Narcissistic dad traits

What to Do if You Have a "Narcissistic Father" — Talkspace

Knowing how to deal with a father with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) can help you to avoid feelings of inadequacy that often result from this type of relationship. Here, we’ll clearly define narcissism, review the most common traits of those with NPD, discuss the effects that a father with NPD can have on his children, and offer tips about how to navigate and cope with the relationship in the long-term.

Characteristics of a Father with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The term narcissism or narcissist is thrown around pretty frequently these days. The truth is, most of us exhibit at least one (or sometimes more) of the common traits associated with narcissistic personality disorder, but that doesn’t mean we’re all living with NPD.

As the name suggests, NPD is a personality disorder, and disorders, by definition, disrupt normal mental and physical functions. It’s important to keep this in mind because if your father is suffering from NPD, it can help to remember that his narcissistic behavior, though it may be frustrating and confusing, isn’t his choice.  

While it’s not uncommon for people to use the term “narcissist” in an argument, it really isn’t a term that should be used lightly. If you’re searching for tips on how to deal with a father with narcissistic personality disorder, then first be sure that your diagnosis is valid.There’s an integral difference between someone who suffers from NPD and someone who simply has extra high self-regard.  

However, a person with a genuine narcissistic personality disorder will exhibit self-love that’s morphed into something more; a preoccupation with themself, with little to no regard for anyone else’s feelings or emotions. 

Signs of a father with narcissistic personality disorder

There are several traits a father with narcissistic personality disorder might exhibit, including:

  • A pervasive pattern of grandiose behavior or fantasies
  • Reacting to criticism with shame, rage, or humiliation
  • Constant need for extreme attention
  • Unrealistic need for admiration & appreciation
  • Being overly envious to the point of anger
  • Showing signs of being preoccupied with success or power
  • Disregard of others’ personal boundaries
  • Self-admiration to the point of arrogance
  • Blatant lack of empathy for others
  • False sense of entitlement

In general, people with narcissistic personality disorder aren’t overly concerned about you. They are more likely to focus on what you can do for them and the fastest way they can get you to do it.

Signs of a father with narcissistic personality disorder

There are several traits a father with narcissistic personality disorder might exhibit, including:

  • A pervasive pattern of grandiose behavior or fantasies
  • Reacting to criticism with shame, rage, or humiliation
  • Constant need for extreme attention
  • Unrealistic need for admiration & appreciation
  • Being overly envious to the point of anger
  • Showing signs of being preoccupied with success or power
  • Disregard of others’ personal boundaries
  • Self-admiration to the point of arrogance
  • Blatant lack of empathy for others
  • False sense of entitlement

In general, people with narcissistic personality disorder aren’t overly concerned about you. They are more likely to focus on what you can do for them and the fastest way they can get you to do it.

Learn acceptance

Your mother or father’s constant need for attention and arrogance can be difficult. That much is a given. It’s understandable (and valid) for you to feel overwhelmed, tired, confused, and probably even a bit angry or hurt at times. However, it can be very beneficial for you to begin to accept who your father is and what his disorder means in your life. 

Create an image of him as a loving but challenging friend in your life. By learning to accept his behavior and his narcissistic gaslighting tendencies, you can begin to let go of some of the pain, resentment, or anger you may have been building up.

Don’t tolerate abuse

A father with NPD might have a constant need for ego-stroking. Beyond that, he may also eventually become abusive. This is never tolerable in any type of relationship, for any reason.

If your father, with or without narcissistic personality disorder, is abusive or toxic, you have every right to protect yourself and get out of the situation. Set healthy relationship boundaries, take care and use caution around anyone who exhibits a violent or narcissistic tendency, even if it’s your dad. We all have a right for peace and safety in our life, and you deserve healing from narcissistic abuse.

Impacts on a Child with A Father with NPD

Fathers with narcissistic personality disorder can have a significant impact on their children. The effects can vary with daughters versus sons, though.

