5 ways to spot a narcissist | CNN

5 ways to spot a narcissist |  CNN


Not all narcissists are CEOs, celebrities, or characters in crime shows.

In fact, they may be around you more than you think.

There is narcissistic personality disorder, which is rare in either 1% or 2% of the population, says Dr. W. Keith Campbell, professor of psychology at the University of Georgia.

“Clinically speaking, if it destroys your marriage, destroys your business relationships, overconfidence at work gets you down… then it becomes a disorder,” says Campbell, describing someone who has this disorder.

But narcissism is a personality trait, and everyone falls on the spectrum, says Dr. Craig Malkin, lecturer in psychology at Harvard Medical School and a licensed psychologist in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The top 10% of people with the trait are defined as narcissists, meaning 1 in 10 people could be considered narcissists, he added.

But how do we recognize people who, at best, may bore us with their list of accomplishments at parties or, at worst, may engage in harassment? Experts share five things you can do to recognize it and protect yourself.

There are three types of narcissists, and they can be distinguished by the way they feel special, says Malkin. Some are harder to spot than others.

Overt narcissists cope by feeling superior to others, and they may be the first person you think of when you think of narcissism, says Malkin.

“There’s always this feeling that no matter what you do, it’s never enough, so it pales in comparison to other people,” says Malkin. “Their performance is better.”

Covert narcissists feel special because they are thought to be the people who have suffered the most or been misunderstood, he adds. The hardships this person is having are sure to outweigh any issues you may be having.

Third, there are the communal narcissists, who feel privileged to be considered the most helpful people in any group.

“They want you to understand that you’ve never met a more caring or committed person,” says Malkin.

The way you feel when you are around someone may be a good indicator of their score on a narcissistic scale. People who have been in relationships with multiple narcissists are likely to feel self-doubt, says Malkin.

Those involved with a narcissist will often say, “I should maybe try to soften my approach, or maybe if I don’t raise my voice, maybe if I don’t get so insistent,” says Malkin.

Such people are often disconnected from their own feelings, he adds.

How do you know if you are dealing with a covert narcissist and not someone who really needs support? See if you feel pushed or interested, Malkin said.

Covert narcissists don’t reveal their vulnerabilities, he says. “If you don’t see genuine tears or if you don’t feel the urge to cry, it’s a look, not an expression.”

The conversation (and relationship) has to go back and forth: you share your vulnerability, and the other person expresses concern. Then someone else shares his vulnerability, and you return the attention.

Not so much with a narcissist.

“Usually… they are uncomfortable with mutually beneficial, caring, and connected conversations in which they share genuine feelings of vulnerability such as sadness or feelings of fear or loneliness,” says Malkin.

Many people may feel afraid to open up, he adds, but narcissists overcome that fear by retaining feelings of specialness.

Not only will they avoid feeling sad or lonely, but they may say that they don’t really feel that way because they take care of themselves so much, says Malkin.

“Not only do they avoid acknowledging these very common human experiences and emotions,” he says, but “they also push themselves to feel better than you in comparison.”

The need to feel special often gets in the way of narcissists from cultivating close relationships, says Malkin.

“Narcissism is about a compulsive urge to maintain a feeling that relationships don’t really matter,” he adds.

“Narcissism, in general, means having an exaggerated view of oneself and a lack of warmer and closer emotional relationships with other people,” says Campbell.

Instead of genuine friendships, romantic partners, and family ties, the narcissist’s relationship may be defined by what Malkin refers to as the triple E.

• Exploitation, “that is doing anything regardless of the consequences for others in order to feel special.”
• Entitlement, namely “acting as if the world had to submit to their wishes.”
• Empathy disorders, namely “feeling special compared to other people. They are people who forget (the fact that) other people have their own feelings, needs and points of view.”

These tendencies may be the basis for verbal, emotional or physical abuse, says Malkin.

It can be hard to recognize a narcissist because you may truly believe they are as great and special as they want you to believe, says Deborah Ashway, a licensed clinical mental health counselor in New Bern, North Carolina.

“They use a lot of charm to try to fit people into their world and follow them and think they are better than everyone else,” he adds.

If you find yourself caught in a narcissist’s web, don’t blame yourself, he says.

“It’s really tough, because they have a great facade and each one is a little bit different,” said Ashway. “People can go years without knowing it.”

Think it’s time to distance yourself from a narcissist? Try the gray shake, a method of dealing with the narcissist in which you make yourself as unattractive as possible.

#ways #spot #narcissist #CNN

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