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Symptoms and Body Language of Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and How Their Behavior May Effect You

By: Patti Wood MA

Below is a list of the characteristics of a Narcissist. Don’t confuse a confident person with a Narcissist. A confident, successful person is a pleasure to be with and makes you feel good about yourself. A narcissist can be charming and entertaining, but people with narcissistic personality disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes that can make you feel small.

Narcissists have a false sense of self importance. A person with an authentic sense of self may feel he has gifts or abilities, but wants to use those gifts to be useful to others. A narcissist disregards the needs of others so he might benefit himself.

Recent research indicates that some highly successful people, CEOs and leaders of companies or industries may seem to exhibit narcissist characteristics and in fact those very characteristics may make them successful. If you see some of the characteristics of a narcissist and think, but I have some of those traits, don’t "freak out." Look deeper. Authentically confident leaders know they don’t know everything and want to learn more. They may be experts in their fields and or experts in the companies but they see their weakness and want to continually become better at what they do. Authentic leaders should embrace the good behaviors of confidence and be on guard of going over the top to selfish hot or cold Narcissism. To learn more about authentic leadership and dealing with power in a healthy way as well as guarding against Narcissism go to:

How do you recognize a narcissist?

In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following symptoms:

  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes. The body language of the narcissist can be telling. For example, an individual with this disorder may complain about a clumsy waiter’s "rudeness" or "stupidity" or an employee’s work product or a family member’s actions in a way they seem extreme or abusive. Note whether your boss, family member or friend’s voice becomes unusually loud or abrasive or judgmental or their body language changes and becomes condescending (looking down on) and or attacking (larger stance, sharp movements, hands on hips or in the air above the waist.) Also note if it looks like they are enjoying the process of criticizing, that the criticism or attack makes them feel superior and or if any attempt on your part to stop their communication is met with a rising intensity of their behavior. Also note your body language in response to their behavior. Do they allow you to communicate? Do they listen and calm down or stop their attack. Also notice if you tense up as you anticipate the likely criticism of your work or actions and or freeze in place as they begin to criticize you. If you experience chronic freeze, flight behavior in the presence of someone it is an indication that you are experiencing abuse. Your central nervous system will send clear signals that you are being attacked. If the person does not notice and stop, it may be that they are unable to empathize with someone else’s pain.
  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement (e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations)
  • Exploitative of others (e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends)
  • Lacks empathy (e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others)
  • Often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

As with all personality disorders, the person must be at least 18 years old before they can be diagnosed with it.

Narcissistic personality disorder is more prevalent in males than females and is thought to occur in less than 1 percent in the general population.

To learn more details on how to nurture an authentic confident self and how to recognize the difference is self-confidence and narcissism go to: