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.