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How do you know if someone is a narcissist ?

(9 Posts)
mermaid101 Wed 12-Feb-14 20:21:59

I have posted on here a few times about my mum and had some really good advice. The last time my sister and I were planning a big conversation with her in an attempt to stop some of her more difficult behaviours. After the replies I got, we decided not to and the response were all extremely helpful.

We do, however, want to take some kind of action. We have talked about a few strategies and done some reading around the subject.

We were wondering how you know if someone is an actual narcissistic personality, or if they are just a bit difficult and unpleasant. I think our perception of our mum seems fluctuate a bit and her behaviour can be inconsistent.
Reading the stately homes thread sometimes throws up things which can really resonate. Other times the stories on there seem very much worse than our experience.
Is there any way of telling? I think we both doubt our own judgement .

RRRJ83 Wed 12-Feb-14 22:56:39

This is only something a professional can diagnose, it's not something you can tell. However, saying that, i knew someone who I believed to have a narcissistic personality disorder, reasons were complete lack of empathy, genuine inability to see something from someone else pov, never taking an interest in another person, needing to be centre of attention, immaturity, self obsessed, focus on their own intellect and believing they are better than others, basically not seeing other people in the world as they are. Also believes everyone else is mean.

DCRbye Wed 12-Feb-14 23:01:41

One of the main ways is that you come away from conversations and interactions feeling very confused.

They have a way of twisting everything. Manipulating facts, using your weaknesses. It's very unnerving.

if they do something wrong, they try and shift blame - at the same time they try and take credit for other people doing well.

They tend to show off a lot. And they try and impress people a lot.

if you catch them out, or back them into a corner, they can turn very, very, very nasty. They can also repaint history - to the point that arguing with them becomes mind bogglingly difficult because they literally do not acknowledge the facts as they actually happened.

I would say though...the main way come away from interactions feeling confused as I said at the start.

A had a business partner who was a MAJOR full on narc, and he almost drove me to a breakdown because he manipulated me so heavily and throughout it all I did not even realise he was doing it.

For example; he would do something wrong - like take extra salary for himself, and if I tried to talk to him about it, he would:

a) Try an convince me I'd taken extra salary a few months ago and be so convincing I would actually start to question my own sanity.

b) Make me feel he deserved the extra salary because he was better / put more in.

c) Made me comes away from the altercation somehow feeling like I was the bad guy.

When you come face to face with someone like this it makes you feel very stressed and shaken inside because they are basically liars who will say or do absolutely anything to preserve their image (even in their own minds)

scarletforya Wed 12-Feb-14 23:07:05

Even psychiatrists disagree when diagnosing personality disorders. But it's a medical opinion that decides if someone is one.

Narcissists would be unlikely to present themselves for treatment though as their insight is non existent.

Also narcissism is a spectrum. So while someone might have traits they might not have the actual full blown personality disorder.

DCRbye Wed 12-Feb-14 23:42:30

Oh yes, the very essence of a narcissist lies in believing the problem is with someone else - therefore they would almost never actually seek treatment for it. Why should they? They are perfect

NadiaWadia Thu 13-Feb-14 02:54:10

Can it be combined with alcoholism? Because I have a relative just like RRR has described, and they also have a major drink problem.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 13-Feb-14 08:44:35

I don't think it makes that much of a difference whether someone has a recognised personality disorder or just a terrible personality. If they don't accept there is anything wrong with themselves, nothing is going to change either way. You still have exactly the same problem. You're still dealing with exactly the same person.

When I had ILs my FIL was a terrible person. Alcoholic, selfish, narcissistic, immature... the lot. I can't tell you the HOURS of my life I lost listening to his adult children going on and on and on about why Dad behaved the way he did, desperately trying to understand his psyche, work out ways to deal with him. It was very boring, very miserable and a complete waste of time.

Decide what you'll tolerate and what you won't and then treat her the same as you would some random stranger behaving the same way.

madeofstone Thu 13-Feb-14 09:17:33

It is never our fault, even when it is we justify it by saying it is actually your fault for x,y or z.....
We are masters of manipulation, and this is only to suit the narcissist end. Other people are also seen as disposable, a complete lack of empathy for anyone.
In essence on a very deep level it is driven by fear. It can never be cured but CBT can give them the tools to deal with it. Like alcoholism or drug they will always be a narcissist but it can be controlled (not best choice of word).
How I got here is extremely personal, I ended up an outpatient in a psych hospital. Who really helped me but I went looking for them, I wanted help if that makes sense.
I will answer any questions asked as honestly as I can, if anyone wants to that is.

SwimmingClose Thu 13-Feb-14 12:37:22

Interesting - and important - question I think, OP.

I think there is a continuum. I think there is such thing as NPD which is pretty severe. Then there is someone who has strong narcissistic traits, but which only come to prominence at certain times. Then there are some people who just have a smattering. I think you have to be wary in dealing with them all though, especially the first two. Either no contact or Very, Very Strong and Clear Boundaries e.g. do not spend more than 2 hours in their company, or 10 minutes on the phone, etc etc.

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