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How to Spot a Narcissist

By Samuel López De Victoria, Ph.D.

How to Spot a Narcissist

At the core of extreme narcissism is egotistical preoccupation with self, personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how he/she is perceived by others. Some amount of basic narcissism is healthy, of course, but this type …

660 Comments to
How to Spot a Narcissist

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  1. The doctor here sounds like a narcissist also. I don’t open up to certain people because they are judgemental or gossipers. Also I’m private and font feel the need to over share my crap with others

  2. Screw these people. they were hurt in childhood? bullshit!!! I had a terrible childhood and I don’t go arond hurting others to make myself feel better or manipulate or get jelous and the rest of their horrible traits. but after living with one a litte over two years ive learned a whole lot about myself at first I let the N cripple me kinda was immobile for quite some time but I thank em for it because I truly have learned so much more about myselkf through their bullshit. but still wish I never met them!

  3. My son told me today that he is a narcissist. He claims to have all the characteristics, and he scores high on self-tests for this diagnosis. I have spent the evening reading about narcissism and how it develops, and I found this informative article, which was very useful. The description of a narcissist is a description of my son. Now at last I understand him. I feel so sorry for him, as I understand that he feels emotionally isolated, and that his problem is most likely caused by emotional wounds from his childhood. I try to find out what went wrong. He was very loved, and still is, but I was much occupied with animal rights, and he may have felt that he didn’t have the first priority. I got ill from a brain tumor that caused depression and unstable mood when he was only a couple of years old, and that lasted throughout his childhood. I could get very angry and sometimes say horrible things to him that must have hurt him deeply, although he knew that this behavior was part of the illness. He had no siblings, no contact with his father and very few friends. Now, at the age of 19, he has no friends at all, he is always on his own when not at work. Considering the problems in his childhood, it is no wonder that he has developed a personality disorder. Feeling so guilty and sad for him, I naturally want to help him as much as possible. But how can he be helped, when he doesn’t want any help? He claims that he doesn’t have any problems and that he is totally invulnerable, although I know he is vulnerable deep inside. It may be a good sign that he acknowledges his narcissism, but I am afraid that he will carry this with him through life, and that it can cause him much loneliness and sadness. I just hope there is a way to help him.

  4. I’ve been reading about how you’ve said that a major event can shake things up for a Narcissist and create some sort of reality check. I saw quite the opposite with a friend of mine.

    She showed quite a few signs of NPD. She required constant check-ins from friends and family. She complained about family not paying enough attention to her, her wedding, her life etc.. She would complain about certain friends not being ‘good friends’ because they didn’t ask her about her life on a regular basis and complained about having to listen to their problems too much. She shared their private secrets and problems with me and convinced me that I was the best friend a person could have. I was to a point where I was writing down her doctor’s appointments to remind myself to ask her about them and to keep her happy/ know that she was cared about.

    This was all prior to her father’s year long battle with cancer. What didn’t seem to occur to her is that not everyone knows what to say/ do when such events take place in one’s life. I was constantly checking in, writing down his appointments , asking for updates etc.. which, apparently, did not meet her expectations. After his passing she not only disowned one side of her family (the other side had been disowned by her father many years prior) but she also created a barrier for her husband and his lifelong friendships. From what I gathered, she was not satisfied with her family or certain friend’s “support” and decided to do some “relationship housecleaning” and disown many people from her family and her and her husband’s circle of friends.

    If I’m being completely honest, this was probably the BEST decision she’s ever made and my life is a LOT easier without her. I am very pleased & relieved with the outcome of being wiped off of the ‘list’! I was actually surprised I didn’t receive an ‘exit email’ from her telling me all the ways I’d let her down (I used to get lots of those!!) …but the point is: can major events for someone with NDP perhaps escalate their need for love/ attention/ and worsen the condition Dr. Sam?

  5. Definitley Catch-22…If everyone is safe then nothing anyone says will make a difference so nothing can change. Even if there is a cure, why would they choose it??

  6. My previous boss is a narcissist and the only one unaware of her pathological lies, underhand tactics and self sabotaging behaviour even though she has no real friends as she is unable sustain relationships she really does believe other people think she’s great. It is unfortunate these people choose to stay unhappy in their false world when there is so much available help.

