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Am I a Narcissist? 24 Narcissistic Personality Disorder Causes & Big Signs

Ever wondered, “Am I a narcissist?” If you want to know, use these signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and ask yourself if you see any of them in you.

am I a narcissist signs

If you’re someone who knows the meaning of narcissism, you may be questioning whether or not you are one.

We have all heard that word a lot, and most of us think we know what it means, but do we? Is someone who is occasionally selfish a narcissist?

Let’s look at the real definition of what it means to be narcissistic.

Definition of a narcissist

Narcissism is a mental condition that’s characterized by the fact that those who have it often exaggerate their sense of importance. They also have a deep need for excessive attention and admiration. This can result in toxic relationships and a lack of empathy for other people.

A lot of people believe that this condition is not rooted in high self-esteem. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Behind the mask of extreme confidence lies a very fragile self-esteem that’s incredibly vulnerable to even the slightest criticism.

Individuals with NPD may experience problems in all areas of life, including relationships, school, work, and finances. These people are also generally unhappy when they’re not given the admiration they crave. [Read: Covert narcissist – What it is, 42 signs, and how to see the games they play]

They find most of their relationships unfulfilling. A lot of people find it difficult to like them because they are so self-absorbed and into themselves that they use everyone in their wake.

Everyone they come into contact with is considered a means to an end. The truth is that only a psychological professional can determine whether or not you have a narcissistic personality.

What causes narcissism?

You might wonder what causes narcissistic personality disorder. It’s a very good question, and we have the answers. Here are some ways that narcissism can develop. [Read: What causes narcissism? The facts and theories to read a narcissist]

1. Unrealistic expectations from parents

If a person’s parents tend to be perfectionists, they will have unrealistically high expectations, too. As a result, the child will probably become a perfectionist.

Their parents probably only showed them affection when they achieved excellent results. Because of this, the child believes that they will only get admiration and affection when they are perfect.

These beliefs cause them to need to be rewarded with praise, which will make them feel superior and as if they put in more effort than other people to achieve great things. [Read: Dating a perfectionist – things you must know before you date one]

At the same time, they are fearful of criticism and pretend that they never make mistakes because they want to be perfect.

2. Discipline reinforcement that is contradictory

If one parent is overly strict and the other is too lenient, it can make the child take the easy route too often. Most kids will take the lenient parent’s side and think that the strict parent is mean.

The child might become a spoiled brat because they feel protected by the lenient and easy-going parent. [Read: Being raised by narcissists – 18 harmful ways it affects your life]

3. Excessive praise of abilities instead of effort in childhood

Sometimes, when a child is born with superior intelligence, beauty, or athleticism, they don’t really have to put much effort into anything in order to be praised. They’re just automatically admired.

This poorly attuned admiration that requires no effort from the child does more harm than good. Eventually, the child develops a sense of entitlement and looks down on others who aren’t as “gifted” as they are.

They also have a deep need for continual unhealthy admiration for themselves as adults. [Read: 17 symptoms of narcissism that make someone mean, aloof, and detached]

4. Emotional neglect in childhood

Another major cause of narcissistic personality disorder is when some parents think they only need to take care of a child’s physical needs. They might place a lot of value on materialistic things such as a big house, clothes, or technology for the child.

Because of that, the child doesn’t feel like their emotions are considered since the parents didn’t show love and affection. As a result, they lack validation and attention, leaving them emotionally immature.

This type of parent-child relationship leads to a lack of empathy for others since they were never shown any as a child. They might use manipulation to have their emotional needs met and have attention-seeking behavior. [Read: Emotionally damaged – How people get that way, 26 signs, and how to heal from it]

5. Comparison in childhood

Many times, parents will compare a child to other people. For example, they might say, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” or “Why are you the only kid in your class who didn’t get an A?”

Parents might intend to motivate their children, but it’s damaging their self-esteem instead. In an attempt to adapt to the comparisons, the child tries to be perfect or better than other people.

