The Characteristics of a Narcissist
An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (or fantasy or behavior), leading to the need for admiration and adulation, while lacking empathy, usually beginning in early adulthood and presenting in diverse contexts. Five or more of the following criteria must apply:
- Feelings of grandiosity and self-importance (examples: exaggerates achievements and talents to the point of lying; demands to be recognized as superior to others; and thinks everything he says must be original without evidence to support the claims.)
- Obsession with fantasies of unlimited success or fame; of overwhelming power or omnipotence; of unequalled brilliance (the “cerebral narcissist”); of beauty or handsomeness and inexhaustible sexual performance (the “somatic narcissist”); and thoughts that every sexual encounter, no matter how lustful, mechanical or (paid for) transactional, must–at the time–represent some sort of ideal, all-conquering passion.
- Conviction of uniqueness and specialty which can only be understood by other unique and special people–that is, those who’ve signed on to support the narcissist’s insatiable ego, those who find their own identity in the mirror of that ego: Whereas the narcissist validates himself by expressing that need, the codependent exists and finds individual worth by giving such validation and bolstering the narcissist’s ego.
- Requirement for excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation while–when finding such things hard to come by–otherwise attempting the destruction of adversaries by threats, ghosting, gaslighting, and lying.
- Showing a never-ending sense of entitlement and ego which expects unreasonable, favorable treatment from those who (in most cases) aren’t following the plot and don’t much care. Insistence on reflexive compliance with demands and expectations, no matter how outrageous.
- Uses others to achieve his own ends and goals
- Lacks empathy; is unable to evaluate the effects of his behavior on others; shows indifference to the feelings of others, segregating them from their own friends in an effort to strap them more tightly and loyally to himself at their expense in terms of isolation and loneliness.
- Throws away loving friends and family in horribly public ways, inventing circumstances which show those friends and family as adversarial and disloyal, while retaining only those strangers who sycophantically insist that he has been treated badly by those friends and family who know too much about him and who’ve stood by him for years, if not decades.
- Consistently portrays himself as a victim; shows rage, and vindictiveness when frustrated, contradicted or confronted.
- Envious of others while being certain that others envy him and the life, no matter how dysfunctional and lonely, which he’s constructed for himself.
This post, which takes a few liberties with widely-available Internet memes as well as restating quite a bit of universally-accepted and understood clinical research, was inspired by a discussion with beloved stepdaughter a couple of months ago in which she referred to an article she’d read as “an interesting and elegant explanation of how people deal with past trauma in their current relationships with the people in their lives.” (This is a subject she and I have explored now for more than a decade, thanks for asking.)
According to the article, there are two ways people deal with past trauma:
- They own it and make sure that no-one else in their lives ever has to suffer the way they did
- They want everyone else they come in contact with to know about their trauma and horrible circumstances because it’s not fair that they went through it and others didn’t.
The first way perfectly describes many in my families of birth and of marriage–including my Dad–and their military experiences in the Second World War, which they almost never talked about.
Have I known the second sort of person? Yes, I have. Even worse, I have known the sort of person who wants to make sure everyone he comes in contact with knows about his trauma, and who then does his best to inflict various kinds of trauma on those around him, even his family and friends, just to make them suffer as he has had to.
Yes I have.
That’s incredibly unhealthy for all concerned. And–in the ruined familial and friendship relationships that fall out from it–it’s incredibly sad. Sometimes, it’s just a friendship–not much invested there. (Perhaps–you be the judge–I might differ.) Sometimes, it’s a job–money, status and, again, friendship and loyalty. Sometimes, it’s a family. Wives, daughters, others. All ripped to bits because a man allowed his smallminded vindictiveness to overcome him, and he refused to seek help.
In no case, does it matter a damn to the narcissist, whose overweening need for sycophantic idealization and never-ending adulation knowns no bounds and is unconstrained by its effect on others–those whom the narcissist deems insignificant and whom he has used–falsely–to gin up sympathy for his cause.
Yes. I’ve been taken in.
Lord, I hope and pray that all those in need of help will find it. And that all those for whom a toadying, ego-inflating, driveling codependency is the worst possible thing (one of the reasons I view Leaving Las Vegas as perhaps the most evil, in its premise, movie that’s ever been screened) will wake up one day–even if they are at an alcohol-dependent, drug-dependent, sex-dependent, ego-driven. self-destructive, rock-bottom– recognize who their real friends have always been, and start to climb their way out of the narcissistic and pernicious little septic tank they’ve been living in for the last many years. May they find the light.
Do I expect that, at least WRT people of this sort that I know?
No. I do not.
But, as Mr. Right used to say of himself, in the punchline to an ethnic joke that only he could have told, “I’m too dumb to be a pessimist.”
And so I live in hope.
For them. Because my life, with all its ups and downs, and joys and sorrow, is one I wouldn’t change.
Don’t doubt me. I’m fine, Some of you? Not so much, I think.
The next move is on you.
Best of luck, dear friends, whoever, and wherever, you are.