How to recognize and how to deal with a narcissist personality?
The ancient Greeks described it exceptionally thousands of years ago, in their mythological narratives. Narcissus, in love with himself, failed to lift his eyes from his idol and was doomed to look at it forever. Greek mythology struck a chord, as narcissism is a real prison from which, experts claim, it is almost impossible to get out. It is a condemnation especially for people who focus only on themselves. Because they are often exploited, manipulated and sometimes destroyed. Even if it is impossible to change them, you can always learn to defend against their attacks.
Very often they are men
According to an Italian study by Tonino Candelmi, a psychiatrist at Regina Margherita Hospital in Rome and author of Narciso sono io (I am a narcissist), four out of ten Europeans are narcissists. In fact, in two of these cases it is “serious narcissism”, a personality disorder.
Men are twice as affected as women. “However, we need to make a distinction”, emphasizes Stavroula Zarkada, psychologist-psychotherapist and adds: “Self-confidence and ambition can be considered a kind of healthy narcissism, because they help you to confirm, without trampling on those around you There is, however, a pathological form in which others consider themselves an extension of themselves, and therefore belong to their service.It is not always easy to reveal these cases: these narcissists act in an insidious, usually veiled way. behind a mask of generosity “.
How to recognize a narcissist personality
The American Psychiatric Association has set some criteria. These are the most important ones that will help you find him.
He has excessive self-esteem. He loves himself very much and is vain. He is often a successful person, particularly rude, who needs to constantly show his superiority, which depends on the opinion of others.
Always looking for admiration. Narcissists are doomed to give thanks to be thanked: they are held hostage to their need for confirmation from others.
He believes that he deserves more. The overly egocentric, believing that he is unique, claims that he has privileged characteristics. His mentality can be summed up in the phrase: “You owe me this”.
Manipulates people. Uses others to get what he wants. When he is not admired, he often says what others want him to hear and pretends to be good and available.
He does not think about the feelings of others. Narcissists lack an important talent: emotional understanding, the ability, that is, to come in contact with each other, to understand and share their feelings. They treat people like mirrors, necessary to support their “scene” and to relieve the stress that overwhelms them.
He is jealous, although he thinks he is enviable. Convinced that he is the best, the pathological narcissist does not accept to come second. He believes that they envy him, while he envies anyone who can deprive him of the first place.
He is arrogant. As he does not tolerate frustration, he often becomes arrogant and may have outbursts of anger, sometimes very intense.
How to predict his movements
It is clear that anyone with such a personality, despite the desire to look superior to anyone, is in fact tormented by enormous insecurity. “The problem is that because he considers himself omnipotent, he hardly recognizes that he needs help and, therefore, that he needs to change,” explains Stavroula Zarkada.
Thus, whoever lives near him must be very careful and, above all, have great inner strength so as not to fall into his trap. It is better to be prepared, because the chance of falling for a narcissist, in your personal or professional life, is high. “The biggest mistake is to try to satisfy his demands. The more he gets, the more he wants, since it is never enough for him,” says the psychotherapist. Never expect a normal relationship with a narcissist, because he has a completely distorted sense of reality. Another trap you may fall into is trying to justify it: “He can’t behave like that forever.” Or to think that “deep down he is good”. It is wrong, because these rationalizations are imposed by the difficulty of accepting that for the narcissist you do not count at all. It is a reality that hurts, but admitting it is the first step to defending yourself.
Learn to deal with it
In order not to be overwhelmed, you must learn to control two emotions: anger and fear. The first is caused by finding that your needs are being violated. “It’s a healthy feeling, but in order to be effective it has to be transformed into a confirmation: ‘I’m'” the expert advises. This could mean, for example, that you plan your day in such a way that you do not leave room for the narcissist ‘s demands. “For the most insecure people, narcissistic aggression can be overwhelming enough to make them lose all confidence in themselves,” she said. It is a perverted game that allows it to maintain its power.
That is why it is necessary to take action:
In your relationship
Better to stay away “Often a narcissistic partner is fascinating, but the relationship reveals its true nature: selfish, manipulative, authoritarian,” says the psychotherapist. How to escape? “Get away from it while you are at the beginning,” the expert suggests. “Better yet, to give him the impression that he is leaving you, because otherwise he will try to take revenge on you.” The best excuse to get rid of him is to show him that you do not deserve him. Can’t you do it? Remember that with such a partner you are doomed to be an extension of his vanity: the only “protagonist” is him!
Defend your personality If you are already married and have children with a narcissist, it is difficult to break up your marriage. To limit the loss, the strategy is to move away emotionally, which means not expecting the care that every woman seeks from her partner. Do not try to change him, learn to defend your personality, even if he tries to crush it.
Do not lose your self-confidence Create friendships and interests outside the family, which will help you find her again. And if your partner looks good, appreciate his gesture. But remember that it can be a tactic to regain control of the situation.
Do not doubt your professionalism The narcissistic boss is a very common “personality”. “Protected from his leadership position, he is often an aggressive hypocrite, trying to show his superiority in a cunning way, not explosive, but capable of provoking the submission of others,” she said. “His tactics are deadly: he tries to make you feel that you are always wrong or that you are inadequate. It is never clear what exactly he wants and with this exhausting tactic he manages to attack the most vulnerable people.” How can you neutralize the narcissist boss’s attacks? Without being angry, calmly show that you are sure of the work you have done. And if he insists that you are useless, repeat this phrase: “I am sure I worked in the best possible way.” Without defending yourself, without lowering yourself and, most importantly, without losing confidence in your abilities.
Understand his weaknesses To coexist with a boss like this, if you do not have the ability to change jobs, the only way is to understand that he is not a strong person, as he wants to make you believe. This is exactly how it works because it wants to cover up its deep insecurities.
In the family
Defend yourself, without waiting for recognition “If you do not have the ability to cut ties, the only strategy is self-defense,” says the expert. “This means that you have to set clear boundaries in order to be able to respect yourself and, at the same time, be available, within a reasonable framework.” If, for example, your mother-in-law is constantly trying to interfere in your life, you should stop her by setting clear rules: “You do not need to arrange my drawers, I have them on purpose.” The important thing, once you decide to follow this strategy, is to never give up in order not to give it space. She may complain and find this behavior selfish, but she is the real selfish one. Do not be surprised if your brother never says “thank you”: for him it means that he must admit that he needs you, while he wants to avoid any sacrifice and does not want to depend on anyone. When doing something for a narcissistic relative, never expect recognition.
Reward yourself If, indeed, you need a reward, go out and buy something for yourself – a book, a cream. “It is a tactic that I always recommend to my patients when they are oppressed by narcissists, and which I apply myself,” adds the psychotherapist. Follow this system as if it were a cure, deciding in advance your “reward”. It will boost your self-esteem when someone puts you to the test. “
Stavroula Zarkada, psychologist-psychotherapist, collaborated.