Narcissism, or narcissistic personality disorder, as defined by the psychology bible the DSM, is actually a personality disorder classified by nine distinct traits. It’s a spectrum disorder, so some narcissists only exhibit a few traits while others personify all in a full-blown disorder.
The nine traits of a narcissistic person are as follows:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance ( e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
- Believes that he or she is “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, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
- Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e. takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
- Shows arrogance, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
How it affects their mental health
Of course, some of these traits are naturally inherent as a human being. Ultimately, the most important focus lies in social interactions. How well a person listens is a primary indicator of mental health or narcissism. Someone who looks to understand other people’s perspectives, make sense of it and empathize is reasonable emotionally conscious. Narcissists who take on this perspective, as opposed to their natural tendencies of disparaging or ignoring others’ input, widely benefit and are much more socially embraced.
Narcissists are particularly vulnerable to depression if their seemingly perfect inner world implodes. If things spiral out of control and they hit rock bottom, narcissists have a higher than normal chance of isolation and self-medicating due to the nature of their personalities. Frequent relationship conflicts with significant others, friends, family members, coworkers and employees or employers is also commonly experienced by narcissists.
One trick for narcissists to train themselves to take others’ perspectives seriously is to focus on what makes sense about their perspective and actively listening for similarities in their views. Accepting and even just commenting favorably on shared views can greatly help narcissists expand their mind.
Did you know a mental disorder can lead to addiction?
One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.
But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.