Do narcissists know they are narcissists? Well, if you’ve ever spent much time around a narcissist, you’ll know that they’re not the easiest to be around. Not only do they have an extremely inflated sense of self, but they don’t really care who they hurt or upset. They have to have the best of everything, and let everyone around them know about it.
For someone in a relationship with a narcissist, the picture is bleak. Not only do they use a huge amount of emotional manipulation, but they don’t really care if it hurts either. All of this makes you wonder one very key question – do narcissists know they are narcissists? The answer differs from person to person. Let’s talk a bit more about this key question and see if we can come to some kind of conclusion.
[Read: How to deal with a narcissist in the best way you possibly can – All the steps you need]
People often wonder how narcissists are different from so-called “normal” people. The thing is, what is normal? Narcissists aren’t abnormal, that’s key. Instead, they have a personality disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which causes them to act in a specific way. They also have very little *next to zero* concept of empathy, which means relationships are extremely difficult and probably quite impossible.
Everyone shows the odd narcissistic behavior or trait occasionally, but narcissists kick up the frequency. It becomes their go-to option. A narcissist has an extremely inflated sense of self, and they must surround themselves with people who are very attractive or extremely successful because they know that makes them look good.
[Read: 23 signs of narcissism most people overlook until it’s too late]
They’re often very bad at taking criticism and may lash out if you tell them something they don’t want to hear. The other thing? They’re pretty good at manipulation. Gas-lighting is their specialty. They’ll use it whenever they feel the need to do so.
I guess the key difference between a narcissist and a person who doesn’t have narcissism is empathy. Narcissists don’t develop empathy in the same way as someone who isn’t narcissistic, and that’s at the crux of everything.
When you have empathy, you find it difficult to hurt other people and not feel bad about it afterwards. You’ll probably second guess things to stop upsetting someone else. Of course, people do things to hurt others occasionally even if they do have empathy, but the difference is how remorseful they feel afterwards.
[Read: Characteristics of people who lack empathy and suck your energy out]
At the end of the day, narcissism is a personality disorder and extremely complex. However, that doesn’t mean you should stick around and spend time with a narcissist purely because they have NPD and it’s “not their fault”. If they’re hurting you, get away.
Now, onto the key question – do narcissists know they are narcissists?
[Read: How narcissists control you so subtly… and why you allow them]
Does a narcissistic man or woman consciously know what they’re doing or are they clueless? That’s something many people have thought about over the years. Frankly, it’s still a question that studies have yet to shed light on. The reason is because every single person on this planet of ours is different which means every single person with NPD is different.
There are varying degrees of narcissism, so you may have someone with mild narcissism who is a little aware of what they’re doing because they experience a little twinge of guilt afterwards, but not enough to stop them from going at it again. Then, you may have a severely narcissistic person who doesn’t care at all and doesn’t give it a second thought.
A narcissist probably does know that they’re hurting you, but the lack of empathy means that they’re not going to stop or think too much about it. To a narcissist, your pain is not even remotely close to their pain. They justify every bit of pain they cause you, and tell themselves that you brought it upon yourself, and they had no part in it at all.
Empathy helps you to think in the situation of the other person, walk a mile in their shoes to some degree. That’s why you feel guilty if you make someone cry, because you can imagine how they’re feeling and how the words hurt them.
[Read: What causes narcissism? The facts and theories to help you read a narcissist]
The answer to ‘do narcissists know there are narcissists’ is unclear because some people think they’re totally lacking in self-awareness and have no clue about how they’re acting, while others think that they love it and embrace the inner narcissist within them. Which is it? Who knows, you would have to ask the individual and find out from them. And even then, each narcissist probably has a different answer!
The most blatant and deluded narcissists in the world will tell themselves that people are avoiding them because they’re jealous or that people are criticizing them because of jealousy too. The truth is very different, but they’re blind to it.
So, do narcissists know they are narcissists? Some do, some don’t, and some probably aren’t sure. That’s as clear as we can be!