Impacts on a daughter

Daughters with fathers who have NPD often state that their dads were never able to give them what they needed growing up. They commonly feel their relationship is unfulfilled. It’s also normal for them to recall having to compete with their siblings to get any parenting time or affection from their narcissistic fathers at all.

Some adult daughters say the toxic relationship still has a profound impact on their life. Many feel constantly vulnerable and always under pressure to do better, even as adults. People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder are often perfectionists, and fathers can make their adult child, especially daughters, feel insecure and inadequate, unable to and undeserving of receiving love.

Impacts on a son

Boys who grow up with fathers who have narcissistic personality disorder may feel like they never measure up. Sometimes fathers can become competitive with their sons. They might go so far as to intentionally win at any cost against their sons, even at the smallest games. Further, they’ll likely relish the victory to the point of being extreme and inappropriate.

Sons with fathers that exhibit narcissistic behavior may feel defeated, as if they’ll never be able to live up to or outperform dad in any way. If they do succeed, it might be marginal and the victory can be downplayed by the father, making the son continue feeling second-rate.

Of course, every child — even those in a healthy relationship — has unique dynamics with their father. There’s a commonality, however, in the NPD father’s inability to empathize with or even show basic concern for his children. 

“A narcissistic father figure can negatively impact one’s self esteem and overall internal value system which can be the driving forces within relationships throughout life. As a result, one might experience a two fold emotional response of never measuring up, while also feeling beholden to shame or guilt. Talking with a therapist can be a supportive way to process these experiences and move forward.”

Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, MSW

How to Recover From the Effects of a Father with NPD

There can be a lot of work involved in the process of recovering from the effects of being raised by a father with NPD or a narcissistic trait. Adult children of fathers with narcissistic personality disorder can benefit from the following.

Learn more to understand him

Learn as much as you can about what narcissistic personality disorder is, how it can affect parenting, and the possible impacts it can have on children. Awareness is key to healing. Continue to enhance your psychoeducation about NPD, as it will likely help you start to make sense of your childhood.

Seek help

“I always encourage taking time to grieve in order to heal from living with a parent we experienced to be toxic in some way. It can feel foreign to learn about proper boundaries and positive communication, but over time, with the right support, one can instill a positive self esteem and experience healthy relationships. Aligning with a clinician or therapist can help you identify negative thought patterns while helping you learn to navigate in a more positive light.”

Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, MSW


Focus your attention on recovery and healing. Begin developing a stable sense of self. For most adult children of NPD parents, healing depends heavily on finding a deeper self-connection. It’s important to learn to love yourself for who you are and not who you think others expect you to be. Your therapist can also help you learn how to cultivate more stability and cohesiveness in your life.

NPD can feel unfair. You may have a lot of resentment, but by understanding the signs of a father with narcissistic personality disorder, you can learn how to manage the relationship. The good news is: you are strong enough to overcome the pain NPD causes. You can have a happy, fulfilling, and rewarding life full of love and healthy, non-codependent relationships. You just need to take the time to learn how to deal with a father with narcissistic personality disorder so you can move past the disorder. 

See references

  • Mitra P, Fluyau D. Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder.
  • Caligor E, Levy K, Yeomans F. Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Diagnostic and Clinical Challenges. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2015;172(5):415-422. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14060723.

The Narcissistic Father | Psychology Today

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm (that they cause) does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves." — T.S. Eliot

You used to think that by the time you were in your twenties and definitely by your thirties you’d have your act together: You’d be establishing a successful career, have your own place, be in a committed and stable relationship, visit the gym enough to have the body you always wanted, and your social life would be vibrant.

But you’re nowhere near where you thought you’d be, and the tiny boxes next to the list of achievements that you’d hoped to accomplish are still unchecked.

As your confidence deflates, you look back on your own upbringing and think about your father – Mr. Self-Assured. He seemed to have it all – charm, success, popularity. He never seemed to be plagued by self-doubt, unlike you. He was the life of the party, knew everyone, and made things happen. You couldn’t get enough of him.

How Kids Experience Narcissistic Traits

Come to think of it, did his confidence border on arrogance? Is it possible that you were raised by someone with narcissistic traits? And if so, why is it important?

