Mar 28

“I Am a Narcissist”: Simple Test to Diagnose

“I am a narcissist.”

Whether or not this statement is true for you forms the basis of research conducted by Sara Konrath (Indiana University) in 2014. Indeed, she concluded that narcissism can be diagnosed just by asking. And apparently she got the idea to conduct this research after a perceived narcissist spontaneously outed himself in a group setting. Just like that. As though he was that proud of it. 

So here’s how it went down. In 11 different but related studies loads of subjects were asked, “To what extent do you agree with this statement: ‘I am a narcissist.’” A brief description was included: “The word ‘narcissist’ means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.”

Surprisingly, most persons’ responses matched up pretty well with results from the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) each later took. This is a standard 40-question survey that you can take yourself to diagnose narcissism—just click on the link.

A possible conclusion has been that if you want to know if you are narcissistic maybe just this one question suffices. No big need to administer time-consuming tests. I mean, that is, if you really have to know that quickly if someone’s a narcissist or not.

Jeffrey Kluger, author of The Narcissist Next Door, explains in Time why this single question can be so effective:

The reason narcissists are so honest—a lot more honest than you’d be if someone asked you, say, ‘Are you a sociopath?’—is because they just don’t think their narcissism is a problem, which is perfectly consistent with people who think so highly of themselves. ‘Narcissists have these great mental health outcomes,’ Konrath told me when I was researching my upcoming book…’If you’re trying to think of a group of people who are low in depression and anxiety, high in creativity and accomplishment, that’s narcissists.’

That, by itself, doesn’t sound bad at all. But narcissists often possess those good qualities to the general exclusion of others—especially social and relationship skills, a shortcoming that can hurt both them and those around them.

A type of narcissism I’m guessing is harder to detect with the one-question strategy is covert narcissism, commonly known as the “vulnerable” type. It is the counterpart to the more grandiose and overt “invulnerable” type of narcissism.

If so, there happens to be a specific test for that, the Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale (MCNS), developed by Jonathan Cheek, Holly Hendin, and Paul Wink. It’s available in Scott Barry Kaufman‘s article called 23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert.” (He was tired of all the recent “listicles” about introvert traits and intrigued by the purported similarities between introverts and narcissists.)

If you’re suddenly feeling fearful of losing your introvert status, however, approach very carefully—or not at all.

If you are a narcissist, you probably think this story is about you, and you are correct (as you so often are – right?). Kim Painter, USA Today

Sep 18

Your Relationship with a Narcissist

Below are quotes from seven different authors regarding how to understand and deal with your relationship with a narcissist.

Narcissists constantly dump – or project – unwanted parts of themselves onto other people. They then begin to behave as if others possess these unwanted pieces of themselves, and they may even succeed in getting others to feel as if they actually have those traits or feelings. This is an unconscious process for both the dumper and the dumpee, but what it means is that you end up being treated like the dirt they’ve brushed off their own psyches, or feeling the humiliation, the anger, the vulnerability, and worthlessness that they cannot tolerate themselves.
Sandy Hotchkiss, Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism (2002)

There’s a reason narcissists don’t learn from mistakes and that’s because they never get past the first step which is admitting that they made one. It’s always an assistant’s fault, an adviser’s fault, a lawyer’s fault. Ask them to account for a mistake any other way and they’ll say, ‘what mistake’?
Jeffrey Kluger, The Narcissist Next Door: Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in Your Bed–in Your World (2014)

This limits, or even eliminates, their capacity to be empathic and remorseful. You may have heard the term “narcissistic injury.” This refers to the dynamic wherein, for a narcissist, saying a simple “I’m sorry” is like saying, “I am the worst human being on earth.
Wendy T. Behary, Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed (2013)

The narcissist is like a bucket with a hole in the bottom: No matter how much you put in, you can never fill it up. The phrase “I never feel like I am enough” is the mantra of the person in the narcissistic relationship. That’s because to your narcissistic partner, you are not. No one is. Nothing is.
Ramani Durvasula, Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist (2015)

Because the narcissist can only understand others by absorbing them into his own experience of self, he determines that others should behave and act the way that HE behaves and acts. Again, to use the analogy of the arm and leg, he unconsciously expects you to conform to his will, just as his own arm or leg would do. When your behavior deviates from his expectations, he often becomes as upset with you as he would be if his arm or leg were no longer under his control.
Eleanor Payson, The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family (2003)

Here lies the partner’s salvation: if you, as his intimate, wish to sever your relationship with the narcissist, stop providing him with what he needs. Do not adore, admire, approve, applaud, or confirm anything he does or says. Disagree with his views belittle him, reduce him to size, compare him to others, tell him he is not unique, criticize him, give unsolicited advice, and offer him help. In short, deprive him of the grandiose and fantastic illusions, which holds his personality together.
The narcissist is a delicately attuned piece of equipment. At the first sign of danger to his inflated False Self, he will quit and disappear on you.
Sam Vaknin, Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited (2001)

Dealing with a narcissist in a divorce is like dealing with a bully. The wear and tear you will experience when you try to protect your child’s emotional welfare will be significant. Even though you are mentally healthier than the narcissist, you can look unstable to the professionals involved in your case due to your reactions to the bully’s abusive behavior.
Karyl McBride, Will I Ever Be Free of You?: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family (2015)