  7. Is this personality trait closely connected to envy/jealousy?I cant really tell the difference..

  8. Wow, I just broke up with a person after a 14 month relationship. We broke once for 4 months during that period. I was broken hearted, cried my heart out, feeling disposable, not knowing why I wasn’t enough for him. Then a friend told me about this disorder and it fit like a glove! Understanding that his lack of empathy it not ABOUT me, that his need for attention will always be there and he’ll be always interested in other women, even if he doesn’t get physical with any of them, and that he will never love me like a grown up man, that he will never open up about his past and his feelings… knowing all of this was truly an epiphany for me. I’m not the problem. It’s him and he will never change. I can move on with my life now. I can give up the hope that he will change and realize that letting me go is a huge mistake (because if I had someone that loved me as much as I love him, I’d be an idiot to let him go), that will never happen. He’ll never change, and sorry pal, I’m not putting up with your shit. I do know love, and I love myself. And also, that there is no poing to tell him any of this, because he will never see it. Just out of curiosity, I filled the narcissist quiz on his behalf (to the best of my knowledge), and he scored 29. I scored 17. Ugh. I can only hope that he is out of my mind soon. I only pray that I stop thinking about him.

    • Paty I feel for you. they are very good at turning everything around on you and blaming others for their actions. I have dealt with the constantly seeking other women.
      it’s hurtful. the explanation I got for that was that he couldn’t control himself and couldn’t stop..
      I think they want to make sure they have a back up in the event you figure them out.
      I’m dealing with one who simply cannot be alone or on his own.. always have to have a woman in his life.. or several.. lots of female “friends” etc.
      he has taken some steps to make things better. he has closed all social media and changed his phone number and closed email accounts.. but we all know that if there is a will there is a way. he knows there is a problem, but I don’t know if he is ready to face who he truly is.. because it’s so easy for him to blame others.

      in his case he does have a sexually abusive father to blame.. but he has to make the choice to change, and take some responsibility.
      I am at the end of my rope. we are hanging by a very thin string.. I know it’s not going to happen overnight.. and I don’t know that I’m willing to stick around long enough to find out if he can change. I can’t live my life in constant fear that he’s going to revert back to his old ways.. ones that have been there for a long time.
      I ultimately have to make the decision if he’s worth sticking around for or not..
      I’m pretty sure I will regret it if I do.. and just bring more hurt and pain onto myself…
      sometimes I feel that I already know how it will end.. so why not just do it now rather than put myself through it for any longer.. it’s a hard decision when you love someone.. whether to run or try to help.. my instincts have always told me to run.. and frankly I haven’t read anything here from anyone who has seen if a change in behavior can be made.. and if so.. what triggers will make them regress?

  9. Wow! This is my husband to a tee. My friend has been telling me she thinks he’s a narcissist but I never looked into it until now. He swept me off my feet when we met. It was a whirlwind romance and he treated me like a princess. He has since given me the cold shoulder too many times to count. He dissapears for weeks at a time, turns every argument against me, controls every situation. Buddies up to people when he needs something, and then dumps them out like the trash when he’s done. Old friends are constantly coming to me asking what they did to offend him and why he stopped communicating with them. He’s had several different personas in his life. When I met him he was a cowboy, but he’s also been a bike pro, a golf pro, a salesman, a contractor, surfer, sailor, on and on. There’s no balance between these personalities though. None of them mix with the others and once he’s done being one, he doesn’t like to go back. For instance, surfing was once an everyday obsession, but now I can’t get him in the water.
    It’s the neglect and control that are the most difficult to deal with. I’m hoping that learning more about this disorder might be helpful to me. I’m just beginning to read about it.

  10. this has been an interesting read. I have had thought but just realized, after reading up on narcissism, that I have been in a relationship with one for the last 9 months.
    it started out ok.. but immediately he began having financial problems… losing jobs, etc. he also has 3 kids by two different mothers.

    I have never completely trusted him.. I have seen the good in him, but it is outweighed by the bad. we have been through many things. I have loaned and given him a lot of money, trying to help him get back on his feet.. all the while being promised that things would get better. he would repay me. how well he would treat me.
    I’m a good bit older than him (14 years) and always has the feeling that he was using me, as I’m a stable successful woman. whenever I mentioned that to him he would get furious. he was always very closed off to me. didn’t ask me much about myself, although I asked a lot about him. things were just never normal.

    we split up for a couple of months, and I could see he was going downhill, and is in a custody battle for his 2 yr old daughter. he is a wonderful, loving and caring father, just not responsible enough to provide for her..’or his other two kids.
    I let him come back. then I began finding out lots of things he lied about.. from stupid little things to big things. I found out he was perusing other women (and men!) via the Internet. that was mind blowing. it was more than I could handle emotionally. and I do feel very emotionally abused. I told him to get out of my life.
    I had always had my suspicions about his childhood. because he was adopted by extended family since his 14 yr old mother wanted nothing to do with him.
    his stepfather, who was in the military, sexually abused his sister and cousin.
    but now, I have finally gotten him to admit to me that he was also sexually molested by his stepfather. I am heartbroken for this guy. I love him dearly. he is still a hurt little boy who never had the chance to grow up. he also holds a lot of anger and resentment for his birth mother who gave him up. he thinks if he had a life with her or his grandmother, the sexual abuse would not have happened.

