Many of us have heard the Greek myth of a handsome young boy who thinks highly of himself. He adores himself so much that he fell in love with his own reflection on a pool of water. That boy’s name is Narcissus and it’s where they got the word “narcissism.”
For the unacquainted, narcissism is characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Although the concept has been around since the early 1900s, it still gets a bit tricky to know if someone is narcissistic.
According to Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist and author of “Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist”, here are some key points to look out for:
1. They lack empathy
Do they seem cold or out of touch? Do they not seem to care about what others feel? Or do they have a hard time understanding your point of view because they can’t put themselves in your shoes? Lack of empathy is one of the most important points to look out for to know if someone’s a narcissist.
2. They feel entitled
Do they expect special treatment? Do they often disregard rules thinking that they don’t apply to them? Feeling entitled is another characteristic of a narcissist.
3. They care so much about their appearance
One of the things to look out for is if they care so much about how impressive they look to others. They’re very grandiose and showy. Sometimes they even go as far as hanging out just with people who they think are just as cool as they are.
4. They find it hard to control their emotions
Another thing to look out for is when they have a difficult time controlling their temper. They easily get angry or even throw tantrums whenever they don’t get things their way.
5. They can’t take criticisms well
Narcissists tend to be hypersensitive about criticisms. It’s one thing to feel bad about not being able to do a good job, but it’s another thing to completely brush it off and believe that they just couldn’t see the good parts. They believe they’re great and that the world just couldn’t see that.
6. They gaslight you
It’s a serious issue when they try to make you question your own sanity. They will try to manipulate you and feed you lies. This is a form of emotional abuse and should be dealt with care.
We’re done with the “whats”, now let’s go to the “whys”.
According to Dr. Ramani, narcissists aren’t born. They’re molded into one and a large part of it falls on the shoulders of the ones who raised them. But even parents with good intentions can still end up with narcissistic kids. According to her, what leads to produce narcissism is overindulging and under-indulging a child. A good example is when parents would excessively praise the child for their achievements, go with them on grand vacations, focus on the child’s appearance, but at the same time, they don’t listen to the child’s feelings. When they’re seldom present and they seem like they don’t care about their child’s emotions, the child will feel like they’re only valued for what’s on the outside. In effect, they will have a hard time understanding/controlling their emotions.
Understanding why someone is the way they are is one of the first steps to help them. In fact, Dr. Ramani believes that narcissists can be taught to be empathetic and to not be so entitled. It may be hard work, but nothing beats helping someone become a better version of themselves.
Check out Dr. Ramani’s videos on narcissism below: