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What is Narcissism?

Michael Pollick
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Narcissism is a psychological condition defined as an obsession with the self. While not all forms of self-love or self-interest are destructive, extreme cases can be very damaging and may be diagnosed as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). In these instances, the disorder is characterized by a lack of empathy for others, sadistic or destructive tendencies, and a compulsion to satisfy personal needs above all other goals. People suffering from NPD tend to have difficulty establishing or maintaining friendships, close family relationships, and even careers. About 1% of people have this condition, and up to 3/4 of those diagnosed with it are men.


The signs of narcissism often revolve around a person's perception of himself in comparison to other people. Those with severe cases often believe they are naturally superior to others or that they possess extraordinary capabilities. They may have extreme difficulty acknowledging personal weaknesses, yet also have fragile self-esteem. Narcissistic people also frequently believe that they are not truly appreciated, and can be prone to outbursts of anger, jealousy, and self-loathing when they do not get what they feel they deserve.

Narcissistic people also tend to follow certain behavioral patterns. They may have a habit of monopolizing discussions, becoming impatient with situations that focus on other people, or exaggerating personal exploits for attention. In relationships, the condition often emerges as jealousy and an inability to see different points of view. A person with NPD may have difficulty understanding why other people cannot simply exist according to his rules; when life does not coincide with his plan, feelings of rage and depression can quickly follow.


According to some psychoanalysts, almost all people begin life with some degree of self-obsession. Since babies are born helpless, their physical and emotional needs must be addressed by the people surrounding them. In the infant's mind, this translates to a deeply held belief that he is the center of the world, known as primary narcissism. This belief is usually left behind as children grow older and become more independent.

When a child first experiences a situation that causes feelings of disappointment and rejection, he or she may fall back into primary narcissism as a means of managing these emotions. Older children may temporarily resort to baby talk, bed wetting, or other infant behaviors, since these represent a time and place where the child felt safe. As emotional maturation continues, most children grow beyond this self-obsession, finding more effective ways to cope with disappointment. In some cases, however, an inability to adapt these feelings as an adult may lead to secondary narcissism, which can evolve into NPD.

The exact causes behind NPD are not fully understood. Some psychologists believe a lifetime of rejection and abandonment issues can create a pattern of self-obsessed behavior that develops into a personality disorder. In some cases, doctors can link a pattern of extreme narcissism to a traumatic event in early life, such as the death of a parent or physical or sexual abuse. Other doctors believe that genetics may play an important role in the development of this condition; some research suggests that certain people may simply be hard-wired for this type of personality disorder.

Effects of Narcissism

People with mild symptoms may actually benefit from their self-interested tendencies. According to some studies, mild narcissists tend to experience less stress, self-doubt, and remorse than non-narcissists. Their feeling of self-importance and invulnerability makes them less prone to depression, and makes them more likely to pursue their dreams and goals. Some of these benefits may come from self-delusion; since they don't consider other people's problems or concerns, they may be unaware of the unpleasant things surrounding them, or simply think that they aren't important.

Those with clinical NCD, however, can have difficult and frustrating lives. In extreme cases, they may be simply unable to understand why the world does not work according to their beliefs. Despite a desire for strong personal relationships, they may be unable to maintain them because of their self-obsession. In rare cases, the ability to justify any behavior for personal gain may be so strong that a narcissist may find himself engaging in manipulative, criminal, or violent acts.


Psychotherapy is often recommended as the first line of treatment for this condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on identifying and altering unhealthy behavioral patterns, can also be very helpful in constructing a healthier lifestyle. Marriage or family therapy is frequently suggested when self-obsession is disrupting personal relationships. How effective these treatments are usually depends on how severe the condition is. While fully defeating narcissistic urges may not always be possible, psychotherapy creates an open forum to discuss related issues and manage the problems caused by this condition.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to The Health Board, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By Jaden7 — On Jun 05, 2016

I dated my husband for three years before we married. He hid his rage and self love from me. Things started happening immediately after the honeymoon. I had two children from a previous marriage who didn't interact w/him until the third year. We set up to move in after we got married and how crazy that I wasn't able to see the red flags.

I was technically his fourth, my second. He screamed at me after we got married with such rage, then the abuse started. He's pulled my hair, hit me, threw hot coffee and wine on me, choked me and mentally knocked me down. The mental abuse of manipulation has been the hardest. Years later, I'm ready for a divorce. I sold the only piece of property I had in my name a few years ago as he pushed me to do so and gave him a very large portion of the funds to help with debt. How stupid and trusting. He tried to kill himself due to a failed business and I helped him through it. I got him into a program which cost $30,000, as his ego and embarrassment caused him to try and take his life. I should've left then but I had compassion and couldn't turn my back in his time of need.

