10 Psychological Traits of Narcissistic People

There's still no blood test to detect narcissistic people. Therefore, we'll tell you about 10 features that characterize this disorder.
10 Psychological Traits of Narcissistic People

Written by Daniela Andarcia

Last update: 16 December, 2022

The inability to perceive feelings, an insatiable need for attention, vanity, and self-admiration are some of the traits that describe narcissistic people. The development of these characteristics during the life of the individual can be due to quite complex situations.

Until now, a narcissistic person can only be detected through observation, either by the attitudes or behaviors that the person exhibits. In general, there are several traits that could identify those who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder.

However, there’s no need for a narcissist to meet all of these traits in order to be classified as such. Therefore, according to a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, a person must have only slightly more than half of the characteristics in order to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes narcissistic poeple as those people who lack empathy for others and show the need for admiration as a pattern. Such individuals have a great sense of self-importance, take advantage of others, and also believe they have rights that don’t actually belong to them.

Many of them may appear to be overconfident, although the truth is that people with narcissistic disorder often have low self-esteem. At the same time, 6.2% of the population could experience narcissism sometime in their lives, being more frequent in men than in women, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Traits of narcissistic people

There are different traits that reveal a narcissistic personality. These also vary depending on whether they’re covert narcissists or on the severity of individual cases.

1. A sense of superiority and right

We mustn’t confuse superiority with self-confidence. In narcissists, personal importance is a constant, they tend to feel that they’re the best, the most competent, and the most correct. They should be at the top of their hierarchical ladder, the only place where they feel safe.

Believing that they’re the only ones who are right, with a clear mind to know what’s right and wrong, is what makes them believe they have the right to rule or direct others. For narcissists, the ideas of the other are unfounded.

Narcissistic disorder isn’t always revealed in people who show superiority, appearing to be confident and conceited, as it can also be under the cloak of self-criticism and insecurity. The latter are known as covert narcissists; they can be shy and calm, but just as dangerous and manipulative.

In both cases, these narcissists have a strong belief that they’re better than the rest. It’s common for them to lie or exaggerate about their achievements in order to be recognized, while also viewing others as worldly.

Narcissistic people tend to be aggressive.
In certain circumstances, narcissistic people may have difficulty handling aggression.

2. A constant need for attention and validation

Narcissistic people require the validation of others; all they want is the recognition of others. They tend to be insatiable and you can tell them how important they are, talk about their strengths, how much you could admire them, and even how much you love or adore them, but they’ll always need more than you can tell them.

The truth is that they need it constantly because deep down, they don’t believe that they’re loved, understood, and valued as they deserve. Therefore, they demand or demand a lot of attention.

They have a fear that haunts them all the time, and it’s the constant fear of not being up to par. Despite bragging and boasting, they’re actually quite insecure and fearful.

3. They monopolize conversations

The conversations where the lived experiences of others are being told are, for narcissists, a subject of no importance, according to The American Psychiatric Association. For this reason, they always look for a way to turn the conversation into one in which they’re the protagonists or the center of the story.

Individuals with narcissistic disorders use relationships for only one reason: Personal gain.

4. Narcissistic people are perfectionists and expect others to be as well

For a narcissist, there’s no room for mistakes. Everyone must be perfect, others have to do things as they imagine and dictate. It’s difficult and impossible to meet their demands, which is why a narcissist constantly demonstrates or experiences dissatisfaction.

Their high demands disappoint them because they realize that the world around them isn’t developing exactly as they imagine it should.

5. A tendency to absolute control

Due to their constant disappointment because things don’t happen as they foresee, they’re prone to the need to control and mold things to their liking. This, added to their way of thinking that only they have the secret formula of what’s right and wrong and their sense of right, gives them the power to demand and want to be in control.

It’s not surprising that, in their mind, you must fulfill a role, a script of what to say, what to do, and how to dress. Failure to comply fully will cause them to become quite upset and angry. It’s believed that narcissistic people objectify their subjects. They don’t understand that the individual themself has their own thoughts and actions. For them, the individuals around them must be guided.

Getting out of their game can be very difficult. If you live with a narcissist, seek help from a specialist.

6. Diverting of responsibility

Narcissistic people may have an inordinate desire for control, yet they’ll never want to take responsibility if the plan goes wrong. In their mind, if something doesn’t go well, it must be the fault of a third party.

When it’s frequently pointed out by friends and families, the responsibility falls on everyone, so the narcissist feels misunderstood and, therefore, everyone is against them.

In general, the person who’s most responsible is the person closest to them who offers them love and more emotional attachment. This is because they give them some security and are less likely to reject or leave them.

7. Little awareness of limits

The brain of a narcissist doesn’t seem to know that there are limits, where their rights end and those of others begin. Although it seems unbelievable to accept, it’s a fact that these types of people believe that everything belongs to them and that others want and think the same way as they do.

Although it’s a behavior that’s observed in young children, they feel attacked and insulted when another says no. If they don’t get what they want, they’ll use whatever’s within their power to achieve their goal: Persuasion, demand, persistence, rejection, or tantrums.

8. Fear of rejection and criticism

Narcissists may not interpret facial expressions like others. They’re often biased and decipher subtle gestures as aggression. Being angry and saying “I’m sorry” could make them much angrier, as, in that state, they may not believe you and will take it as an attack.

Their constant fear of being rejected creates the fear that another will see their imperfections. This exposes them and reveals that they’re not perfect. It’s possible that they secretly reject themselves by realizing their own shameful imperfections.

Also, narcissistic people don’t like criticism at all, and they’ll take it as a threat. The feeling of being threatened, being rejected, and making a fool of themselves makes it impossible for them to trust their romantic partner.

9. The inability to reason

Trying to reason, argue, or use logic with a narcissist is useless. They’ll never put themselves in your position, or see how much they’ve hurt someone or how their behavior affects others. They’ll be offended and even see your point of view as dramatic, claiming that their feelings carry more weight.

Ultimately, a narcissist’s decisions are made based solely on how they feel, and there’s no good enough reason from their point of view.

A woman looking frustrated and covering her ears.
When it comes to brainstorming and giving advice, narcissistic people can be reluctant to listen.

10. Burning off anxiety

The way a narcissist handles anxiety is by blaming the closest loved one. Their arguments are “you’re very negative, you’ve not supportive, you must suffer from a mental illness, you don’t give me the role I deserve, or you don’t care about my needs”. These phrases are their way of dealing with their own anxiety.

Este texto se ofrece únicamente con propósitos informativos y no reemplaza la consulta con un profesional. Ante dudas, consulta a tu especialista.