    I am the first person he has ever told about the abuse. I know that was a huge step for him. I realize he needs therapy, and he is open to it.. when he can afford it.. but it needs to be soon. I see a lot of good in there.. all his ex girlfriends hate him. he’s a liar, a cheater, and a manipulator. he’s very self centered and selfish. the world revolves around him and when things are going his way he’s happy.
    he has horrible mood swings.. very up then very down. he’s controlling.
    he has no respect for women.

    he’s a pervert and I think a sex addict. and he’s also a young child inside.. very immature. I have no idea how his mind works. selfish. and I am a very generous person, very giving, and forgiving. I have forgiven him for a lot.
    but I am an emotional mess. I’m a strong woman who doesn’t take shit from men, but for some reason I take it from him. and he doesn’t like for me to point out his flaws.

    I’m hoping that now he has admitted his childhood trauma to me that we can move forward and he can get some help. he says he will but it’s not at the top of his list. he is in a custody battle, so I get that. but I cannot go on like this. for me it needs to be sooner rather than later. I’m debating letting him read all of the info I have found on narcissism, and tell them that is his problem. I feel like he trusts me. it’s hard for me because I feel love and empathy for him and for what he went through, but I also feel used and abused and taken for granted and unappreciated.

    and he has a charming personality.. everyone loves him.. but I know deep down inside he’s a lost sad little boy who grew up with no role model, no one to teach him how to respect women. his adoptive mother is devastated.. she knew about the girls being molested but not her son. she put him in prison. my boyfriend has also been in prison.. tries to look and be the tough guy.. and he was bullied as a kid.. so hard for me to hate him and be mad at him for things he can’t help.. I’m really hoping therapy will help him.. because it is our only chance! thank you for all of the comments and articles!

  11. I believe both my sisters are narcissistic. I believe my older sister is better then she was when we were younger but my younger sister just gets worse as she gets older. I can not have a relationship with her. She seems to have Extreme ND, She is always competing with me. She tries to destroy my relationships with family to build herself up, money is her god, every conversation is about her, if we (family) plans something she tries to sabotage it and then acts like she didn’t do it. She has to alway be the center of attention and she will attack me every chance she gets. I love my sister but have just come to the point I can not have anything to do with her because it hurts my heart so much and I have cried over this so many times. I can go on and on about this. I thought she was bipolar but after researching her behavior it makes more since that this is what she has. Thank you so much for your thoughts and article.. I want to understand this personalty disorder so I can understand why I can’t get through to my sister..

  12. Wow. This is such a great article. I stumbled across it totally by accident. I was going to call someone a narcissist, but had to look-up the definition and made my way to this website.

    Thank you for writing it. It so clearly defines something that many of us truly don’t understand.

  13. Great article. I could write a book about my experiences
    Echoing much of what has been written here. I married into
    A family of controlling, overbearing, self centered,
    paranoid, degrading, fault finding, empathy- lacking, mean spirited narcissists. And
    I mean every word. To say my head was spinning before
    I figured out why us an understatement of the millennium.

    Here’s a great example (or two):

    My mother is sick and dying of cancer which I learned not long after
    Being engaged. During my engagement, at which time
    I was working full time, planning a wedding, taking care of my
    Mother, I was pressured into buying a house because that’s
    What they wanted. I was then pressured into decorating it
    While I had contractors in and out of the house remodeling
    For months, because “what are your guests going to think” (that
    My home isn’t perfect). I was told that if we have a child,
    The nursery should be in our den (no bigger than a walk
    In closet and has no closet), because “where are your
    Guests going to sleep?” (Note here that “guests” really
    Means THEM). Then during Christmas, the last Christmas
    I would ever spend with my Mom, the narcissists
    Sat on the phone bitching up a storm because I was not
    Spending Christmas with THEIR family. I would never
    In a million lifetimes EVER lack the normal human empathy
    That these walking breathing shallow empty shell of
    A human beings do. Sick, sick, shallow people. And
    They can say whatever they want – degrading you constantly
    But boy if you ever have an opinion for them you
    Are belittled, ignored, ostracized, threatened, etc. they are
    The most unrelenting human beings I’ve met in my life.
    If they don’t get their way, they will obsess for years.
    They will keep repeating the same thing so many times
    You’ll wish you were wearing a straight jacket slamming
    Your head against a wall. Every Friday. Every Saturday every Sunday
    Every time you pick up the phone. Week after week
    Month after month. Year after year. It’s the same thing I’ve
    Been hearing for SEVEN years from the same group of
    People. And they will go as far as to have their friends
    And their relatives do their bidding for them – chiming
    In with the same phrases year after year (you shouldn’t
    Have a dog. You shouldn’t have a dog.). For no reason
    Other than the fact that they can’t control me. If I give in, they shut
    Up. Otherwise it’s unrelenting. If anything ever happened
    To my husband and I met another man with a narcissistic
    Family, I’d run like hell and NEVER EVER look back.

