What is a Narcissist + How to Spot Them

What does it mean to be a Narcissist or have Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Learn how to identify the Narc in your life by learning what motivates their behaviors.

Narcissist | Definition

According to The Merriam-Webster dictionary the word narcissist is a noun and defined in the following ways:

An individual showing symptoms of or suffering from narcissism: such as

a : an extremely self-centered person who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance

b : a person who is overly concerned with his or her physical appearance

Narcissist | Meaning

Used as an adjective 'narcissist' is used to describe a person who exhibits traits commonly associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). However, it is important to understand NPD is rarely diagnosed because a true Narcissist is unlikely to seek treatment in the first place.

Part of what I call the big three, along with sociopaths and psychopaths, the narcissist is generally toxic and cancerous at close range.

The Narcissistic Personality

The Narcissistic Personality is colored with an array of positive and negative traits. When considering this type of person extremes are of utmost importance. Narcissists are charismatic and charming people on the surface. They are pleasing to be around as long as they remain the center of attention and the masses bow accordingly. Symptoms vary, but identifying narcissistic behavior patterns becomes child’s play when you know exactly what to look for.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Matthew 7:15-18 NIV

Understanding Narcissistic Behavior

In order to understand the behavior of the Narcissist in your life you will first have to see the world from their vantage point. There is no other way. Like the rest of us, their motives dictate their actions. Most people begin their education on Narcissistic Personality Disorder only after having fallen prey to them. Attempting to play their game, eventually the victim comes to the realization they are playing a losing game. If you have never been a victim of narcissistic abuse, I commend you. 

Before we delve into the disordered thinking of Narcissists let’s commit to heed this advice no matter how tempting it may seem to do otherwise.

Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it. -George Bernard Shaw

How a Narcissist perceives themselves

A Narcissist idealizes themselves and anyone they consider better than them. They lack the ability to see themselves objectively. A Narcissist is always in character, that character being their idealized self. This is why they have a reputation for exhibiting an air of grandiosity, self-importance, and the following behaviors:


The Narcissist is often found in roles that require skills they have not developed. Unlike your average ambitious person, people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are prone to deceitful behaviors.

Very comfortable with lying to get what they want, it is common to catch them cheating. In cases where the Narcissist holds significantly more power than a target they will claim the victim’s work as their own without a care.

Attempting to establish dominance they may flaunt their cheating publicly. This form of passive aggressiveness serves to validate their sense of grandiosity while preventing imminent exposure. Most Narcissists select victims, they believe could never be as bold or brazen as they.

Preoccupied with the future version of themselves, they routinely scan their social circles searching for threats to their success. They love to gossip and frequently plant rumors long before their target is aware. The targets of such behavior usually report being sabotaged. 

Sense of Entitlement

NPD motivates Narcissists to work extremely hard at maintaining their image. Based on their subjective view of worthiness, they model themselves after the kind of person they think should be admired. 

In the Narcissists mind they’ve done all of this for you - their obliging audience. There is no need to negotiate. They know better, and have already taken care of all the decision making. 

The people closest to them, know them as bullies. The Narcissist feels underappreciated when they do not receive the approval of others in the form of adoration.

A selfish brat at heart they are not above whining to get what they want. Outlandish displays of self-pitying or disruptive behavior (think of Histrionic Personality Disorder) are used to elicit feelings of guilt. They need you to surrender to their will.

Attention Seeking

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is easily treated by administering the proper dosage of the patient's drug of choice - attention. Every time a Narcissist steps into a room they are on stage, the general public is the audience, and they expect applause. They need your compliments. Social validation (likes, follows, shout outs) is imperative to uphold their image. To make matters worse, they will not think twice about hurting someone, or themselves (secretly) to get it.


To fully appreciate the volatility associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder you have to understand these people are acutely aware of their shortcomings. They prefer to mask this truth with a larger than life personality. If their facade is undone, exposing their insecurities because of something you’ve done, innocently or intentionally, prepare for the worst. 

How a Narcissist views the people around them

By now you know what it means to be a Narcissist, and how they attract their victims with surface level charm. To understand how they relate on a deeper level, we will examine the character Narcissus of Greek mythology from which the word narcissism is derived.

