Psychiatry Associates Blog

Healthy Levels of Narcissism vs. Narcissistic Personality Disorder

narcissistThe term “narcissist” is tossed around regularly.  We often hear it used to describe someone’s ex, their boss, celebrities, or politicians.  But, is it likely that all of these individuals are truly suffering from narcissistic personality disorder?  What amount of appreciation for one’s self is healthy and appropriate, and at which point does it cross a line into problematic?  Let’s dive into some of the specifics regarding this personality trait and how to tell when it can no longer be classified as normal.

Frequent Lies and Exaggerations

Narcissists often bend or exaggerate the truth, often in an effort to project a particular image of themselves to others.  It isn’t uncommon for these individuals to have fantasies surrounding, wealth, power, or fame, and even in the absence of these things, they may lie convincingly enough to fool others.  However, these lies do not always pertain to the narcissist themselves.  Just as narcissists may lie to lift themselves up, they may do the same to others in an effort to bring them down.

Inability to Take Criticism

When a narcissist feels threatened or challenged in any way, their reaction is predictably negative.  Even when the accusations they face are true, they are typically unable to accept their behavior or objectively observe their own flaws.  When confronted with them, they may be quick to anger, becoming aggressive and causing the situation to escalate exponentially.

Grandiose Sense of Self

Much of the narcissist’s behavior comes from the belief that they are special.  Not only do they want others to see them as powerful, successful, or desirable, they truly view themselves this way as well.  This leads them to believe that they are already worthy of the attention, love, and respect of those around them, while simultaneously feeling that others are unworthy of the same.

Frequently Breaks Rules and Pushes Boundaries

Stemming from their inflated sense of importance, narcissists often behave as though the rules do not apply to them.  They may believe that they are entitled to special treatment or privileges, and in some cases, they may believe themselves intelligent enough to get away with criminal behaviors that others could not.

Manipulates Others and Lacks Empathy

Narcissists are often unable to maintain healthy friendships and relationships.  Through their personality disorder, they are prone to use others for their own benefit.  This may mean manipulating, using, or lying to those close to them in their effort to make themselves feel better or to maintain the image of themselves that they have constructed.  There is often little or no concern regarding how this behavior may have affected others.

While our society may be quick to label individuals as “narcissists,” there are few who take the behavior to the extremes needed to diagnose a personality disorder.  Those who do exhibit the signs and who can benefit from an accurate diagnosis and the help of a mental health professional.  Furthermore, narcissistic personality disorder may coexist with other psychiatric disorders which should also be evaluated and treated.

If you believe that yourself or a loved one may be suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, understand that help is possible.  Contact Psychiatry Associates of Baton Rouge, and request an appointment with one of our board-certified psychiatrists to learn more.