How to deal with a narcissist?
What is Narcissism?
"I'm just going to hurt you a lot" Millions of people around the world suffer from narcissism. How to behave with them? We all know who Narcissus is: a young man from Greek myth who could not love anyone but himself and died unable to tear himself away from his reflection in a pond.
Today, many people who seem narcissistic to us are also called narcissists. However, is it really so simple? Who are narcissists and how to properly behave with them - in the material.
What is narcissism?
We tend to think of everyone as a narcissist who we think is too provocative, constantly pointing out their successes and manipulating others. Such people are feared, considered incapable of empathy and even prone to aggression.
Indeed, narcissism in psychology means an exaggerated opinion about one's contribution to society or a group, excessive narcissism and conceit, self-centeredness, belief in one's exclusivity. At the same time, narcissism is a whole range of different personality traits, and some of them are useful to some extent, so you should not demonize this concept.
A clinical psychologist in a Forbes conversation notes that there are four parts of the spectrum of narcissism: individual traits, character, accentuation, and personality disorder. Among the healthy manifestations of narcissism, she named character and accentuation, and attributed personality disorder to a psychiatric diagnosis.
For example, if a person has a narcissistic nature, he may be ambitious and achieve career success. And narcissistic accentuation is already an extreme degree of the norm. That is, the qualities of a narcissist are very pronounced and can interfere with a person in life, influence his relationship with others, but not so seriously as to diagnose a personality disorder.
Narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed when narcissism prevails over other personality traits, is uncontrollable, and creates serious problems in a person's relationships with other people. However, such a diagnosis requires a long-term pattern of behavior that exhibits at least five characteristics: an inflated sense of self-importance and talents, fantasies of unlimited power, beauty, ideal love, lack of empathy, desire to constantly receive admiration, belief in one's uniqueness, arrogance and arrogance , the conviction that others are jealous.
What are the characteristics of narcissists?
As clinical psychologist Kristina explains, in “normal” narcissism, people try to please others to help them succeed in their careers or adapt in society. However, in the case of pathology, the narcissist has distorted ideas about himself, which is reflected in his relationships with people: the constant search for recognition leads to manipulation and conflict.
Usually a pathological narcissist:
- 1. exaggerates his achievements and talents; expects admiration, even if he has not done anything significant, but simply cooked dinner;
- 2. fantasizes about how he will come to success, power, considers himself brilliant in his work and is sure that if he has not yet achieved what he wanted, then everything is still ahead;
- 3. I am sure that there are very few people like him, that he is not like others, and the environment should be appropriate: high social status and attractive appearance;
- 4. believes that everyone owes him, and expects that his requests will be fulfilled at the first call; I am sure that he is the best, and the shortcomings of others are a good reason for self-affirmation;
- 5. uses other people to achieve his goals and does not know how to thank sincerely - he does this only because it is customary;
- 6. does not feel empathy and does not think when he hurts someone;
- 7. envious of others and believes that others envy him - usually the narcissist explains the criticism in his address with envy;
- 8. behaves defiantly because he is confident in his uniqueness and ability to influence others;
- 9. believes that he does not need other people to achieve results and make decisions, he is always confident in the correctness of his actions.
At the same time, contrary to popular belief, narcissists very often do not love themselves - they suffer from loneliness, dissatisfaction, inner emptiness. With their behavior, they try to cover up low self-esteem, and the slightest criticism or failure can lead to narcissistic injury. At the same time, narcissists can rush from one extreme to another: either they feel better than everyone else, or, on the contrary, they believe that there is no one worse than them.
Who are narcissists?
According to psychologists, people become narcissists who did not receive enough admiration and praise from their parents in childhood, felt a sense of inferiority due to their words and actions, and therefore did not develop self-confidence.
Psychologists distinguish three types of narcissism:
- 1. narcissism of the "grandiose" type;
- 2. vulnerable (hidden) narcissism;
- 3. perverted narcissism.
The first type includes people with inflated conceit, arrogant, charismatic. They exalt themselves in the eyes of others, quite obviously use leverage: they can humiliate and criticize others, be rude and sarcastic. They must be the best in everything and are ready to embellish reality to create the perfect picture for others, but often they feel dissatisfied and empty inside.
Type 2 people are also self-centered and want attention, but they are harder to recognize: they are more withdrawn and introverted. At the same time, unlike extroverted "grand" narcissists, covert narcissists do not show self-esteem so obviously, they deliberately downplay their achievements and talents in order to convince them, and by their behavior will achieve that people praise them without attracting get a lot of attention.
A covert narcissist may be emotionally abused or pretend to be a victim in order to gain support. He is not afraid to neglect other people's time and interests, he will pretend to be emotionally available, but only in order to make the other feel ashamed or guilty.
The behavior of narcissists of the third type is accompanied by features of sociopathy (indifference, aggressiveness, disregard for the norms of society) - they have little admiration for their person, they want to dominate. Such people are not able to experience, they are prone to manipulation, emotional abuse and crime, sometimes enjoying it.
Sometimes types of narcissists are mixed.
Narcissists in movies
Even if you haven't met or recognized a narcissist in real life, you've definitely seen one in a movie or TV show. For example, the behavior of a narcissist is demonstrated in the series Big Little Lies and Play Back. It is important for the husbands of the main characters that others think well of them, while in relationships with loved ones they show their real face, and in both cases it is far from ideal.
