Narcissistic personality disorder
Although most individuals have some narcissistic traits, high levels of narcissism can manifest themselves as a pathological form as narcissistic personality disorder, whereby the patient overestimates his or her abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation.
Campbell and Foster (2007) review the literature on narcissism. They argue that narcissists possess the following “basic ingredients”:
Positive: Narcissists think they are better than others.
Inflated: Narcissists’ views tend to be contrary to reality. In measures that compare self-report to objective measures, narcissists’ self-views tend to be greatly exaggerated.
Agentic: Narcissists’ views tend to be most exaggerated in the agentic domain, relative to the communion domain.
Special: Narcissists perceive themselves to be unique and special people.
Selfish: Research upon narcissists’ behaviour in resource dilemmas supports the case for narcissists as being selfish.
Oriented toward success: Narcissists are oriented towards success by being, for example, approach oriented.
-An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
-Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
-A lack of psychological awareness (see insight in psychology and psychiatry, egosyntonic)
-Difficulty with empathy
-Problems distinguishing the self from others (see narcissism and boundaries)
-Hypersensitivity to any sleights or imagined insults (see criticism and narcissists, narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury)
-Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
-Haughty body language
-Flattery towards people who admire and affirm him or her
-Detesting those who do not admire him or her
-Using other people without considering the cost to them of his or her doing so
-Pretending to be more important than he or she is
-Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating his or her achievements
-Claiming to be an “expert” at most things
-Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
-Denial of remorse and gratitude
Hotchkiss’ seven deadly sins of narcissism
Hotchkiss identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:
Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
Bad boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other.