In therapy, he's able to be another person and try to act like a victim. It's hard to deal with someone who can change their personality to convince others he's someone he's not. I stopped going with him as it was a joke. He tried to play the therapist against me when I was the real victim. Now, a few years later, I've asked him for help financially as I try to find a new job and he's turned his back on me with no remorse. He pays for his health benefits and stopped paying for mine.

I cannot fathom being such a cold heartless monster after having your wife back you up when you needed it in your darkest time. Most of the awful things he has done when the children were not present, but they don't like him. He treats me like an object. When I'm quiet and listen to his self obsession talking about how brilliant he is and no one else can do what he does, then it's all good. When I call him out on his crap, watch out. He lives for others to praise him and must be the center of attention. It's so weird. I pray I can get away from his dysfunction and not look back.

By anon341522 — On Jul 12, 2013

I've lived with a female narcissist for seven years now, and have one five year old child. Looking back, all the signs were there from day one. She was instantly irritated when I speak, cared more about what was happening at the next table, non sexual unless it served a purpose. Any attempt at intimacy is met by distraction, discomfort or avoidance. This narcissist requires a complex procedure before sex is allowed (massage, back scratching, etc.). It's a "what can you do for me first" or "day/week hasn't gone well, doesn't feel I've adequately earned it," etc. Of course, if I get angry or question anything, everything will be turned around as not her fault. She will even supply repeated evidence that other couples are same and it's normal, that it's my fault for not being romantic enough. She has an arsenal of excuses and blame shifting, projection, gaslighting, etc.

This is the same tactic the narcissist uses with any other aspect in our relationship: overwhelm, project, blame, deny, mirror, backup with social “proof.” So what does the victim do? Things are so complex and there is so much drama, I just back off. Sex is now a negative, emotionally empty, painful experience, but it's not over yet. Me backing off gives the narcissist more “proof,” and she may even cement it by telling her friends and relatives. In the end, I'm just defeated overwhelmingly. I'm always the loser. I know the truth, but have given up because I have realized this is way it is. It's leave or accept the animal as she is for our child's sake. And the crazy continues round and round.

By anon335059 — On May 17, 2013

One percent seems awfully low in a generation where T.V. is constantly telling us we deserve what we want, we're the best, you're number one. Children have no competition in sports today, there are no winners or losers, thus when people are grown and facing adversity the simple answer is to kill themselves. Just look at the number of people who think they deserve something from the government.

By anon334229 — On May 11, 2013

I am the mother of a narcissist son who has brought me so much pain. He has lied to his wife and pull her and our grandson away from us. You try to wrap your head around it, but there are no answers. I have tried many times to keep the relationship going, only to be used and abused again. At times I wonder what I did wrong to cause my son to be this way.

My husband and I know we need to separate and walk away for our own sanity, but it's so hard.

By anon324794 — On Mar 12, 2013

I have been in a relationship with a narcissist for a year and a half. He lied and cheated me all the time. He stole from my bag and always denied this. He loves being admired by women and tries to be a smooth talker with everyone. He loves putting his profile pictures on the internet and craves women's comments. I see he makes random friends on social networking sites and wants to use people to make his life.

I dumped him and I see how manipulative he is. He couldn't accept the rejection and at first he put negative posts on his Facebook page. When he saw I didn't react, he put emotional stuff. No response from me and now he is back with an old admirer and prey that she is, she has given him back his narcissist supply of praise.

Narcissists are evil people who will do anything to get what they want. I hate him.

By anon274343 — On Jun 11, 2012

The first two paragraphs in this article describe a friend (I use that word loosely here) of mine. Her problem, however, does not stop with her. She will spend hours with me boasting about her children and grandchildren while putting my family down.

I try to be sympathetic with her, but she usually leaves me wishing I had never met her. I know she is a sad person and stuck in her own shallow world, but she is the most irritating person I know!

By anon251957 — On Mar 03, 2012

I think religious folks are the ultimate narcissists. Especially those of the three Abrahamic faiths.

By anon248270 — On Feb 16, 2012

Yes, I agree that being married to a narcissist is a terrible experience. I know since I am married to one. I try to understand his problem. He only thinks of himself and how he can save more money. He is so dedicated to his work and makes little time for his kids. He is in control of the money and insists on doing the shopping. I have little or no say. He makes the decisions even though I don't always agree with them. Living with him is painful and kids feel he is just using them.

By anon247727 — On Feb 14, 2012

Don't stay with crazy people if they are screwed up. Leave immediately. Don't put up with it and waste your life on them, period.

By anon246980 — On Feb 12, 2012

I read these posts because my dad has a few narcissistic traits (super sensitive to real or implied criticism, just wants to hear himself talk, always recounts stories that make him seem intelligent/wise etc).

