy chooses a partner not because of the person’s good character but because he sees her as his trophy wife. Usually, the relationship is one-sided because the narcissist is the one in control.
3. Excessive Need for Praise and Admiration
You can spot narcissists if they like being the center of attention. They often take over the conversation and need to be constantly praised and admired.
They have the belief that others are envious of them and that they are superior to others. An occasional compliment is not enough for narcissists because praises feed their ego. They find it a sign of betrayal when not praised all the time.
4. Inability to Take Criticism Well
Most narcissists are likely to have low self-esteem. That’s why they are unable to take constructive criticism from others very well. People with NPD do not like to be corrected or confronted with their mistakes because they are overly sensitive. They react to even the slightest criticism with anger and sometimes aggressiveness.
5. Lack of Empathy for Others
Because narcissists think highly only of themselves, they lack empathy for others. This can come in the form of lacking the ability to look after their loved one’s emotional needs. They tend to be selfish, have troubled relationships, and do not care how other people might feel about what they say or do.
6. Feeling Sad When Not Praised
It takes a toll on the mental health of a narcissist not to be praised constantly. People with NPD feel sad, restless, empty, and experience symptoms of depression or boredom when not praised. As a result, they need constant praise by surrounding themselves with people who think highly of them.
7. Poorly Copes with Life Changes
Narcissists avoid conflicts and being hurt. That’s why they poorly cope with life’s changes. If things at work don’t go their way, they easily give up.
If they experience difficulties at home or school may seem unbearable for them, and choose to walk away rather than face the problems. Young adults who have this personality disorder may even have a “failure to launch” come adulthood (e.g., inability to live on their own or form meaningful relationships).
You may be wondering by now what caused people with NPD to have the behaviors mentioned above. According to the American Psychiatric Association, there is no definite cause of narcissistic personality disorder. However, life experiences, upbringing at home, and genetics influence the formation of the disorder. Factors or presumptive causes include:
- Neglect during childhood
- Traumatic childhood experiences such as physical, emotional, mental, or sexual abuse
- Excessive pampering or spoiling from parents
- High expectations from parents and peers
- Cultural or family influence
How to Deal with a Narcissist
Learn how to deal with a narcissistic person if they bother you a lot, especially if avoiding them is not that possible. Sadly, you can’t control how the person with NPD behaves or speaks because you will most likely clash and get into a fight. If you have no choice but to deal with them at work or home, you can at least choose to deal with them healthily.
1. Accept That the Other Person Is a Narcissist
The first step in dealing with a narcissist is acceptance. It may be hard at first, but you have to be the bigger person and accept the issue.
Do not try to confront them at first because there’s no use, and you will be met with resistance anyway. You need to know what you feel or do is unimportant to them because they lack empathy. There’s not much you can do at this point if you try to change a narcissist. All you have to do is accept it.
2. Focus on Yourself
Because of their sense of entitlement, narcissists may say or do things that can hurt you. As you try to accept their personality, don’t be affected by how they act toward you and just focus on yourself.
Don’t let their negative comments damage your sense of self. Remind yourself about your goals and strengths. If you find it too toxic to be around narcissists, turn a blind eye and take a break.
Do not try to fix them because you will be exhausted. Instead, focus on yourself, know your self-worth, and take care of your mental well-being.
3. Pick Your Battles
When dealing with narcissists, pick your battles. Narcissists enjoy seeing other people squirm, so don’t make it visible to them because they feel they’re winning. Don’t get visibly annoyed because it gives them the satisfaction they’re looking for. Pick your battles, especially at work, and focus on being professional.
4. Speak Up
If you have no choice but to interact with them, try to speak up at times calmly and gently. You can tell them calmly that what they do or say is not acceptable because it’s starting to affect other people’s feelings in the wrong way.
Sit down with them and be specific in pinpointing their unacceptable behavior. However, prepare yourself to be met with resistance or indifference. Mental health professionals can intervene at this point.
5. Set Boundaries
People with NPD may not understand the concept of personal space. There may be instances where they won’t respect your personal space. In this case, set a clear boundary between the two of you.
For example, you can talk to them not to touch your personal things or not go inside your office. Tell them that there can be consequences the next time they do so, but make sure it doesn’t sound like a threat. However, be firm and stand your ground so they will believe you.
6. Learn When to Move On
Learn when to move on when a narcissist starts to emotionally or verbally abuse you. NPD doesn’t have a definite treatment, so there’s not much you can do if the person doesn’t want to change.
If name-calling, insults, humiliation, threats, or jealousy already is overtaking your relationship, know when to move on. These are all unhealthy for you.
- They start to blame others for their mistakes.
- Your feelings are disregarded.
- They underplay your needs or opinions.
- You feel isolated and manipulated.
- They lash out their shortcomings on you
- Your mental health is already getting affected
Learn to move on and cut off toxic people with narcissistic personality disorder in your life. If it’s a family member you have to deal with, try to be involved in family therapy with a mental health professional or a psychotherapist.
Interacting with a person with narcissistic personality disorder in the workplace or at home may cause you to struggle to deal with it emotionally and mentally. As NPD may lead to harmful behaviors, hurtful words can be said, and unequal treatment in the relationship may happen.
Narcissistic personality disorder cannot be cured, as there is no specific treatment to make this all go away. However, talk therapy with a counselor or psychotherapist can help them realize their actions, manage their symptoms, and help them change their behavior.
Family therapy can be a beneficial form of treatment for families with a family member who has NPD. The bottom line is to take care of your mental health. If you are constantly interacting with narcissistic people because there are many of them in your life, you may find it helpful to talk to a mental health professional at Kentucky Counseling Center.
there is no certain treatment to make this all go away. However, Talk Therapy with a counselor or psychotherapist can help them realize their actions, manage their symptoms, and help change them. Family therapy can be a beneficial form of treatment for families who have a family member who has NPD. The bottom line is to take care of your mental health; if you surround yourself with an individual who has NPD, talk to a mental health professional at Kentucky Counseling Center.