Background

Can You Diagnose Your Narcissist?

Uploaded 5/4/2011, approx. 3 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Can anyone diagnose a narcissist? Can you diagnose your narcissist?

Narcissistic personality disorder is a disease. It is defined only by and in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM. All other so-called definitions and compilations of criteria are irrelevant and very misleading oftentimes.

People go around putting together lists of traits and behaviors, usually based on their experience with one person who was never officially diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They decide that these compilers decide that these lists constitute the essence and definition of narcissism, but often they don't.

People erroneously use the term narcissist to describe every type of abuser or obnoxious and uncouth person. That is wrong. Not all abusers or jerks are narcissists, although all narcissists are abusers and jerks.

Remember, only a qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder in this following lengthy tests and personal interviews.

It is true that narcissists can mislead even the most experienced professional, but this does not mean that laymen possess the ability to diagnose mental health disorders.

The same signs and symptoms apply to many psychological problems, and differentiating between them takes years of learning and training and exposure to case studies.

So here's a list of the diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the DSM augmented by findings from recent studies and research.

The narcissist feels grandiose and self-important. He exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts and personality traits to the point of lying. He demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.

The narcissist is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequal brilliance, bodily beauty or sexual performance.

The narcissist believes in ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion. The narcissist is firmly convinced that he or she is unique, and being special can only be understood by and should be treated by or associate with other special, unique or high-status people or institutions.

The narcissist requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation, or failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious. This is what I call narcissistic supply.

The narcissist feels entitled. He demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment.

The narcissist is interpersonally exploited. In other words, the narcissist uses others to achieve his or her own ends and goals.

Most importantly, the narcissist is devoid of empathy. He is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, wishes and choices of other people.

The narcissist is constantly envious of others, and he seeks to hurt or destroy the object of his or her frustration.

The narcissist suffers from persecutory, paranoid delusions, as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her, and are likely to act similarly.

The narcissist behaves arrogantly and haughtily. He feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, above the law, and only present.

This whole complex is known as magical thinking.

The narcissist rages when he is frustrated, contradicted or confronted by people he or she consider inferior to him or her. The narcissist regards other people with contempt. This dame is unworthy.

So this is an exhaustive list. It is enough for five of these criterias to coexist in a patient, for that patient to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

But remember, you cannot diagnose people. You cannot go around labeling them. It is not proper. You are not qualified.

It is true that narcissists rarely attend therapy, and they rarely subject themselves to diagnostic tests.

But that does not mean that it grants you the right to label them.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Asperger's Disorder Misdiagnosed as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Asperger's Disorder can be diagnosed in toddlers as young as three years old, while Narcissistic Personality Disorder cannot be safely diagnosed until late adolescence. However, Asperger's Disorder is often misdiagnosed as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Both types of patients are self-centered and engrossed in a narrow range of interests and activities, with severely hampered social and occupational interactions. The gulf between Asperger's and pathological narcissism is vast, with the narcissist switching between social agility and social impairment voluntarily, while the Asperger's patient's social awkwardness is an inevitability.


Signs You are Victim of Narcissistic Abuse, Not Common Abuse (Stress, Depression Management Webinar)

Narcissistic abuse is a subtype of abusive behavior that is pervasive, sophisticated, and can be practiced either covertly or overtly. Victims of narcissistic abuse often experience depression, anxiety, disorientation, and dissociative symptoms. This type of abuse can lead to complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) and even elements of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The way individuals process and react to trauma can lead to either regression into infantile behaviors or personal growth and maturation, depending on their emotional regulation and maturity.


Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnostic Criteria (DSM IV-TR)

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is an extreme form of pathological narcissism, which is one of four personality disorders in Cluster B. The International Classification of Diseases, Edition 10, does not recognize NPD as a personality disorder, while the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition, text revision, provides a diagnostic criteria for NPD. The DSM defines NPD as an all-convasive pattern of grandiosity in fantasy or behavior, need for admiration or adulation, a lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts such as family life or work. The narcissist feels grandiose and self-important, is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, and is devoid of empathy.


Narcissist: Is He or Isn't He?

Narcissism is a spectrum of behaviors, from healthy to pathological, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual specifies nine diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A malignant narcissist is someone who has NPD and wreaks havoc on themselves and their surroundings. They feel grandiose and self-important, exaggerate accomplishments, and demand recognition as superior without commensurate achievements. They require excessive admiration, adulation, attention, and affirmation, and are interpersonally exploitative, devoid of empathy, and constantly envious of others.


Narcissism: Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is not a form of dissociative identity disorder (DID) because the false self of a narcissist is not a full-fledged personality, as happens in DID. The false self is a mere construct, a reactive pattern, and lacks many functional and structural elements. DID alters have a date of inception, but the false self is a process without a cut-off date. Narcissism is a total, pure solution of self-extinguishing and self-abolishing, while other personality disorders are diluted versions of self-hate and perpetuated self-abuse.


Meet the Narcissist: Issues in Narcissism

Narcissistic personality disorder is difficult to treat due to the pervasiveness of autological narcissism in every aspect of the personality. The narcissist's resistance to authority figures such as therapists makes treatment almost unattainable. Narcissism is often comorbid with other disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and reckless behavior patterns. While some of these problems can be treated with medication and talk therapy, the core defense mechanisms of the narcissist are untouchable. Narcissism is a vicious circle.


DSM V Gets Narcissistic Personality Disorder Partly Right

The DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing narcissistic personality disorder include impairments in personality functioning, both self and interpersonal, and the presence of pathological personality traits. The impairments in self-functioning include identity and self-direction, while the impairments in interpersonal functioning include empathy and intimacy. The DSM-5 also focuses on pathological personality traits of the narcissist, which are characterized by antagonism, grandiosity, and attention-seeking. The diagnostic criteria should be stable across time, consistent across situations, and not solely due to direct physiological effects of a substance or general medical condition.


Narcissism: Genetics or Abuse, Nature or Nurture?

The debate over whether pathological narcissism is caused by genetics or upbringing is a confluence of both nature and nurture. Mental illness cannot be explained without considering our genetic makeup and neurophysiology. Narcissistic personality disorder is probably the interplay between a genetic template and the abuse and trauma heaped upon this inner computer. It is safe to attribute the development of narcissistic personality disorder mostly to the environment, to nurture not to nature.


Narcissist's Victim: NO CONTACT Rules

Professor Sam Vaknin advises victims of narcissism and psychopathy to maintain as much contact with their abuser as the courts, counselors, evaluators, mediators, guardians, or law enforcement officials mandate. However, with the exception of this minimum mandated by the courts, decline any and all gratuitous contact with the narcissist or psychopath. Avoiding contact with the abuser is a form of setting boundaries, and setting boundaries is a form of healing. Be firm, be resolute, but be polite and civil.


Your Narcissist: Madman or Genius? (Based on News Intervention Interview)

Narcissists often claim to be geniuses, but Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a serious mental health problem. It is difficult to tell the difference between a genius and a madman, but the scientific method can help by applying a test of falsifiability. Narcissists often make predictions that fail time and again, while geniuses' predictions hold water for long stretches of time. Narcissism is a problem of nurture, a problem of the environment, and abuse and trauma suffered in early childhood.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2023
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy