What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

While an official diagnosis can only be made by a qualified clinical psychologist with training in personality disorders, many of their behavior patterns can be easily identified once you become familiar with them. The following are some of the characteristics that an ORT trained professional would look for in order to diagnose a narcissist:

Personality disorders consist of a set of maladaptive coping mechanisms and defensive behaviors and deficits, so a professional will spend time with them to better understand the underlying motivation for many behaviors, as this could be what determines which personality diagnosis they qualify for. These strategies will be rigid and pervasive. These develop in early childhood for different reasons, and remain stable over time. Narcissists have developed a defense system to help them to avoid any feelings of shame. 

They lack whole object relations, meaning the way they see themselves and everyone else is in a very black and white way. They cannot view people as flawed individuals with many good traits, and instead can only see people as either all good, or all bad. This can change rapidly, which is why a narcissist may love you one moment, and find you repulsive the next, depending on the emotional reaction they have to whatever you have just said or done to them. 

They lack emotional empathy, meaning they are unable to put themselves in your shoes or see the world from your perspective. They are able to feel an array of normal emotions, but only for themselves, and not for you. For this reason, they may lack compassion or be completely insensitive or inconsiderate to others, without understanding why the other person would be mad about this.

They are easily offended, and can quickly become triggered by the slightest things.

They may appear very self-confident, but in actuality, they have a very unstable self-esteem and need constant external validation to maintain their self-worth.

They have a pattern of superficial relationships that lack any real depth. Their create transactional relationships only, meaning they base a person's value off what that person can do for them, and can easily let them go once they no longer find them useful.

They have a hierarchical way of thinking, and automatically place people they meet on this hypothetical hierarchy. This perceived status is important to them and they have different ways of treating people they categorize as above them, below them, or equal to them. 

They devalue others in order to maintain their shaky self-esteem.

They are unlikely to accept responsibility for their actions, instead finding ways to always blame others.

They lack object constancy, and much like an infant, can forget you even exist once you are no longer with them.

They lack concern for their partner or their partner's feelings, happiness or interests. 

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