Why People With Narcissistic Traits Are So Distressing

‘Narcissists live by double standards where they can do and say whatever they please and You can’t.  You are expected to live by high moral values and guess what – they aren’t! And when, and if, you finally try to assert your rights, or decide to leave, then they play the victim and you are the villain.’ (Quote: Maria Consiglio)

Narcissism is typified by a person who puts themselves at the centre of their world where they have little empathy or real care for others, can be manipulative, will lie and will believe their own lies.  They are likely to display selfish behaviours to the detriment of others for which they will justify, often aggressively and illogically, to maintain their own aims.  Their damaging behaviours are often unintentional as they do not have the ability to see the affect they have on others.  There is a greater prevalence of males with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and they are more prone to be emotionally abusive in their relationships.

People who have narcissistic traits are widespread and most helpfully, our ability to be aware of them, is growing.  In recognition of this, there are increasing numbers of social media pages dedicated to informing us and endless memes to give us insight and understanding, as well as ways to protect ourselves.  Understanding narcissism helps massively as we can easily doubt ourselves as the other person manipulates us with a variety of emotional games.  This can range from taking a child or victim role which encourages us to feel sorry for them to be aggressive and controlling to being kind and nice as a guise to win us over once more. 

At it’s extreme, narcissistic traits becomes a personality disorder (NPD) that affects 1% of the population.  If there was a narcissistic scale of 1 to 100, with 100 representing a diagnosable personality disorder, we’re all likely to be on that scale somewhere. 

There are 9 recognised characteristics of which 5 must be present to be diagnosed with NPD.  They are:

·       Grandiose sense of importance where they exaggerate their talents and/or achievements

·       A pre-occupation with feelings of perceived success such as status, money, possessions or beauty.

·       An over-inflated sense of entitlement where they believe they deserve special privileges or treatment

·       Exploitation of others to meet their own needs

·       Requires excessive admiration

·       Lacks empathy where they are unable to identify with how others may be feeling

·       Is envious of others or believes others are envious of them

·       Displays regular arrogant behaviours

·       Believes they are special or unique so they do not have to conform to expected norms

It can be so difficult to cope with the array of emotions that we can be left with when we’re in contact with someone who displays narcissistic traits.  Guilt, frustration, self-doubt, anxiety, low mood, anger and vulnerability are all common reactions.  Unfortunately, narcissists will project onto those closest too them which makes us question and doubt ourselves.  They fail to take responsibility and ownership for themselves and instead push their issues onto others.  For example, they may accuse you of being critical or judgemental when they are being critical and judgemental themselves.  While they throw this at us, rendering us in a defensive and self-doubting position, it places the attention away from them to allow them to carry on.  

As you read this, if alarm bells are ringing, it may help to seek support or to find ways to cope.  The next post may help with this ‘5 Ways to Cope with Narcissistic People’.

As always, please feel free to comment or ask any questions you may have about this post.




Bressert, S. (2019). Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Symptoms & Treatments. [online] Psych Central. Available at: https://psychcentral.com/disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder/ [Accessed 8 Mar. 2019].

McBride, K. (2016). 8 Tips to Protect Yourself from a Narcissist. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201610/8-tips-protect-yourself-narcissist [Accessed 8 Mar. 2019].

PsyCom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986. (2019). What to Do About Narcissistic Personality Disorder?. [online] Available at: https://www.psycom.net/personality-disorders/narcissistic/ [Accessed 8 Mar. 2019].

The 9 Characteristics of NPD. [online] Available at: https://howcanweknowus.weebly.com/the-9-characteristics-of-npd.html [Accessed 8 Mar. 2019].

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