Narcissism - signs of the disorder, causes, psychotherapeutic help

Narcissism is a character trait that consists of excessive narcissism and inflated self-esteem, which is completely inconsistent with reality. Narcissism as a term comes from the name of the hero of the ancient Greek myth about Narcissus. He was beautiful and rejected the nymph Echo who loved him, for which he was punished. Narcissus was doomed to love his reflection in the lake.

Narcissism manifests itself in characteristic intimate behavior. As S. Freud argued, all children in the early period experience a strong feeling of narcissism. With the harmonious and correct development of the personality of children, this does them absolutely no harm. Freud finally introduced the term narcissism into psychology when creating his theory of psychoanalysis.

What is narcissism

According to one of the legends of Ancient Greece, a beautiful forest fairy fell in love with a young man.
However, the guy not only did not reciprocate the girl’s feelings, but also managed to offend her in every possible way. For such an act, the young man was punished by the Gods, who prepared a difficult test for him. One day a young man leaned over to a pond to drink water.
But at this time he admired himself so much in the reflection of the reservoir that he could not tear himself away from the surface of the water and soon died. A daffodil flower grew in this place, which became a symbol of excessive narcissism. Narcissism
is a personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance coupled with a strong need for worship and praise from others.


The main treatment for narcissistic disorder is psychoanalysis. And although this disorder is considered the most difficult to treat, as it is accompanied by depression , increased aggressiveness, alcoholism , etc., thanks to sessions with a qualified psychotherapist, patients are able to:

  • understand all aspects and problems of narcissistic disorder;
  • understand the nature of one’s own behavior and the meaning of social relationships;
  • accept the imperfection of one’s own “I”;
  • learn to express your needs, empathize and listen to the opinions of others.


There is no drug therapy used to treat narcissistic personality disorder.

Procedures and operations

To level out the problems of character disorder, in addition to individual sessions with a psychoanalyst, patients may be asked to take questionnaires and testing.

Who is a narcissist?

It is not at all difficult to identify a narcissist among other individuals. He always strives to be in the center of events and capture all the attention of others, and demands special respect for himself. Among narcissists, there are many gossipers and constant critics of other people.

By identifying the shortcomings of others, a person elevates himself, trying to gain praise and respect. Despite the seemingly high level of self-esteem, such a person always seeks confirmation of the value of her personality from others.

There is no spiritual harmony within the narcissist; he often feels underappreciated and misunderstood. A person is constantly forced to worry about what impression he makes, whether he is good enough.

The type of personality in question considers itself to be especially gifted with certain traits - the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the most talented. But, paradoxically, this has nothing to do with true self-confidence. A person with adequate high self-esteem does not strive to prove his worth, but perceives it as an axiom.

It is difficult to communicate with narcissists at work and in everyday life; they have few friends. This is due to the fact that a person does not tolerate any criticism of himself. His opinion is indisputable and immutable. Telling a narcissist that he is an ordinary person will cause a storm of negative emotions and make the person really suffer.


This trait makes it difficult to convince a narcissist of anything. He constantly demonstrates self-love. He is so in love with himself that he artificially flares up in arguments and defends his beliefs, even if no one argues with him.

The narcissist is confident in advance of his success in everything and does not try to develop. But all his success is appearance, not reality. The most interesting thing lies in the inner knowledge of this. Self-confidence in narcissism permeates everything and is easy to recognize.

Narcissism in psychology

Narcissism in psychology is considered a pathological personality disorder. A person suffering from narcissism has impaired authenticity, that is, there is no “I” of his own, but there is an “I” formed under the influence of external circumstances, imposed from the outside.

A narcissist feels empty and lonely inside himself. This personality is contradictory. On the one hand, she is bursting with unjustifiably high self-esteem, a feeling of superiority over other people. On the other hand, the narcissist is very envious, constantly looking at the successes and shortcomings of others and comparing them with himself.

Such a person will never admit to having feelings of envy; on the contrary, he will shout that it is he who everyone envy because of his unique personality traits.

A feature of narcissism is another paradox: the individual perceives himself either as something great and excellent, or as a complete insignificance. The narcissist does not understand that people, despite all their uniqueness, are similar to each other in basic characteristics. One's own personality is elevated to the level of a cult. There are only two hypostases for self-perception: “I am either God or a worm.”

The desire to be “the very best” provokes an acute sense of shame in a person in situations where she believes that she does not look good enough from the outside. Narcissists are constantly worried about their image, which is why there are a lot of perfectionists among them, i.e. people trying to look and do everything impeccably.

