Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD; narcissism) is a personality disorder seen in both men and women with similar signs in both sexes. However, some behaviors of male and female narcissists can differ.
The most common traits of the disorder are people with grandiose ideas about themselves that simultaneously:
- mask their low self-esteem
- present an elevated/inflated version of themselves
- are self-centered
- believe they are better than others and treat others with contempt (without respect)
- lack empathy
- crave attention and admiration
Narcissists are mostly not violent. In fact, they're good at controlling their emotions, manipulation and gaslighting. Yet, people with NPD may become generally unhappy and disappointed when they don’t get what they want.
Differences between male and female narcissists
All narcissists, men and women, share common traits. However, there are some differences between the behaviors of both sexes concerning the disorder, such as:
- Male narcissists tend to be online trolls more than female narcissists.
- Male narcissists tend to purposely put down/disrespect women in a relationship/marriage or at work, making them feel less powerful.
- Male narcissists are more likely to dominate using manipulation or mind games.
- However, female narcissists are more likely to use their sexual charm to dominate and get what they want.
Signs of a narcissistic person
Traits or symptoms (core features) of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD; narcissism) include:
- An exaggerated sense of self-importance
- Feeling superior to others and that one deserves special treatment
- Feelings are often accompanied by fantasies of unlimited success, brilliance, power, beauty or love
Excessive need for admiration:
- Must be the center of attention
- Often monopolize conversations
- Feeling slighted, mistreated, depleted and enraged when ignored
Superficial and exploitative relationships:
- Relationships are based on surface attributes and not unique qualities of others
- People are valued only to the extent they are viewed as beneficial
Lack of empathy:
- Severely limited or totally lacking the ability to care about emotional needs or experiences of others, even loved ones
- Sense of self is highly superficial, extremely rigid and often fragile
- Self-stability depends on maintaining the view that one is exceptional
- Grandiose sense of self is easily threatened
- Patients retreat from or deny realities that challenge grandiosity
Difficulty with attachment and dependency:
- Relies on feedback from the environment
- Relationships only exist to shore up a positive self-image
- Interactions are superficial
- Intimacy is avoided
Chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom:
- When attention and praise are not available, patients feel empty, bored, depressed or restless
Vulnerability to life transitions:
- Difficulty maintaining reality-based personal and professional goals over time
- Compromises required by school, jobs and relationships may feel unbearable
- Young adults may have a “failure to launch” (an entitled child who thinks he is the best)
Diagnostic criteria for narcissist personality disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is diagnosed using The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria. A person must meet five of the nine following traits for a diagnosis of NPD.
- A grandiose sense of self-importance
- Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
- The belief that they are “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement
- Is interpersonally exploitative (takes advantage of others)
- Lacks empathy
- Envies others or believes others are envious of them
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes
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