They might have had deep envy for other kids’ successes and wanted to be like them. This behavior can continue into adulthood. [Read: Jealousy vs. envy – 22 signs to tell them apart when they feel the same]

6. Victim mentality

So far, most of the causes we’ve discussed have been external to the child as a person, but this one is a result of their own misery. They might develop a victim mentality.

A victim mentality is when a person thinks that they are a victim in everything that happens to them. They never take any personal responsibility for their actions, thoughts, or attitudes.

As an adult, they might continually blame their childhood experiences for their negative and narcissistic behavior. [Read: Narcissistic victim syndrome – What it is and how to escape the mess]

7. Genetics

While most of what we’ve talked about has been about social experiences, there could also be a genetic component to narcissism. When people grow up in an environment that encourages and creates narcissism, some narcissists inherit the traits from their parents.

Some studies show that twins can have the same sense of grandiosity and entitlement. That’s not to say that it’s entirely genetics, but it certainly is considered to be a possible cause.

Why do I worry that I have a narcissistic personality disorder?

In general, if you’ve ever wondered if you are a narcissist, there is a good chance that you aren’t.

Why is that? [Read: Manipulative people – how to spot them and stop playing the victim]

The cornerstone of being a narcissist is that you will do anything to protect your ego, including making excuses and diffusing, as well as refusing to accept any responsibility for the things in your life.

If you are asking if you might be a narcissist, you are actually admitting that you have some tendencies to be self-involved.

We ALL have those tendencies in us. Recognizing them negates the likelihood that you’re a narcissist. Even if you are, that recognition is an excellent first step to recovery. [Read: 16 clear signs you’re in a narcissistic relationship]

There are several telltale signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. It isn’t just that you possess specific qualities or move in and out of selfish tendencies.

Narcissism is an entirely systematic way of viewing life, manipulating people in your path, and leaving broken hearts, damaged goods, and failed relationships everywhere you go.

These 17 questions can help you answer “am I a narcissist?” with a “no!”

If you do the following things, the chances are good that you are not a narcissist… you’re just human. [Read: Selfish people – 20 ways to spot them and stop them from hurting you]

You’re not perfect, but asking the question shows that you care enough to see the error of your ways and have remorse for your behaviors and actions.

Here are all the signs that you might not be a narcissist.

1. Am I a narcissist? 

A narcissist may never admit that they have a personality disorder. At every turn, a narcissist will do whatever is necessary to protect their self-image.

They will continually throw shade at their behavior by pointing out what everyone else is doing to cause their bad behavior.

2. Do you feel bad about your behavior? 

A narcissist treats people in their lives with depraved indifference. They are the types of people who can make someone cry, destroy their career, take their girlfriend, cheat to win, and be able to justify their actions without any remorse or bad feelings whatsoever.

The belief in “survival of the fittest” is a narcissist’s rationalization that leads to no feelings of remorse or guilt. [Read: Guilty conscience – what it is and 21 emotional signs of guilt people feel]

3. Have you had successful relationships? 

Even if not all of your relationships have ended happily ever after, a narcissist is incapable of building healthy relationships with anyone.

They often have a series of hurt and damaged people in their past. Because they prey on people with low self-esteem, their relationships rarely work without co-dependence or complete destruction of both the relationship and the individual.

If you’ve had some pretty tumultuous relationships with others that simply weren’t marriage-worthy, that doesn’t make you a narcissist. You may be difficult to live with, but maybe you’re not narcissistic. [Read: Signs of a narcissist and ways to break up with them]

4. Do you feel bad for people? 

If someone in your life is going through a hard time and you can feel bad for them, you are probably not a narcissist. One of the hallmark characteristics of a narcissist is that they have absolutely no ability to show empathy.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes and feel what they feel. When you see someone suffering, you can suffer with them. If you are capable of sympathizing with others’ feelings, you’re probably not a narcissist.

