Dispelling Narcissistic Personality Misconceptions

The Narcissistic Personality

What is a narcissistic personality? That’s actually been a matter of some debate of late. In fact some scientists wondered if such a personality actually exists. However, as anyone who’s had to live or deal with one knows, narcissists are real. So, who are these folks? What makes them tick? And how do you spot a narcissist?  Are all narcissistic personalities character disordered? Is there any hope for them? Is there any way to live or work with them without losing your sanity? These are just many of the questions people find themselves asking these days.

Narcissistic personalities are difficult. They irritate you. And they frustrate you. They can use and abuse you. Narcissists have a way of making you feel inferior. And they can make you feel crazy, too. (See also:  Gaslighting Victims Question Their Sanity.) They’re some of the most difficult to deal with people on the planet.

How Do They Get That Way?

As I mention in several articles, we live in a highly narcissistic age. (See, for example: Cultural Narcissism Fosters Character Disturbance.) Aspects of today’s culture foster qualities in us that contribute to narcissism. Some aspects of culture even reward these qualities. Such qualities include:

  • Egocentricity. Egocentricity is about excessive self-focus, self-preoccupation, and pursuit of self-interest. Ours is largely a “me- centered” world.  Therefore, it’s easy to develop an “it’s all about me” attitude.
  • Ego Inflation. Some say you can never have too much self-esteem. But you can indeed think too much of yourself. Still, our culture prizes the value of the individual. That makes it easy for some to develop an inflated sense of self-worth.
  • Sense of Entitlement. Ours is a time of plenty. In such a time it’s easier to expect a lot. However, it’s all too easy to take things for granted. And that makes it easy to feel entitled.
  • Feelings of Superiority. We also live in a highly competitive world. It’s a world of “winners” and “losers.” It’s easy to compare yourself to others in such a world. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be seen as a winner as opposed to a loser? Some folks, however, carry this too far.
  • Heartlessness. Ours is a world full of conflict, hurt, and disappointment. In such a world, it’s easy to become hardened of heart. Moreover, some of us have a harder than usual time developing empathy. In a cold and cruel society, caring takes the greatest beating. It doesn’t pay to care when you’ll only get hurt.
The Narcissistic Personality: When Qualities Combine

By definition, personality is a preferred style of relating. (See: Personality and Character Disorders: A Primer.) And many things contribute to the development of that style. Biology plays a role. Naturally, so does environment. Moreover, certain qualities help define one’s style of relating. When egocentricity, feelings of entitlement, attitudes of superiority, etc. combine, you may have a narcissistic personality. And when such a personality is intense and inflexible in their style of relating – to the severe detriment of relationships, you may be dealing with a disorder.

Many folks these days have narcissistic features in their character. However, that doesn’t necessarily make them a narcissistic personality. Nor does it necessarily mean they have a personality or character disorder. We do our best to understand our world and the people in it. And we prefer well-defined categories to help us understand. But few things are so simply. Character disturbance is widespread in our times. However, how it’s manifested and how severe it is varies considerably. Besides, narcissism is a feature of many character disturbances. And the type and severity of narcissism in someone’s character can vary.

You can find a lot written on the narcissistic personality these days. But you’ll also find a lot of over-generalization in some of what you read. That makes it difficult to understand the phenomenon well. So, in the coming weeks I’ll have more to say about the vast spectrum of narcissism.

Is There Any Hope?

People always ask me if there’s hope for a narcissist. I always answer that it depends. It depends on several factors. It matters how many narcissistic qualities or traits a person possesses. How deeply ingrained their troublesome traits are also matters. What type of narcissist they are may matter most of all. I first recognized this when gathering data for my books In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance. And in recent years, abundant research has confirmed it.

Narcissists come in several different varieties. However, there are two main types. (See: Two Main Varieties of Narcissists.) One type, the grandiose type, is harder to deal with and harder to treat. Grandiose narcissists are also less likely to change unless circumstances are just right. Prospects are brighter for the vulnerable type. Such folks care and are largely unaware. So, it’s easier to help them see the error of their ways. Grandiose narcissists are different. They’re aware but just doesn’t care. It’s much harder to cultivate sensitivity in the heartless.

I’ll be having some more to say about folks on the “narcissistic spectrum” in the coming weeks.


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30 thoughts on “Dispelling Narcissistic Personality Misconceptions

    1. Joey,

      Its the glory of having Power Over One. I strokes their ego, to Lord over another. The ultimate is to suck your soul from you and recreate you into the slave puppet that will serve them. It gets this sick. They are body snatchers.

