What Are the Common Characteristics of People with Narcissism?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2019
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People with narcissism often tend to display a set of common personality traits. These characteristics tend to include a lack of empathy for others and the maintenance of a certain emotional distance. People with narcissism generally tend to think that they are better than others, and will usually treat others with contempt and scorn, except for perhaps a few authority figures who may have earned their admiration. Narcissists are generally prone to fits of rage, especially when they believe they aren't getting their own way. They are typically envious of other people, and may believe that other people are envious of them, and they generally have an inflated sense of their own importance, require excessive emotional validation, and may find it impossible to create or maintain emotional intimacy.

Most experts believe that narcissists are completely self-absorbed. They tend to think about every situation and person that they encounter in terms of how meaningful it is to them personally. Narcissists are not typically concerned with the feelings, needs, opinions, or ideas of others. They often do not seek emotional intimacy from relationships, but instead use relationships as a means of procuring more attention for themselves.


People with narcissism generally believe they have the right to be in total control of those close to them, and may often behave in emotionally manipulative ways to get and keep that control. Narcissists may fly into a rage when their whims are denied or things aren't done their way. They typically experience a strong sense of entitlement, believing they have the right to anything they want, at any time.

The characteristics of narcissism also generally include an inability to acknowledge or accept personal flaws or errors. People with narcissism tend to think of themselves as perfect, and incapable of any mistakes. When narcissists do make mistakes, they usually try to blame others. Narcissists are often willing to use put-downs, emotional manipulation, and outright lies in their attempts to pin the blame for their mistakes on someone else.

Since narcissists don't understand the emotional reactions of people with healthy egos, they may not fully understand how their actions and words can harm others. Most psychologists believe narcissists don't really care if their behavior hurts other people. People with narcissism may hurt another person, and then attempt to convince the injured party that they have behaved badly by refusing to accept hurtful treatment. Often, narcissists may appear to hurt others on purpose. They may continue to display hurtful behaviors even after being asked not to, for instance, and may escalate those behaviors as a means of self-validation.

Those who suffer from narcissism generally can't accept any form of criticism, though they are often ready to criticize others, typically at length. They are often workaholics, since they can be preoccupied with the acquisition of social status, wealth, or power. Narcissists are usually overly concerned with external appearances, and are generally out of touch with their own feelings, memories, and experiences.


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