15 Signs Someone Has A Narcissistic Personality Disorder — And How To Understand Them

How many narcissists do you truly know?

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The term 'narcissist' is used loosely and frequently, without necessarily knowing if a person truly fits the proper definition.

In fact, narcissists, or people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are omnipresent and their numbers are on the rise.

RELATED: 10 Signs The Person You Love Is A Narcissist Or A Sociopath

How many narcissists or people with narcissistic traits are there in the world?

A 2009 nationally representative sample of 35,000 Americans found that 6 percent of Americans (1 out of 16) had a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) at some point in their lives.


Most of us know at least one narcissist — some of us are related to one, some of us were in a relationship or had married one, and some of us are or were friends with one. At some point, we've even suffered through narcissistic abuse without realizing it.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder, exactly?

Although mental health professionals are the best ones to diagnose this condition, there are some markers for identifying narcissism in an individual.

Here are 15 signs of someone with a narcissistic personality.

1. They have very low self-esteem but appear to mask it well.

2. They need constant external validation — they crave admiration and validation.

3. They are always trying to prove they are superior to others — their desire to win at all costs is all-encompassing.

4. They are extremely self-centered.

5. They are very one-minded — they can only see things from their own perspective.

6. They are hypersensitive to feeling slighted or mistreated in any way — they feel insulted and criticized when no insult or criticism was intended and they are always on the defensive.

7. They always believe they are innocent victims and that others are hostile perpetrators.

8. They are willing to devalue and humiliate other people.

9. They feel no pain when they hurt others — if they do feel pain, it’s a lot less than others would feel.

10. They have hierarchical thinking, meaning that every person or object (they are very materialistic as well) is placed on a scale. They have trouble believing anyone is their equal.

RELATED: 11 Signs You May Suffer From Narcissistic Personality Disorder (And Don't Know It)


11. They have disproportionate anger — they get very angry at things that seem quite minor to others.

12. They use extreme language, referring to others as "perfect", "the best", or "the absolute worst" and there is nothing in between.

13. They use cruel and inappropriate language — they say things out loud that others might think but don’t voice for fear of hurting others. (i.e. "That is the dumbest waitress I’ve ever had.")

14. They have an inability to genuinely apologize or admit mistakes — they do not have a stable enough self-esteem to admit their mistakes and feel if they admit their mistakes, their facade of perfection will end or another will humiliate them.

15. They have a difficult time sustaining serious, intimate relationships.

Now that you know what narcissistic behavior looks like, what is the key to understanding narcissists and their mental health?

When a child experiences a lot of pain and their self-esteem is destroyed, narcissism can be the result.

When one does not receive the love they need, they can become "selfish" and spend the rest of their lives trying to meet their own needs in unhealthy ways. And certainly, our celebrity culture, media, and the internet are contributing to the rise in this self-centered way of thinking.

When we understand that a narcissist is simply coping with their pain, it can help ignite compassion within us. Having this information can help us refrain from taking a narcissist’s actions or words personally and assist us in dealing with them effectively.


What is the key to preventing narcissism?

In trying to prevent a child from becoming a narcissist, the key is to help them love themselves. This means accepting them for who they are.

If a child is allowed to express themselves freely and often, this increases their self-esteem, which allows them to validate their worth internally, as opposed to seeking external validation.


RELATED: How To Spot A Narcissist Based On Their Energy

Meredith Deasley BA, RNCP, RHN, ACC is a Certified Life Coach, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Author, and Speaker. You can order her book The Secrets to Emotional Health here.