According to the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition), someone who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has at least 5 of the following characteristics:
- 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 arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
The DSM IV goes on to note NPD often comes with the associated features of Depressed Mood (Dramatic or Erratic), and/or Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Developmentally we all move through two stages of appropriate and necessary narcissism – as toddlers and as teens – so versions of these are for the most part familiar, maybe common and even celebrated traits today as anyone who has read much about Steve Jobs might have noticed. As Albert J. Bernstein puts it “there may be narcissism without success, but there is no success without narcissism”
However, try to live with someone who has five or more of these traits and you’ll be in your own private hell. If you want a fuller picture for what this might look like, day-to-day, I encourage you to read this.
I am running a 5 part mini series ( 25-29 March 2013) on Narcissism. I am seeing more and more clients impacted by living with someone who suffers from NPD and the first step in the healing process is to learn as much as you can about this disorder. I’ll print a list of helpful resources in Part 5.