Do Narcissists Know They Are Narcissists?

by Ryan Hart | Updated on October 13, 2023 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

According to researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, narcissists are fully aware that they are narcissistic and have a reputation as such. They would rather be admired than liked and are masters at making first impressions.

However, they may not necessarily see their behavior as a problem or be willing to change it. In fact, many narcissists may view their behavior as a necessary part of their success and may be resistant to any criticism or feedback that challenges their self-image.

Despite this, it’s important to remember that not all narcissists are the same. Narcissism is a spectrum, and not everyone who displays narcissistic behavior has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

Some people may exhibit narcissistic tendencies without realizing it, while others may be fully aware of their behavior but lack the motivation or ability to change it. Understanding the complexities of narcissism can help you better navigate relationships with those who display these traits.

Woman looking in mirror

What is Narcissism?

A person who is narcissistic has a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.

Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of their abilities and accomplishments, and they often believe they are superior to others. They also tend to be preoccupied with fantasies of power, success, and attractiveness.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a more severe form of narcissism that is classified as a personality disorder. People with NPD have a tendency to be grandiose, seek admiration, and lack empathy.

They may also have a sense of entitlement, a belief that they are special and unique, and a tendency to exploit others for their own gain.

The exact causes of narcissism and NPD are unknown, but genetics and environment may be involved. Some studies have also found differences in the neurobiology of narcissists, such as reduced gray matter volume in certain areas of the brain.

Narcissistic Personality Traits

If you suspect someone in your life might be a narcissist, it’s important to understand the traits commonly associated with this personality disorder. While not all narcissists will exhibit every single one of these traits, many will display several to a significant degree.

Here are some of the most common traits of a narcissist:

  • Sense of entitlement: Narcissists often believe that they are entitled to special treatment, recognition, and privileges that others are not. They may feel that they are above the rules that apply to everyone else.
  • Lack of empathy: Narcissists often struggle with understanding or relating to other people’s feelings. They may appear callous or indifferent to the suffering of others.
  • Arrogance: Narcissists often have an inflated sense of self-importance and may believe that they are superior to others. They may be critical of others and dismissive of their opinions and feelings.
  • Fantasies of brilliance: Narcissists often have grandiose fantasies about their own talents, abilities, and achievements. They may believe they are the best at everything and deserve only the best of everything.
  • Envy: Narcissists may envy others they perceive as having more status, power, or success than they do. They may also be resentful of those who they believe have not given them the recognition and admiration they deserve.
  • Insecurity: Despite their arrogance, many narcissists are deeply insecure and may struggle with shame and self-doubt. They may seek constant validation and admiration from others to shore up their fragile self-esteem.
  • Impulsivity: Narcissists may be prone to impulsive behavior, such as reckless spending, substance abuse, or sexual promiscuity. They may also struggle to control their anger or frustration when they feel that their sense of entitlement has been challenged.
  • Contempt: Narcissists may view others with contempt or disdain, seeing them as inferior or unworthy of their attention. They may be dismissive of others' opinions or feelings and belittle or insult those they perceive as threats to their sense of superiority.

Identifying Narcissistic Behavior

If you suspect that someone in your life may be a narcissist, there are several signs to look out for. Here are some red flags that may indicate narcissistic behavior:

  • Constant need for admiration: Narcissists crave attention and praise from others and will often go to great lengths to get it. They may fish for compliments, brag about their accomplishments, or demand special treatment.
  • Manipulative behavior: Narcissists are skilled at manipulating others to get what they want. They may use charm, flattery, or even intimidation to get their way.
  • Aggressive or rageful behavior: Narcissists can become angry or even violent when they feel challenged or criticized. They may lash out at others, blame them for their problems, or become defensive.
  • Blaming others for their problems: Narcissists have a hard time taking accountability and may blame others for their shortcomings.
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism: Narcissists are often very sensitive to criticism and may become defensive or angry when they feel like they are being attacked.
  • Gaslighting: Narcissists may try to manipulate others by making them doubt their own perceptions or memories. They may deny things they said or did or try to convince others that they are crazy or mistaken.
  • Charismatic and charming: Narcissists can be very charming and charismatic, which can make it hard to see their negative qualities.
  • Fragile self-esteem: Despite their grandiose behavior, narcissists often have very fragile self-esteem and may become defensive or angry when their self-worth is questioned.

If you notice these signs in someone you know, it may be worth considering whether they are a narcissist. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone who exhibits these behaviors is a narcissist and that a proper diagnosis can only be made by a mental health professional.

Narcissism and Relationships

Dealing with a narcissist in a relationship can be incredibly challenging. Narcissists have a lack of empathy and compassion for others, and they often exploit their partners for their own gain. They may be emotionally abusive and have a difficult time creating boundaries.

Communication is key when dealing with a narcissist in a relationship. It’s crucial to express yourself clearly and assertively. However, it’s also important to be aware that a narcissist may not be receptive to your communication and may try to turn the conversation back to themselves.

Additionally, setting boundaries is essential when dealing with a narcissist in a relationship. You need to clearly define what is acceptable behavior and what is not and be willing to enforce those boundaries. This may mean ending the relationship if the narcissist is unwilling to respect your boundaries.

It’s important to remember that a narcissist’s behavior is not your fault. You deserve to be in a relationship where you feel valued and respected.

Dealing with Narcissists

In spite of the fact that dealing with a narcissist can be challenging, it is not impossible. Here are some tips to help you cope and communicate with a narcissist:

  • Create boundaries: It is essential to set boundaries to protect yourself from the narcissist’s toxic behavior. Be clear and firm about your boundaries and what you will and will not tolerate.
  • Communication: When communicating with a narcissist, keep your tone calm and assertive. Avoid being confrontational or aggressive, as this may trigger their defensive behavior. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and avoid blaming them.
  • Attention: Narcissists crave attention and validation, so try not to feed into their need for attention. Instead, focus on your own needs and interests.
  • Fear: Narcissists may use fear as a tactic to control and manipulate others. Recognize when fear is being used and stand your ground.
  • Growth: When dealing with a narcissist, it is essential to focus on your own growth and development. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to help you navigate the situation.
  • Support: If you are dealing with a severe case of narcissism, it may be helpful to seek the advice of a mental health professional. They can provide you with tools and strategies to cope with the situation.
  • Resources: There are many resources available to help you cope with a narcissist, including books, support groups, and online forums. Seek out these resources to help you feel less alone and gain insight into the situation.
  • Therapy: It is possible to cope with the effects of narcissistic behavior. A therapist can help you work through your emotions and develop healthy coping strategies.

Man looking in mirror

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a narcissist be self-aware that they are a narcissist?

Yes, some narcissists can be self-aware that they have narcissistic tendencies. However, it’s important to note that not all narcissists are self-aware, and even those who are may not be willing to seek help or change their behavior.

Does a narcissist know they are hurting you?

Narcissists may be aware that their behavior is causing harm, but they may not care or take responsibility for it. They may also justify their behavior as necessary for their own self-preservation and view any negative consequences as the fault of others.

Are narcissists aware of their behavior?

Narcissists may be aware of their behavior but may not see it as problematic or harmful. They may view their behavior as necessary for their own success and well-being and may not consider the impact on others.

Do narcissists ever change?

While it is possible for narcissists to change, it is often difficult and requires a willingness to seek help and make significant changes in behavior and perspective. Many narcissists may not see a need for change and may resist efforts to do so.

Do narcissists admit they are wrong?

Narcissists may have difficulty admitting they are wrong and may struggle with taking responsibility for their actions. They may also view admitting fault as a sign of weakness and may resist any suggestion that they are at fault.

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About the Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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