- Step 1
See if they have the signature trait. A narcissist will try to convince the world how wonderful and great they are. They appear to be deeply in love with themselves.
- Step 2
Observe if they always seek compliments. Narcissists constantly place themselves in situations where their grandiose self-concepts can be affirmed.
- Step 3
See if they are self promoters. They will constantly point out the evidence of their self superiority. They will also amplify positive feedback and downplay the negative.
- Step 4
Observe how they act around others. Narcissists have a cynical and unsympathetic view of others. They are insensitive to other people's concerns.
- Step 5
See how they act around loss. When defeated, they will put down their competitors, even if it they face long-term social consequences for their actions.
- Step 6
See if they try to convince you that everyone loves them. Narcissists walk around try to convince themselves that everyone loves them when they actually have a hard time believing that is possible.
- Step 7
Observe how the person talks to you.
DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. They believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school. In particular, narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, in the same category as histrionic, antisocial and borderline personality disorders. Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy.
SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include:
- Believing that you're better than others
- Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
- Exaggerating your achievements or talents
- Expecting constant praise and admiration
- Believing that you're special
- Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
- Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
- Taking advantage of others
- Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
- Being jealous of others
- Believing that others are jealous of you
- Trouble keeping healthy relationships
- Setting unrealistic goals
- Being easily hurt and rejected
- Having a fragile self-esteem
- Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional
Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it's not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don't value themselves more than they value others.
When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may have a sense of entitlement. And when you don't receive the special treatment to which you feel entitled, you may become very impatient or angry. You may also seek out others you think have the same special talents, power and qualities — people you see as equals. You may insist on having "the best" of everything — the best car, athletic club, medical care or social circles, for instance.
But underneath all this grandiosity often lies a very fragile self-esteem. You have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have a sense of secret shame and humiliation. And in order to make yourself feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and efforts to belittle the other person to make yourself appear better.
CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
It's not known what causes narcissistic personality disorder. As with other mental disorders, the cause is likely complex. Some evidence links the cause to a dysfunctional childhood, such as excessive pampering, extremely high expectations, abuse or neglect. Other evidence points to genetics or psychobiology — the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking.
When to seek medical adviceBy Mayo Clinic staff
When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may not want to think that anything could be wrong — doing so wouldn't fit with your self-image of power and perfection. But by definition, narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of your life, such as relationships, work, school or your financial affairs. You may be generally unhappy and confused by a mix of seemingly contradictory emotions. Others may not enjoy being around you, and you may find your relationships unfulfilling. If you notice any of these problems in your life, consider reaching out to a trusted health care provider or mental health provider. Getting the right treatment can help make your life more rewarding and enjoyable.
Tests and diagnosisBy Mayo Clinic staff
Narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed based on signs and symptoms, as well as a thorough psychological evaluation. Your doctor or mental health provider will ask you to describe the signs and symptoms you're experiencing — what they are, when they occur, how intense they are and how long they last, for example. You also might discuss how your life is affected or limited by your symptoms. And you may be asked to fill out psychological evaluations or questionnaires.
Although there's no laboratory test to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder, you may also have a physical exam to make sure you don't have a physical problem causing your symptoms.
Some features of narcissistic personality disorder are similar to those of other personality disorders. Your mental health provider will take care to make sure you get the proper diagnosis. It's possible to be diagnosed with more than one personality disorder at the same time.
To be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, you must meet criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
Criteria for narcissistic personality disorder to be diagnosed include:
- Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
- Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power or beauty
- Believing that you are special and can associate only with equally special people
- Requiring constant admiration
- Having a sense of entitlement
- Taking advantage of others
- Inability to recognize needs and feelings of others
- Being envious of others
- Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
ComplicationsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Complications of narcissistic personality disorder, if left untreated, can include:
- Substance abuse
- Alcohol abuse
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa
- Relationship difficulties
- Problems at work or school