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Narcissistic Personality Disorder, The Dark Triad

Updated on September 11, 2014
Cynthianne profile image

Cynthianne has a B.S. in Psychology and is licensed in Astrology. She is autistic, as are three of her children.

World Revolves Around Them

A person with NPD feels that the world owes them something.
A person with NPD feels that the world owes them something. | Source

When a person is egotistical and full of themselves, people may casually say “Oh, he/she is so narcissistic!” It takes a professional to make the diagnosis, but the person may very well have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

You may know a person, family, friend or co-worker that wants all the attention for themselves, to the detriment of the relationship. It may be difficult to be around the person without feeling a sense of loss of self worth because this person comes across as so demeaning and argumentative. The person may be fun to be around; they may work hard to be the class clown or the best at everything they do. They may be seen as an overachiever, the go-getter of the team, as long as things are on their terms.

This person may have the attitude of “My way or the highway” and not listen to anyone’s advice and may instead attack everyone else’s ideas until everyone gives in and goes with their ideas because it is less stressful.

A person with this disorder can come across very pushy or very emotional. Either way is a manipulation of your emotions to get what they want, whether they realize it or not. Not all tactics are the same even when the symptoms look the same.

Although this is a particularly difficult disorder to deal with, there is hope you can coexist with someone with this disorder.

The Dark Triad

When a person has NPD, they may exhibit the three signs often referred to as The Dark Triad. These are the main aspects of NPD that cause issues with social interaction and long term relationships.

  1. Narcissim, by definition is one’s egotistical preoccupation with themselves. Nacissism is a combination of personality traits, one of which is Machiavellianism.
  2. Machiavellianism refers to the ideas and acts of manipulation and deceit for one’s own personal gain, on a regular basis. A person showing traits of Machiavellianism will also hold no regard or empathy for another’s feelings.
  3. Psychopathy is the third of the main three traits that make up this disorder. Psychopathy is when one shows a lack of emotions, lack of concern for their actions against others and lack of emotions in other areas. They hold no feelings of guilt, often commenting or thinking that others deserve what they get, no matter how bad it is. They have a very high tolerance for stress because they just do not care about others. If the power gets cut off, leaving the children in the home cold, they do not care, for example. They are impulsive and seek to fulfill their desires, regardless of the means.

These main traits that typically define Narcissistic Personality Disorder are sometimes referred to as the Dark Triad.

You can take this test to see how you compare with others:The Dark Triad


  • Long term, consistent feelings of self-worth above others
  • “My way or the highway” mentality, inflexible
  • Grandiose sense of importance
  • Constant need of center of attention
  • Preoccupied with sense of unlimited wonderful qualities such as intelligence (always smarter than others, more handsome, beautiful etc…)
  • Belief beyond reality that they are special or better than others
  • Feels more deserving than others
  • Expresses feelings that others are inferior, stupid, or other demeaning words
  • Feels entitled to things without cause
  • Lacks empathy or compassion
  • Envious of others or feels everyone is envious of them
  • Shows egotistical attitude on regular basis, even when introvert
  • Uses others, manipulates, for self satisfaction and gain
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of inferiority if needs are not met
  • Highly arrogant and vain
  • More prevalent in males than females
  • Introvert
  • Extrovert

Examples of Moments With NPD:

Introvert: You have worked very hard on dinner, only to have your spouse with narcissism put the forks on the table and take all the credit for dinner being made and the table being set nicely. They may wait for you to shower them with compliments before sitting down to eat and get moody and pout if you do not acknowledge what they see as a great accomplishment. If you joke with them that they did not do anything, or just come out and say that they only put forks on the table, they may pick a fight about something else to try to get the attention that they were seeking. Simply thanking them for helping and smiling may be the best way to handle the situation. If this still does not work, try telling them how much you appreciate it when they help you.

Extrovert: Let’s use the same dinner example. You worked on dinner and your spouse comes in, puts out the forks and says loudly that they did a very good job and you should thank them. They may go as far as remaining standing, by your chair, until they get the acknowledgement they feel they deserve. If you do not satisfy their need for attention they may say again, louder, about what a fine job they did, maybe even calling friends to brag on the dinner that they cooked. This leaves you feeling like nothing you do is ever going to be good enough to get attention and praise from them.

May Alienate Others

A person with NPD may alienate others with their attitude of superiority.
A person with NPD may alienate others with their attitude of superiority. | Source

More Prevalent in Males Than Females

Love of self may not be seen as such, but the person may feel self important to excess.
Love of self may not be seen as such, but the person may feel self important to excess. | Source


Researchers are not entirely sure what causes narcissistic personality disorder but they do believe that there are genetic factors as this has been seen when following family lines. Cultural and social factors also affect the development of the personality disorder, both negatively, as in making it worse, or positively, in helping the person not become a problem to others. There has also been some research done showing a link between less gray brain matter and this disorder.

Less Gray Matter?

According to some researchers, the lack of empathy that is so prevalent with a person with narcissism is because of a lower amount of gray matter than the person who does not have narcissism. For this study, 34 participants were used, 17 of which have been diagnosed with narcissism. It was found that those 17 had less gray matter in the cerebral cortex, left anterior insula, which is the part of the brain that regulates the compassion and empathy reaction. If this area is not as developed as with those who do not have narcissism, then the person who has the disorder will not have the needed brain activity to correctly respond to situations and people with compassion and empathy, according to this research.


To be diagnosed with a personality disorder, there is no blood test, no x-ray that can identify these types of disorders. Because children are changing and learning, personality disorders are not usually diagnosed until adulthood. The narcissistic person will usually not seek treatment as they do not see that they have a problem, they see it as everyone else has a problem. It is only when someone else has said that they need help that they may seek help or in severe cases, intervention. A psychologist is best suited for diagnosis as a family physician will not have the training as a medical professional, to make that diagnosis.


Treatment can be tough and long-term even with the best of psychologists. Medications for anxiety may help with those suffering from introvert style narcissism because the introvert suffers higher levels of depression when they do not get the needed attention that one with narcissism feels they need. The person has to want to change; it cannot be forced or treated completely with medication. Therein lies a problem since those with disorder do not see it as a problem, but when the person cannot keep a job because of their attitudes, for example, family and friends may need to insist on treatment.

Living with Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Living with someone with this particular disorder can be difficult but there is hope. Knowledge of what triggers the person’s attitude is key to being able to cope with the traits. If the person feels they need to be the center of attention at all times, light jokes about the attention they seek, and why (sometimes the reasoning behind the attention is nonsensical), can lighten the mood of the person and they can see that they are reacting in a negative manner. If the person is seeking attention to lift their self esteem, the joke may not go over very well and may trigger an outburst of attitude. It may be best at that time to feed their ego a bit to get them to a comfortable place, then explain that you want attention too, for example.

It is very important to understand what makes the person affected react the way that they do, if it is for power or low self esteem issues. How you react is different for the outgoing, pushy, extrovert Narcissistic, than the introvert, self esteem boost seeking Narcissistic.

Do not lose yourself in dealing with the Narcissistic person. If you find that you are becoming submissive, losing yourself, just to keep your friend or family member happy, seek counsel on how to best deal with this type of person. They may not be able to control their behaviors completely, but with proper treatment and counseling, they can learn to coexist and be more pleasurable to be around. Part of that treatment/counseling is learning how to reign in their enthusiasm about themselves. As they do this, they will be more fun to be around.

Do You Know Someone With Possible NPD

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© 2014 Cynthianne Neighbors


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