However, I feel that some of the posters are talking about what may well be Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy/psychopathy). I lived with one, and before I got her out of my life I learned that they have no empathy, will spend your money and blame you when it's gone, delight in battling with others (as they are empathy free, they escape boredom by playing with the minds of others).

Some of the narcissists might be sociopaths. Just a thought!

By anon246697 — On Feb 10, 2012

@Lilly: I think I know what you are meaning to say. When under the influence of any drug, you have a different perspective on things, whether that is paranoia, passiveness, anger, alertness, creative and amplified intensiveness. If medications can alter behaviors, or in a sense, allow the dust to settle so you may have some clarity and make smarter choices, then why is it so far fetched to believe that smoking pot allowed for you to feel things on a different level? That is the reason why people use drugs, isn't it?

For me, what changed my behaviors wasn't the feeling of being high. It was the consequences of my decisions. The feelings afterward, you know, the guilt, shame and humiliation. But, countless times when under the influence I felt more in tune, I guess you can say, with who I really wanted to be. I was convinced that I could see things for what they really were. I am not saying that I was accurate. I'm merely saying that I was convinced of these things.

I mean, even Native Americans used hallucinogens in the belief that their destiny or whatever knowledge they sought would be revealed to them. So, I don't believe that pot was your cure, but I do think that maybe it helped you to stay still long enough to put some things into perspective. Perhaps it amplified feelings that were there all along, but you were just too self centered to see it. Now that you do, it'd be a damn shame for you to use it as an excuse to continue smoking pot. You managed to change, so take credit for that. It takes hard work, even when you’re medicated.

Allow yourself to enjoy these feelings of love and closeness with your eyes wide open. In other words, the pot seemed to serve its purpose. Try continuing the journey on your own. Reach out to your loved ones for the support you need. I think you'll find as long as your putting in the foot work, there'll be nothing they wouldn't do for you. It’s one of the rewards of loving and honoring them. And we are all so worthy.

By anon229056 — On Nov 11, 2011

If you are a narcissist like me, I think your best option is to kill yourself. When you have a brain as messed up as ours you're only going to bring people down as they try and sort you out (a 'sort out' which goes on indefinitely and never 'concludes'). For me at least, it's not worth the constant battle that drains your soul every day. Some humans were just not meant to live; that's what suicide was invented for.

I don't know why I'm posting this. I guess it's just because I'm a nihilist and for some reason, while I'm alive I just want to spread my inner despair. I want the world to improve and for everyone to feel whole and good. And yet after a bit of thought, I want everyone to burn up in emotional and physical pain. And now I want people to feel better again.

Welcome to the mind of a man with some sort of personality disorder (I don't know for sure whether it's narcissism but I don't care; I just want to get out of here. And now I want to live forever, great).

By anon225262 — On Oct 26, 2011

My girlfriend is this way. Completely irresponsible in every facet of life. Terrible parent, partner, and friend. She takes and takes never so much as thinks about giving back. Has no sense of financial responsibility and will never contribute. Every time I refuse to give her money, she tells me that all I care about is money. In reality it is the exact opposite, as all she cares about is money, which she wants so badly but won't get a job.

As far as bringing it to her attention, forget about it. Every time she is confronted with it, no matter what the angle (nice, understanding or angry and yelling) there is always an excuse which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever as to why she cannot do even the most menial of tasks such as, don't leave garbage all over the house, picking up after herself, paying her bills, raising her son, walking the dog, doing her laundry, picking her clothes up off the floor, etc, etc. On top of this the response is always defensive and trying to blame me and everyone else for her being a complete pig.

I am waiting it out as her son is almost on his own. She has no ability to care for him financially or emotionally and never has or will. The only way in hell he has a chance of making anything out of his life is leaving her. She deserves and will be alone right after he leaves.

Bottom line is that a lot of this is my fault. I tried to be understanding and as a result, it ended up enabling her. She will not be able to support herself ever and as far as I am concerned, that is going to be her problem to deal with when her son leaves home.

If any of you are in this relationship or one similar, please trust me when I say that it will never get better. There may be periods of "remission" but there is usually an angle there as well. If there are not children involved, do yourself a favor and leave. Life is too short to spend with someone who exhibits such selfish behavior. The one exception would be if they are still young; however if they are 35+ and still behave this way, prepare yourself for a worsening every year. If it's driving you nuts now, in 5 years you will be completely shut down in every way you can imagine. Never marry a person like this!

By anon217862 — On Sep 27, 2011

IS it possible for a narcissist personality to change by psychotherapy or medication? I don't think I have any emotion for people with unfortunate circumstances. I'm so self absorbed and only care about myself, the only time I really care about others is when I'm drunk or high. And probably because I've satisfied my own happiness. But is it possible to actually change the way you think so you can feel actual, real, and organic feelings of empathy for people? Please post your story or reply to me.

