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What are the characteristics associated with narcissism?

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Quick Answer

The fifth edition of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" states that narcissism is characterized by arrogant or rude behavior, envy, lack of empathy, an incessant need to be admired, exploitation in interpersonal relationships and an inflated sense of entitlement, according to Psychology Today. Additionally, narcissism may be characterized by low self-esteem, self-righteous or defensive attitudes, anger at opposing viewpoints, poor interpersonal boundaries and an inability to cope with criticism.

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Full Answer

Although narcissism is typically characterized by arrogant behaviors, narcissists often lack self-esteem due to insecurity and self-doubting, states Psychology Today. Because of these insecurities, narcissists may appear inordinately self-righteous and yet display defensive behaviors when they feel that their competence is being challenged. Narcissists may have difficulty saying "I'm sorry" or "I was mistaken" because their identity and self-worth is contingent upon their ability to control their environment.

Because narcissists have low self-esteem, they often take criticism personally and may falsify evidence or attempt to change the subject when confronted, reports Psychology Today. Additionally, narcissists may react to contrary viewpoints with anger or rage in an attempt to externalize anxieties or doubts that are beneath the surface. Because narcissists lack awareness of these hidden tensions, they also have difficulty establishing healthy interpersonal boundaries. Often, they view other individuals as mere extensions of themselves, and thus place themselves above the other person or attempt to dominate them in conversation or social position.

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