We take our families for granted – it’s natural that we do. Each family is a miniature sociological experiment, with its own set of unwritten rules, secrets, and nuanced behavioral patterns. We take our mom and dad for granted as if this must be what it’s like for everyone. Your dad may have been narcissistic, but you just assumed that all fathers were like him.

Here are some signs that your dad had narcissistic tendencies or was an outright narcissist.

  • Dad was self-centered and pretty vain. He had an inflated sense of self-importance that led him to believe he was superior and entitled to only the best.
  • Dad used people for his own good. He would take advantage of others, to the point of exploiting them when it suited him. Everybody seemed to cater to him, or at least he expected them to.
  • Dad was charismatic. Everyone wanted to be around him and he relished admiration from others. He loved being in the spotlight and the positive reinforcement that came from being the center of attention.
  • No one had an imagination like Dad. Grandiosity is alluring, and so were his fantasies of success, prestige, and brilliance. He would often exaggerate his achievements, and his ambitions and goals bordered on unrealistic.
  • Dad didn’t take criticism well. Nothing stung him like criticism; he often cut those people out of his life or tried to hurt them.
  • Dad’s rage was truly scary. Some people get mad and yell a lot. Dad could hurt you with his anger. It cut to the bone.
  • Dad could be aloof and unsympathetic. Narcissists often have a hard time experiencing empathy; they often disregard and invalidate how others feel. Of course, he was exquisitely sensitive to what he felt.
  • Dad wasn’t around a lot. He got a lot of gratification outside the family. Other fathers hung out with their families a lot more. Plus, he craved excitement and seemed to be more concerned by what others thought of him, rather than how his own kids felt about him.
  • Dad did what he wanted when dealing with you. Narcissists don’t step into someone else’s shoes very often. He did things with you that he enjoyed; maybe you did as well.
  • Dad wanted you to look great to his friends and colleagues. You were most important to him when he could brag about you; sad but true.
  • You couldn’t really get what you needed from him. Even if Dad provided on a material level, you felt deprived on a more subtle level. For example, you wanted his attention and affection, but would only get it sporadically, and only when it worked for him.

When you go through these traits, some may hit home; while others may not be relevant. Some may ring as very true; while others as less so. This is why narcissistic traits are not synonymous with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The Heuristic Problem of Personality Classification

Narcissism is not a dirty word, in fact, narcissistic traits are commonly found in most of us. There’s nothing disturbed about that. The other extreme is the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a controversial but often helpful label. For the record, our diagnostic categories are somewhat arbitrary and lack the veracity of harder medical diagnostic labels like a broken femur or glaucoma. Those disorders are easier to document and study. Personality Disorders help us organize our thinking about an individual, but may fall far short of a truthful depiction of a whole complex person.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a person is narcissistic or merely has a healthy self-regard. Narcissism isn’t about having high self-confidence; it’s a love for oneself that has morphed into a preoccupation. The term is based on Narcissus, the Greek mythological character who was so infatuated with himself that it ultimately proved fatal.

Although it’s not actually fatal, narcissism can become so pathological that it satisfies the criteria, however faulty, of a personality disorder. The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR) defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as:

“A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts … as indicated …. by the following”:

  • wanting to be admired
  • having a sense of entitlement
  • being exploitative
  • lacking empathy
  • being envious
  • arrogance

Another characteristic typical of narcissists is a disregard for personal boundaries. Narcissists don’t always acknowledge the need for boundaries, which is coupled with their failure to realize that others do not exist merely to meet their needs. A narcissist will often treat others, especially those that are close to him as if they are there to fulfill his needs and expectations.

Now that you have a firm grasp on what a narcissistic father may be like, let’s take a look at how he might affect his kids. (We will get to narcissistic mothers another time.)

