Narcissistic Personality Disorder & Psychopathy Red Flags – “I’m a winner”
There are many red flags that could indicate you may be interacting with someone with narcissistic personality disorder, psychopathy, or some blend of the narcissism conditions. Here I’ll touch on a few red flags. However, it is important to note two things:
- These red flags are not diagnostic criteria and simply because a sign is present, one should not jump to the conclusion that someone has a personality disorder.
- Not everyone with narcissistic personality disorder or psychopathy interact in the same manner. Some will not overtly ‘show’ certain behaviors.
Competitive & Comparative Interactions
[I’m a winner!]
Psychologists often refer to this competitive, enhancing interactive style as, “Self Enhancement.” Self-Enhancement is not isolated to people along the narcissism spectrum … any of us might do this occasionally. However, people with narcissistic personality disorder tend to engage in self-enhancement consistently.
They usually try to prove they are better than you.
They boast about themselves and their ‘self-enhancements’ tend to be very loosely associated with who or what they really are (e.g., belief that they have a near genius intellect | belief that they are attractive). They ‘do’ this with people they share close relationships with, leading those others to feel inferior to them.
Unfortunately, many with narcissistic and psychopathic traits are competitive in interactions. The competition might be demonstrated when they spontaneously describe themselves (i.e., “I’m a winner” | “I have a very high IQ.“).
Some may not actually make these statements aloud because they have an awareness of how off-putting and immature such comments are in social situations. Rather some hold this belief and will behave this way in social interactions (i.e., they are superior to others). Some will demonstrate this competitive style in the form of slights or put-downs regarding others (“lol, you sure know how to screw things up.”)
There is often a winner and a loser and they often keep score, rank, and compete regardless of how minor the situation. This binary way of interpreting the world can be bewildering to someone who has the ability to appreciate social and emotional complexities.
There are many with psychopathy that filter information through the framework of:
- Winner vs Loser
- Powerful vs Weak
- Us vs Them
- Me vs You
They are most comfortable with divisiveness, rank, and being a part of the group (or the person) with power or control. Sadly, when it comes to conditions such as psychopathy, if we were to examine the content of their verbalizations, we would witness themes that reflect the presence of limited emotional range & immorality.
Many express thoughts of hate, intolerance, arrogance, deceit, anger, and lack of accountability (often while denying bad behavior if it is pointed out – gaslighting).
Rhonda Freeman, PhD
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Campbell, W.K. (2000). Narcissism and Comparative Self-Enhancement Strategies.
Wallace, H.M., & Baumeister, R.F. (2002). The performance of narcissists rises and falls with perceived opportunity for glory. Journal of personality and social psychology, 82 5, 819-34.