Stages and degrees

Psychology does not distinguish clear stages of development of narcissistic disorder. It is believed that this pathology in many cases begins in childhood due to various reasons that affect the child’s psyche.

Later, with age, the personality disorder begins to progress due to changes in self-esteem - it either decreases and the person tries to compensate for this due to his “inflated” ego, or, conversely, self-esteem grows, which is why the person becomes overly confident in his uniqueness, beauty, skills.

Development of narcissism: main reasons

The formation of personality traits begins in childhood and narcissism is no exception. There are two lines of parental behavior that can subsequently lead to narcissistic disorder in a child: lack of attention, love and authoritarianism. The lack of unconditional love from parents, especially the mother, forces the child to look for options to compensate for it. A little person begins to subconsciously exalt himself, considering himself the center of the Universe, and this is how narcissism is formed.

The first signs of rejection of any criticism appear, since the baby is unloved and very vulnerable. He unconsciously seeks to shield himself from attacks against him and does not want to hear unpleasant things.

If parents are authoritarian and try to raise their child in accordance with their ideals, then they are not interested in the child’s personal qualities and needs. Accordingly, a child receives praise and “love” only when he performs actions that are approved by his parents. This strengthens the desire to receive recognition for meeting the expectations of others.

Further more. A little man with signs of narcissism goes to school. What will he try to do there? Try to meet teachers' expectations in order to receive praise and become successful in the school environment. The child shows conformism, trying to fit into the system.

The little narcissist will not run away from lessons; he is diligent and studies well. And this brings its own bonuses - he is set as an example for other students, nominated for participation in school public organizations. The child’s status within the school community is growing.

Conceit inflates simultaneously with the strengthening of authority. The formed patterns of behavior automatically pass into adulthood, intensifying from year to year.

Lack of compassion

This feeling in the narcissist is completely atrophied. The whole world was created to revolve around him and his desires. Taking care of him is everyone’s duty, and there is no need to thank him for it. Someone else's grief is someone else's problems, and he has nothing to do with it. The more callous a narcissist is, the higher he places himself. He easily offends anyone and provokes a quarrel - this is how he becomes convinced of his irresistibility.

What signs define a narcissist?

Narcissism is a personality state that can be easily identified by its characteristic features.

The main feature of a narcissist is narcissism and inflated self-esteem, vanity and selfishness, and emphasized elitism. Communicating with such a person is not comfortable, life is difficult, making friends is impossible.

There are also positive signs of a narcissist. Such people often achieve significant success in social life; they know how to set goals and realize them. They are able to approach assigned tasks creatively and achieve positive results in solving them. Among famous and media personalities, the percentage of narcissists is very high.

Narcissism in men manifests itself in building a career and material wealth. However, the results achieved do not give a feeling of joy and peace, the narcissist feels empty. By his 40th birthday, a person realizes that he has not achieved the required perfection; he realizes that he needs love and warmth, which he did not receive.

Narcissistic women are overly concerned with their appearance, are afraid to leave the house not in “full dress,” and subject themselves to numerous cosmetic procedures. Mothers of narcissists tend to be authoritarian, demanding that their children conform to their own ideals and expectations.

If two narcissists create a couple or get married, then such a relationship will not be calm. Each partner will pull the blanket on themselves, and nagging and criticism will become constant companions in life.

Below are characteristics of a narcissistic personality by which they can be recognized.

So, a narcissist is a person who


  • Not interested in other people's feelings.
  • Denies own anger or anger.
  • Often indicates to others that he is overly emotional.
  • Depreciates the achievements and external data of others.
  • He believes that everyone is jealous of him.
  • He himself is envious.
  • Too concerned about how others see him.
  • Loves demonstrative behavior.
  • Wants to evoke admiration and worship from others.
  • Extremely ambitious and focused on competition.
  • Communicates with people contemptuously and condescendingly.
  • He perceives any remark addressed to him as a malicious insult.
  • Likes to make fun of, put down, lower the self-esteem of others.
  • Compares himself with others.
  • Confident in his own talent and uniqueness.
  • Considers most people to be “gray mass.”
  • Unable to “read” the emotions and mood of others.
  • If he falls in love, he quickly cools down, since the object of desire is always idealized, but instantly devalued.
  • Manipulates people, forcing them to act according to their own desires.
  • Doesn't know how to conduct a dialogue, interrupts, imposes his point of view.
  • Does not give a chance for personal opinion and action, requires unlimited devotion.
  • Looks impenetrable and confident.

