Many people know someone who is a narcissist. The American Psychological Association has listed narcissistic personality disorder or NPD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders since 1968. While there are relatively few diagnoses made, leading researchers estimate around 1% of all adults show symptoms
Narcissism is more than just run of the mill egocentricity. There are a very specific set of traits that people with NPD exhibit. According to leading American psychiatrist James Masteron, the seven traits of NPD are:
Shamelessness—A narcissist views themselves to be flawless. Shame isn’t present in their emotional range. For example, while they may acknowledge they made a bad choice, while they may not experience remorse for their actions.
Entitlement—Narcissists expect to be treated differently and better than others, because they think they’re superior. Failing to respond to these superior needs may trigger rage or retribution. In their mind, they’re unique and therefore deserve the doting they desire.
Magical Thinking—They believe they are directly responsible for bringing about all good things in their world. Anything negative that happens is distorted or the fault of someone else, typically the partner.
Arrogance—Narcissists make themselves look better by putting others down. This is often done in very public forums and based on their knowledge of another person’s areas of insecurity or fear.
Exploitation—Narcissits may manipulate people into relationships into subservience or inferiority complexes positions to get a sense of power over them, without any consideration for the hurt it may cause.
Envy—They can’t bear to see other people be successful. This will cause them to undermine any praise or achievements of those around them.
Boundaries—the narcissist takes and takes and ignores others’ boundaries. This like the other behaviors comes from their feelings of superiority and entitlement.
Additionally, the narcissist engages in a range of behaviors that create uncertainty, isolation, and even feelings of distrust in their partner’s own memories.
Gaslighting is Psychological Abuse
This is done through a behavior known as gaslighting, which is a type of psychological abuse. When I work with my coaching clients, most who have been in a relationship with a narcissist have experienced some form of gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a process. It happens over a long time and involved telling a partner a false version of a story, telling them they’re imagining things, or that they’re overly dramatic or emotional. This constant deceit creates doubt in your memories and experiences.
Anyone can be a victim of gaslighting, and it occurs in many dysfunctional relationships. In my book, The Marriage and Relationship Junkie, I talk about how gaslighting can be used by narcissists in codependent relationships, leading to long-term challenges in seeing the abuse in the relationship at an emotional or even a physical level.
Key Signs of Gaslighting
—Knowing the signs of gaslighting can help you to recognize the feelings of confusing and emotional distress you are experiencing. These signs include:
—Physical and emotional abuse that is denied by the offender, even as it is occurring.
—Clear recollections of an event that are dismissed or corrected by a partner.
—Feeling the need to apologize for constantly being at fault, even if the argument or conflict was started by your partner.
—Lack of trust in your own senses, memories, and actions.
Often gaslighting is almost impossible to identify if it has been going on for a period of time. Working with a coach familiar with gaslighting can be critical in gaining confidence in yourself now and in the future.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Certified Transformation and Recovery Coach and the leading Psychotherapist on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab and Sex Addiction.
She helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break up. Sherry maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. Buy her book here. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com of sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program for $19/month. Buy her book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie.