I was raised by a mother with narcissistic traits, worked and befriended people with similar traits, and married a man with such traits. However I didn’t realize this right away. I was just confused for many years.
And you may be in the same boat. You may find yourself scratching your head, wondering why your kind efforts only resort to any angry outburst from the other person, if not the cold shoulders with a b-word look on their face. Or you may be walking on eggshells, unsure of what their mood will be from one moment to the next.
That was certainly me. I had a falling out with my mother, after years of pleasing her and financially supporting her, only to gain constant criticism, cruelty, and being the “cause” of her daily misery. I could never please her. So I finally stopped trying.
When I asked Google why my relationship with my mother has always been so tough, I got the answer I’d been searching for my whole life: Narcissism.
WHAT IS NARCISSISM?
WebMD defines narcissism as “extreme self-involvement to the degree that it makes a person ignore the needs of those around them.” In other words, a narcissist–as those with narcissism are called–are self-absorbed and care and think only about themselves.
Those with severe narcissism can be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) by a mental health professional. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) states that those with NPD exhibit at least five of the nine traits.
THE 9 TRAITS OF NARCISSISM:
- Grandiose Sense of Self-Importance
Such individuals view themselves as much more important than those around them. They can be a family member, partner, coworker, or friend, and yet they believe they deserve more than you because, somehow, they are more important than you.
- Sense of Entitlement
Narcissistic individuals are lazy yet entitled. They are the coworkers who put in minimal effort, but they tell everyone the job promotion is theirs (but they never gain it); they are the grown-adult, still living with mom and dad, unemployed and playing video games, who demand that their parents tend to their every need; they’re the partner who puts their feet up after you’ve both gone to work and back, and they expect you to cook and feed them.
- Preoccupation with Fantasies of Unlimited Success, Power, Brilliance, Beauty, or Ideal Love
Again these folks are lazy. They don’t wake up and help around the house or office. Instead they stare at a screen and daydream. In their fantasies, they’re not lounging around the house or being unproductive at work. Instead, they are great, powerful, wealthy, you name it. However, it’s all in their heads only.
- 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
Again, these folks view themselves as better than you and me. We are “beneath” them, so they would rather not associate with us. Instead, they name-drop and boast about having met this rich person or that celebrity. They’ll even dine at prestigious places just to say they got to sit in the same space a well-known person did eons ago.
- Require Excessive Admiration
Narcissistic individuals need constant attention and admiration. They wash one dish so you can tell them how great of a helper they are, they volunteer once a year just to hear the neighbors praise them for their selflessness, they boast about their work ethic–or lack there of–so you can agree that they’re the best worker in their company. Their need for attention does not have to be positive, as these individuals will mope and complain and make themselves out to be the victim, or the good guy, in all situations.
- Interpersonally Exploitative and Take Advantage of Others
These individuals look for a kind person whom they can “befriend”, only to take advantage of them. They call you during all hours of the day, just to complain about life, but the moment you start talking about yourself, they hang up; these are the folks who ask you to drive them around, but the moment you need help they’re not available; they can even take your friends, spread lies and rumors about you to these other folks, and suddenly you have no more friends.
- Lack Empathy
Empathy is “the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel, see things from their point of view, and imagine yourself in their place,” according to Verywell Mind. A narcissistic individual cannot do any of these. Again, they are self-absorbed and can only think and care about themselves. For instance, after a long, tiring day at work, with dinner still needing to be made, your narcissistic partner will not lend a helping hand; a child may break a toy and cry, and the narcissist will get mad at the child for crying and disturbing them; they’ll watch another person trip and fall and only laugh. (My narcissistic husband will argue and scream and shout over nothing, and then get annoyed when I cry.)
- Envy Others or Believe Others are Envious of Them
These individuals don’t really have much going on for them. They wake up to the same old boring routine, wishing it were better but doing nothing to change it all. Instead, they mope and complain about how others have what they deserve. They despise these individuals for having the life they’re too lazy to obtain. They could envy another person’s status, job, house, perceived wealth, their family. And they project this mindset onto others, claiming that others are envious of them, so they must get rid of the perceived competition before it gets rid of them.
- Show Arrogant, Haughty Behaviors and Attitudes
Narcissistic people are arrogant and think they know everything about everything. They could lack the education, skills, and experience, but they still believe they know everything. They’ll talk the talk, but the moment you challenge them–or prove that you actually know more than they do–they’ll hate you wholeheartedly. Narcissists believe they’re better than you and me, therefore their arrogance will shine.
If you find yourself in the presence of odd, difficult individuals, chances are they may have narcissism. These folks can be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) by a mental health professional. However, diagnosis or not, these individuals can be hard to be around. Rather than be around them, take the knowledge you have just gained and move on with your life. Focus on you, just like how narcissistic people only focus on themselves.
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