Perhaps the main sign of narcissism is a person’s floating self-esteem. A person, depending on the situation, considers himself either a genius or a complete loser.

Feeling exclusive

The narcissist considers himself irresistible in everything and his capabilities are much broader. In any conversation, he turns the conversation to himself. He does not perceive the actions of others as something significant. It is very difficult to communicate with such a person; it is impossible to reach him.

His mannerisms and arrogance make me feel sick. He alienates people so much that he often remains lonely. But what is most interesting is that such a person sincerely suffers in life and precisely from himself. This in no way gives him the opportunity to truly enjoy life.

Psychotherapeutic help for narcissists

There are no unique techniques to defeat narcissism today. Moreover, at the first stage, a person must be able to convince him that he is a narcissist, which means that his personality is not healthy. The best way to do this is through examples of other people or by offering testing.

The problem with narcissism is the lack of a person’s own “I”. From early childhood, a person is formed under the influence of other people’s ideas and values, so he no longer knows what he really is like. There has been a substitution of personality and it can be very difficult to get to the bottom of your own soul.

By adulthood, a person realizes that something is wrong with him. All his life he fights, strives, runs, goes over his head, but there is no satisfaction with life. In addition, by the age of 40-50, the narcissist is usually left alone without family or friends.

You can try to practice meditation or yoga on your own, that is, those techniques that can pull personal desires and experiences out of the subconscious. However, without spiritual teachers, achieving results is not always possible.

This is when the narcissist turns to a therapist. The doctor is a stranger, which means he can communicate with the narcissist in a detached and non-evaluative manner. The specialist perceives a person regardless of his good or bad deeds. This experience is new for the narcissist, since from early childhood he was valued and loved only for “necessary” actions.

The narcissist enters into a simple human relationship with the psychotherapist, which he has never had. He learns to be himself, not afraid to seem funny, ridiculous or ordinary. Being ordinary is the worst thing for a person susceptible to narcissism.

The specialist will teach the narcissist the most important thing - to love himself. After all, narcissism comes precisely from a lack of true love, acceptance of oneself with vices and errors. A person needs to be taught to live happily regardless of how others see him, to recognize his real desires and needs.

The most common method for defeating a personality disorder is Gestalt therapy, during which all childhood traumas and fears are brought to the surface and then closed.

Cognitive therapy methods are also applicable to working with narcissists. The therapist asks the person to write down their strengths and weaknesses and then analyze them out loud. The main task is to convince the narcissist that he is like other people.

It is necessary to clarify that you should not be too strict with yourself and strive for your own idealization. On the other hand, the doctor convinces the narcissist of the harmfulness of devaluing those around him, who are no worse than himself. If you can rid a person of the habit of idealizing and devaluing, then the recovery process will be much more effective.

Diagnostic features

This pathology can be determined during a personal conversation with the patient. The conversation format in the form of an interview is best suited for these purposes. Based on the survey results, scores are assigned, based on which the psychiatrist determines whether the patient has a serious personality disorder or a borderline state, which is expressed in inflated self-esteem.

Among the questions are the following:

  1. Why do you think you deserve close attention and special treatment?
  2. In your opinion, who might deserve your attention, and why exactly?
  3. What kind of people are you willing to sacrifice your free time for?
  4. Is it important for you to spend time exclusively with influential people with high social status?

It is important to distinguish narcissism from ordinary inflated self-esteem, as well as from symptoms of other diseases (for example, schizophrenia).

Why is narcissism dangerous? If correction of an individual’s behavior is not started in a timely manner, the mental disorder may progress. As a result, the patient will be unable to maintain social connections and engage in professional activities, gradually moving away from public life, which leads to the development of other mental disorders. In some cases, aggression and psychosis appear, the patient ceases to control his behavior. Treatment in such situations is possible only in a hospital.

Prevention of possible disease in childhood

In order to avoid manifestations of narcissism in an adult, its prevention must be addressed from early childhood, namely from the age of 3. At the age of 3, the child begins to recognize himself as an independent person, and not part of his mother or father. It is at this age that the basic personality traits of a person are formed.

What can parents do for their child so that he grows up to be a healthy person?


