Narcissists can be found everywhere. You might be friends with one; you might know a narcissist from your workplace. Read more to find out about how to deal with a narcissist.
What is a narcissist?
The commonplace definition of a narcissist is a person who is boastful, vain and self-centered. This is the stereotype definition of what narcissism is. We would automatically think of people who love being in the limelight and would be on their quest for money and power. But then the psychological definition of narcissists is quite different. Not all narcissists would be obsessed with aesthetic appeal and vanity.
The real quality that all narcissists have in common is the need to feel special or be regarded above the other people around them. While we all want to feel special, a narcissist would want to feel like the most special. They would want to be treated differently from everybody else in the social group. All narcissists would have this trait, but they would go about it in their ways.
Is narcissism classified as a mental disorder?
There is a lot of grey area with the answer to this question. Narcissism itself is not a disorder. However, when narcissistic traits begin to interfere with the social life and relationships, that is the time that the person can become diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD. There is a clinical measurement that a person has to meet before they can meet the criteria for NPD.
Can a narcissist change their ways?
One very common and unfair misconception would be that narcissists cannot empathize and that the condition is irreversible. But this is untrue. A narcissist can reform. However, it is not easy. It would require a genuine will for the narcissist to change.
Usually, there would be very serious underlying reasons for why narcissists are the way they are. We would not usually be aware, but then a narcissist might have a very sad backstory. There might be embarrassment, loneliness, and insecurities that have built up inside of them. Changing would involve facing all of these inner demons, and that is what makes it very difficult for them to change. They will have to give up their need to feel special, and above everyone else.
What narcissists need
- A meaningful consequence.This could be a special person, or the fear of losing something important to them, like if their boss would threaten to fire them if they do not change.
- A good therapist and a therapeutic approach will surely help the narcissist change. They will be able to look at their fears and insecurities in the eye and confront them.
How should we act in front of a narcissist?
A high level of understanding is needed when dealing with a narcissist. We have to remember that they are going through something which we cannot see. The way they act is just their way of responding to how life has been treating them. It may not be fair, but they cannot help it. Many narcissists are not aware that they have these qualities.
If someone close to you is a narcissist, try to be that “meaningful consequence” that will urge them to go see a doctor. In the end, it would be up to other people to help initiate the change in narcissists.