How a Narcissistic Father Can Hurt His Son or Daughter

Narcissistic parents often damage their children. For example, they may disregard boundaries, manipulate their children by withholding affection (until they perform), and neglect to meet their children’s needs because their needs come first. Because image is so important to narcissists, they may demand perfection from their children. The child of a narcissist father can, in turn, feel pressure to ramp up their talents, looks, smarts, or charisma. It can cost them if they fulfill Dad's wishes—and it can cost them if they fail. No winning here.

In general, here‘s how a narcissistic father can affect a daughter or son.

Daughters of narcissistic fathers often describe feeling “unsatiated” when it comes to getting what they needed from their fathers. They never got enough and would have to compete with siblings for time with Dad. As a young child, Dad would comment on how beautiful you were. But as you grew older, he would rarely miss out on commenting on weight and attitude. You probably carry these concerns into adulthood, even if you found success. With a dad like this, it's never enough. With men (or women), you often feel vulnerable and worried you’ll be dumped for someone else. Anxiously avoiding commitment or taking on the narcissistic role are both natural ways to keep relationships safe; it's understandable and self-protective. (But you lose.)

A daughter needs her dad’s adoration; it validates her and helps her internalize her specialness. Healthy fathers give their girls that gift. You are special and deserve love for being you.

As the son of a narcissistic father you never feel that you can measure up. Dad was so competitive that he even competed with you. (Or didn’t pay attention to you one way or the other.) You may have accepted defeat—you’d never outdo your dad. Or, you may have worked hard to beat Dad at his own game just to get his attention and some semblance of fatherly pride. You somehow never feel good enough, and even when you do succeed, you still feel empty and second-rate.

Just like girls need to be adored by their fathers to feel validated, boys also need their dad to believe in them.

So how do you survive a narcissistic father?

  • Get into good therapy. You want to come to terms with Dad for who he is, and how he hurt you. He's your father after all, and you will need to differentiate from him in order to enjoy his presence without being undermined. It’s no small task.
  • Accept Dad for who he is. His arrogance and constant need for ego-stroking can be annoying. If you put him into place in your mind, he may simply end up being a lovable but annoying father. Take the best, as long as he doesn’t still have the power to hurt you.
  • Do not let Dad hurt you. If he has a rage attack, you may decide to get in the car and leave. Limits are often a good thing. “Dad, this is not constructive.”
  • Cut ties if it is too toxic or dangerous. Some narcissistic parents have violent or abusive tendencies. It goes along with their self-righteousness. You are now an adult. Take care and take caution.
  • Keep your expectations realistic and low. Don’t expect a relationship with a narcissistic person to be based on mutuality or reciprocity. Narcissists are selfish and can’t put your needs on par with their own. As an adult, you can keep these conflicts with your father at a distance; but if you date or marry a narcissist, it probably will wear you out.
  • When you want something from a narcissist, convince them that it will be to their benefit. I am not a big fan of dishonesty, but some people with narcissistic traits can be manipulated. When you want such a person to do something for you, you need to spin it in a way so that your request seems to be to their benefit. This may work with your father and with others too.
  • Never let a narcissist determine your self-worth. Narcissists lack empathy and the ability to validate others, so be careful about trusting them with sensitive information or sharing important achievements, because they won’t treat it with the respect it deserves. I have seen this backfire many times.
  • Sometimes compliance is the simplest way to deal with a narcissistic parent. It may sound cheap, but if your father is narcissistic, you may not be interested in cutting him out of your life. He is your dad, after all. Sometimes, it’s easier, and requires less effort, to comply with most of his wishes. It may not be worth the fight. You are an adult now, and you are not under his roof anymore.
  • Alternatively, you can assert your own authority and challenge his. Narcissists get away with their behavior because others (passively) allow them to. Sometimes, you may need to adopt an authoritative stance and firmly impress upon him that his demeaning attitude is unacceptable. You are no longer a child, and you are not as vulnerable to his rejection or anger. Be prepared for pushback. Narcissistic people hate criticism.
  • Pity the narcissist. Arrogance doesn’t really inspire sympathy or compassion. But at the end of the day, when you think about it, you may come to pity someone who is in constant need of compliments, attention, and validation. It is freeing.