  1. Off Topic

    I am trying to buy another House. I will try and Sell my current apartment. It needs a good tidy. It is I am afraid to say just as I moved in. Everything that I was able to get out of the mothers house.( Everything how ever that was not stolen by my parasitic brother.)
    It all has gathered alot of dust in three years.

    1. Joey,

      I hope you share about your new home. I got rid of most things and replaced. In the end I came to the realization it is just stuff. Stuff is Stuff, it can never take the part of a kindhearted person that cares for us. In many instances the stuff can be a painful reminder and like going NC with the CD it is best to go NC with that which sits and collects dust, illicets unpleasant memories or causes us grief over worrying about it rather than living life to the fullest.

      Truly, understanding the lesson in life that less is best is a life lesson that will free one from the bondage of stuff.

      Live your life to the fullest, enjoy every moment and cut the chains of bondage to “Stuff” that causes you to be pulled into the past. I am donating and giving much away and it feels great. Bye Bye memories, you haven’t any hold on me.

      Hugs and am happy for you and your new home…..

      1. All the “stuff” becomes a hideous burden, for sure. I am the furthest thing from a hoarder that you can imagine, but still, there are some things that I have trouble parting with. I just have to ask why?

        I usually end up storing other people’s stuff that they have trouble organizing and getting rid of. I took a stand a few years ago and placed limits on it.

        Is hoarding a personality disorder? When I watch those shows about hoarders I think of hamsters shredding newspapers and wood shavings to ensconce themselves, as if too much space around them makes them uneasy. It’s like all those newspapers piled to the ceiling are like a warm blanket. I guess it is OCD and seems like a self soothing behavior too. But maybe that is what most OCD is about–an attempt to calm one’s self through means rooted in our primitive past.

        I’m going on and on….sorry. Good luck with the clean up, Joey! Fortunately for you there likely won’t be any sentimental familial attachments that prevent you from tossing stuff out!

    2. Off Topic,
      Just thought I’d tell you, you’re not the only one with a parasitic sibling. I have 6!!! When I was still a teen one of my parasitic siblings stole a lot from me on several occasions. He has NEVER held himself responsible for any of it. I know he never will. He and I will be NC for the rest of our lives and I’m glad!
      Sorry you too had to deal with a sibling like that, but know that you are definitely NOT alone!!! My best to you!

    3. I wonder what the stuff represents in your mind & heart….perhaps a connection you had or wished you had…perhaps something your sibling didn’t get but you did…perhaps an idea that the relationship with your sibling could be mended if he wants what you have & you gave it to him…perhaps a wish for the past, that it could have been different…perhaps a symbol of love. I don’t know.
      Is it time to make a date with yourself, spend a weekend with the phone shut off as you go through the items? Keep what you want; give the rest to a thrift store ? I don’t know, but your heart will guide you.

  2. Happy House Hunting. That is exciting. However, it sounds like you’ve got a lot of clean-up to do. Chip away at it and it will get done.
    Don’t you love a new start?

  3. Hi Dr.Simon and all you regulars! Hope you are all happy and well! I am….sort of!

    Dr.Simon, I love and appreciate your work and this article. I want to draw attention to an area where most people would likely disagree with you though.

    We aren’t living in a time of plenty. We are living in a time where their is more financial insecurity than we have seen since the Depression. It just isn’t spread out evenly.

    Financial stress causes marriage break ups which can be very hard on kids and can be a breeding ground for narcissism, anxiety disorders, etc…drug addiction.

    Family breakdown begets more family breakdown, begets more personality disorders, steeped in a culture that places value on aggressive competitiveness and heaps scorn on the have-nots.

    There are two Americas and in spite of mainstream media’s incessant crowing about how great the economy is doing, I believe the reverse to be true for the majority of people and I see this feeding tremendous resentment, to the point Donald Trump garnered what was probably the largest protest vote in American history.

    It is financial stress , symptomatic of a pathocracy, that causes more of the same.

      1. Amen to that, Joey. It IS a global problem and you would think these populist movements have the psychopaths on the run, but I fear it is going to be more of the same and I am preying it doesn’t get worse. Psychopaths can work within any belief system and turn it to their own ends.

        Time will tell, hey? Brace for impact is all I can say!

        And btw, good luck with your house hunting! I admire what you have accomplished!