[Read: What is the worst thing you can do to a narcissist to hurt them?]
What I can tell you is what it feels like to be in a relationship with a narcissist. Put simply, it’s not good. You will never have a happy, healthy, and loving relationship with a narcissist. It’s not possible, so it’s best to quit while you’re ahead. Of course, it’s easy to say that, but moving away from someone you actually love is very hard.
When you first meet a narcissist, you’ll have no clue what type of person they are. That’s why ‘do narcissists know they are narcissists’ is such a hard question to answer, because they’re masters of deception. They can probably deceive themselves too. They are the most blindingly wonderful person on the planet, because they’re on their very best behavior. Of course, nobody can keep that up and eventually the mask will slip.
[Read: Why do people fall for narcissists when they know they shouldn’t?]
They’ll show you just enough of the charm to keep you where you are, but their narcissistic traits will shine through more often than not. Just when you’ve had enough and they think you’re leaving, they’ll bombard you with charm and so-called love, so you won’t want to leave because you think they’ve changed. You want them to change so very badly.
Then the manipulation starts. You’ll question it at first, but they’ll tell you that you’re going crazy and eventually you’ll believe them. They’ll isolate you from your friends and family by telling you that they’re talking about you behind your back or hitting one of your sore points and pulling you further away from your support system.
Then, you’re right where they want you – in their control. Gaslighting will have you questioning your sanity, and in the end, you won’t really know whether you trust yourself or not. That’s when you’re firmly in their grasps because you’re relying upon them for decision-making.
I know it sounds like a tall tale, but trust me, it’s a reality. I’ve lived it and seen it countless times with other people too. Of course, there are varying rates of severity and some people manage to spot the signs and get away early. The issue is that narcissists tend to pinpoint the exact type of person who will fall for their act – kind, loving, and open-hearted people.
[Read: Narcissist and empath: Why they’re a match made in dating hell]
Yes, the good ones in life are the ones who get the narcissistic abuse treatment. We want to see the best in people so we believe it with our whole being; the problem is that there isn’t a whole lot of good in someone who treats you this way. It’s for this reason that empaths and narcissists are such a disastrous *and surprisingly common* combination.
We’ve answered ‘do narcissists know they are narcissists’ with a ‘we don’t know’, but as for what it feels like to be in a relationship with one – it’s seriously not good.
[Read: Psychological manipulation – 16 tactics and signs to recognize when a manipulator messes with you]
Ah, the million dollar question. There are so many ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ in this particular query that it’s impossible to say once more. Narcissism isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ deal.
[Read: What types of narcissism should you be on the lookout for?]
Firstly, a narcissist isn’t likely to wake up one morning and say, “oh no, I think I’m narcissistic, I must seek help”. Some may, but it’s very rare. The reason is because narcissists don’t believe there is anything wrong with them. Even if they have an inkling that they might be a little narcissistic, they’re never going to full-on admit it and ask for help to change. They don’t believe they need to change because in their mind they’re the very best of the best. If everyone else hates them or gets annoyed with them, a narcissist is convinced it’s because everyone else is jealous of them. Everyone else should change, according to them.
If a person does seek out help for NPD, the road to recovery is extremely long and difficult. The relapse rate is also quite high. Narcissism is part of who they are. It’s part of their personality and changing that involves rewiring the brain and helping them to behave and react naturally in a totally different way. It can be done, don’t get me wrong, but it’s tough.
The only treatment method for narcissism is behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. These are methods which help to re-wire the brain and help the person involved learn to recognize patterns and change them. There isn’t a medication you can take, there isn’t a magic wand, and these types of behavioral therapies take a long time to show major results.
So, will a narcissist change? Very unlikely.
[Read: Sociopath vs narcissist: The 15 subtle differences to tell them apart]
Do narcissists know they are narcissists? By this point we know that some may have an inkling but not enough to actually do anything about it. Some might even like it. The bottom line is that you don’t have to put up with their behavior either way.
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