Appreciate the Healthy Adults Out There

While it's hard to grow up unaffected by a narcissistic father, there may have been others who helped you along the way. Looking back on your life, you may identify a grandfather, a grandmother, a coach, a teacher, a therapist, or a religious figure who really appreciated you. Maybe your mother saved the day.

Take in the Good

I hope you can find the good. There may have been some good in your narcissistic father. Embrace that while distancing yourself from the rest. Plus, there may have been special men and women in your upbringing—internalize their good. And, there are good people to care about today—bring in this good as well.

Finally, realize the value within yourself. You don't have to be great to be good enough.

To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

Father-narcissist, or one who does not know how to love

One who does not know how to love

Narcissistic parent, father-narcissist - what is behind these concepts and why today, in the era of active psychological educational program, so much attention is paid to them ? This, alas, is not a new fashion and not an attempt to relieve oneself of responsibility for an imperfectly evolving life.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a real-life disease, from which, as a rule, not the “patient” himself suffers, but the people around him (for more details, see our glossaries )

As a result, many of us experience difficulties with building relationships, suffer from complexes, do not feel self-worth, which is why we try to work on ourselves for years, not realizing that the root of the problem must be sought in someone else.

In the one who for many years put doubts in our heads and devalued our achievements, in our own father . Of course, a mother can be a narcissist, and even both parents at once, however, it is believed that men are subject to narcissism more often than women, so in this article we will focus on narcissistic fathers. nine0011


Narcissism and its manifestations

Why can't a narcissist be a good parent?

Distinctive features of a narcissistic father

Narcissistic father: what to do?

Narcissism and its manifestations For those who are already aware that daffodils are extremely toxic to others, the imagination can paint an image of an unpleasant, arrogant person who, with his very appearance, repels other people. However, outsiders usually see your father as an attractive and interesting man. He is charming, talented, successful, and, unlike you, always confident in himself. nine0003 Only when communicating with you all the charm disappears somewhere , and you more often observe other manifestations of his personality: coldness, discontent, anger. He does not choose expressions, is not afraid to hurt you and puts forward more and more requirements that you must meet, otherwise you will be worse off. If you recognize yourself in these lines, do not despair: a narcissist can (and should!) be resisted.

The consequences of raising a narcissistic father for a daughter are especially painful.
This affects her relationships with men for the rest of her life. nine0005

Although few men are officially diagnosed with NPD, there are more daffodils around us than it seems . Everyone knows the story: a three-year-old girl begins to cry loudly right in the store after her father told her that he would not buy sweets. Looking somewhat bewildered, he gets angry and sharply pulls his daughter: “Just don’t be whimsical, I don’t have time for stupidity!” Then comes the takedown: “Why do you like to pester me when I'm in a hurry? You always know exactly how to ruin my mood!” nine0005

Someone watching the scene sighed softly: a narcissistic father is much worse than a neighbor or, say, a narcissistic boss. It seems that even strangers sympathize with the girl, but not her own dad. And they sympathize with her not because she was left without sweets, but because her parent is so blinded by his own feelings that he is completely unable to empathize with his little daughter. The girl does not so much need the ill-fated sweets as the opportunity to be heard, which her father does not give her and is not able to give. Where a mentally mature person would respond: "I know that you are upset, and I am sad to refuse you too, but let's take fruit instead?" - nine0003 the narcissist presents himself as a sufferer and concentrates solely on his vision of the situation . Naturally distorted.

Throwing responsibility on his little daughter, the narcissistic father did not even try to understand her emotions and turned the whole situation around himself, although one of the main tasks of a parent is precisely to put his own feelings aside , to help children deal with their own and find the general solution . Children learn to understand themselves when they see that their father, a person whom they trust and in whom they instinctively seek protection, like a mirror, reflects their emotions, voices and thereby shares them with them. When narcissism intervenes, the mirror seems to turn over: the narcissist does not know how to reflect others, but everywhere he sees a reflection of himself. nine0005

Why can't a narcissist be a good parent?