  4. Whether or not “stuff” is my physical property or my “intellectual property”. It is still my property, to do with as I choose.
    In stealing my things, the last deep cut they inflicted on me was;


  5. Joey,
    Don’ feel alone, I had two sisters who stole a lot of my stuff, right down to my “unmentionables”, lol. Hope the house hunting brings something you really like/love and right in your price range.

  6. I really enjoy your articles and videos on Youtube. Just to briefly share about my situation, I finally had enough of my husbands abuse (emotional, verbal and sexual) and had law enforcement get involved less than a year ago. He is a true malignant narcissist or has a severe character disorder. He takes no responsibility for sexual assaulting me, had his whole family ostracize me and our two young children. He is not complying with the courts to start substance abuse and DV batterers treatment. His trial is set to start in Dec, he didn’t take the plea deal from the prosecutor. If convicted by jury trial, he will be facing 9-10 years. You stated in one of your videos, when they throw the to you…throw it back. I feel like finally getting law enforcement involved was a variation of that (he had been abusing me for years and I had hoped things would change). But, on the other hand I have this gnawing feeling or insecurity that 1) I was seeking revenge or wanted to win so to speak and 2) by getting LE involved, I was unconsciously taking steps to make him “change”, another way of ME taking the ball. Hope this makes sense. Any insight on this would be fantastic!

    1. Kintsugi girl,
      It’s hard to get a fix on how severe his abuse was as you haven’t included specifics.
      All I can say is I hope the sheer Hell your husband will go through in prison matches whatever he did.
      If you are in the U.S. the prison system will almost certainly destroy his life.
      This is no way to score a win unless you have truly been brutalized.

  7. My intentions were when I left, was to secure my own safety.

    I got scapegoated, I got Knifed. Well and Truly. Just to Get out,Just to get away.


    This site has helped me see the Whole truth. I will always be grateful for that. I do my best to spread the the facts And help people see the truth. Because that’s all that matters in the end.

    “The truth”, we have to live by it and accept it no matter how much it hurts.

    AND THE LIES NEARLY FCKING WELL KILLED ME. The truth saved my life

    1. Joey,

      I think this is the worst betrayal to deal with, it is when our own parents are the abusers. When one is born into this an abusive family how is one to know that a different kind of relationship exists. Its sad to say the abuse gets so bad we are forced to leave just to ensure we can continue to live.

      You are right, the truth is extremely painful and we have to accept it if we are to begin to heal. I agree this site is a lifesaver, a lifeline of truth.

      “AND THE LIES NEARLY FCKING WELL KILLED ME. The truth saved my life”
      This so true so many of us. Joey, you have made a big difference for me in sharing your story. Thank you

      1. My new pay scale starts on Monday the 22nd,I start my new shift pattern on Friday 26th. I am getting some Mortgage advice On Monday, as well. Because of my Shift change. I have got until Thursday off.
        On Friday “I am Completely INCHARGE. I am now the Teacher, I have to show a new person What to do.
        It appears I am doing Very,very well. My pay has gone up alot more than others on my shift. I am now earning the same as my Mate. He has been doing the job for 12 yrs. I tell him everything, we were a team. He Is a very decent person.
        He looks like Danny Devito, what he lacks in height,he make up for with a heart as big as the world. I could not have done as well as I have, with out him.

        1. Joey,

          A good mate can be worth their weight in gold. I would continue to nurture and develop this friendship, he may be your best friend for the rest of your life and have your back.

          I am so very happy for you, thank you for sharing.

  8. Kintsugi Girl,

    Had you no gotten LE involved he’d most likely still be abusing you. You did what you needed to do to become safe. And I know that I’d feel good to finally see the man pay for the abuse inflicted. We Are Human! Don’t ever feel bad about your emotions. They are there for a reason. This is not the time to bury them. They will gnaw at you if you do. I’d be rejoicing that the sick evil ******* will pay for his misdeeds. He won’t be such the tough guy sitting in prison, will he? He will be surrounded by people of the same character. Bullies. Users and abusers.
    Good for you. You will be free of his abuse with him behind bars.
    He’s so arrogant that he thinks he can play the criminal court system. I will not go his way.
    You do have the ball in your court. You are now in control, not him. And he’s going to hate that.
    You know deep down he is not going to change and become a good person. You do know this. There is always that hope – but knowing his history, that’s all it is is hope, false hope.
    Sitting in prison his only hope would be to admit his misdeeds, want to change, and get intensive spiritual or psychiatric help to change.
    This will be YOUR TIME to heal. Push him in your past and live your future life, the good life, a peaceful life. You will have control of your own life. Don’t let all your focus be of him, start training your brain and thoughts to be of you and what you’re going to do with your life. You matter.

