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Narcissistic Personality Disorder

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

While it's not recommended to diagnose your partner or family member, it's important to first understand that there is a difference between having narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and having narcissistic traits. Narcissism is on a spectrum and we all may exhibit some forms of narcissistic traits in different settings, which can be healthy, as opposed to toxic. That being said, the DSM-5 has identified specific criteria for NPD, but only 5 of the 9 criteria are needed to be met to be diagnosed:


The criteria for narcissistic personality disorder are:


  • grandiose sense of self-importance

  • preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

  • belief they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions

  • need for excessive admiration

  • sense of entitlement

  • interpersonally exploitative behavior

  • lack of empathy

  • envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them

  • demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes

What is the Difference between Overt & Covert Narcissists


Signs of an Overt Narcissist

  • Wolves in wolves clothing

  • Compulsively attract attention to themselves

  • Demand admiration and agreement

  • Charm and flatter those they wish to impress

  • Arrogant and haughty

  • Given to rages, including physical violence

  • View others as competition

  • One Upmanship - ridicule, mock, degrade others

  • Project entitlement

Signs of a Covert Narcissist

  • Wolves in sheep's clothes

  • Aka shy, vulnerable, communal narcissist

  • Expert liars and manipulators

  • Appear to be loving, giving, altruistic, loyal, kind in public but in private are deeply selfish and entitled

  • Exaggerate suffering and sickness to garner sympathy

  • Delusions of victimization and persecution

  • Seek out caretaker personality types to exploit (codependents and empaths)

  • Hypersensitive to perceived criticism

  • Use passive-aggressive manipulation tactics

  • Cry on cue and manipulate through self-pitying performances

  • Stage a crisis to gain attention

  • Blame their problems and failures on “unfair” people, institutions, and circumstances

  • Drain their partner/family emotionally

Both may have comorbidities of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance use disorders, or eating disorders and may co-occur with other Cluster B personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, etc.


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Naureen Ahmed

Relationship & Trauma Coach | Founding Director SEEMA
Speaker | Writer | Podcaster | Therapist-in-Training

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