    They are the worst thing to have ever happened to my life

    Horrible, phony condescending selfish people who care
    Nothing about anyone’s needs but their own.

    Run. Run like hell. That’s my best advice.

  14. How can you tell the difference between someone who is narcissistic and someone who has depression and makes everything about them due to lack of self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness?

  15. Good article, I thought. Liked the summary of traits and was especially drawn because you were able to effect cures! I wonder, were these malignant narcissists? My guess, no, cause those are psychopaths.

  16. Good info, except for all of the psycho-mumbo-jumbo therapist talk that describes the causes… This stuck-in-childhood crap. Oh really? I think we are born with tendencies… And we have a series of experiences (upbringing and life in general) that reinforce and interact with inborn tendencies in a sort of feedback loop. Some of us are born with strong tendencies toward narcissism, others with strong tendencies toward …other things. We are a rich mix. Some of us have only moderate inborn inclination toward narcissism but our life experiences push hard in that direction. And by “experiences” I’m not necessarily referring to trauma, nor do I think narcissism is necessarily a defense mechanisms erected in response. Sometimes narcissism is simply a delusion of greatness.

    The practical advice about dealing with narcissism is good. The article also is beneficial in that (moderate) narcissists might recognize themselves and work toward making themselves a bit more tolerable. (Not sure that extreme narcissists will have the same reaction).

    But while the advice is good, I take issue with the psychologizing, which strikes me as mostly baloney and untestable hypothesizing.

    I will concede that some of the mumbo-jumbo theorizing could be correct for certain cases, but I have serious doubts about the universality. As a counter example I am forced to ask, what about all of those people who survive similar experiences, but don’t come out the other side, as narcissists? Are these people just genetically resistant to narcissism? If so, the score so far is genetics one, mumbo jumbo zero.

    And what about the people who are very narcissistic despite having no such traumatic history? Do we go ahead and notch another point for genes, and a zero for hogwash, or do we go into extensive therapy until we invent something? Perhaps this trauma-frozen-in-childhood thing is just hogwash.

    I do not deny that fire exists and has causes, I just don’t think so much of this Phlogiston Theory.

    What about the really OBVIOUS notion that SOME (most?) narcissists were simply raised wrong by their parents, and it’s not a matter of trauma? No poor little traumatized Billy so much as a rotten little Billy or Samantha who receives too much coddling, self-esteem pumping, and gets no spankings despite abominable attention-seeking, selfish, infantile behavior from a child who is old enough to know better? The little Emperor or Princess who is never corrected for increasingly extreme selfish behavior, always praised as special in a way that makes him or her feel lavishly, royally superior to other kids, not equal… Perhaps these are just potentially normal kids who were continually rewarded for narcissistic, selfish behavior until… until they knew no other way to BE.

    Of course, therapists don’t like this sort of straightforward approach. It doesn’t foster endless return visits for more and more therapy. And narcissists don’t like it either, because they like to be the center of attention, which in a nutshell, is precisely what the therapy industry sells.

    …and yet the practical advice given here, how to deal with it, is good. Kudos for that.

    And yes, there probably are some narcissists who are the way they are …as a defense mechanism for some kind of trauma. But let’s not take a one size fits all approach, please! Trauma? Sometimes. Genetics? Plays a role. Bad parenting? Plenty of that too!

  17. Hm, perhaps misleading outcomes here. Sorry but to flood the spot light on “extreme narcicism” (what is that exactly?)talk is not diagnosing anything about an individuals real problem. This is too difficult a matter to discuss in an article above, is too simple a term to label a person because of a few personality traits, leave out unimaginable personality traits that are affected by..I dunno(environment, culture, culture, stress etc etc). Sure there is definitions. Your attracting people above who have a difficulty with their partners and finding resolution in “extreme narcissim”, because they perhaps don’t have answers when it comes to difficulty in communication.