  9. Lucy,

    If someone, for ONE moment, wonders aloud if they are helping put someone behind bars as a form of payback, or a win, there is a chance that is what is happening.

    I chose my words carefully, to qualify my opinion so as not to slime this poster.

    We are living in the “me too” era, which is a blessing if we realize that women CAN get things wrong , exaggerate as much as men, and flat out lie. Abuse is NOT the sole domain of the male gender.

    Without putting brakes on runaway social movements, by asking questions or expressing reservation, we are encouraging a witch hunt atmosphere.

    Not every person who posts here or on other social media is going to clearly fit the victim criteria. If law enforcement are summoned, those making accusations have to be very clear about the wider implications.

    For stats….one in ten men will be brutally raped in prison. Most will be assaulted. Nearly all live in constant fear and are expected to participate in what has become a slave state, working for pennies a day for products we consume.

    Again, if someone has been physically assaulted (not just involved in a domestic scrap where all parties are drunk and throwing punches), incarcerating the abuser is the only way to proceed. But…make darn sure that actual physical assault has occurred.

    1. LisaO

      we are encouraging a witch hunt atmosphere.

      Is what happened to me, I did wrong. I will admit to my actions, but others ” my the mother lies by omission and does not tell the whole truth.

      All day, every day, It is just harass,harass,antagonize,harass,harass,provoke.
      But! only behind the closed doors and drawn curtains of her house.

      My dog was physically abused,I was mentally and verbally abused and both me and my dog were psychologically abused.

      This occurred just three days after she had left hospital.

      to this” broken hearted angle,who does not know what SHE HAS SAID OR DONE WRONG” BO HOO BO HOO.

      All I ever wanted, is to be independent. To stand on my own feet and take care of my self. This is my crime To take care of my self.

      Due to this site. I can now see EVERY THING, well about 99% of it.

      You have no control over the opinions of others, JUST YOUR OWN BEHAVIOUR

      1. Joey,

        Only you and the mother know what actually happened, and sorry that others believed her and not you. There may be ones out there who got a glimpse of what truly was happening but keep their mouths closed.
        Anyway, good thing you got out, suffered through the beginning stages of making it on your own to the point now where you are thriving.
        True words: You have no control over the opinions of others, JUST YOUR OWN BEHAVIOUR.
        The X smeared my name to so many people, to the bank, to the real estate agents. But you know what, they realized he was the nut job. The bank, the three real estate agents (he fired one and two quit), the title company, courthouse employees, all said he was THE MOST difficult person they’d run across in their career. Yeah, lucky me, got to deal with that ****.
        But isn’t it great to be in control of one’s own life, especially after enduring life with the leach? It feels so good, to be in charge.

    2. LisaO,

      My comments were meant to be only considered in the event someone is truly abusing another, and sexual assault within a marriage is still assault. On the other hand, verbal and emotional abuse, in my opinion, don’t call for calling the police, unless it is to the point where one feels that their life is in danger. And I don’t believe verbal abuse in a marriage is a crime, per se. In situations where there is emotional and verbal abuse, one has to decide to stay and endure it or leave the relationship.
      I understand your comments to mean that since the topic of mistrusting one’s actions of calling the police was called into question that maybe the events that took place weren’t of a nature to involve the police.
      It’s the police department’s job to make a report of the event and it’s the state attorney’s office to decide if charges should be made against a person.
      In a marital rape/assault situation it would end up being a he-said she-said situation, unless there are witnesses or pictures. I would think this type of assault would happen when no one else is around. Then you have to take the history of the marriage and judge each person’s credibility.
      Having said all this, in my situation, which was no physical but emotional abuse, I’d love to see the X pay the price of what he did, which his life continues to crash. For how difficult he made life for me, intentionally harming me, I do get gratification in seeing him not do well. I’m no saint. Everything that’s happened to him is all of his own doings, not mine. Do I feel good about knowing he’s suffering? It’s a mixed bag. As long as he’s able to harm me, he will. He’s an CD with intent on destroying me. So, yes, I do wish him harm. Lots of psychology going on there.
      If he’d physically harmed me, on top of the emotional abuse, yes, I’d relish the thought of him being in jail getting the treatment from other abusers that he inflicted on me.
      I don’t know if anything is clarified clearly or not, but revenge is real. But it has to be the natural course, not something fabricated.

      1. All,

        To my understanding we generally give the poster the benefit of the doubt and realize we have had some shady posters in the past.