4 phrases of narcissistic parents who cripple their children

Narcissists turn everything in their direction. Their deep need for attention and recognition overshadows the feelings of the people around them , and they perceive every contradictory action or emotional outburst of the closest person - their own child - as a personal insult. Such fathers are easily annoyed when a child disagrees with them or behaves differently from what is expected of him, and therefore, from an early age, their children learn to interact with dads with great care so as not to inadvertently provoke anger or, even worse, do not turn their disappointment into dislike. The most receptive children go even further and begin to play ahead of the curve: for example, they compliment their father, openly admire his successes, and try their best to become his perfect reflection. Behind this behavior is usually an unconscious hope that taking care of dad will give the parent the necessary resources so that he can finally return to taking care of themselves. Unfortunately, this does not happen, and in the meantime, children increasingly lose contact with their own emotions and needs. nine0005

The narcissist inevitably leads the family down a destructive path of development , especially if the family adheres to the classical model in which the father plays a key role. In it, the children do everything with an eye on dad, and since dad is blinded by his own greatness, nothing good comes from the desire to meet his requirements. Children of narcissists are under emotional stress from the first years of life, trying to become the ideal children that their father wants to see. Needless to say, perfection is not achievable, the father always finds something to complain about, and the child believes that he is good for nothing, and begins to look for problems in himself, but not in his father. nine0005

The hallmarks of a narcissistic father

.... and a manipulator

It is often very difficult to recognize a narcissist in your parent, because such fathers themselves are deeply convinced that they are all right and they are simply better than others know what to do and how to do it. However, there are several important signs by which a narcissist can be recognized in order to further minimize his adverse effects :

1. Narcissus lives through you - such fathers expect you to follow in their footsteps (you will study there, choose the same profession, earn no less recognition) or that you will achieve what the fathers themselves failed to achieve. If a child refuses to follow the path imposed by the father and chooses his own, he often hears threats that he will be disowned.

2. He pushes you aside - sometimes a narcissist is frightened by the potential and real successes of his own children, therefore, in order not to remain in the shadows, such a father will try to devalue your achievements not only in the eyes of those around him, but also in your own eyes. nine0005

3. He constantly demonstrates his superiority - narcissistic fathers tend to have an inflated sense of their own importance, so they will not fail to point out to you how much better they are than you, with or without reason.

4. He manipulates - manipulation is considered the most common sign of narcissism. Most often, they are used to evoke feelings of guilt (“Who are you so ungrateful of”), to shift responsibility (“You make me feel bad”), to shame (“I am ashamed of you”) and to force the child to lead himself the way a father wants ("If you don't do as I said, you are no longer my son/daughter"). nine0005

5. He does not know how to empathize - the narcissistic father is unable to understand the feelings of the child and treat them with respect.

6. He tries to cultivate codependency – that is, he does everything so that you feel your debt to him until the end of your life and help not only physically, but also financially, and also be emotionally attached to him. If the child tries to get rid of this addiction, the father will resort to manipulation: he will accuse him of being a bad son / daughter and he (she) should be ashamed of doing this to his father. nine0005

Narcissistic father: what to do?

Despite the fact that the children of narcissists are so accustomed to destructive patterns of behavior that they often do not even imagine what can and should be different, they subconsciously dream of a quiet life. It is possible to get rid of the template received from the father, and the first step to change should be healing from the wounds received from the parent. At first it will seem that the damage done cannot be blocked or even reduced, but it is important to remember two important points here: firstly, action in this case is definitely better than inaction, and secondly, it depends only on you how it will turn out your next life. If you are determined to change it for the better, no one, including your father, can stop you. Psychologists recommend starting to follow a few simple but effective recommendations:

  • Keep some things to yourself – yes, we all want to be able to share our dreams and achievements with someone. Because narcissists lack empathy and compassion, it's best to share your innermost with someone else.