  18. There are too many variables to consider.. This article is rubbish

  19. I separated 6 months ago from a woman with whom I had a 2 year relationship. It’s been very confusing and painful (as it has been for you) I’ve only just become aware of NPD and so many of the characteristics mentioned in this blog apply to her. This has been a good and healing revelation, because now at least I have some insight into my ex and her behaviour. I’m never going back to her despite the fact that I still miss her. I expect missing her will fade in time and more so when I meet someone new.

    However, I must say that I ignored the early warning signs and paid the price. My friends warned me about her and I stupidly ignored them as well; probably because I was smitten.

    I think there are some basic rules which apply to all relationships:
    1. If it feels good then it probably is good.
    2. If it feels bad then it probably is bad.
    3. If anyone does anything to you just once, then expect the same thing to happen again because it’s in them to do it.
    4. Betrayal of trust is so damaging to any relationship and takes a lot to repair.
    5. Your good friends are such because you feel good when you are with them and they never lie to you (well, almost never)

    Thanks for all the great advice and information. I feel much more confident about moving on now.
    PS: Avoiding someone does not necessarily mean they are a bad person; it just means they are bad for you. Your choice if you want them in your life. I was fine before I ever knew she existed and I’ll be fine again. Peace.

  20. I feel saddened by the energy and delight expressed in so many messages, in *identifying* an individual by a label. Narcissism is a human trait to be found in almost every character to some degree, & the act of identification, the act of labelling – is in itself a product of the will to ‘become separate’ categorize, divide, – the ‘good, ‘well’ person, from the ‘bad’ ‘sick’ person. To see oneself as ‘separate’ special and better. Whatever *characteristics* may be seen in any other, individual human life, the way to manage those one finds difficult is to accept ones own limitations, and avoid self congratulation as carefully as self blame.

  21. Doc, I am sorry so many Narcissists appear to have attacked you personally in the comments. You did not deserve this for trying to write a helpful, informative article. You did more than most people do. Thank you.

  22. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of this article. The author writes clearly and with insight about the origins of the narcissistic personality. The true self of the narcissist is badly damaged as a result of a false self that is forced on the child very early. When a narcissist seeks treatment which usually is rare, they are at a point where they can no longer continue to successfully activate this false self which they have perceived as authentic since childhood. There are some narcissists whom I have encountered who recognize this crisis within them and know that they must change in order to be genuine and whole.Very Fine explanation of the origins and psychodynamics of the narcissistic personality.
    Linda Martinez-lewi, Ph.D.

  23. With all due respect, when you started going on about these narcissists you knew and how they stopped talking to you ‘because I could not be manipulated by them’ and ‘because they didn’t like that I earned my PhD’, I see some narcissism in your own way of thinking/typing.

    Are you really so sure that these people stopped communicating with you because you were successful? Did you stop to consider that maybe something was going on in their own lives or that maybe something about your personality was chaffing to them? You seem to be throwing an awful lot under the umbrella of “narcissism” just to cover everyone you’ve met that you haven’t gotten along with.

  24. Good article. the problem is that this article itself reads as if written by a narcissist. The entire article was about the author and how others treated him. It was about how he did everything and everyone failed around him. HE got his PHD. HE did this and the “narcissists” responded poorly by not “feeding” into his new accomplishments. Sorry although true and informative I couldn’t help bu get that feeling as I read it.

  25. This article described narcissism in such a way that one could look at the behaviors of a majority of people, and label them as a narcissist. Which makes me see this article as poorly written.

  26. to me it seems like labeling narcissism a “disorder” is just a way for some doctor to diagnose someone with a bubbly personality and a want for success. is one was to step on ones toes to get there that would simply be labeled as a personal flaw, not a disorder! and maybe a protective barrier or wall as i call it isnt from some significant trauma, but simply a defense mechanism against people in the world that want to hurt you

  27. Sounds like just about everybody on the planet is a narcissist.

  28. Your article is very interesting, and helps explain the causes of some narcissism. However, recent studies in neuroscience demonstrate that there is a genetic component in narcisistic individuals. I scored “3″ on your test for narcissism, by the way, (all questions answered honestly!), but I have 2 narcissistic daughters. My mother-in-law was extremely narcissitic.

    One daughter might have developed the disorder following serious surgery for the removal of a benign but invasive tumor when she was 13. But the other daughter, who was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder when she was 5 (with strong ODD before 5) had no traumatic event. Thus, it is logical to assume that she has some genetic anomaly which governs her hurtful personality traits.

  29. I think some people are being a little sensitive and taking things out of context. First off I take offense to lumping everyone who is a “psychotherapist” personally…
    being in the field… there are millions of mental health professionals and you cannot say we are all this or that… that is bullshit…

    And some one w NPD does not HAVE to have a childhood trauma. Matter of fact I have worked w several who had just the opposite, spoiled and indulgent childhoods. Their parents convinced them they were the most special children in the world, and they retained that belief throughout life. Now they think they do not have to listen to or attend to anyone but themselves.

