Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) generally believe that the world revolves around them. This condition is characterized by a lack of ability to empathize with others and a desire to keep the focus on themselves at all times. – Psychology Today
The chances are that you’ve met, or perhaps been acquainted with, someone with narcissistic tendencies. If you have, the odds are that the relationship wasn’t a very fruitful one.
It’s important to understand what narcissism is and isn’t; specifically, the difference between someone with a narcissistic disorder (i.e. NPD) and someone who displays narcissistic characteristics.
NPD is an actual psychological disorder, and recognized as such by the mental health community. Narcissism is “a less extreme version of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Narcissism involves cockiness, manipulativeness, selfishness, power motives and vanity – a love of mirrors.”
Those with narcissistic tendencies may be: quick to anger, aggressive, impulsive, and unpredictable. These individuals tend to have high levels of self-esteem; sometimes on a grandiose scale. To make matters worse, since we (Americans, et. all) live in a highly individualistic, materialistic and externally-driven society, certain traits of narcissism are actually encouraged.
To simplify things, here are three concise words to describe narcissists:
Going forward, it is important to understand that some individuals, particularly those with a disorder, are not aware of their problems with narcissism. As with many types of psychological disorders, narcissism (and related disorders) can be due to some type of trauma – often experienced during childhood years.
Unfortunately, by the time that someone brings the manipulative/selfish/hurtful behavior to the narcissist’s attention, the narcissistic personality is so engrained as to make any type of correction/treatment nearly impossible. It’s very difficult for someone to change their personality, particularly of the narcissist.
Are You A Narcissist Magnet? Here’s How To Find Out…
Now that you’ve gotten a good grip of what constitutes narcissism, maybe you’re thinking about people in your current (hopefully, past) circle that fit the description. Good. Now let’s discuss what these folks are attracted to.
Sensitivity. Narcissist are attracted to sensitive people for a variety of reasons. First, narcissists require constant reassurance that they are beautiful, intelligent, wonderful, ‘(fill in your own description here)’. Second, sensitive people are truly empathetic; quick to comfort and embrace the person hurting. Narcissists will often play off of this, as they see an easy method of getting what they want by playing the victim. Lastly, sensitive people are prone to deep introspection to the point of over-analysis. Simply put, they’re more likely to rationalize the narcissist’s behavior and pin the blame on themselves.
Maturity. This is a relatively broad term, so let’s go over this a bit. Narcissistic behavior is often molded in childhood, and it’s common that narcissists lack the ability to self-reflect. This lack of self-reflection can lead to an underdeveloped (i.e. “immature”) personality; hence, narcissists are often (subconsciously) looking for a “parental figure” to look up to.
Security. Again, a relatively broad term. Most narcissists are innately materialistic, so it’s common for them to seek financial security. As such, it is common for attractive women (men, on a lesser scale) to remain on the lookout for someone who is visibly wealthy (it’s even better if they’re sensitive and mature!).
Congeniality. There is absolutely nothing wrong (and nearly everything right) with being a nice person. The world needs more people like this, as is evident by the unprecedented levels of corruption, violence, and general instability that is society as a whole. But here’s a sad fact: many overly-congenial people are subject to being manipulated and controlled.
Here’s another fact: people (especially narcissists) will often mistake your kindness for weakness. However, this doesn’t need to be a bad thing. It’s only bad when you allow them to manipulate. Instead, protect and cherish your strong sense of individualism. Refuse to be taken advantage of and strongly correct those that display such behavior. They probably won’t be back, and you’ll likely be better off for it.
As long as we’re fortunate enough to have air in our lungs, we’re strong enough to carve out our own path. Some of us need to reclaim this strength and disavow those that attempt to take this sense of self.
At times, our world appears broken. When the good people stand up to do something about it, they’re often told to sit back down. Narcissists are part of the problem because they don’t particularly care about the world around them.
It’s only when we recognize, correct and discourage such behavior that any real, meaningful change occurs. We must have the strength and capabilities to do so.