Someone who is a narcissist refuses to pity anyone else because they are unable to feel for them. [Read: 24 signs of people who lack empathy and don’t care what you think]

Seeing the person of misfortune as being responsible for their own problems, a narcissist rarely feels bad or offers to help someone in need unless there is a reward in it for them.

5. Would you cross the boundary to the dark side? 

If you want something and see a clear boundary between right and wrong, you are probably not a narcissist. A narcissist is someone who has no conscience and doesn’t know when they are crossing into a realm of no return.

For a narcissist, stealing, lying, destroying, calling names, and just about anything else that the rest of us deem not-so-nice is totally okay. “All is fair in love and war” was probably first noted by a narcissist. [Read: The signs that you’re dating a self-obsessed narcissist]

6. Would you put someone else’s needs above yours? 

If you use your own hard-earned money to buy something for someone else instead of splurging on yourself, you probably don’t have a narcissistic personality.

If you put the needs of your partner, your friend, or even a stranger above your own, it could negate the possibility that you’re a narcissist. Being selfish is just one of the characteristics of a true narcissistic personality, but it’s a really dominant one.

7. Are you truly capable of accepting constructive criticism? 

If someone has something constructive to say about your personal behavior or professional performance and you don’t explode or get angry, you probably don’t have narcissistic personality traits. [Read: Ways to master the art of constructive criticism]

A narcissist is unwilling to listen to anything negative that comes from the outside. If you challenge them, try to present your side, or question their beliefs or behaviors, they meet you with an explosion of anger and gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a psychological tool that throws gas all over the issue to distract the opponent from any validity in their argument or suggestion.

If you are open to hearing another’s side of a story or acknowledge that you may have been wrong without being hypersensitive about it, the likelihood that you are a narcissist is pretty low. [Read: Gaslighting – 16 ways someone can mess with your mind]

8. Do you put others down? 

A narcissist usually uses the tactics of putting others down to make them feel better. Bullying, calling hurtful names, or outright destroying anyone whom they feel in competition with just comes naturally to a narcissist.

Someone who is a narcissist has no boundaries for their acts of retaliation, nor did they learn that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

9. Do you withhold love? 

One of the best tools in a narcissist’s arsenal is withholding love. A narcissist is completely incapable of providing unconditional love. [Read: 24 sad signs of an unhealthy relationship that ruin love forever]

They have no problem treating a loved one with indifference to control them and get what they want.

Once the other person in the relationship falls in line, the love starts to flow again. Love isn’t loving for a narcissist; it is the greatest tool they have to make someone do what they want.

In fact, most narcissists are incapable of loving anyone but themselves. [Read: 21 big signs of emotional abuse that you might be overlooking]

10. Do you think you are perfect? 

Narcissists, being in love with themselves, see grandiose images of themselves.

If you are willing to admit that you aren’t perfect, that you make mistakes, and that you sometimes wish you were better or nicer than you are, then the answer to “am I a narcissist?” is almost assuredly no.

11. Are you humble and modest?

Believe it or not, you can love yourself, have good self-esteem, and be humble and modest. It is a myth and misconception that people who love themselves are also full of themselves and brag a lot. [Read: Confident or cocky? 16 subtle signs that split an arrogant and modest man]

That’s what people with narcissistic personality disorder do. When someone truly loves themselves, they don’t have the need to go around telling everyone how special and unique they are, nor do they only want to be associated with special or high-status people or institutions. They are too busy being good people.

12. Are you good at influencing people around you?

The word “influence” can mean different things. You can influence people in either a positive or negative way. The word itself isn’t inherently bad or good. It all depends on how the person uses their influence.

If you use your influence to gaslight or exploit others, and you don’t care about others’ feelings or needs, that’s narcissistic.

However, if you don’t take advantage of others and you want to influence people to help them, you’re not a narcissist. [Read: Am I manipulative? 20 signs you manipulate people in your life]

13. Do you have a constant need for attention and admiration?

The word narcissism is often used to describe someone who seems too vain or full of themselves. You often see them being selfie-obsessed and doing things that would add to their attractiveness. You’ll also constantly catch them looking at you as if they’re waiting for you to tell them how great they are.

