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How Do You Know if You’re Involved With a Narcissist?

Is a relationship in your life making your feel crazy? You might be involved with a narcissist.  What is a narcissist and how do you know if you’re involved with one?  This video will explore this personality disorder and help you understand how to take care of yourself if you’re involved with a narcissist.

Narcissistic personality disorder means the person has A pervasive pattern of 5 or more of the following characteristics;  there are nine of them and you need 5 or more for this dx.

  1. Arrogant behaviors/attitudes; center of attention; can’t share the spotlight; gets bored or angry if others are being given more attention. Not interested in others. 
  2. Grandiose sense of self-importance, exaggerates, acts superior, expects to be recognized, 
  3. Preoccupied with unlimited money, success, power, brilliance, beauty, 
  4. Believes that he is special and can only be understood by other special people; yes, we’re all special but this is that person who really puts themselves on a pedestal and really feels no one else understands them because they are too brilliant, etc. 
  5. Requires excessive admiration; continuous recognition and admiration feeds this fragile ego structure. 
  6. Sense of entitlement and expectations of others; continuously expects others to cater to his/her needs and gets upset or angry when ignored or not catered to. 
  7. Exploitive; takes advantage for his own needs and ends; exceedingly self-centered.  
  8. Lacks empathy; unwilling to recognize feelings and needs of others; 
  9. Is envious of others and believes others are envious of him/her; this focus on envy and superficiality is a profound part of this as there is little recognition of any deeper sense of self or sense of meaning or purpose in life.

The more characteristics your person has, the more severe.  And the more rigid those qualities, the more severe; in other words, if a person can be narcissistic at times, but then flex and learn and change and laugh at himself, they are not as severe as the person who cannot tolerate any self-assessment or critical feedback of any sort.  The severe narcissist will have a complete decompensation and usually lash out at any person who gives anything but positive feedback.  They see any negative input as an attack and they rapidly attack back.

The confusing part is that this arrogance and narcissism is often rooted in and a mask for deep insecurity. The underlying ego structure is fragile and foundationless so that this need to exaggerate, to be catered to, and to be admired and adored is the very food they live on, and really can’t live without. The narcissist reaches for any tool to manipulate you into backing off of any less than adoring feedback; including rage, character attack, blaming you for whatever they did, or they may cycle into a self-pity mode or a victim mentality.  These strategies are intended to and often effectively throw you into feeling guilty for upsetting the narcissist and it effectively disarms you.  Over time, you are trained not to give anything but adoring feedback in order to avoid that conflict, the attack, and the victim dance.

How do you take care of yourself? 

  1. Step back and look at the whole truth; the narcissist’s manipulations and dishonesty and exaggerations are seductive and can get you so lost you can’t see the whole truth of the situation.  Is everyone around you trying to warn you and you are not listening?  Are you caught up in his assertions of how special he is and losing yourself? 
  2. Set sensible boundaries and do not be manipulated by the reactions of the narcissist;  whatever their reactions, stay clear and steady in your boundaries and notice like an anthropologist; wow, when I don’t cater to that person, they really melt down; hmmm, when I need their attention, they peace out.  Wow, when things don’t go their way, they’re a mental wreck.  Hummm when they don’t control everything and everyone, they go into a victim-mode until the focus is on them again.  Hmm, their entire conversation is running others down to build themself up. 
  3. Assess whether you really want to stay in relationship with this person; if it is all about that person all the time, why are you there?  Care about yourself enough to seek reciprocal relationships that feed and nurture you.  The true narcissist will never be that for you so stop living in the fantasy and move on. 
  4. If you have to stay in relationship because that person is your boss, your family, you have to co-parent children together, or for any other reason, focus on your boundaries and take care of yourself;  you can set and reset boundaries and stay focused on the truth.  Don’t expect this will fix anything except to protect you and your needs.


Originally Published on

Shannon Petrovich LCSW, LISAC, BCD Therapist, Author, YouTube Creator

Shannon earned her Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, and her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. She earned her clinical licenses in Social Work and Substance Abuse Counseling, and is a Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work.

Her new book, Out of the FOG Into the CLEAR, Journaling to Help You Heal from Toxic Relationships has attained Amazon Bestseller status in Self Help for Abuse, Codependency, and Personal Transformation.

On her YouTube channel Therapist Talks, she shares insights, information, perspectives, and strategies on a wide range of relationship and mental health topics.

With a very trauma-informed, strengths-based approach, she seeks to help people see the old stories that are in their way, and to fully become the person they were created to be.

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