The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder by the following nine traits. To be diagnosed as having this disorder a person must have at least five of these traits.
- A grandiose sense of self-importance – they think of themselves as better than anyone else and expect to be seen as superior to everyone else. They are the star and hero of everything they do. They are obsessed with their selves—as far as they are concerned nothing else exists or matters except their own experiences. Their problems, emotions, and needs are the center of the world. They are the celebrity in every situation.
- Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, intelligence, brilliance, ideal love, unlimited success, or beauty – they live in their own little worlds and resent anyone intruding or trying to talk them out of their reality. The narcissist is boastful and pretentious. He arrogantly exaggerates his successes and talents and believes others should recognize his greatness. He must do this because it is his fantasies of grandiosity that help him stabilize his precariously balanced personality.
- Believes that he or she is unique and special – they believe they should only engage with other special, rich, or accomplished people. They are snobby about who they will associate with and are not ashamed to admit it. They see average people, everyone who in their eyes is not superior and special, as worthless, lowly, and subservient. Narcissists value image, status, and beauty above all else. They are attracted to wealthy people, beautiful people, and successful people who they believe can benefit them in some way or enhance their self-image by association.
- Requires an excessive amount of admiration and attention- They want others to tell them that they do everything better than others do. They expect and demand that the world reflect back their idealized image of perfection. They see the world as a mirror of themselves. Since their self-esteem is very fragile they want to be praised, complimented, and envied by everyone, whether or not that admiration is sincerely given. All that’s important is the frequency and volume in which the compliments are given. Some narcissists are so needy that they may constantly fish for compliments.
- Feels entitled – they have unreasonable expectations of receiving especially favorable treatment and privileges. They expect everyone to indulge them, cater to them, and give them whatever they want or need. They may also feel entitled to take whatever they want. When the narcissist wants something done he expects nothing less than immediate compliance—anything less is perceived as an insult or disrespect. But the narcissist feels entitled to treat others any way he wants without a second thought and without feeling guilty.
- Is interpersonally exploitive – they selfishly take advantage of others to achieve or further their own needs, without reciprocation, whether that person be their child, parent, sibling, co worker, or partner. They tend to form their relationships based on what the other person can do for them.
- Lacks empathy – they have difficulty understanding, recognizing, and sympathizing with the emotions, feelings, and needs of others. They are impatient with anyone who talks about their own problems and concerns—they will tune the other person out or dismiss them entirely. In terms of their own wellbeing, they assume that others are completely concerned about them so they may drone on about their selves in lengthy, boring detail. Though they project an air of coldness, their lack of empathy and compassion isn’t easily noticed because they are good imitators of what they see others do.
- May be envious of others or believe that others are envious of them – they are envious of the successes or material things that others have and they do not. They are resentful because they believe that they are more deserving of these things. When others share their successes the narcissist will do everything in his or her power to dampen that person’s spirit or devalue their accomplishments. They like to believe that others are envious of them. They may blame things that others do, things that feel hurtful to them, on the fact that the other person is just jealous. Everyone who does not serve their needs, please them, or praise them is believed to be motivated by envy. They enjoy believing that others envy them because that reinforces their belief that they are far superior.
- Behaves arrogantly, haughtily, patronizingly or rude to those they feel are beneath them – they have an overall negative outlook on life and are generally contemptuous of others. They do not treat other people very well unless they want something from them.