    A NPD person thinks they are smarter/better looking/more entitled etc. then you…period. Doesn’t matter what degree or field you are in by god they know more just instinctively… they were born genius… HA.

    Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory is the perfect television example of a NPD man… he is convinced the world should roll out the red carpet for him under any circumstance…

    These are life long firmly held views of themselves and others and the world. If you are involved w someone w a PD either learn to live w their shit or get out of the relationship because sad but true, it is not going to change most likely in any major lasting ways…

  30. Yep thats me for sure.

  31. my 23 yr old daughter is a narc. This article fits her tp a t.

  32. Dr. Sam,

    I have been attracting nothing but narcs. I understand this is common with other empaths. I am a bit surprised to read that you have hope for them. I’ve been reading up about narcs for over two years to heal myself from Narc Abuse. I have been told even by my own Dr. that success rate for a narc to get help is 1%, which also aligns with what I read. I am in full agreement that it relates to the attachment theory. This whole nightmare I’ve survived had made me want to go back to school to be a psyc and help people abused by narcs. I guess I’m just trying to digest that you actually think they can be helped. My gut feeling is they can “act” like they’ve been healed by placing yet another mask on. As you know, they are better than the best Academy Award actor. Part of me is hopeful that you actually think they can be helped, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one to help them, as I have been in that role, and it’s unhealthy as a CoDep. I was recently Devalued, and Discarded by a narc (yet again). This character has walls so high that it amazes me. As many of the, they are in the legal profession, which ties into your thoughts on them living to the law, to the letter in a linear fashion. Thank you for this new persoective.

  33. As a former NYC Executive, I believe in empowering others. I believe I brought out the best in others, and I believe they brought out the best in me. However my fellow executive had a different style of leadership.

    Aside from belittling the CEO and demanding acknowledgment as the future successor, he also demanded that his receptionist learn ESP and know what he was thinking and get it done, or be terminated for insubordination. He then also threatened to terminate several international employees if they failed to learn English fluently by month’s end. (It was a large firm). Again, he claimed insubordination.

    Once, while I was with a top client, he called me up to inform he was now assuming control of HR and proceeding to terminate any and all employees, managers and executives that did support his right to succession. He wanted to know where I stood.

    I managed to talk him out of his “coup,” but only after offering to mediate with the CEO; I was highly respected by the board for my tact.

    However, the CEO had had it with him and issued him an ultimatum: end this charade and get back to work or be terminated. He chose a third option:

    Hurricane Sandy had just hit. And so he organized a massive charity, attracting huge numbers of volunteers. It was hosted at the company’s location, obliging the CEO to be present. At which point, the master of ceremony (MC) asked everyone to thank the CEO for organizing it. But it wasn’t the CEO they applauded, it was him… he had told everyone that he was the CEO!

    “It is what it is,” he said. Now he is the successor, and I like many others no longer work there.

  34. So I got called a narcissist today by a customer, and I never really knew what it meant.. I knew I needed help and had gotten messed up emotionally as a kid… I want help but I dont have time for the help working 40 to 50 hrs a week, I been on meds going to docs and so forth since age 12…> I guess he did peg me pretty good on it, and I dont have an issue with him saying that tho if he had said it constructively and maybe offered tips it would have been better, seems like he could be a psych doc. With that being said the way he acted as well could be said to have been some sort of disorder, idk. With that being said Im diagnosed with Borderline Personality and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, but they never told me anything about being Narcissistic, to me it sort of fits into some of the things I am diagnosed with, and I have a feeling my besties in my life have felt this way, Id love to have stayed close to them tho, not further away, but my bestie felt the need to sort of leave so I wanted to let him go and not hld on… it hurts but I just dont think about it because Id probably crash all together.

  35. Dr. Sam – I haver read you comments with interest.
    My ex-narc husband left me 2 years ago on my Birthday. I found him cheating again after numerous affairs with in the marriage. Was married for 11 years. I met him just before he went to prison for rape on his ex-wife. He told me he didn’nt do it but now I believe otherwise. He put her into a mental hospital after taking her daughter away from him and she attempted suicide thro what he put her through.
    When he came out of prison I bought a house for us and his lying, stealing son together with my own son.
    His lying, cheating way’s nearly drove me to insanity. He called the Police on me to tell them I was a drug addict and had assulted him – WTH??
    on several occasions. He now wants a divorce and half my house. I am now suffering PTSD. Anyone that gets involved with The Devil I feel truly sorry for. Any comments on this please. Sincerely.