Another typical example is the Joker from the Batman universe, the films Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey. This hero constantly wants attention and recognition from the public, and in the animated series "Harley Quinn" about the breakup of the superheroine with the Joker, the emphasis is on how people of a narcissistic personality type poison the lives of loved ones.
An example of a narcissistic boss can be seen in the movie The Devil Wears Prada - this is exactly the behavior Miranda Priestley demonstrates, who reacts very negatively to delays in the execution of her orders and behaves quite narcissistically. And, of course, you can’t help but remember Zlatopust Lokons from the movie “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” - he placed his portraits everywhere, and in the defense against the dark arts test, he even asked students questions about his favorite color and the most grandiose achievement. In one episode, to show off his magical abilities, he decided to fix Harry's broken arm during a Quidditch match, but accidentally robbed him of his bones with the wrong spell, and then was willing to rob the memory of two students for his own benefit.
Narcissism - men and women
Some researchers believe that narcissism manifests itself differently in men and women. In 2015, scientists from the University of Buffalo (USA) found that men are more prone to narcissism than women. Experts have come to the conclusion that men more often than women feel their superiority, the right to privilege and exploitation of others. The average level of propensity to leadership and authoritarianism among men also turned out to be higher, but both sexes were considered equally prone to narcissism.
Scientists have pointed out that gender roles in society have been distributed since childhood, and society reacts negatively to human behavior that does not correspond to them: for example, aggressiveness and authoritarianism in women causes criticism, so women more often suppress such traits in themselves.
How do narcissists manipulate?
You should not think that everyone we easily classify as narcissists is manipulators, because we have already found out that many people have narcissistic character traits, but not all of them affect relationships with others.
However, there are techniques that are most often used for manipulation by narcissists. They were identified by family therapist Dan Newhart.
- 1. The narcissist appeals to your emotions, mostly negative ones - fear and guilt.
- 2. He refers to what the majority agrees with him: this is how he tries to let you know that otherwise you will be an outcast.
- 3. For him, there is only "yes" and "no", "black" and "white" - there are only two options and no halftones.
- 4. Compromises are possible, but only if they are beneficial to the narcissist.
- 5. The narcissist does not need to prove his point of view - this is the task of those who argue with him.
- 6. He will gladly flatter you to get what he wants.
- 7. If you make claims to him, he will most likely brush it off, because you are talking some kind of absurd and unsubstantiated nonsense and this is not even worth discussing.
- 8. A narcissist will easily put a negative label on you if you are unpleasant to him or if he does not agree with you. He can also act in relation to a whole group of people in order to justify some kind of violence or negativity towards them.
- 9. He will give you a thousand promises and will not keep them.
- 10. A narcissist will easily take your own words out of context, only to turn them against you later.
- 11. It doesn't cost him anything to make fun of you in order to belittle and show that you are not taken seriously.
- 12. Inflates the problem to immense proportions, arguing that some actions will eventually turn into disastrous consequences, and refuses to do them, and also distracts from the essence if claims were made against him.
At the beginning of a relationship, narcissists try to make their partner feel important, like they are the love of their life. However, this is followed by a sharp depreciation, and the partner is made to understand that he does not deserve special attention and should appreciate that he started a relationship with him at all. It turns into a swing, and a person next to a narcissist feels either the best or the worst.
How to deal with narcissists?
We have already found out that narcissism can be a character trait and does not always negatively affect others, therefore, first of all, it is important for you to understand how you feel around a person and how it affects your condition.
Ask yourself these questions:
- 1. Is there any disrespect, aggression, manipulation in the relationship?
- 2. How is your self-esteem?
- 3. How do you feel after talking to a person?
- 4. why are you communicating with this person - out of love, fear, pity or a desire to help?
If, after answering these questions, you realize that you feel bad and uncomfortable, such a relationship should be terminated or at least reduced communication to a minimum. However, even if you discern narcissistic traits in a person, relationships with him can be trusting and warm.
If it is impossible to end the relationship, you should follow the following rules:
- 1. do not tell the narcissist that he is a narcissist - this will cause anger and a desire to punish you, and then return power over you;
- 2. it is useless to wait for sudden improvements in behavior, so you need to emotionally distance yourself and try to ignore manipulations;
- 3. try to control your communication with the narcissist - strive to reduce contact with him, if you can not completely stop him;
- 4. if you recognize the manipulation - answer in monosyllables "yes" and "no" so that the narcissist does not find something to cling to and continue the attack;
- 5. try to keep the discussion in one direction, directly indicating that you have moved away from the topic of conversation;
- 6. share less personal - these can all be used against you, either to make you feel bad, or to make others consider you a bad, unstable or dangerous person;
- 7. Manipulate in return - praise the narcissist if you need to get something out of him, and he will most likely do what you need.
If you understand that you are not coping with building personal boundaries, we recommend that you contact a psychotherapist.
What if I feel like I am narcissist?
If you think that you have narcissistic traits, you should observe yourself: how much time you talk and how much you listen, how much you give in relationships, and how much you take. To assess your level of narcissism, you can refer to the Narcissistic Personality Inventory.
The situations you face should be viewed from three perspectives: from your perspective, from the perspective of the other person involved, and from the perspective of an outside observer. See if you have an attitude that you are unique and exceptional. If you notice this for yourself, you will have to learn to adequately evaluate yourself.
However, even if you yourself notice your narcissism, it is almost impossible to cope with it alone due to the distortion of ideas about the world and ethics, the lack of self-support and the resistance of the psyche. As the psychologist explained, psychotherapy can help in some cases, but with a serious severity of narcissistic personality disorder, it is also powerless.