Narcissus | The Basics

Narcissus was a hunter known for his attractiveness. He is almost always referred to as a beautiful young man. In the tales Narcissus is also depicted as a somewhat sadistic boy who tested the devotion of his admirers by having them commit suicide to prove their devotion to him. His primary love interest, Echo, is of no interest to him at all, she can only speak his own words back to him. This infuriates him and he banishes her from his presence. He was cursed by Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, for the way he treated Echo. One day after hunting Narcissus was thirsty ,he confided in Nemesis, who then lead him to a pool of water to refresh himself. Bending down to drink from the pool, he was captivated by his beauty. Falling in love with his own reflection, Narcissus was burned alive by the fire of his desire over time, because he could not fulfill this need on his own.

Narcissism Today

Predatory Behavior

The first thing to note is the Narcissist is a predator whose facade overshadows their dark nature. Seeking honor and status the Narcissist sets his or her sights on the best. They will pursue opportunities that position them to contend for, and eventually win the ultimate status symbols.

They lay traps that result in snagging the perfect wife, the best cars, and residence in the best zip codes. Although they typically do make friends in high places, they eventually lose them just as Narcissus did in the story. By compromising them, their best friends can become their biggest enemies. For instance, they may plot an unethical course of action, enlist their friends, and they throw them under the bus once the goal is accomplished. 

Unlike the low grade high that comes from attention seeking, the gains achieved through calculated targeting and hunting their victims satisfies a deeper desire within the Narcissist. These trophies are known as agents of Narcissistic Supply.

This ultimate trophy fuels the fire within the Narcissist. An outsider may believe they are in love, or deeply respect the establishment they've claimed allegiance to, but eventually their display of passion will die down when something better comes along. 

Childish Behavior

Usually uncharacteristically immature for their age, Narcissists identify with the good ole days of their childhood. They can be extremely demanding in relationships. 

Lacks Empathy

Never fully invested, and always motivated by self-interest, they have a hard time empathizing with others. They make terrible conversationalists and horrible friends. They cannot identify with your feelings on an emotional level. If the Narcissist appears to understand your emotional state, chances are high they will be using the information to manipulate you in the future.

Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil Proverbs 27:9 TPT

They are only truly emotional in regard to their own pursuits, and do just enough to reach new heights and access higher grades of Narcissistic Supply.

Resents Being Known

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder do not want intimacy. Genuine connection is a threat to this person’s way of life. The Narcissist risks being exposed as cold and callous in deep relationships. They will resent the person who tries acting out with a tirade of overt or subtle abuse toward their target.

Satisfying Their Thirst

Once the Narcissist gets what they want from a target they have a decision to make. Typically, they get rid of them or choose to exploit them further.

The Target is a keeper

If the Narcissist decides to exploit the victim further, he or she deems the target as valuable. They are a source of high grade Narcissistic Supply. Because of this the Narcissist will instigate and settle for negative attention. You may notice them ramping up their rude and abusive behaviors as a way of manipulating their targets emotions. By doing this they remain the focus of that person’s life until they decide to move on. 

The Target is not a keeper

Narcissists will withdraw and become punishing for two reasons on most occasions. Either they’ve taken the target for all they have or are trying to starve the target of attention because they refused to comply to their wishes. 

The latter is a desperate attempt on the part of the Narcissist and a last resort. If their withdrawing does not negatively affect the target, they will initiate another round of disruptive attention seeking behavior to regain the target's attention. 

At this point, the Narcissist is extremely dangerous can become violent. Incapable of gracefully accepting when they aren’t desired, they will view the victim's resistance as a deliberate power play. Again, they need you to surrender to their will.

How a Narcissist views their future

They are preoccupied with the idealized version of themselves and how they are going to get there. They crave power and wish to live a life that inspires the awe of others. The envy derived from their covetous nature is the barometer they use when determining the worthiness of a pursuit. The more envy a thing can generate within them the harder they will work to immerse themselves in it.

Just like Narcissus the person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder has an unhealthy relationship with desire. It constantly tortures them. Oblivious to the reality they are being consumed by their desires, and completely obvious to others, they eventually die by it's unforgiving fire.

Please take a moment to share this article with someone who may need it and share your experiences in the comment section below.

I will be posting about this topic in the future. Narcissistic Abuse seems like the natural progression. Let me know what you would like to learn more about.

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