As well as the usual narcissistic personality disorder symptoms, I want to explain here how some of these symptom show up in real life and examine some of the other symptoms and signs common to narcissists that you should be on the lookout for to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
Being caught in a relationship with a narcissist, whether it's at work, an intimate relationship or a friendship will cost you. It will cost you time, effort, energy, money and even your sense of yourself. If you are searching for information about narcissistic personality disorder symptoms because you have already been caught, then you will know what I am talking about. You are most likely trying to confirm that you were, or still are, with a narcissist and you are probably looking for a way out of the chaos and turmoil that you have going on in your head.
So let's look at the standard list of narcissistic personality disorder symptoms...
Let's face it. If you met someone with many of these symptoms, you would run a mile. You would not decide that they were going to be your best friend, you would not employ them and you certainly would not get entangled in an emotional relationship with them. You just wouldn't subject yourself to that kind of treatment. (Unless you are a narcissist yourself!)
So how come people get caught by them? Let's have a look at what happens...
The narcissists are aware, too, that people won't readily engage with them if they act 'normally'. So they hide this aspect of themselves. But not only do they hide things, they also create something. They create the perfect partner for their intended target. They will work out what the target's wants, needs, fears, weaknesses and even strengths are. They then take on the role of the ideal partner. They can be helpful, caring, intelligent, witty, friendly, compassionate and generally all round nice people. They will offer exactly what the target needs in the moment, whether this is company, love, money, an employee, a place to stay, help mowing the lawn, carrying the groceries into the house...
And so it begins. The target's initial impression is being manufactured. This initial impression is very important and the narcissists know this. It will be very hard to change later.
The target then finds it easy to continue engaging the narcissist. From the target's point of view, here is someone offering them what they need, someone who is interested in them and someone who is easy to get on with.
Let's take the example of a romantic setting, but keep in mind the same applies in any other setting, too. The narcissist begins to build a very strong bond with the target. They send messages about liking the target, about feeling safe with the target, about trusting the target. And, because of the seemingly kind nature of the manipulator, these feelings and sensations will typically be felt by the target, too. Of course, these things happen in healthy relationships, too. The difference here is that the process is very fast.
The narcissist can have someone falling head over heels in love with them in a weekend, a day, and in some cases, even in a few hours. The emotional highs that the victim now experiences, (they are no longer just a target but are now being completely deceived and tricked by the narcissist) means that the victim finds it difficult to think critically. A person has no sense of problems when they are enamored, in love or euphoric. So when the friends and family warn the victim about the narcissist, the victim cannot see it, or finds it incredibly easy to dismiss the advice.
So these are some of the first of the narcissistic personality disorder symptoms and signs that are hidden in plain sight.
If someone seems too good to be true, they probably are.
If a relationship goes very fast, this is a major warning sign.
If your family or friends, people who have cared for you and loved you for a long time, tell you things about the new partner and you trust the new partner over family and friends, you need to take a big step back and properly reassess your situation.
When the victim is committed to the relationship, the bad behavior and the abuse starts. Initially the victim excuses it away because, after all, their partner is the ideal man or woman, everyone has a bad day every now and then, or the manipulator comes up with some other justification.
The problem is that the bad behavior is not a one off thing. All those narcissistic personality disorder symptoms listed above begin to show up in the relationship now.
There is criticism, humiliation, belittling, shouting, name calling, berating and on and on. There are long arguments about the same thing over and over. There is often ridiculing of the victim's family and friends with the result that the victim ends up spending less and less time with them. The victim ends up tolerating behavior that they would have found intolerable in the past.
These are actually more narcissistic personality disorder symptoms and signs that are hidden in plain sight. (This is sometimes mislabeled covert narcissism). The difficulty is that the victim often does not recognize them as such. It's worth understanding why.
Narcissists have a very profound influence on their victims. First they trick the victims into thinking that they are nice people. Then they start changing the rules of the relationship. The 'unconditional love' they supposedly gave at the start is turned into 'conditional love'. The victim has to behave in certain ways to stay in the good books of the narcissist. They have to start doing what the narcissist wants, to say the things the narcissist wants to hear and to think the way the narcissist wants them to think.
This latter is very important. Remember the way the narcissist thinks about themselves as outlined in the list of narcissistic personality disorder symptoms above? The narcissist wants the people around them to think the same way. Step by step they go about forcing their ideas on their victims. They mold the victim to begin to think, make decisions and act in particular ways. This may seem a bit far-fetched to anyone who does not understand mind control, but this is exactly what happens in a relationship with a narcissist.
Through a series of rewards, punishments, threats, compliments and criticisms, the victim's world view is altered. They think and behave differently. They start to think of themselves differently (useless, unworthy, hopeless). They think of the relationship with the narcissist in a very different way than they did initially. It is no longer a relationship of equals, but to the victim the narcissist seems superior, more intelligent and more worldly wise than the victim.
All these changes add up to a change in personality of the victim. They have had a false personality, a pseudopersonality, imposed upon them by the narcissist. When friends and family point out that they don’t recognize the victim any more, they are a shadow of their former selves, etc. this is what they are describing. The victim themselves will feel like they have got lost in the relationship or that they don't know who they are anymore.
Once again, this is another of the narcissistic personality disorder symptoms and signs that is very clear to outsiders, but often incredibly difficult for the victim to recognize. Because of the pseudopersonality their thinking has been distorted and they are unable to understand that what they are suffering emotional abuse at the hands of the narcissist. They are basically programmed to accept the abusers excuses for his cruel treatment.
You can read more details about how the pseudopersonality is created in this article about controlling girlfriends and about the nature of the pseudopersonality in this page about controlling husbands.
The things to keep in mind about the pseudopersonality now is that is is programmed to be completely dependent on the narcissist, it it programmed to believe the narcissist and it is programmed to take care of the narcissist's wants and needs before it's own.
It never destroys the real personality but simply suppresses it or dominates it. This explains why victims have this eternal conflict going on, wanting to leave but not being able to, hating the narcissist but loving him, knowing he is doing damage but defending him at the same time.
Here is another list of narcissistic personality disorder symptoms based on what I have outlined above. Some of these will be hidden from the victim and obvious to outsiders, for the reasons I have already explained. They are in no particular order.
If you recognize many of these narcissistic personality disorder symptoms and signs, you are in in a very difficult situation.
Give yourself a pat on the back for noticing what is actually going on in your life and then prepare to extricate yourself from the situation.
You really need to know what you are dealing with and it's vital to learn about narcissists and mind control. Working with an expert is also worth seriously considering.
You can read more here about signs of mental abuse, narcissistic abuse recovery and how to divorce a narcissist.
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