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Narcissist Characteristics

Updated on November 25, 2019
revmjm profile image

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes articles that are interesting to her readers.

Narcissist: Definition

A narcissist is a self-absorbed person who puts himself above and beyond everyone else. Narcissists are people who think the world revolves around them. They want it their way or no way. They usually put their own needs and desires above others.

The word comes from Greek mythology. Young Narcissus fell in love with his own image when he saw it in a pool of water. Narcissism is so prominent that Sigmund Freud's wrote about it in his essay On Narcissism in 1914.

Most people overlook narcissism when it is obvious in their families, on their jobs, and in the churches. They dismiss the actions of narcissists by saying, "That's just the way the person is."

In 1968, the American Psychiatric Association listed narcissism as a personality disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Narcissus saw his own image in a pond and fell in love with it.
Narcissus saw his own image in a pond and fell in love with it.

Cory Newman, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has written a lot about narcissistic personality disorder.

His research suggests that between 1 and 6 percent of the population may have this personality disorder, and between 50 to 75 percent of them are men among us.

Dr. Newman gives characteristics of people with the personality disorder as well as ways to deal with those people.

Exaggerated Sense of Self-Importance

People with NPD want to be recognized as being superior even though they are far from it, according to Newman. A narcissist will overestimate their qualities and abilities while at the same time underestimating those qualities and abilities of others.

Narcissists expect to be highly praised for what they have achieved. If they fail to succeed or get the praise they think they deserve, they blame others, but they never blame themselves.

Care About Self Only

Narcissists are good for minimizing the needs of others and maximizing their own. Don’t expect them to care about anyone or anything except themselves. In their mind, it should be all about them and nothing about the people around them.

Terrible Communicators

Narcissists are terrible communicators. They don't desire to have a dialogue about anything that doesn’t benefit them. It’s common for them to take over every conversation because they think you value what they have to say while they don't value anything you say.

Narcissists don't listen because they would rather hear the sound of their own voice instead of yours. Don’t expect them to give you a turn to speak. If you are talking on the telephone, they will cut you off in a minute because their television program is coming on or they want to play a computer game, or do a dozen other things rather than listen to you.


Narcissists are good at manipulating people to get what they want. They will often display false humility to promote their cause. Once they get what they want from people, they are not heard from again until they want something else. People can put a stop to be manipulated by saying "No" and sticking to it.

Lack of Empathy

The lack of empathy is a common characteristic of most narcissists. They do not genuinely care about others. Sometimes they pretend to care just to get what they want..

Narcissists are insensitive to the troubles of others. They often change the subject to talk about themselves instead of showing empathy.

Compares Self with Others

Narcissists are constantly comparing themselves to others just so they can point out their flaws and imperfections while putting themselves above the ones they are talking about.

In their comparing, they will put themselves on top no matter what the situation is. They say they have done something better or could do it better than others. They have the false sense that if they put others down, they will be elevated.

A Know-It-All

Narcissists act as if they know everything about everything. They take over conversations with their input, and often they don't know what they are talking about. They refuse to be corrected.

They will chime in to talk about a movie they have never seen or comment on an actor they know nothing about.

They are almost always impossible to collaborate with because they consider themselves so much smarter, wiser, and more insightful.

Sense of Entitlement

The narcissist believes he doesn't have to abide by rules to get what he wants. He believes he is entitled to what he wants when he wants it without regards to how others feel about it.

There is nothing wrong with thinking you are a little special. However, narcissistic people take it to an extreme. They let people know this in every conversation at family reunions, in meetings on their jobs, and meetings at their churches. They become upset if their opinions are not above everyone else's.

Take Advantage of People

A narcissistic friend will always be the one to choose the date for the movie, the name of the movie and the restaurant. That's because he thinks his choice is always better.

If you have a narcissistic boss, he might make you work very hard to get a project completed on time. He doesn't care if you have to take work home and work long hours. Then after the project is completed on time, he neglects to give you the respect, recognition, or compensation you deserve.

Narcissists are Unhappy

Narcissists are unhappy people with a personality disorder. Fame, money, or power is never enough because they complain about everything.

According to psychologists, narcissists are usually given too much attention or not enough attention during their formative years. Children used it as a defense mechanism and have gotten away with it all their lives. Adults are programmed to behave as they do, and they will continue to be narcissistic as long as people let them get away with it.

Narcissism is Dangerous

Narcissism is dangerous because it could lead to bullying. Parents should notice early traits in their children and do something about it.

Also, people who are narcissistic in one area could become the victim of narcissism in another area of his lives.

How to Deal with Narcissists

There is a big difference between someone who is an egotist and a true narcissist. While an egotist is concerned only about himself, he does not infringe upon the rights of others. A true narcissist doesn't care whose toes he steps on.

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, the signs cited above are some obvious characteristics of narcissists that should not be ignored.

It's best to stay away from them if you can. Try not to get into a verbal fight with them because you will never win.

It is difficult to stay away from your narcissistic boss or family member, but do the best you can and remember that it is not you with the problem.

Do you know any narcissists?

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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      2 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Zia, I never thought of narcissism being linked to racism.

    • aziza786 profile image

      Zia Uddin 

      2 years ago from UK

      I always thought there was a link between narcissism and racism, I dont know. It reminds me of Jim Carey who had advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage in the film Me, Myself and Irene. Funny word too.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Alexa Rosa. yes, Greek mythology is interesting. I remember taking a course in college and loving it.

      I am glad you found the story about Narcissus and saw how the myth relates to the characteristic of being a narcissist.

    • Alexa Rosa profile image

      Alexa Rosa 

      3 years ago from New York

      I wasn't at all looking it up to see if you were wrong, I was just so intrigued! I love Greek Mythology and it's been a while since I read anything on the subject. I looked it up right after reading your article. I found the story behind the myth so fascinating! Thanks for sparking my curiosity.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Alexus Rosa, Thanks for reading and commenting!

      You can look it up to confirm this, but I already did the research before I published the article. Besides the name "Narcissus" is so close to "Narcissist" that it should erase all doubt. if you find other interesting things during your research, feel free to share it in another comment.

    • Alexa Rosa profile image

      Alexa Rosa 

      3 years ago from New York

      I didn't know the word came from Greek Mythology... Narcissus... such a cool fact! I'm gonna look that up! Thank you for sharing. :)


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