Thanks a million.

I will accept who I am if it allows me to change. Being a narcissist is actually so horrible, you're never satisfied and you become lonely and reckless.

By anon213907 — On Sep 13, 2011

The chief element to the narcissistic personality is not so much a lack of empathy, which is more related to the traits of a sociopath, but the inability to process that others dislike or have problems with you.

By anon186456 — On Jun 15, 2011

Until tonight when talking to a friend through face book I had never heard of this before. She told me to search for narcissism and I just cannot believe how much this describes my husband. I have been married to him for 18 years, and oh, I can say yes yes yes to most everything posted.

I had no idea this was a disorder. I felt it day by day and week by week, but as I am a christian, I just kept being nice back, and turning the other cheek and it nearly destroyed me.

Now I am divorcing him and even that is hard, despite everything that has happened to me, but I read that this happens too, so it makes sense. Everything is starting to make sense. He is Jekyll and Hyde. It was always my fault, and he got so angry, but I could never get angry. He had no feelings whatsoever when I cried and that made me cry more. He was constantly belittling me.

Thankfully, it was mostly verbal and emotional abuse, though yes, who can be thankful about that? I always said if he hit me, I would leave. Well, that even happened a few times towards the end. He was pushing me around. He left me and now I'm divorcing him.

By anon162322 — On Mar 23, 2011

The narcissist can be an unbelievable, bizarre, and truly evil being. I've seen first hand how a totally random person on the internet has raged a harassment and hate campaign against several people for over three years.

This heinous individual uses a photo hosting website to stage his hate campaign. He picks out popular people, or anyone he envies on the website, tries to befriend them with his smarmy ways, then he slowly starts to control them, manipulate them and belittle them. Anyone who sees through his true self, or wants nothing to do with him, he then starts to harass these people. In short, he will start on anyone he is envious of.

He'll try stalk their online activities, and he starts to message other people to spread malicious gossip and slanderous remarks. He also messages anyone he can to find out as much info about his 'victims,' like where these people work, and where they live, etc. He then starts to draw threatening hate cartoons about these innocent people.

He'll stalk where they live and work and post the photographs online of the places these people will be in order to frighten them. He dresses up as a stalker and even posts these photos online. The level of abuse and disgusting, vile content he will post is incredible. He tells lies in order to break up friendships, and he will stop at nothing. He has been reported to the police three times, and questioned twice, yet he still can't control this volatile narcissistic rage.

This man is a truly disturbed, and mentally ill individual due to his pathological N.P.D. It has driven him completely insane.

By amypollick — On Oct 05, 2010

@Anon116007: Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). These people can help you and your children leave this marriage safely. Please call, for their sakes and yours.

By anon116007 — On Oct 05, 2010

I married a man over 10 years ago. At first he swept me off my feet. When we lived under the same roof I watched him on the phone with his ex wife and mother. He would yell at them loudly and call them a "b". I had never seen this before in my life from anyone's behavior! I worried he would do this to me.

Soon after, I saw him talking down to me and he ripped me apart in every way (things I liked, believed in and wore). Nothing was good about me. One time my stepson told me that his dad brought him in his room and did the same thing to him. Total verbal and emotional abuse.

I became depressed. Nothing I did or said was right. He always had this weird glare in his eye. I heard that his ex said that he wanted to be king, that he was "self-righteous", that he would turn everything around to be "your" fault, etc.

Things turned physical. He kicked me in the chest, stomach, hit my head, pushed me down and attacked me on a bed and I almost went unconscious. He was arrested once. We separated for a week. Stupidly I went back and for six years longer now, my children and I have been miserable. I am afraid to make a step and leave. He tried to throw me out of the house a month ago and make me leave with nothing because he said that I came into this marriage with nothing and that I was leaving with nothing. (no credit cards, money, car, kids, etc) or he was calling the police. He did this all to me in front of the kids.

I knew I couldn't yell back because he is capable of the worst. He is the meanest, cruelest person I ever met. He thinks because he earns the money that I need to bow down. I work now and have for the past year and a half. Since 2004 he gambled probably a hundred thousand dollars or more of our money, promising each time he'd stop. He saw a stripper at a club behind my back for 10 months and spent over $30,000 on her and sent her flowers twice.

I found three or four dating service charges on our credit cards but he is denying them. I am so tired of it. He is always miserable unless he is buying something. Our whole marriage is like a business meeting. I feel sorry for our children. I don't know what to do. Leaving him is hard because he is so cruel. He said that if we divorce he will make it ugly.

