“Obsession with everything related to self-importance” is a simple and concise way of defining a narcissist. Indeed, these individuals are completely enamored with their own (false) self-perceived worth.
A quick Google search will display several synonyms of narcissism, among them: conceit, egoism, egotism, self-admiration, self-absorption, self-centeredness, self-love, self-obsession, self-regard, vanity. Self, self, self…a pretty obvious recurring theme…and undoubtedly true.
One thing that narcissists aren’t necessarily is self-revealing. It is true that many narcissists do indeed display their penchant of self-everything; something made obvious by the incessant self-talk, self-promotion, or other ongoing diatribes pertaining to…you guessed it…themselves. When such conspicuous dialogue does not naturally occur, you will witness them trying to grab attention wherever and whenever possible.
But not all of them.
In true narcissist-like form, some of them will conceal their manipulative talents quite well. In fact, many people who consider themselves to be excellent judges of character can have difficulty in seeing a narcissist for who/what they really are. Their true identity may eventually reveal itself to some, but to most others, narcissists may appear driven, charismatic, ambitious, disciplined, and even fun.
Understanding what constitutes the personality disorder (i.e. symptoms) is the first step in identifying a narcissist. With said knowledge in-hand, one is perhaps better equipped to identify a potential narcissist and respond appropriately.
So, what should you look for?
Here are 9 ways to spot a narcissist:
Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts. – American Psychiatric Association
1. Envies others and/or believes they are to be envied
Undercover narcissists (UCs) are quite adept in refraining from overt displays of envy or jealousy. That said, UCs may just peel back a layer and reveal their envious nature through sarcasm or another form of cryptic dialogue. It’s also common to see slyer narcissists glaring, furrowing their brow, or something else while non-verbally communicating their underlying envy.
2. Exaggerated self-importance
We touched on this a bit already in the intro. UC’s, and narcissists in general, possess an undeserving sense of self-importance. To them, they’re simply superior. Just call them a perfect genetic arrangement. In essence, this is what narcissists think of themselves. UC’s may not be as outward with such views, but they’re bound to surface sooner or later.
3. Preoccupation with status symbols
Name any type of status symbol – money, fame, fortune, beauty, intelligence, success, power – and odds are that the UC is darn near obsessive with one and probably more of them. To a UC, status symbols really are symbolic of one’s worth as a human being. Further, the UC is more likely to attribute such qualities to themselves without merit.
4. Requires constant admiration
Call it “center of attention” or “attention hog.”
Still, a UC needs to feel constantly reassured of their own importance. Didn’t notice the new clothes? A UC will nudge your attention to their wardrobe. Hear about their promotion? Oh, you didn’t…don’t worry, they’ll tell you about everything; including, of course, the all-important pay increase.
5. “Takes” often, “Gives” little
No real surprise here. UCs are takers is just about every imaginable sense. They’ll gladly take your time to ask a favor that they’ll probably never return. On the other hand, maybe they’ll ask to borrow something, money even, and never give a second thought to returning what’s rightfully yours.
6. No sense of empathy
Most human beings possess an innate sense of caring for others, their situations, and their difficulties. There’s something within our genetic code that permits our brain and body to “experience” what others are going through, or have gone through. UCs really don’t seem to have this particular genetic makeup.
7. Displays an “elite” status
Possessing an insatiable desire for status symbols – coupled with an extreme view of self-importance – it is only natural, then, that the UC thinks of themselves as elite. Furthermore, due to their nearly-flawless nature, UCs believe that only those of similar status are really worthy of their time. Pretty much anyone else is viewed along the same lines as a serf.
8. Strong sense of entitlement
Quick question: what does the earth revolve around? Well, the sun of course! Check that. The sun and narcissists, our fault. But joking aside, in a UCs world, people, events, time, etc. all revolve around them, and must be willing to accommodate them in the fulfillment of their needs and wants.
9. Shows arrogance and haughtiness
So this trait is not a real big surprise, is it? Indeed, nearly every inward and outward motive of a narcissist is bound together by a tightly-knit weave of arrogance and superiority. The degree to which a UC displays such entrenched attitudes is quite individualistic. However, most will eventually succumb to their inner monologue and let their arrogant outlook be known.