What Is Narcissistic Behavior?


Quick Answer

Narcissistic behavior describes the attitudes and actions of people demonstrating narcissism, the excessive adoration and admiration of oneself to the point of preoccupation. The extreme expressions of narcissistic behavior form Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Examples of narcissistic behavior include the display of snobbish attitudes, demands for complete attention and a demonstrated a pattern of grandiosity.

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People diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder exhibit intense, unstable emotions and have a distorted image of themselves with an inflated sense of superiority. They are often characterized as arrogant, rude and conceited.

One of the primary symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a complete lack of empathy for other people. Other typical symptoms are narcissistic behavior that exploits others for personal gain, acts of extreme selfishness and a highly exaggerated sense of self-importance. Narcissists tend to have an overblown opinion of their own skills and abilities.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder occurs in males more than females, and is estimated to occur in about one percent of the U.S. population and up to approximately six percent.

The word "narcissism" derives from a Greek myth that warns of the dangers of inflated pride and arrogance. In the tale, a young man named Narcissus sees his reflection in a pool of water. He becomes so enamored with his handsome face that he falls in love and eventually drowns while attempting to embrace himself.

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