  36. The way that I read your article it made me think that you were describing not narcissism for the great majority of it but rather a mixture of sociopathy and dissociative identity disorder.

    To an extent what you have written has nothing to do with narcissism as much as other conditions, however, it is still very enlightening regardless of the fact.

    My behavior is largely the opposite of the text book narcissist, wherein, my traumas have manifested as a myriad of different variants of myself. So much so that I cannot remember who I really am.
    I have become stoic and empathetic, caring little for myself as much as I do others, when they outgrow me or move on I let them go.
    This is not because their success or lack thereof threatens me, it is because they no longer need me in their life and I dare not hold them back or burden them with my sometimes overwhelmingly obviously flaws.

    I know when it is time to let go and do so with a heavy heart, but when people move on, it is not my place to hold them back.
    I am resigned to being alone, someone who cannot remember who he used to be or who he could have become, I simply “am”, and my life is of little to no consequence to those who can live theirs without the burdens that weigh so heavily upon me.

    I understand that life cannot and will not stop for me and what I do is try to make the lives of others better so that they might not have to suffer as I do.
    So many years, I have dealt with this burden. I am cursed to be a prisoner of my own body and soul, a doppelganger who has somehow found that one identity he chooses to wear for everyone. A mask who is merely a shield for the scarred little boy he protects.
    It is the purpose I have chosen and it is what I will take to my grave.

    Try as you might to understand someone like me or anyone like us, you will never succeed unless you become us.
    Throw a dash of Asperger’s onto that and you’ve got me, a being built upon a pile of dead and failed personas. All killed in the line of duty, protecting our core from the world that harmed him.

  37. Hello,

    At one point in your article, you mentioned that the emotional age/maturity level of your patients tended to correspond to the age at which their trauma occurred. Is there a technical term for this? I’m very interested in this phenomenon, and I’m wondering if some examples of it might be documented in greater detail in any case studies or literature that you could recommend me.

    Albert

  38. Hi
    I have found this article very helpful. Do you have any comments about the effects these people have on others who suffer in long term relationships with them? I have just spent 4 years recovering from a 20 year marriage to a narcissist. I wish I had realised earlier what I was dealing with. My ex-husband caused me to completely lose myself, detached me from my family and career. I had to walk away with nothing and recreate myself. I am proud that I have been able to do that- but it was a hard journey.
    nika

  39. i must admit i have been weeping ever since i discovered this website.
    i did not know i was living with one until through what i have been reading and their description, realised i am leaving with one for the past 13years . no happinness, no appreciations, always complaining and feeling hurt all of the time,never empathetic, infact the list can go on and on and on
    Have three(3) kids with him AND I DONT want to leave him becos of the kids he wil not allow me to go away with the kids even though im capable of taking care of them, and above all i still love him and afraid of what i wil go through without him
    please i need sincere advice from people with knowledge and experience in this area.
    please i need your help for i am very sad and need to have a peaceful mind to take very good care of my kids since at the moment his job has sent him to another country where we recently visited and i discovered he had two girlfriends and which he admits and promised breaking up with the ladies.

  40. Wow, you explained my ex fiance’s character to the T!!! I always thought what ticked him to abandon me a few months before our wedding. Now I remember, one evening, I asked him a few personal questions and kind of pestered him to answer them. He dodged them as usual and finally said, there’s a difference between you and me, you have “close friends” and I am “closed”. From the next day, he was “closed”, forever. I couldn’t make him say 10 words after that. After trying for a few days, I stopped and bowed out of the relation.

    It still hurts though, I love him with all my heart and him not being in my life is not going to make that go away.

  41. I have enjoyed reading the erudite article.Such articles on psychology are very interesting and enhances our insight.

    I am also one of those who feel unsatisfied and remorseful unless I deal effectively with those that hurt me. My hurts stay for a long time. I have a tendency to review and regret about the past events.For instance,a migrant verbally insulted me in my native place many years ago.Even today,the matter is vivid in my memory. I find it hard to get over the incident.As and when I read the religious books and articles such as this one; I get relief but the anger returns time and again.This is hindrance to y peace and progress. Notwithstanding, I ‘ve not lost my optimism.

  42. I think parts of this article are narcissistic in itself. Perhaps the person quit talking to you after you received your PHD fell madly in love with someone else and you were just clueless. Or, Perhaps they had a realization that your lives were clearly going in other directions. Maybe they couldn’t stand your morning breath anymore.. who knows. Point is this post has a ton of very interesting information but could have done without the real life explanations of why you think people did what they did to you. A PHD is not going to stop true love, give me a break.