People with NPD have an exaggerated and inflated sense of self-importance, thus the need for other people to pay attention to them. They also have an excessive need for admiration and adoration. The reason they feel this way is that they don’t love themselves. They can’t get that love from within.

Because of that, they have to get that love and admiration from other people. That’s why narcissists need to be on other people’s minds and want everyone to think they are superior to most people.

14. Do you have the tendency to monopolize conversations?

Because narcissists have the need to be the center of attention, then they tend to monopolize conversations.

They will always keep the topic of conversation on themselves and/or on what they think is important and interesting. [Read: Attention seeker – 17 signs you are one even if you can’t see it]

If you don’t need to talk about yourself all the time and you genuinely care about the opinions of others, then you are most likely not a narcissist.

15. Do you have a habit of giving unsolicited advice?

It’s great to give good, helpful, and constructive advice to people that will make them better, but only if they want it and ask for it. If they don’t ask for it, they don’t want it.

If you give people advice when they don’t want it, it might be because you think you know better than most people.

You want them to look up to you and admire the advice you give. This has something to do with your fantasies of unlimited success and brilliance. Non-narcissists have self-awareness and only help out when other people ask them to. [Read: Get to know yourself and become more self-aware]

16. Do you always blame others when something happens?

Narcissists can never take personal responsibility for anything they do. Instead, they always think it’s someone else’s fault.

They blame others for everything that’s happened to them and never point the finger at themselves. They’ll make it appear as if they lack control over the situation.

If you are the type of person who takes responsibility for your actions, then you are probably not a narcissist. Normal people have at least some ability to do some personal reflection and take responsibility for their actions.

17. Are you overly competitive?

There’s nothing wrong with being competitive. Much of the way our world works revolves around competition. From sports to jobs to getting good grades, it’s a part of our whole culture.

But if you are so competitive that you feel threatened by others’ success and you are willing to stab people in the back and walk all over them to win at something, then that is narcissistic.

Sure, you can strive to do your best and come out on top, but you should also be gracious when you don’t and be happy for the winners. [Read: Ways to stop being jealous of someone else’s success]

Where can I get mental help?

If you have read through this list and think that you might be a narcissist, you don’t have to stay that way, and you’re not alone. There are ways that you can seek help. Here are some things you can try.

– Federally funded health centers

– Colleges and universities

– Online therapy

– Crisis line

– Veteran’s crisis line

– Hospitals

– Support groups

– Medicaid and Medicare

– Clinical trials

– Videos and workbooks

– Mobile apps

– Employee Assistance Programs

Please keep in mind that you have to be diagnosed by a doctor or mental health professional before seeking treatment for narcissistic personality disorder or any other mental health disorder.

There are no specific medications used to treat NPD, but medications like mood stabilizers and antidepressants may be prescribed if you show symptoms of depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder.

[Read: 14 signs to spot a narcissist and read NPD traits in a relationship instantly]

Final thoughts

All of us exhibit narcissistic behaviors at times. In fact, we all do things that are self-serving and will put ourselves first when the occasion calls for it.

That is not only a part of human nature but also an evolutionary practice that has allowed us to survive for this long.

Asking the question, “am I a narcissist?” is the first sign that you aren’t. The last thing that someone with narcissistic traits will do is admit that they aren’t perfect. [Read: 34 ways to fall in love with who you are]

They think they’re always in the right, always doing the right thing, and that nothing is their fault or responsibility.

That being said, we could all be better and more empathetic people. If you want to feel less like a narcissist and more like the good person you want to be, try putting others first sometimes.

Provide those around you with unconditional love. It’s important to remember that when the people you love are happy, it’s a much more joyous feeling than rising to the top knowing that you used everyone around you.

You may not be a narcissist, but within each of us is the ability to be a better person. Do your best to keep the things you like about yourself and change the things you dislike so that you don’t have to ask, “am I a narcissist?” anymore.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...