How To Identify Narcissistic Personality Disorder?


It seems that in recent times the concept “narcissistic personality disorder” has ceased to be a term used only by mental health professionals.. It is increasingly common for non-specialized people to have an idea of ​​its characteristics. But does this fit reality?

Throughout the article we will address the most important key aspects to identify this situation. We will start from the definition of the disorder to explore both the best-known characteristics and other difficulties. Finally, we will delve into the subtypes and origin.

How can we identify narcissism?

The term personality refers to the individual characteristics that make each person unique. That is, your way of thinking, behaving, feeling and relating to your environment. So that, Personality disorders are diagnosed when a person deviates considerably from what is accepted in their society.. Both thought and behavior patterns are usually rigid, inflexible and stable. Therefore, they usually cause difficulties in the person’s daily life.

There are different types of personality disorders divided into different categories, but in this article we will focus on the narcissist. It is important to keep in mind that just by detecting some traits a diagnosis cannot be made. This must be carried out by a specialized mental health professional after an extensive objective study.

The name given to this personality disorder comes from the Greek myth in which Narcissus, upon seeing his image reflected in the river, cannot move away from it.. The end of this story is tragic for the protagonist. His vanity led to his death.

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People diagnosed with this personality disorder show a lack of empathy toward other people, high egocentrism, and a general pattern of grandiosity. These people need the admiration and adulation of others. However, the only concern they express is in relation to themselves.


Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized because people who suffer from it have an exaggerated self-esteem. Likewise, they overvalue their abilities and achievements, trying to be recognized as superior to the rest.. Egocentrism becomes evident when they only give credibility and value to their own speech, which revolves around themselves.

Furthermore, they are people who are very demanding of attention and perceive social relationships and interactions through manipulation. Usually, the relationships they establish are with the objective of benefiting in one way or another. The lack of empathy is a very important aspect that leads them to feel and think that they should be constantly admired.

We can infer then that interpersonal relationships are an area in which they will present high difficulties. This happens both on their part and on the part of other people who, feeling manipulated and little taken into account, can distance themselves. It has been observed that people with a narcissistic personality disorder have great difficulty dealing with what they perceive as criticism.. In this sense, some of the following emotional and behavioral reactions can be observed:

And, surprisingly enough, they may also feel insecure, ashamed, and afraid of being discovered to be a failure. It is considered that, on many occasions, everything previously mentioned is an image that needs to be kept outward. From the need for constant admiration, they would enter into this dynamic of demonstrating their value.

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Subtypes of narcissism

Although it is true that the diagnostic criteria for personality disorder are very clear and established in clinical manuals, the same does not happen with the subtypes. Different studies and authors provide various subtypes depending on the most predominant characteristics. Below will be a brief description of the two subtypes in which there does seem to be greater acceptance among professionals:

1. Grandiose narcissism

This personality profile is the most commonly recognized. It is also known as overt or ostentatious narcissism.. This subtype encompasses most of the characteristics mentioned throughout the article:

2. Vulnerable narcissism

This profile, also known as covert, It is perhaps the most difficult to detect initially due to its complementary nature.. In this sense, it can be seen that people show very low self-esteem. Other relevant features are:

Do we know its origin?

At a scientific level, there is still no conclusive answer in this regard. However, one of the proposals in which there is consensus is related to the type of attachment. That is to say, it is considered that the way of linking learned in the first years can be a key factor.

In this sense, it is pointed out that both the fact of having had overprotective parents and parents by whom the child feels abandoned can be decisive. In both situations, a type of attachment develops that makes connection in relationships difficult.