How do we identify a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder? What are the characteristics and behavioral patterns of an NPD person? Do they require psychiatric help?
There are different things to look for depending on how the narcissist views you. The easiest one is if you are a potential romantic partner. Look for idealization and for the narcissist to try and match your interests or personality. You might also be on the sidelines and seeing the narcissist idealizing someone as a third party.
"OH he's just perfect!!!"
"Oh look how sweet he is. OMG he works so hard".
If you are the romantic interest, things like
"I feel soo strongly about everything you just said."
"Wow you are so amazing you must work so hard to be so smart"
"you must be so brave to do X. Everybody loves you!"
"you must bla bla bla."
The narcissist won't even realize they are doing this. They've lacked honest love in childhood and so they just walk around mimicking it in adult hood. To them, they really are in love after just 3 conversations. For the partner, this can feel amazing, until the relationship starts to actually develop and the partner realizes the narcissist has no idea of how to really give love (compliments and puppy dog eyes are not love after all). At this point it can never be the narcissist's fault that a relationship doesn't work. It must be the partners fault and they become devalued. Out goes the idealization and the partner becomes an object to the narcissist. They will use them until they don't need them anymore. This is the area where most relationships with narcissists exist.
Narcissist aren't satisfied with your love, but they want your attention. Once they have it, their mindset shifts into
"IS THIS LOVE GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME? THERE IS PROBABLY BETTER LOVE SOMEWHERE AND I WANT IT."
"What does everyone think about me for loving this person? Are they judging me? Am I missing out being more admired for not having a more attractive/ambitious/hard working/ wealthy/good hearted/ partner?"
They will secretly start resenting you. They will secretly start being ashamed of you. They will secretly start logging things that they believe are bad about you. However they can't tell you this, because then they'll lose your attention. But the resentment eventually comes out in mistreatment and abuse. The partner might then pull away and the narcissists will repeat the cycle of charming and devaluing. In the meantime, people outside the relationship are being told that the narcissist isn't really interested in the relationship, they are only doing it because '[insert immature reason here]'. Knowing this, here are the things you can look for before being a victim.
- lots of short lived relationships
- lots of blaming partners in past relationships for the failure
- lots of acquaintances but no close friends(intimacy is very hard for narcissists. They will feign intimacy with their friends but they don't really have it.)
- an extreme concern for their image- physical, social or both.
- an extreme concern for either not being judged or being judged highly.
This will either come off as shyness or confidence. A confident narcissist always has to be in the spotlight if it's a chance for them to gain admiration. A SHY narcissist is preoccupied with avoiding the spotlight, particularly if it might end up in praise, because they fear judgement and jealousy. Narcissists are generally very envious and jealous of other peoples successes. As such, they believe others will be jealous and envious of them. This freaks out a shy narcissist because a shy narcissist wants to be loved by everyone.
- Narcissist target people to develop relationships with as opposed to letting relationships develop through natural interactions.
A narcissist will say "that person will be a good boyfriend/friend. I want their attention, resources, focus." Then they'll figure out how to make it happen by pretending to be someone that person would need or want. An excellent example I read, probably here on QUORA, was the Jr. High/High School crush scenarios most of us experienced in our youth. We liked somebody so we pretended to be into their favorite band, or like their favorite food, or into musical theater because it allowed us to get their attention. Obviously these interactions are of very little value because they are disingenuous. A narcissist ONLY interacts this way with people. Because they've been doing it forever they become very good at it. It becomes very hard to recognize the dishonesty in their act. The narcissist themselves might not even recognize it's an act. They might be doing it out of habit, they might not know there are other ways of being.
- Splitting and devaluing
There is no grey with narcissists. Grey counts as black. EVERYONE is grey so once relationships develop beyond simple friendships people quickly become devalued. This is when the narcissist "realizes" the person they fell in love or developed a friendship with is not actually a worthy person. There is something wrong with them. At this point the relationship quickly shifts to one of resource acquisition. The narcissist will now use the friend or partner for narcissistic supply and resources. Once the other person loses their use, the narcissist discards them like an old appliance. In the mean time a lot of manipulation is occurring to keep the resource supply available. If you are a partner they will continue to play the role of "you are so wonderful. I love you" but with a lot less inspiration. Or they will say things like "I would love you more if you just did this right, that right, this right" etc... There is always something the partner is doing wrong. This comes from the mentality mentioned above. The narcissists behavior will no longer match the feelings they claim to have. This becomes very hard for the partner. If the partner tries to distance themselves the narcissist comes back in full force with claims of love. Eventually however, they will abandon them. They will just wait it out for when they no longer need them. If they discard something, i mean someone, and then realize they need it again they will come back to the old appliance to get more use out of it. People are objects to a narcissist. They live in a world where only one person exists. Themselves.
When a narcissist isn't raging they are abusing subtly. It is subtle enough that people on the receiving-end are confused about it. They know they don't feel good but it's hard for them to pinpoint why. But when a narcissist experiences an event that challenges a channel they receive narcissistic supply from, that abuse becomes acute and intensified. When these channels are compromised or removed, the need to fix the channel completely overtakes the narcs psyche. The narc will do two things: make it their number 1 priority to punish the offender or do everything they can to bring the offender back into their camp. Things here can get really intense, and unfortunately, it's not until a person is at the receiving end of narcissistic rage that they wake up to who they are dealing with. Expect emotional extremes from suicide to murder during a narcissistic rage episode. Everything in between is possible, crying, hitting, threats, screaming, breaking things, stalking, pleas of love, desperate requests for forgiveness. The narcs false-reality is compromised and they'll do everything they can to keep the truth from slipping in. The need to keep the truth out is intense and it's at the core of why NPD's rarely admit faults or seek therapy.
- History of family mental illness
There is a lot of evidence cluster A and B personality disorders are genetic. If another family member has been diagnosed with more easily diagnosable disorders like schizophrenia, schizotypical, or avoidant personality disorders, the likelihood of someone having a cluster A or B disorder increases. If the parents have issues then it is extremely likey they've developed a disorder simply because the parents have been socializing them to manipulate and view the world through a distrustful and fearful lens.
I've tried to keep these traits ubiquitous to the two main types of narcissism. There is overt/arrogant narcissism (think steve jobs and dick cheney) and then there is covert/shy narcissism (think of the sweet innocent girl who is reserved and quiet). They each have their own traits but the fundamentals are the same. They have lacked love and connection with other human beings throughout childhood and are now out to acquire something like love to make up for it in adulthood. The lack of love has instilled a sense of worthlessness and insecurity. As a defense to this low self esteem they develop delusions of grandiosity. Shy narcissist use this defense but they deal with the delusions a bit differently. You can look up covert narcissism and overt narcissism for unique traits to each disorder.