  43. There seems to be too much worry in the comments here. What is so bad about loving and dreaming that your are important or special in some way. Nothing is bad about that even if you don’t care about others at times because you have goals to achieve or simply don’t want to deal with people. This is a fine characteristic to have because it betters oneself. The only real issue with narcissism which is better explained through example would be people who can’t understand others emotion. This is that guy who worked all day and comes home and blames everyone else for his misfortune and that he has no respect around here. Every problem is because of others and never of himself. This is the true narcissist that people have problems with. Hope this can help people have a better understanding of what narcissism really is. The last thing we need is people not bettering themselves because of such a label. Thank you.

  44. I guess everyone has to choose a career. Psychology being one of the easiest to pass and usually the lesser paid. And I guess people choose that career doing what they do best, and psychologists/psychiatrists enjoy putting people in a box and enjoy name calling. And I would guess that started at an early age, probably brought on as to how their parents and siblings treated them, and to lash out they created names to make people feel small. Every once in a while a new list of names is published of what people ARE (some new names by the psychologist and psychiatrist community). Why can’t people just be people? And why do people have to change to suit the psychologist/psychiatrist? When words are given out to dub a person it makes other people (who are outside of the psychology/psychiatry field) dub them as well and causes pain and havoc. So another question I’d have is “why can’t the know it alls” just keep their information to themselves and not bother the community with it?

  45. Richard, Cara and anyone who commented along those lines are correct in their observations. It’s obvious that “Dr. Sam” is clueless of what being a victim of narcissistic abuse is like or rather he may be a narcissist or sociopath himself as it is not unlike narcissist/sociopaths to become mental health professionals as they immensely enjoy psychologically manipulating/abusing people. They love control.

  46. WoW this sounds just like Jennifer Stano. She even made an instagram for her unborn baby, desperate to stay in the spotlight, to get attention from people because she was getting fat (knocked up and all). How pathetic. GIRl get help ..

  47. I’m sorry. A lot that was mentioned does make sense but not completely in every aspect.. Taking this survey.. I realised there should be 2 results reflecting on a true narcisit. The one the narcisist answered them selve and maybe one who answers it for the narcisit. That person obviously very close, is or was maybe part of the narcisit live for a long time, spend a lot of time with her/him and most likely been hurt emotionaly by a narcisit. Thats my opinion. As far as I understand. True narcisist would most likely not even have read this article nor take this survey if to find answers or self help to fix a problem they think they might have, because in their mind theres nothing wrong with them .The narcisit that did read it most likely did it to point out to someone else. Because the narcisit would not think for one moment it can be them that has a problem or some personality disorder. Anyway thats my opnion.. Cheers!!

  48. This is another example of the screwed up world of psychology. When I read the article – I interpreted it as written by a narcissist. I can see the traits very clearly. The problem with psychology is it is open to ‘human’ interpretation. And that alone is VERY scary!

  49. The most detrimental thing about a narcissist, psychopath, they are enablers, who like to transfer blame. Unfortunately, weak, desperate fathers/mothers transfer their nonsense, which enables and encourages child abuse. When challenged, they always come out with the same sentence ‘Why do you always talk about the Past’, they have no comprehension of time or consequence, to do so inflicts on their domain and incites dismissal. When rebuffed they will draw in those closest to justify their behaviour, namely grandchildren, family members. Actually, by dismissing them, makes you powerful.

    • This statement was such a trigger for me: “Why do you always talk about the Past.” It is so often the place where dialogue breaks down — when I’m trying to describe patterns in his behavior that over time (15+ years) leaves me feeling weary, alone, abandoned. When I describe what I need from this marriage — I get back defensiveness and anger. It’s baffling! For years I just felt like I’m a terrible communicator — in the back of my mind I’ve been trying to figure out…”how can i say this better?” There is no saying better — he shows no interest in his children, me, or others at all. We serve a function in his life — define him and provide structure and public persona — father, husband and all around nice guy. But despite his charm and appeal, he doesn’t have a friend to call on and can’t sustain relationships in his own family (his parents and brother are the ones who reach out to him by phone) He can’t remember a holiday, birthday, or special occassion, He doesn’t bring a new idea, enthusiasm for anything, or express a desire or wish to be around us or spend time with us — yet in his words “we give his life meaning” — yeah, as long as we don’t bother him. He does only what he enjoys (thank goodness he enjoys his work IT) and to cook — but don’t make requests he doesn’t know how to make that — and don’t forget to complement the cook. I’m so ready for a change, I have no idea how to even comtemplate it! This must sound trite –

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