  • Set boundaries your father can tell you all kinds of taunts, but this does not mean that you should take them personally. Do not forget the old truth: it is impossible to offend, it is only possible to be offended. Whatever arrows he launches in your direction, it depends on you whether they hit the target. As soon as he starts a tirade, make it a point to stop him with "Dad, this is not constructive" or "I won't fall for your manipulations again." Thus, on the one hand, you will show that you have boundaries and you intend to protect them, and on the other hand, that you know his tricks and they do not work with you. nine0124

  • Try to accept him as he is - perhaps the most difficult item to complete. Especially when we know that it is not with us, but something is wrong with him. However, you cannot change a narcissist, and the more you try to do so, the more strained your relationship will become. Therefore, focus on yourself and accept that the only way for your father to change is to want it himself.

  • Contact a specialist - significant progress on the path to healing can be achieved by working with a psychologist or psychotherapist. Pay attention to those who specialize in domestic violence (which includes emotional abuse) or direct narcissism.

  • Do not be afraid to break off relations and leave – unfortunately, sometimes it happens that there is no other way. The father not only continues to stubbornly stand his ground, but also moves to more active psychological and even physical violence as soon as he realizes that you have begun to fight back. In this case, the only right decision from the point of view of your further psychological well-being will be the decision to leave his house and stop any communication. If you live in the same area, try to always keep your phone and keys with you so that it cannot interfere with you. nine0124

  • Do not fall for the imposed model many children of narcissists, growing up, unconsciously choose the same narcissists as their fathers for relationships. This is especially common with women, so try to memorize their behavior so you can quickly recognize narcissists and stay away from them. By avoiding past relationship patterns, you can meet a wonderful partner who truly loves and respects you. nine0124

And, most importantly, remember that you are not alone, many of us have narcissistic fathers, but this does not mean that we should put an end to ourselves and our lives because of them. By refusing to repeat other people's patterns of behavior, by cultivating self-love, and by not being embarrassed to ask for help when we need it, we can truly change the future for ourselves and our children.

Psychologist Tatyana Dyachenko, author of the Dangerous Narcissus book series, helps adult children of narcissistic parents

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Who is a narcissist?

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Narcissism is a feature of the psyche in which a person perceives himself as a unique individual, considers himself better than others, which is not always true. In fact, these traits are present in the character of many people. In a healthy personality, they result in ambition and a desire to please. But under a certain scenario, laid down in childhood, such behavior can turn into a pathology, which is often accompanied by other diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder and depression. nine0005

Contrary to popular belief, people with narcissistic personality disorder do not like themselves very much. Rather, they admire their grandiose projection, which allows them to close gaps in their own self-esteem. Such protection allows narcissists to avoid deep feelings and self-doubt. A person with this disorder does not tolerate minimal criticism, he perceives remarks as a personal insult and is able to throw a tantrum if someone refuses to admire him. You can check how narcissistic traits are characteristic of you or your partner using the NPI questionnaire [1]. The more positive answers a person gives to statements from the list compiled by American psychologists and researchers Robert Raskin and Howard Terry, the more narcissistic features appear in him. Meeting people with a true personality disorder is not easy. According to various sources, their number in society varies from 1 to 6%. nine0005

How to recognize a narcissist?

According to the American psychiatrists' handbook "Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" [2], there are nine signs of narcissistic personality disorder. If at least five of these are present, a doctor may suspect a disorder. Usually such a person:

