Glossary Entries

Definition of: 'Narcissistic Personality '
Collection: Mental Health

According to the DSM-IV, the narcissistic personality exhibits, "...a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following: has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) requires excessive admiration has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes In short, Narcissists are typically controlling egomaniacs who do whatever they have to do in order to get other people to fawn over them and make them powerful. They are often drawn towards positions of power or fame and use power or fame to compel others to give them attention. Narcissists do not show normal regard for the rights of other human beings. Instead, they are highly interpersonally exploitive and will unscrupulously harm others who get in their way, often with out feeling much sense of guilt for their actions. Narcissists seem to have a very strong sense of self, but this is an illusion. Unlike normal people's sense of self, Narcissists are typically very brittle and inflexible; they cannot stand criticism easily, even when it is constructive. The narcissists' self-esteem is based almost entirely on external recognition of his or her accomplishments and the adulation of the 'audience' (those persons the narcissist has managed to control). Without the support of the audience, he or she frequently has a very tough time. For more information, check out Sam Vaknin's Pathological Narcissism Pages

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