By anon104870 — On Aug 18, 2010

Anon101589: good Lord. just say "shim" instead of all this she/he crap, and by putting it in that order I can most definitely tell you're a woman and I know who you are too. I'm your cousin and I'm telling my Mom on you for airing our family business. shame on you!

By anon103412 — On Aug 12, 2010

To all of you who believes you are with a narcissist: be kind to yourself and leave. You cannot help a narcissist open their eyes, no matter what you think you can do.

Look back at your life and see how long have you tried and how long have you kept yourself miserable. Before you know it, your life has gone by and you have devoted your life to a miserable, evil, poisonous, uncaring, cold, lying, torturous, negative, awful, awful, awful monster. Do not waste your life anymore.

And for those of you who have young children, it is more important that you leave as you are wrecking your child's life. Childhood is meant to be the happiest time of your life. Too many parents keep there children in torturous situations.

You are an adult and you are responsible for every single thing that you do every single day of your life. Do you want your children to end up like you, with such low self esteem that you keep yourself in a miserable marriage? Love is what you need, not abuse. You deserve it. Do not fool yourself in thinking he'll/she'll change. It is not going to happen.

You know the narcissist will say what it can you make you feel good because he wants something but soon he'll hammer your inner self down down, down. Narcissists hate themselves, they are bullies and want everyone around them to hate themselves just like they do. We all say keep away from bullies. Now take your own advice and leave and be strong.

It will be hard for a while if you are not a strong person, but bit by bit you will start to smile and start to feel happy on the inside. The important key to remember is to keep busy -- it truly helps.

To everyone who has narcissism around them: get away from them even if it is family. They will heap their misery upon you always. I know all this because i was with a narcissist for six years and i am now feeling good about myself and i am helping myself. I love life and i always have. Life is what we choose to make it be. Leave, leave, leave. You are not alone. Find your happiness.

By anon101735 — On Aug 04, 2010

anon19776, I agree with you. Lilly is definitely a narcissist. only a person with no empathy can talk that. If a narcissist can truly see everything as we do, they should feel sorry about what they've done, not just make them look better still like Lilly. how can Lilly know how people feel in "every area"? that's definitely a narcissistic talk. what a magic cure to cure everything in every area so quickly.

By anon101589 — On Aug 04, 2010

Since this is anonymous, and no one is going to find out who I am, I'm going to be as honest as possible. That being said, I believe the other half of my family tree are all born narcissists. I'm not going to say which half, because though this is an anonymous post, you can't be too careful these days. But every one of them are quite simply bad. There's my cousins, my uncles, my nephews, nieces, and of course, the real hannibal lecters in the group: my aunts.

Just so I won't bore you, let me just write on one member of the group, my cousin (I can't talk about my aunts because even describing them would be kind of horrific; they've done nothing directly abusive to me, but it will be too detailed and lengthy to put here).

But you will get a good picture of what I mean by dysfunctional when you see what I'm going to write about my cousin.

Number 1. This cousin of mine, he/she doesn't laugh at jokes. Fair enough personality trait right? And I would agree with you if not for one small problem. This cousin of mine only laughs at jokes that he/she deems funny, and here is the clincher, funny to him/her only involves him/her opening their mouth, and pointing out something that happened to you not too long ago, or even years ago, and this thing that happened to you is always something you feel painfully uncomfortable with. In fact, you don't want it resurrected, but like a dark tide, this person will bring it back in one snappy phrase.

She/he will just say it when you least expect it, causing a terrible feeling in your neck, and he/she will smile as he/she is giving you this detailed account of what you don't want to hear.

This is done so randomly, but you can always feel it coming because he/she looks at you for a long time before she/he finally speaks. It's like the tell before her/his move.

In time you will be prepared for this, but no matter how you try to mask your discomfort, he/she can tell that it hurt you, and this is what brings on the smile. And she/he does this when you least expect it. During a nice dinner, while she/he comes to visit you at your home.

Just when you think you are having a normal, polite discussion, she/he just brings it from nowhere. And she/he smiles, because the way you mask you pain is so amusing to him/her.

Now that was a long one. I don't think I can list out much more, due to the risk of boring you as I said, but let me give you one more.

Number 2. When this person is talking to you, he/she usually will insult everybody else. No, insult is not the word. This person will pick out with stunning clarity and detail, particular hangups and shortcomings of people, almost like a psychological analysis, and then will link them to the people's failings in life. And you will understand what he/she is talking about completely, because it will make sense. Now what won't make sense is the fact that if he/she knows so much about others.

Why is it that when you pretend around him/her, he/she will not call your bluff, or bring it up? What she/he does is just let you roll with your cover up, but if she/he knows so much about others, he/she must know about you, because even the art of covering up is discussed with him/her. It's like you act dumb, but he/she knows, but lets you run with it.

