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29th-Aug-2018

How to spot a narcissist

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Whether you're dating, making friends, looking for a job, hiring employees, or joining a club or organization, it can be helpful to know some of  the warning signs for people with narcissistic personality disorder or significant traits.
In relationships, they usually consider themselves superior to you, are insulting and demeaning, do not reciprocate attention, demand constant admiration, may lose interest in you, may be promiscuous, may spend your money on others, and may humiliate you in public to enhance their own image.
In the workplace, they may spend inordinate amounts of time chatting with co-workers to impress them, make promises they don't keep and take credit for your hard work. As supervisors, they may bully you alone or in front of others. They may speak disparagingly of those above them, but only have good things to say in their presence. (Kicking down and kissing up!)
The theme of superiority
The DSM-5 lists nine potential criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. In relationships, these emphasize superiority, including being arrogant, believing they are special, demanding admiration, lacking empathy and taking advantage of others. The DSM-5 suggests that up to 6.2% of the adult population may have this disorder.
1 You have surely met some of them. If they have the personality disorder, then they have a narrow, enduring pattern of behavior that repeats and repeats and repeats, regardless of what you do. It's important to realize that you can't change them.
As a therapist, I have helped many clients learn tools for coping with a narcissistic partner. (It's not about you; this is what they do. Don't bother trying to give them insight into their past behavior, they won't get it and it creates a power struggle. Focus on what your choices are at the moment. Etc.)
As a family lawyer, I have helped many women and several men separate from their narcissistic partners after years of verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse. Even getting divorced can be a very rocky road, but manageable if you know what you're dealing with.
The Web method for spotting them  
With this in mind, let's look at some of the warning signs that you might be getting into a relationship of one type or another with a narcissist. I recommend a 3-Step approach that I call the WEB Method: Pay attention to their WORDS, your EMOTIONS and their BEHAVIOR which 90% of people would never do.

(Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, is a lawyer and therapist, and a Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego).
Bill Eddy LCSW, JD