How to Spot a Narcissist

‘You are a narcissist!” “Don’t be a narcissist!” “Only a narcissist would act like you”! These are only some words but do we know the real meaning?

While I was interviewing Babita Spinelli, a licensed psychotherapist/psychoanalyst for the Peter Pan Syndrome article, she mentioned that there is a connection between a narcissistic person and a person with Peter Pan Syndrome. That’s why I decided to write an article not only about a link between Peter Pan Syndrome and Narcissism but above all a clear idea of ​​what narcissism is.


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Narcissism 101

“Peter Pan syndrome and narcissism have some commonalities since narcissism is on a spectrum, but they are not the same thing. Not all Peter Pans are narcissists, but the connection can exist where a Peter Pan is unwilling to change, easily blames others, doesn’t take responsibility for their behavior, and makes empty promises,” Dr. Spinelli states.

This disorder is named after Narcissus, the mythological figure who fell in love with his reflection. It goes without saying that when we say narcissist we refer to a person who is in love with themself.

“A true narcissist is someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s a mental health condition that is characterized by specific traits. Narcissism does come in varying degrees of severity,” says Dr. Spinelli.


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Signs of a Narcissist

Spinelli noted the main signs of a narcissist. Some of them are:

  • Love bombing
  • An exaggerated need for attention and admiration
  • Gaslighting. The victim of an ongoing gaslighting from a narcissist will soon begin to take on the narcissist’s reality and lose sight of reality or their sense of self
  • Lack of boundaries. Inability to respect emotional and physical space
  • Lack of empathy. Inability to be vulnerable


She explains that there are various possible subtypes of narcissism. However, the main hallmarks of narcissism according to Spinelli are the following:

  • A grandiose sense of self – they feel they are entitled to admiration, special praise, or favors
  • Extreme self-focus — focus on themselves for their gain, lack of empathy, superiority, and arrogance.
  • A constant need for admiration and attention and feeling entitled to it.
  • People in a relationship with an NPD may often feel emotionally drained.
  • A need to control, maintain power or preoccupation with unlimited power
  • Reactions that are extreme — from positive to negative emotions
  • Active manipulation
  • Treat conversations as a platform for themselves
  • Exploit others creating guilt or shame


Although narcissists have a grandiose sense of self as claimed by Spinelli their non-conscious feelings about themselves aren’t so secure. “They are entitled. Very grandiose. Very concerned about their appearance. They don’t regulate their emotions very well. They are very hypersensitive to criticism,” she says.


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Self Confidence or Narcissism?

Thus self-confident people tend to be misunderstood by others who think they are narcissists Spinelli says there is a big difference between the two.

“Both are related to agency and assertiveness, but unlike narcissism, self-confidence comes with empathy, respect, and understanding of others. Self-confidence comes from an authentic, positive place whereas narcissism includes an exaggerated sense of self without empathy for others. Confidence considers the well-being of others,” Dr. Spinelli explains.

She states that narcissists do not realize that they are narcissists or they deny the identification: “Their loved ones may notice the symptoms before they do. People with NPD could benefit from treatment with psychotherapy, but they must first accept the diagnosis and be willing to commit to the process which tends to be a challenge and rare because of the very nature of the personality disorder.”

Therefore, narcissism is the desire to have constant attention from others. The reasons why a
person can become a narcissist are related to various causes. Most of them are related to
childhood. Narcissism can be treated with ongoing therapy by professionals.

Illustration: eamesBot/

You might also like:

Peter Pan Syndrome: Why Some People Refuse to Grow Up


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