Now when this is done, he/she will bring up something that he/she needs, like money. But because he/she has demonstrated her/his powers of understanding human psychology, and he/she has giving you a whiff of what he/she can do, in the case of bringing up hurtful things and then smiling, you feel that succumbing to this person's demands of wanting money will grant you immunity from these psychological assaults.

So what happens is that you release the money, he/she doesn't psychologically assault you, and your added bonus is to get to hear him/her talk about others' weaknesses. It's like the talking is a reminder that, if you don't do as I say, you will suffer this same fate. And remember I've done it to you before with the remarks I made that obviously hurt you, but you tried to mask. Therefore don't think I don't know your own weakness. I'm just keeping you around because you give me what I want.)

I know what you may be thinking. You're thinking, how can a few remarks be so powerful as to make you be scared to hear them?

Well if you don't want to hear something, it means you probably don't want another person to hear about it either, but there is a chance that this person might know already, but because he/she is not mentioning it, you feel moderately safe.

And this person knows exactly that this is how you have rationalized it, and he/she capitalizes on this knowledge.

So there you have it. That is a snapshot of one of my probably not well cousins. You have to see it to know what I mean. To see him/her watching a funny movie and not laughing one bit, and when you yourself are laughing he/she will turn to you, look at you for a while and say, 'I remember when you had nice long hair when you were younger. Now I can see a bald spot developing' and he/she will give a small, soft laugh. "hehehe."

By anon100114 — On Jul 28, 2010

My nine year old nephew worries me. He is ferociously competitive. He is an athlete who loves to gloat, make others cry, win at all costs.

We bought him and his older sister baseball hats. When they left for school, he grabbed her hat to wear it so he wouldn't get his hat soiled. She grabbed it back, and he kept begging her to let him wear and ruin hers. He wouldn't let up, not even considering her feelings.

He does this with her a lot, and she seems to have become an "over-the-top" victim.

He seems to display no sense of empathy for others, and if he feels he's been wronged, he desperately tries to get even. His father ate some of his candy, and he told us he wanted to throw out his father's yogurts to get even with him.

He lies constantly with no appearance of remorse or guilt, or fear of punishment.

What really scares me is this: his parents have a problem with the squirrels in the neighborhood. Granted, they are numerous and sometimes destructive to property. But instead of seeking out and applying several solutions, such as getting a couple of cats, or reinforcing entry ways into their attic, or putting a cap flue on their chimney, they set traps for the squirrels, and when caught, dump the cage in a garbage can filled with water and drown them.

My nephew is now begging them for a bb gun so he can shoot them. We have talked with the parents about how this may be exacerbating his lack of empathy (which they do worry about -- perhaps they should do some self-evaluation first!), but I fear our words fall on deaf ears.

I fear he may have pathological disorders, and don't know what to do. We live in another state and only see them personally once every year or two.

His parents seem to love him deeply, are very demonstrative with it, but they are also very rigid, right wing, fundamentalist Christians who constantly talk about their fears of evil. They impress their beliefs on their children, who hear what they talk about, attend church with them, and are very restricted in what they are allowed to watch on tv (a good thing, but I think overkill would describe it best).

Also, I think my brother-in-law (the father), is quite a bigot, but in a passive-aggressive sense.

I'm a liberal Christian and see white supremacist tendencies in my spouse's family. She agrees with me, and it scares her, too.

Anyway, we just got back from a few days with them, and I'm still getting over the trauma I felt concerning the squirrels.

Does anyone think we should worry about my nephew?

By anon100103 — On Jul 28, 2010

My mother is 96, and I believe she has been a narcissist for as long as I can remember. She has little or no empathy, is all about her looks, how she appears to others, and worse, how we, her children, appear to others.

She has used us to impress people. I had an "aha" about a year ago, when I went to her assisted living to celebrate her birthday. I am a singer/guitarist, and have always thought, based on her bragging, that she loved to hear me sing. We were in her apartment, just my spouse, her and me, and I pulled out my guitar.

She said, "Wait! let me get George next door so he can hear you." I told her I didn't want to sing for anyone else. She wouldn't let up, and then insisted others be invited along with George.

I asked her if she wanted to hear me, and she kept pushing me to go get others to listen. She was utterly uninterested in my singing -- just in what my singing could do for her image with her friends. I put away my guitar, and went home that day understanding more about my mom than I ever had before.

By anon96305 — On Jul 15, 2010

In reply to anon 79992: You obviously have not read about narcissism and its effects. otherwise you would not have written the comment as you did. Perhaps you are a narcissit yourself. Comments like yours are not going to alter what we all know and are becoming aware of. So you may as well entertain yourself elsewhere. Nothing you say makes a difference on this site.

