Overt narcissists are fairly easy to spot. When you meet them, they’ll try to make you think the sun shines out of their a** (to use an old cliché). Problem is, a lot of us fall into the trap of believing them.
It seems the planet is suffering a plague of narcissism at the moment with ubiquitous selfies, full-of-themselves heads-of-states and a tsunami of abusive relationships everywhere (just google “narcissistic abuse” to see for yourself: bout 19,700,000 results in 0.47 seconds).
In the aftermath of my own two-year-Iong emotionally abusive narcissistic “relationship,” I discovered I have been surrounded (unknowingly until now) by narcissism and narcissists for my entire life. It’s no wonder I lived most of it feeling broken!
The first step in protecting oneself against being harmed by people who are high on the narcissism spectrum is to understand narcissism as well as the traits and behaviours narcissists exhibit. The second is to be aware of the traits and behaviours you (and me) have that make you (and me) vulnerable to narcissistic abuse (more on that in a future post).
I’ve taken most of the list below from Julie L. Hall’s helpful book “The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free.” The thirty-seven traits are common to most types of narcissistic people.
Grandiose, covert, and malignant narcissists demonstrate additional and/or different traits and behaviours, which I’ve also sourced from Hall’s book. Check out the links below.
Thirty-seven traits of most overt narcissists or people who are high on the narcissistic spectrum:
- hypersensitive to perceived and real slights
- indifferent or callous to the feelings and needs of others (i.e. they lack empathy)
- have illusions of grandeur
- expect special treatment
- are intolerant of criticism
- rarely or never genuinely apologize (although they may say “I’m sorry” as a manipulative tactic)
- don’t take responsibility for their actions
- have a huge sense of entitlement
- derive self-esteem from associating themselves with high status things, people, institutions, systems, or causes/beliefs
- target/punish others who deprive them of what they believe they deserve
- distort reality through gaslighting
- have a constant need for attention, admiration, and adulation
- lie regularly, frequently or pathologically
- cheat in various ways (e.g. sexual infidelity)
- triangulate to control and undermine communication
- divide and conquer others for leverage
- compulsively scapegoat and idealize others
- view life in simplistic binary terms– good/bad, perfect/worthless
- are preoccupied with appearances
- overestimate and/or underestimate their importance and abilities
- categorize others hierarchically as inferiors, superiors or competitors
- fluctuate between inflated self aggrandizement and deflated depression
- project their own feelings and behaviour onto others
- lack self-awareness
- avoid introspection
- have superficial and exploitative relationships
- see vulnerability is a weakness
- routinely violate boundaries
- overreact to disappointment
- demand perfection
- lack interest in things they regard as irrelevant to themselves
- objectify others
- become easily bored
- become annoyed when attention is directed away from them
- are prone to defensive rage
- express rage that is totally out of proportion to the incident
- believe their opinion is the only legitimate one
Covert, grandiose and malignant narcissists demonstrate additional and/or different traits and behaviours, which I’ve also sourced from Hall’s book. I highly recommend the book to anyone who was raised in a narcissistic family system (as I was), and/or who is or has been in a relationship with someone who is high on the narcissistic spectrum – yes, I’ve been there too! This book is proving to be an invaluable tool in my own ongoing healing process as is Hall’s blog narcissistfamilyfiles.com.
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