  • It is necessary to respect the interests and preferences of the baby and see him as an independent person. Already in early childhood, personality inclinations and characteristics appear.
  • The child’s opinion, which he expresses when discussing family or personal issues, should be taken into account. A little person should be able to think and reason, and not perceive the words of his mother and father as an immutable truth.
  • You always need to answer the questions that a child has, no matter how complex they may be. This is how parents show interest in the child’s personality and help correct his knowledge in the right direction.
  • By personal example, parents show their child what is good, and vice versa. In relationships, you should adhere to the limits of what is permitted to the parents themselves and clearly limit them for the child.
  • The child should be praised and encouraged for good deeds and successes. At the same time, in case of wrong actions, love for him cannot be limited. Following manifestations of love only after the child’s actions that are positive, from the parents’ point of view, is a traumatic situation for his psyche. Parents' love can only be unconditional.
  • From childhood, the child’s communication skills with other children should be developed, a tolerant attitude towards people should be taught, and acceptance of everyone with shortcomings and weaknesses should be taught.
  • You should not compare your child with other children, praise or, conversely, set anyone as an example.

If you follow the listed rules, then the child will not have a basis for the formation of narcissism. The self-esteem of such a person will be adequate, and the message will take root in the mind that a person can be loved regardless of what interests and inclinations he has, what he looks like and what he dreams of.

Diet for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Diet for depression

  • Efficacy: therapeutic effect after 1-3 months
  • Dates: no data
  • Cost of products: 1700-1800 rubles. in Week

Since narcissistic individuals tend to demonstrate their superiority, a healthy diet can be suggested to avoid indulging in a belief in uniqueness. You should choose a balanced diet that can provide the body with fats, proteins and carbohydrates, according to age, physique and type of employment. The main task will be to focus on his body standard and similarity to others. It is important to make it clear what his body needs every day, namely:

  • cereals - simple porridges - the main and vital source of energy;
  • protein - no need to chase lobsters, boiled chicken, eggs and turkey are enough to provide the body with plastic resources;
  • fats are a component of a healthy diet, they should not be neglected; flavoring food with natural vegetable oils and consuming fatty fish is an excellent solution to a healthy diet;
  • fruits and vegetables should always be on the plate.

To please an exquisite narcissist, it is enough to prepare dishes according to recipes from different peoples of the world, adding various spices, and not indulge unusual desires and preferences.

Preventive measures

In order to prevent a mentally healthy child from growing into a future psychiatric patient, it is important to correctly assess his personality within the family. We must remember that he has the right to make mistakes, which need to be discussed with him, and not shouted about how wrong he is.

Attention! No child's demand should be satisfied through tears. Only with the help of mutual understanding and respect in the family can a healthy psycho-emotional environment be created that promotes rational awareness of the individual in society.

A relationship with a narcissist is doomed.

If you meet a narcissist in society, you should not treat him with ridicule. It is important to remember that this person himself is a victim of his condition and needs qualified help. If he has no desire to change his worldview, it is better to protect himself from communicating with such a person, preserving his mental health.

The behavior of the traumatist himself

How to treat narcissistic injury? You can get rid of low self-esteem only by working on yourself and eliminating the cause that led to defensive narcissism. We must realize that someone else’s opinion and focusing on it did not bring happiness to anyone. All people are different, and everyone has their own concept of happiness. Always have your own opinion on any questions.

Only a narcissist can turn things around. During his life, he probably had accumulated many minor and major traumas that he did not even think about working with in order to free himself.

To help himself, he must see for himself the essence of his trauma, how he creates it for himself and why. Without his sincere desire, changes will not happen.

Psychological trauma

Psychological trauma gives rise to the belief that other people should only be what you imagine. There are other causes of narcissism that are not related to upbringing. In any case, this is the wrong approach to life.

The cause of secondary narcissism is narcissistic injury. It overloads the Ego and knocks it out of the flow of life. A person turns out to be unable to digest the collisions of life, to assimilate the humiliation, devaluation, violence and shame that has happened. The inability to survive the situation usually arises due to the lack of internal foundations or close people at that moment who can support, empathize and show empathy.

Narcissistic injury, like any other, can cause post-traumatic stress disorder and the appearance of dissociative signs of phenomena (absent-mindedness, depersonalization, dissociative disorders, etc.) (N.V. Tarabrina, 2007). In post-trauma, a person does not comprehend the event that happened and does not want to remember or talk about it. He loses the ability to respond emotionally to his surroundings and ceases to feel connected to his affective sphere. His relationships with loved ones are disrupted, his sphere of interests becomes different. This is the split between different modalities of the self-concept.

A person can work, think, as if in contact with the environment, but at the same time the “emotional” modality has already separated and instead of emotions he has “hello, tree.”

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