By anon93684 — On Jul 05, 2010

My father is a narcissist, my sister is a narcissist and my half-brother (who did not know anyone us until later life) also shows narcissistic qualities (immaturity and flying into a rage for no logical reason). So I fear it is genetic. I have lost a family because I cannot allow them to treat me so badly. None of them would get treatment as they don't believe they have done anything wrong!

By anon79992 — On Apr 25, 2010

OK, everybody on this website needs to consult with professionals and stop diagnosing your spouses or significant others.

You are not mental health practitioners and have no right going on to the internet and declaring people bona fide narcissists without a proper diagnosis.

Reading a post from a woman who is a nurse i am shocked that she is looking on the internet at blogs and websites to treat a serious disorder. How childish! Go seek professional advice!

By anon79051 — On Apr 21, 2010

This girl that i know, 50 years old, has no friends and dates a married man. She is a nice looking girl but extremely hard to get along with.

She lies to get her own way and tries to get others to think as she does. Everyone in the office who has tried to be her friend is no longer speaking to her. She will walk right by you and will not say hello unless you speak to her first.

Her famous saying is, "i choose who i speak to or not. It's a privilege to even be seen with me."

Life in the office is awful. Even the supervisor cannot do anything with her.

When she is off the office is happy. When we have office parties, she sits at her desk and contributes nothing and will not join in -- she just sits there. Another one of sayings is the office might try to poison her so she is not eating.

A co worker's father passed. He sits next to her. She was there when he got the call and heard the whole thing. Never said I'm sorry or signed the sympathy card. This person is truly a pain in the butt. Every day it is high heels, extremely dressy clothes and loud perfume. I tried to be her friend.

However, my husband bought me a new car for my birthday, acts, and she has a nissan altima, a fine car also. When she saw it, i even gave her a ride, she shied away from me. I asked if there was something wrong and she replied, no.

I am at the office before she is so when she comes in i say good morning, but she barely opens her mouth. She leaves before me, and never says goodbye or have a nice day. She simply turns her head or picks up her cell phone so that she will not have to speak.

Finally, i have given up. I don't have to kiss her behind. I just do my work and go home. This person will not even pass on a message. It's me me me.

I got my hair cut and started wearing it differently and this is her sick response: "there is no woman on earth that looks better than me" and took leave and left the job. What a sick pest.

Have you ever heard of such a mess. And what can the office do about this sick person?

By anon76069 — On Apr 08, 2010

a close family relative is narcissistic and i am hoping it's not genetic.

By anon73766 — On Mar 29, 2010

Lilly, sounds like you were a clean pot addict, then found your drug. believe me, it is unlikely that your perceptions have much to do with reality, and as pot is a drug which produces euphoria and relaxation, it is not surprising that everything seems better. --


By anon73737 — On Mar 29, 2010

Lilly, I am sorry, but you are in denial about love for everyone. You are stoned, and everyone is lovely and you can care while stoned. What are you like when the hit wears off?

By anon62241 — On Jan 25, 2010

I myself am married to a man that I clearly believe to be narcissistic but he refuses to seek medical help, psychological help, or even consider the notion.

I'm a nurse, which doesn't make me a doctor of course, and have interacted with narcissistic patients, so I know this is normal. But it doesn't make it any easier to deal with when you have four children (one of whom is autistic) and I have systemic lupus myself!

So I did some research and found some sites online where there is a treasure trove of information and interactive support groups for this disease and any other you can think of! It has helped me so much and has become an asset to my daily life.

By anon43598 — On Aug 30, 2009

My husband has this disorder and has turned my life upside down because of it. It makes me wonder if he understands what he has done to me and my children. I hope he can turn his life around because he does not think about the future, he lives in the moment and he is mostly concerned about his needs and his needs only. I am currently filing for divorce. So any of you who may think you have this disorder might want to seek help.