        That aside, I think every ones points are valid, each situation is different as are the personalities of each individual on how they process their experiences. I agree there are fine lines and we do have to be careful of witch hunts. Also, keeping in mind abusers project and accuse their victims of the very behavior they perpetrate.

      2. Lucy,

        I completely agree. And I would react the same way, if I had been married to a louse like your X. The worst abuse is probably mental and emotional in nature, particularly if it is prolonged.

        And Kitsingo girl, I apologize if your misgivings are a product of confusion that you can source right back to your husband. I wonder if seeing a professional, even ‘victim witness’ might help you sort things out?

        And though I mentioned the other side of the coin, where men can be manipulated and abused, with the approval of cultural movements, like “me too,” it is also true that prisons are full of women who took the law into their own hands because the law dismissed them.

        It is SO darn tricky.

  10. Lucy

    They just PLAY GAMES. I have just had a teenage cashier play games at my expense. It is just so natural to them. Just to be anti-social for the shear hell of it. Life must be so lonely for them in the end ?

  11. LisaO,

    The reference to Me Too you make sounds as if it’s not Me Too but Me Going To Lie. That’s not Me Too. Me Too is to empower women who have been victimized, not to give a venue to ones who seek attention, which is a small percentage versus those who are actually victimized.
    For a person to seek advice and to get up the nerve to post takes much courage for some. The last thing they need is to be re-victimized by being referred to as something other than a truthful person, a Me Too fraud.
    And the “witch hunt” references, if those are in reference to Ms. Ford who gave her account of what happened to her by Brett Kavanaugh, is far from a witch hunt. Once she was apprised of the fact that he was a viable candidate to be a Supreme Court Justice, the highest court in the land, did she reach out to give her story, which was supposed to be anonymous. As Dr. Simon teaches, character does matter, and this character belongs nowhere near the highest court in the land.
    I take the side of victims. Abusers, bullies, CDs will lie to protect themselves. Brett K. mask came off during the questioning and the nation saw the man behind the mask. So why re-victimize the victim? What’s that about? She gave her story. It’s up to the justice department, the White House to do a REAL full investigation, not a half-assed restricted investigation.
    How does a woman prove she’s been raped by her husband, or any woman out there who has been violated in some manner by an acquaintance, if there are no marks, no witness, not pictures? You look at CHARACTER and you look at motive.
    I think too many posters have been run off of this comment section by statements that they are not believed.
    My story – it is totally unbelievable. Yet it is true. It is what happened. It’s bizarre and like something out of a Netflix series. Yet it is true.
    Maybe I’ve misconstrued the meaning behind your statements.
    We need to take into account our writings can be absolutely misconstrued because of various matters, such as confusion, guilt-tripping, gaslighting, PTSD, poor writing skills, poor communication skills, thinking we deserve abuse because heck it’s been going on for so long.
    I stand for the victim – always.

  12. Hi Lucy,

    I tend to look at cultural movements as starting out as forces for positive change but often disintegrating into the opposite.

    As far as Kavanagh goes, I think he is probably a total jerk, which should disqualify him from any job that requires solid character. But this is all Kabuki theatre that masks real motivations, on both sides.

    Kavanagh, as far as I can determine, has written essays that support a president being able to pardon himself. That’s the real issue here, not the drama surrounding the nomination.

    As far as people being really brave to come here and voice their stories. For many that is likely true. I can’t personally relate to that, but I believe you. But being run off?I don’t get that sense.

    If Kitsugo girl felt “run off” by what I wrote, that is sad. What would be sadder, considering the high stakes involved, would be if her own feelings of self doubt were ignored and she was not encouraged to get absolute clarity before pursuing an option that she may regret later. (MAY, not WILL regret.)

    Turning things around, what if a man is married to a psychopathic woman, who is great at playing the wounded bird and cries “rape?” What if women were given carte Blanche in that regard and as long as they can cry easily and are good actresses, are able to extract sympathy?

    In my old home town, a young 15 year old girl, accused a married man with kids of raping her. Her father was about to go beat him up and was so angry he could have killed him. Everybody sympathized with this girl….including me. The fellow was a bit of a n’er do well, had been into drugs a bit, etc…

    After months of drama, the girl admitted she made it all up. Sweet tiny little thing. The grief she put this man and his family through, plus her own father??? Ugghhh.

    We have a prime minister whose response to the MeToo movement is, “AlWAYS believe women.” Seriously? That’s one weird ideology.

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