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What are the traits of a narcissist?

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Traits of a Narcissist
Narcissistic traits include:
  • being argumentative,
  • arrogant
  • conceited
  • vain
  • fretful
  • frustrated/idle
  • fluctuating between superior and inferior.
  • They have an unusual obsession with appearances.
  • In partners they go for a mirror image of themselves selecting similar facial characteristics, colorings, background, ethnicity, class.
  • They like to appear better than their friends.


Additional input from Contributors:

  • I am not an expert on this, but I would like to contribute my observations from dating a Narcissist. I feel that the biggest clue is empathy, compassion, and remorse. They have none. There is nothing there. This fact is so startling, that you know right away that you are dealing with something (someone) who is 'not normal' and some may say even 'evil'. In the Narcissist's case it's more the banality of evil. Also, they seem to have no understanding of cause and effect thinking. They don't seem to understand that there will be reactions to their actions, and when you react negatively to something bad or insensitive that they have done, they seem bewildered. I have noticed that they seem to like to spend time (or have relationships) with those that they consider to be 'beneath them'. Those that need them in some way (vulnerable)yet the Narcissist seems repulsed and digusted with themselves for associating with these people. They seem to want to spend time with those who they feel are equal, but fear it, and can never seem to hold onto these people for very long.
Also, it's in the small things. Do they have photographs on display of family or friends in their house? The narcissist that I dated didn't until I mentioned it. Does the phone ring very much? Do they have many close friends? Do they have absolutely no sense of humour and can't take any slight or joke at their expense? Do they seem impatient and disinterested in group situations, especially when the conversation isn't about them, or about something that they know about. Do they give lousy gifts- or any gifts at all? My Narcissist tried to give me a used splatter guard three months into the relationship. I refused to take it, but if I had, it would have been the only 'gift' he would have ever given me even though he was extremely well paid. He bought plenty of things for himself- from expensive wines, clothes, to a BMW.


Memory is another thing that I noticed was off. My Narcissist could barely remember his childhood, and could also barely remember the women who he dated or slept with. Often, something would trigger a memory and he would divulge a strange recollection. For example, In the middle of dinner, he blurted out that he had years ago dated a Mexican woman who always smelled like coffee. Strange. And it would end there. On to the next topic. They also seem to reveal inappropriate things about themselves too early in the relationship. I have no idea if this is comes from a lack of cause and effect thinking, or if it just an attention getting device. Whatever it is, it's creepy so run away while the relationship is in its infancy.


  • Regarding the answer above: The most difficult thing is trying to sort out what is happening with a person who is close to us. We never like to think the worst. However, lack of empathy, compassion or remorse is actually a quality of the Antisocial, not the Narcissist. The Narcissist is self-absorbed, but once you get into lack-of-remorse land, you're not in Kansas any more.
  • All of us have narcissistic TRAITS. Some of us even develop a narcissistic PERSONALITY, or a narcissistic STYLE. Moreover, narcissism is a SPECTRUM of behaviours - from the healthy to the utterly pathological (known as the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD). The DSM IV uses this language:
  • An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts.
  • So, what matters is that these characteristics, often found in healthy people, appear:Jointly and not separately or intermittently; They are all-pervasive (invade, penetrate, and mould every aspect, nook, and cranny of the personality);
That grandiose fantasies are abundantly discernible;
That grandiose (often ridiculous) behaviours are present;
That there is an over-riding need for admiration and adulation ("narcissistic supply");
That the person lacks empathy (regards other people as two dimensional cartoon figures and abstractions, unable to "stand in their shoes");
That all these phenomena began, at the latest, in early adolescence;
That the narcissistic behaviours pervade all the social and emotional interactions of the narcissist.
  • Here are 9 criteria. Having 5 of these 9 "qualifies" you as a narcissist. (In the text below, I have proposed modifications to the language of these criteria to incorporate current knowledge about this disorder. My amendments do not constitute a part of the text of the DSM-IV-TR, nor is the American Psychiatric Association (APA) associated with them in any way.)
  1. Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);
  2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;
  3. Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);
  4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation - or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply);
  5. Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favourable priority treatment;
  6. Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends;
  7. Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;
  8. Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly;
  9. Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, "above the law", and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy.

The language in the criteria above is based on or summarized from: American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV-TR). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association -Based on my book "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" (c) 2003 Lidija Rangelovska Narcissus Publications

  • We ALL have N-traits. N-ism is a gradient from healthy to pathological.
  • The suite of pathological N personality disorders: APD, BPD, NPD, HPD comprises 5% of the population.
This means a significantly higher number (15%? 20%?) must be strongly disposed but not pathological. Depressing, huh!
These people are also best left out of your life.
Nina Browne in her excellent, highly recommended work "Destructive Narcissistic Personality" struggles to differentiate strong from pathological and in my opinion doesn't achieve it.

  • My visual image is that the pathological have fallen off the cliff whereas strong types are teetering on the brink and can be pulled back from the edge with lots of hard work, whereas the pathological can never be rescued. Basically it comes down to how the other person in the relationship is treating you overall no matter what kind of an N. If you find yourself walking on eggshells get out. Do NOT let ANYONE devalue and invalidate you!
  • The professionals can't even answer this and that is why saying that there is no cure or treatment options is so dangerous. If someone gets better then they say "But they obviously only had traits!" The issue is that if you are being abused you need help and advice not to try and diagnose or treat your partner yourself, I have worked with 7 experts on emotional and domestic abuse to come up with the right answers and you should know that most of the information on-line is dangerous, unqualified and quiet simply wrong! search for narcissism cured and find out about getting the help that you really need.
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Thanks for the feedback!

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