By anon42674 — On Aug 23, 2009

Hello anon5335: You're ex husband is very similar to a 61-year-old man I was dating. I stumbled on the word narcissism and wondered what it meant. I could not believe it when i read what it meant. My ex is mentally so hard. He is up and down, consistently changing his mind on a regular basis. From one day to the next i never knew what mood he would be in. He lives in a fantasy world. He expresses every time i speak to him how fantastic he feels every day, yet he is moody. He is extremely childish. He has no manners at all and cannot handle it whan we have a disagreement, no matter how small. He acts just like an ignorant child. He takes no reponsibility for anything he says no matter how hurtful he is. He expresses his dislike for his siblings, treats his children like they are objects, only sees them when they want money. He has no social skills. He tends to be rude and insulting to most people he meets. He has no regard for anyone's feelings, even mine. The only time he sees the two friends he has is when we have a quarrel. And has expressed he doesn't really like them any way. He actually doesn't like many people at all. He too is extremely messy. He is obsessed with collecting junk, has got one massive shed and two small sheds full of crap. It's like junk but i also tidy up. His mind is a mess and so is his living. I have found him to be deceitful towards people in general. He tends to forget and deny the hurtful words he says. He is separated from his wife of 25 years. Says they had a bad marriage and it is all her fault. He expresses openly the dislike towards her but is also obsesses with giving her money and keeping her sweet until they divorce. His words and his actions are so far apart from each other. My list goes on and on. I fell in love with this person and actually still love him, but i can not take his unstable messed up ways any longer. Thank goodness we did not live together, we only saw each other on weekends. I have now called our relationsip off as he is high maintenance. His family are not like him; they appear normal. In relation to you, stick with your strength and stay true to yourself. regards color.

By anon38753 — On Jul 28, 2009

Lilly that is the stupidest thing i've ever heard. Anon 3005, you need to find a really good therapist. You willingly stayed in this relationship for years and there are reasons for that that should be addressed. You cannot control him or make him understand what he's done wrong. what you can do it take responsibility for yourself and change in you the things that will allow you to have a good life.

By anon25468 — On Jan 29, 2009

i think this is interesting mostly because it's so naive, and really shallow to follow the herd with pseudo-psychological mumbo-jumbo, when what we are really talking about is a societal time, ego, self-perception change from the more intense older ideal, to a more placid, peaceful point of view. the real question is why can't everyone be like me, instead of hotheaded, like fred flintstone, phil silvers, bilko character or jackie gleason, maybe they were cavemen and ogars, to everyone around them, but just maybe that was them high anxiety types, but well meaning jerks anywhoo. we must try to humble ourselves enough to realize not everyone can be so gentle and pc all the time, so don't condemn what you think isn't normal, because it takes depth to understand depth, and to forgive when people act hateful or compete it is natural, even if it may be unhealthy and lead to a stroke or something, so try to understand people are human even when they seem mean.

By anon24371 — On Jan 11, 2009

I can't afford to see a psychiatrist, I suffer from all of the symptoms mentioned. I think I'm bigger than my surroundings, I think the world should revolve around me, I need help, who do I turn to?!

By anon19776 — On Oct 19, 2008

lilly that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard......obviously you are too self absorbed to realize your are full of it, I don't know what else could explain your "miracle" cure to your pre-occupation with self.

By sherii — On Sep 24, 2008

in response to "anon5335 " comment. What you said just blew me away. I am in the middle of the same thing. It was like I was reading about my own life. My ex husband is narcissist. We where married for 26 years and I to sat back and watched not realizing what was going on. Now we are in a bitter battle over support (i feel the children and I are entitled and he doesn't) He has lied so many times in court they can't keep it straight anymore (2 years now) And that is just for child support! I just want it to end but he will never let it go or me. Even though he and his family hate me and the kids. I would be very interested in hearing from others that are having this happen to them.

By anon5335 — On Nov 21, 2007

There was always a vacuum in our marriage that I cannot quite put my finger on. Life with him was barren: he has no empathy for the emotional havoc he caused to wife and children, he has no regard for the law, he was never close to his siblings, he had no friends, he was financially irresponsible, emotionally absent, thoroughly self-centered...and he always left a mess for me to clean up. Only difference is now I do not clean up his mess (all types) and totally abandoned the family. His siblings (who are all like him) banned together against me and are not cutting in with their greed, envy and lies.

Hurray! I gotten over him! And he just can't stand me now!

Am I over the worst from him? I ignore his siblings. The more I ignore, the more evil they schemed. I believe the law will get them sooner or later.

What is the best strategy for me to get closure. I sent him the divorce papers (which he goaded me on for a while) and how he refused to sign!

I am standing here, watching, in amazement!

After I found out about his lies and cheating, he became cowardly and avoided all contact with me and the children. He was never close with his siblings before I found out and now he is! Worst his siblings are all the same! Help! What should I do?

By anon3005 — On Aug 05, 2007

Well written article. In theory Narcissism may be helped by psychotherapy but in my experience one has to acknowledge a problem before one can address it and with Narcissists, they are never wrong. I know one who had 5 therapists in 2 years but of course the therapists were not any good...in fact he could have done their job better, so, therapy, I don't think so...

By lilly — On May 09, 2007

Hi. I was a narcissist until I started smoking pot. It made me see everything differently. I started to care for everyone I knew. How they felt. Their needs. In every area. I have a son who I had always assured was loved tremendously, but didn't take much action to prove that. Everything changed for the better. Have you heard of this before? I find it very interesting.

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to The Health Board, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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