While many people associate narcissism with anyone who regularly talks about themselves, narcissism goes beyond situational instances of dominating attention—like, your friend who monopolizes dinner conversation to talk about their romantic relationship, awful boss, or workout goal.
Narcissism is a self-centered personality style characterized as excessive preoccupation with oneself and one’s own needs, often at the expense of others, and affects a person’s sense of self, relationships, and behavior.
One study found that at some point, 6.2% of people in the U.S. have narcissistic personality disorder.
What is Narcissism?
Narcissism is a mental health disorder involving excessive focus on oneself, an inflated sense of self-importance, and a lack of empathy for others. People with narcissism often have a grandiose sense of self, feel entitled, and need admiration.
Anyone can develop narcissism, but certain factors may increase the likelihood of developing the disorder.
These include genetics, childhood experiences, and cultural factors. Certain professions, like people in the entertainment or political industries, may attract individuals with narcissistic traits.
Why Does Narcissism Happen?
The exact cause of narcissism is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some research suggests that narcissism may be linked to childhood experiences, such as neglect or abuse.
While some people with narcissism may appear charming and charismatic, they often have a manipulative and self-serving nature. Narcissists may use others for their own benefit and lack empathy for others.
Spotting a Narcissist
Narcissists may exhibit a range of behaviors that can make them challenging to deal with. Some signs to look out for include:
- An inflated sense of self-importance
- A need for admiration and attention
- A lack of empathy for others
- A tendency to exploit or manipulate others
- A belief that they are special and deserving of special treatment
- A tendency to become angry or aggressive when criticized or challenged.
Examples of Narcissistic Behavior
- Constantly seeking attention: Narcissists often crave attention and admiration, so they may go to great lengths to get it. They may interrupt conversations, talk over others, or exaggerate their accomplishments to get more attention.
- Lack of empathy: Narcissists often have difficulty understanding or caring about other people’s feelings and experiences. They may dismiss others’ concerns or feelings or even belittle or ridicule them.
- Exaggerated self-importance: Narcissists often have an inflated sense of their own importance and abilities. They may believe they are better than others in certain areas, and they may feel entitled to special treatment or privileges.
- Using others for personal gain: Narcissists may use other people to get what they want, whether it’s attention, money, or power. They may manipulate others or take advantage of them without any regard for their well-being.
- Difficulty handling criticism: Narcissists often have fragile egos and may become defensive or hostile when criticized. They may react with anger, deflection, or even revenge.
How To Deal With Narcissism
Dealing with narcissism can be challenging, but it’s important to establish boundaries and prioritize your well-being.
Establish Boundaries: Set clear boundaries with the narcissist in your life, and stick to them.
Don’t Engage in Arguments: Narcissists thrive on conflict and attention. Don’t engage in arguments or try convincing them of your viewpoint.
Focus on Yourself: Prioritize your own well-being and take care of yourself. This may involve seeking therapy or counseling.
Seek Support: Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members who can help you cope with the challenges of dealing with a narcissist.
Dealing With a Narcissist Family Member
Dealing with narcissistic parents or family members can be especially challenging. Here are some tips for coping with narcissistic family members:
- Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries with your family members and stick to them.
- Limit Contact: Consider limiting contact with your family members if they are toxic or abusive.
- Seek Support: Connect with supportive friends or family members, or consider joining a support group for people with narcissistic family members.
- Consider Therapy: Therapy can help you process your experiences and develop coping strategies for dealing with narcissistic family members.
Narcissism is a complex personality disorder that can significantly impact a person’s relationships and behavior.
If you’re dealing with a narcissist, it’s important to prioritize your well-being, establish boundaries, and seek support. Remember that you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, and help is available.