Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a serious condition which affects an estimated 1% of the population. Narcissism is characterized by an extreme self-interest and promotion with an accompanying lack of concern for the needs of others.
Narcissism is named after the mythological Greek character Narcissus, an extremely handsome young man who rejected the love of Echo and, as punishment, was condemned to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to obtain he object of his desire, he died there in sorrow.
NPD Characteristics & Traits
The following list is a collection of some of the more commonly observed behaviors and traits of those who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Note that these are not intended to be used for diagnosis. People who suffer from NPD are all unique and so each person will display a different subset of traits. Also, note that everyone displays “narcissistic” behaviors from time to time. Therefore, if a person exhibits one or some of these traits, that does not necessarily qualify them for a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. See the DSM Criteria on this page for diagnostic criteria.
Click on the links on each trait for much more information about a particular trait or behavior and some ideas for coping with each.
Abusive Cycle – This is the name for the ongoing rotation between destructive and constructive behavior which is typical of many dysfunctional relationships and families.
Alienation – The act of cutting off or interfering with an individual’s relationships with others.
“Always” and “Never” Statements – “Always” and “Never” Statements are declarations containing the words “always” or “never”. They are commonly used but rarely true.
Anger – People who suffer from personality disorders often feel a sense of unresolved anger and a heightened or exaggerated perception that they have been wronged, invalidated, neglected or abused.
Baiting – A provocative act used to solicit an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another individual.
Blaming – The practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.
Bullying – Any systematic action of hurting a person from a position of relative physical, social, economic or emotional strength.
Cheating – Sharing a romantic or intimate relationship with somebody when you are already committed to a monogamous relationship with someone else.
Denial – Believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.
Dissociation– A psychological term used to describe a mental departure from reality.
Domestic Theft – Consuming or taking control of a resource or asset belonging to (or shared with) a family member, partner or spouse without first obtaining their approval.
Emotional Blackmail – A system of threats and punishments used in an attempt to control someone’s behaviors.
Sense of Entitlement – An unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.
False Accusations – Patterns of unwarranted or exaggerated criticism directed towards someone else.
Favoritism – Favoritism is the practice of systematically giving positive, preferential treatment to one child, subordinate or associate among a family or group of peers.
Frivolous Litigation – The use of unmerited legal proceedings to hurt, harass or gain an economic advantage over an individual or organization.
Gaslighting – The practice of brainwashing or convincing a mentally healthy individual that they are going insane or that their understanding of reality is mistaken or false. The term “Gaslighting” is based on the 1944 MGM movie “Gaslight”.
Grooming – Grooming is the predatory act of maneuvering another individual into a position that makes them more isolated, dependent, likely to trust, and more vulnerable to abusive behavior.
Harassment – Any sustained or chronic pattern of unwelcome behavior by one individual towards another.
Hoovers & Hoovering – A Hoover is a metaphor taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship, gets “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior.
Impulsiveness – The tendency to act or speak based on current feelings rather than logical reasoning.
Imposed Isolation – When abuse results in a person becoming isolated from their support network, including friends and family.
Intimidation – Any form of veiled, hidden, indirect or non-verbal threat.
Invalidation – The creation or promotion of an environment which encourages an individual to believe that their thoughts, beliefs, values or physical presence are inferior, flawed, problematic or worthless.
Lack of Conscience – Individuals who suffer from Personality Disorders are often preoccupied with their own agendas, sometimes to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. This is sometimes interpreted by others as a lack of moral conscience.
Lack of Object Constancy – An inability to remember that people or objects are consistent, trustworthy and reliable, especially when they are out of your immediate field of vision.
Magical Thinking – Looking for supernatural connections between external events and one’s own thoughts, words and actions.
Narcissism – A set of behaviors characterized by a pattern of grandiosity, self-centered focus, need for admiration, self-serving attitude and a lack of empathy or consideration for others.
Neglect – A passive form of abuse in which the physical or emotional needs of a dependent are disregarded or ignored by the person responsible for them.
Normalizing – Normalizing is a tactic used to desensitize an individual to abusive, coercive or inappropriate behaviors. In essence, normalizing is the manipulation of another human being to get them to agree to, or accept something that is in conflict with the law, social norms or their own basic code of behavior.
No-Win Scenarios – When you are manipulated into choosing between two bad options
Objectification – The practice of treating a person or a group of people like an object.
Parental Alienation Syndrome – When a separated parent convinces their child that the other parent is bad, evil or worthless.
Pathological Lying – Persistent deception by an individual to serve their own interests and needs with little or no regard to the needs and concerns of others. A pathological liar is a person who habitually lies to serve their own needs.
Proxy Recruitment – A way of controlling or abusing another person by manipulating other people into unwittingly backing “doing the dirty work”
Raging, Violence and Impulsive Aggression – Explosive verbal, physical or emotional elevations of a dispute. Rages threaten the security or safety of another individual and violate their personal boundaries.
Sabotage – The spontaneous disruption of calm or status quo in order to serve a personal interest, provoke a conflict or draw attention.
Scapegoating – Singling out one child, employee or member of a group of peers for unmerited negative treatment or blame.
Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia – The use of memory, or a lack of memory, which is selective to the point of reinforcing a bias, belief or desired outcome.
Self-Aggrandizement – A pattern of pompous behavior, boasting, narcissism or competitiveness designed to create an appearance of superiority.
Shaming – The difference between blaming and shaming is that in blaming someone tells you that you did something bad, in shaming someone tells you that you are something bad.
Stalking – Any pervasive and unwelcome pattern of pursuing contact with another individual.
Testing – Repeatedly forcing another individual to demonstrate or prove their love or commitment to a relationship.
Thought Policing – Any process of trying to question, control, or unduly influence another person’s thoughts or feelings.
Threats – Inappropriate, intentional warnings of destructive actions or consequences.
Triangulation – Gaining an advantage over perceived rivals by manipulating them into conflicts with each other.
Tunnel Vision – The habit or tendency to only see or focus on a single priority while neglecting or ignoring other important priorities.