A narcissist is a person who has a strong admiration for him/her self. He/she is very much like a Greek mythical character named Narcissus, for which narcissistic traits were named, because he fell in love with the reflection he saw of himself when he gazed into a pool of water. Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud coined the term, referring to a behavior and thought process that manifests as a grandiose distortion of self-image and feeling of superiority.
A person with a narcissistic personality disorder possesses traits such as high self-esteem, self-importance, and self-centeredness, although not all people who have a healthy amount of self-esteem are narcissistic. Here are the common traits characteristic of narcissists:
1. Seeking to Impress Others, Needing Admiration
A narcissist measures his worth on how others view his own accomplishments. He seeks to impress others and brags about his intelligence, looks, or personal belongings. He enjoys getting awards, recognition, and photo opportunities. These make him feel accomplished or successful. Although he likes feeling special, he has a deep-seated feeling of inferiority, which he masks with self-appreciation.
2. Feeling Insecure
Narcissistic people have a strong sense of insecurity but they are not aware of it. They instead project their insecurities about their own failures and inadequacies to other people by blaming them. This makes them feel they are better or superior than others. An example of this is a boss who blames an employee when a project that he himself decided on fails. In other words, a narcissist will put down another person just to make himself feel smarter or more competent than the other.
3. Fear of Emotion
Another narcissistic trait is that of being afraid to show any emotion because their sense of autonomy is challenged. Narcissists do not want to show that they are emotionally touched even in the presence of friends, partners, or family. They do not want to be affected emotionally, and would rather change the subject of conversation once their feelings emerge.
4. Hypersensitivity to Insults
People who are overly sensitive to criticism are usually narcissistic. Although most people get upset when criticized, narcissists often imagine they are being insulted all the time. They take somebody else’s words out of context and make it appear that they have been insulted. They may sense that they are being criticized for their physical appearance, religious beliefs, or social status. In any discussion, they will make it a point to feel offended at some point, making it look like the topic was about themselves.
5. Idol Worship
Narcissists also have the habit of worshipping other people with whom they would like to get associated. They put some people on pedestals, thinking of them as perfect, and hope that by being close to them, they themselves will become perfect, too. However, since no one is really perfect, narcissists may become bitterly disappointed when they discover some imperfection with their idol.
6. Control Freak/Manipulative
In as much as narcissists do not like expressing their feelings, they do not want to show any amount of dependence on other people’s plans, decisions, or preferences. Narcissistic people manipulate other people and arrange events instead of asking about other people’s opinions. These controlling behaviors may be subtle and people around them often do not recognize the red flags of abuse. Examples of these manipulative behaviors include sudden changes of plans, expressing anger when their needs are not met, and making others feel nervous about talking about certain topics or preferences.
7. Violent Tendencies
Narcissists can go into violent rage when they do not get what they want or express what they need. They can go into episodes of screaming, physical violence, and even sexual advances. They can use obscene or insulting language to inflict emotional torment on others. They use these behaviors to control those who are dependent on them, such as their partners and children.
8. Lack of Empathy
Self-centered people have trouble showing compassion or seeing others’ point of view. They can be demanding, expecting others to agree with them and follow what they want. They exploit others but never try to understand how others feel. Since they have a feeling of entitlement or being special, they believe that they should associate themselves only with people who are of the same status.
9. Haughty Body Language
A narcissist’s body language sends the message that he feels he is better than others. He exudes arrogance and pride, walking around with nose up high, rolling his eyeballs on anyone who annoys him, or smirking at others. He/she may also dress to look rich, even when he is not.
Note: People who have narcissistic personality disorder do not want to think that anything is wrong with them since that would go against his self-image of perfection and power. However, this personality disorder can cause problems in various areas of life, such as work, school, relationships, or financial affairs. If you are generally unhappy and or confused by contradictory emotions and you find yourself unhappy and relationships unfulfilling, seek professional help to get the right treatment. This can help make life more enjoyable, at the same time rewarding.
Watch this video for more narcissistic traits and treatments: