Are You a Narcissist? How to Tell if You Have Narcissistic Traits

Dark personality traits

In the ego-driven, selfie-obsessed world we live in, it’s likely that at some point, many of us have wondered whether we may possess narcissistic traits.

Although everyone may possess narcissistic traits to a degree, we must distinguish between having ”traits” of a personality disorder and suffering from a condition.

Self-awareness

The general rule of thumb in narcissism is that people with the disorder usually have a profound lack of self-awareness, among other symptoms.

If you are concerned that you may have NPD, this self-awareness alone may go against one of the core symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder.

Self-diagnosis

It takes much more than snapping away at your camera phone all day or believing that you are the best person for a job promotion to get diagnosed as a narcissist.

Although, in recent years, narcissism has become the topic of much discussion within popular culture and social media platforms, which is a good and a bad thing.

People are more attuned to their mental health now than ever, which is excellent; however, the downside is that people self-diagnose more than they did in previous years.

If you are wondering whether you have narcissistic traits, let’s begin by exploring the origins of narcissism further.

What is a narcissistic personality disorder?

A narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition affecting how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.

Sometimes referred to as NPD, narcissistic personality disorder is one of ten personality disorders classified within the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.

Signs of a narcissist

narcissistic traits signs parents and child

Some of the core symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include:

  • A profound need for excessive admiration and attention from others
  • An inflated sense of self-importance
  • A lack of empathy for others
  • Relationship problems
  • Sense of entitlement

The person behind the mask

Narcissistic personality disorder traits often conceal an individual’s insecurities and low-self – esteem.

Seeing beyond the mask

Someone with narcissism may exude extreme confidence, and it can be challenging for onlookers to see beyond the mask of arrogance and haughtiness.

However, underneath a veneer of extraversion and boastfulness lies a fragile person who is sensitive to the slightest criticism.

Complications of NPD

There are various complications associated with a narcissistic personality disorder.

People with NPD may experience many problems due to the disorder – such as in their relationships, financial affairs, school or work.

Narcissists often face many challenges, which only adds to the unpleasant symptoms they are experiencing.

As a result, many people with narcissistic personality disorder find their relationships unsatisfying. 

Narcissists are generally disappointed and unhappy, especially when they do not receive the admiration and attention they believe they deserve.

Speaking to a professional

narcissistic traits talk therapy

One of the challenges with a narcissistic personality disorder is that people with the condition often think they do not have an issue.

Moreover, many people go to their doctor with symptoms of another mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression.

Co-occurring conditions

Many people with narcissistic personality disorder have co-occurring disorders; for instance, they may suffer from depression or substance abuse and narcissistic personality disorder.

If a narcissist does seek treatment, it is likely to be for the symptoms of depression, anxiety or substance use, not NPD.

If you think you have any narcissistic personality disorder symptoms, you must speak to a mental health professional for further advice and support.

Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder

Like many personality disorders, the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder can vary from person to person.

Symptoms typically include:

  • A person with NPD is usually preoccupied with fantasies about attractiveness, wealth, power, brilliance and having the ideal, perfect partner.
  • NPD sufferers often exaggerate their achievements and talents and constantly belittle others
  • People with NPD have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and require constant attention and admiration from others.
  • Narcissists believe they are superior and can only hang out with people on a similar level or those whom they think are just as unique as they are
  • Narcissists are often envious of others and believe others are jealous of them.
  • Narcissists usually take advantage of others to get what they want.
  • People with NPD are often arrogant, boastful and conceited and can come across as materialistic or pretentious.
  • Narcissists have a profound sense of self-entitlement
  • Narcissists usually have a severe lack of empathy for others.

How to tell if you have narcissistic traits

CFHH Borderline Reflection

We all likely have narcissistic traits and characteristics to a degree.

However, the key to understanding narcissism is how persistent and pervasive the condition can be – for example, if you enjoy taking selfies or being the centre of attention, this does not always signify narcissistic personality disorder.

There are many features of narcissism that require a formal diagnosis by a mental health professional.

A deeper insight

Some research literature provides quizzes for people interested in gaining a deeper insight into narcissism (such as the questions below).

However, such quizzes are NOT a diagnostic tool for determining a narcissistic personality disorder diagnosis.

Advice, diagnosis or treatment

You must speak to a mental health professional if you believe you are suffering from a mental health condition.

The following does not necessarily determine a narcissistic personality disorder as the condition is significantly complex and requires a thorough assessment and evaluation by a medical professional.

  • Do you constantly experience relationship difficulties?
  • Do you experience ongoing problems at work or school?
  • Do you regularly experience an exaggerated sense of self-importance that requires you to embellish or exaggerate your achievements or talents?
  • Do you believe you are special or unique and can only be understood by, or should only associate with, other people of high imminence or status?
  • Do you constantly take advantage of others to get what you want?
  • Are you unable or unwilling to identify or recognize the needs and feelings of others?
  • Do you often envy others and believe that others are jealous of you?
  • Do you constantly require the admiration and attention of others?

Risk factors

Researchers say that the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is unknown; however, much like any personality disorder, the cause of the condition is likely to be complex and might be associated with:

  • An individual’s genetics
  • An individual’s environment
  • A history of trauma
  • Specific brain structure or neurobiology

Narcissistic personality disorder NPD

narcissistic traits emotions

Research shows that narcissism is more prevalent in males than females and often begins in a person’s teenage years or early adulthood.

Parenting styles

Some mental health experts believe that NPD might result from specific parenting styles, such as caregivers being overprotective or neglectful toward their children.

On the other hand, other experts believe that genetics and brain chemistry may play a role in a person developing a narcissistic personality disorder.

Implications

People with narcissistic personality disorder often face challenges other than their symptoms.

A narcissist’s symptoms may drive them to act or behave in ways that may get seen as socially unacceptable such as the constant need for praise, a sense of entitlement, and the desire for special treatment.

Moreover, the narcissist’s excessive need to be treated as unique or different from everyone else may compel others to distance themselves.

Complications

Complications arising from narcissistic personality disorder include:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Relationship problems
  • Physical health issues
  • Difficulties at work or school
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviour

Treatment

Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder typically involves psychotherapy. 

Specific medications may also get included in your treatment if you have other mental health conditions.

Psychotherapy

narcissistic traits therapy puzzle

Psychotherapy is a type of talk therapy and is an effective treatment for people with a narcissistic personality disorder.

Psychotherapy allows you to:

  • Understand what drives your behaviour and what compels you to think, feel and act the way you do
  • Learn to adapt and relate to others better so that you get more joy and intimacy from your relationships
  • Maintain and accept your relationships with colleagues, friends and family members
  • Increase your knowledge on how to understand and regulate your emotions
  • Release any feelings of shame, blame and fear from yourself and others
  • Take responsibility for your thoughts and actions and understand and tolerate the impact of issues related to your self-esteem and confidence.

Contact us

If you think you may have any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, you must contact a specialist at Centres for Health and Healing who can help.

We specialize in treating various mental health conditions and are always on hand to offer support and guidance to those who need it.

If you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to contact a friendly team member today.

Resources and references

Lisa Davies - Program Director of Vaughan Recovery and Kirby Estate

About Lisa Davies

Lisa is the Program Director at Centres for Health and Healing. She lived for most of her life in the Durham region, before moving to Peel five years ago.

Lisa is a Master Hypnotist and is certified in Hypnotherapy (2008), Self-Hypnosis and in 5-phase Advanced Therapeutic Healing. As a Member of National Guild of Hypnotists, she is also specialized in hypnosis training in pediatrics, pain management, neuro-linguistic and stage programming.

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