  1. Has an inflated sense of self-importance. He often exaggerates his achievements and talents. Expects people to admire his actions, even if they were minor. If the narcissist organized the cleaning of the yard, then at least the district newspaper should write about it. nine0124
  2. Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, beauty, or ideal love. To each new partner, the narcissist can say that he is the love of his life or wait for him to fulfill his fantasies. The beginning of such a relationship is a magical, but short period. In work, the narcissist, according to him, is a genius. If he has not been able to achieve great results, he is simply sure that success lies ahead of him, even if it is time for him to retire.
  3. Believes that he is not like others and has few equals. Therefore, the environment must match. The narcissist chooses “special” people as friends and partners, for example, with high social status or model appearance. Thus, he seems to reflect himself through them, because his problems are unique and can only be understood by special people. Narcissists like to be associated with big brands, whether it be in their work projects or clothing choices. nine0124
  4. Requires constant attention, recognition and admiration, even if you just took out the trash or cooked dinner.
  5. I am absolutely sure that everyone owes him. Expectations for other people are usually very high. Close people are obliged to fulfill the requests of the narcissist at the first call.
  6. Uses other people to achieve his own goals. For him, it goes without saying. The narcissist is not used to sincerely thanking for services and does it only within the framework of the accepted ethical norm. nine0124
  7. He has difficulty experiencing empathy. Such people are not able to draw a parallel between their feelings and the feelings of others. Therefore, the narcissist does not even think about when he hurts someone. Very often, this behavior is mistaken for abuse by partners of narcissists. In fact, he may be concerned with how to hide the shame of his failure and not lose his greatness.
  8. Often jealous of others and believes that others envy him. In the latter case, it is by this circumstance that the narcissist explains the criticism of others in his address. nine0124
  9. Arrogant towards other people. Such a person absolutely sincerely believes that he is better than others, and other people's shortcomings are an excellent reason to assert himself.

To decide to end a relationship with a narcissist, write down the reasons for breaking up and keep the list with you

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Men and women are narcissists disorder in one form or another, men are more likely to be affected by this disorder than women. The data were collected over a period of 30 years, and the percentage ratio between the sexes did not change much during this time [3]. nine0005

In doing so, the researchers noted two important points. First, male narcissists were more likely than females to exploit others and believe they were entitled to certain privileges. Secondly, men were more likely to seek power. Scientists explain this by the fact that until recently, leadership qualities did not meet the criteria for femininity. According to one of the authors of the study, Emily Griyalva, girls are more often criticized for aggressiveness and authoritarianism. Thus, society unconsciously suppressed manifestations of narcissistic behavior [4]. nine0005

As regards vanity and striving for a vivid self-presentation, in this respect there was no significant difference between men and women.

Types of narcissists and how they are formed

There are different approaches to the formation of narcissism, including studies that allow for genetic influence, but this is not a decisive factor in the formation of personality.

In 1914, Sigmund Freud stated that children somehow go through a stage of primary narcissism. He believed that this was an intermediate stage of growing up, but later he singled out other forms of narcissism, to a greater extent associated with mental disorders. nine0005

Neuro-Freudian Karen Horney argued that the development of such character traits may be due to the fact that parents in various ways pushed the child to create psychological protection. For example, they could delegate the embodiment of their ambitions or rejected the real manifestations of the child, instilling a sense of inferiority.

The contribution of parental figures to the formation of narcissistic disorder is also noted by psychotherapist and researcher Otto Kernberg. He compares narcissism with a false prop that a person erects in order to receive from others the admiration and confidence that he did not receive from his parents in childhood and cannot give himself in adulthood [5]. nine0005

In the book of psychologist Elinor Greenberg "Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations: the pursuit of Love Admiration and Safety" [6], the author divides narcissists into three types:

  1. Open, or grandiose. Embodied stereotype. A bright character illustrating this feature of development and behavior. His whole being screams, "Look at me." This childish behavior indicates that a person is stuck at an age when adults pay a lot of attention to the child, praise him excessively, suggest that he is special, forgetting to teach him empathy. nine0124
  2. Hidden or depressive. Such people can grow up in families where one of the relatives, including mother or father, was a narcissist. At the same time, there was a high level of competition for love and attention. On the one hand, children copied the behavior model of narcissistic parents, on the other hand, such a child formed protective mechanisms, since an adult narcissist would certainly assert himself at his expense. Growing up, such people may not openly say that they are special. They would rather choose a person, a book, an object and exalt their virtues. Thus, the narcissist puts them on a par with himself. In personal relationships, such people do not like direct conflicts. Their weapon is passive aggression. A favorite technique is to promise and not deliver, and then blame the other person for everything. They tend to be insecure, and ambivalent behavior often leads them to depression. nine0124
  3. Perverse or toxic. Such people go even further. They love not only admiration, but also submission. Narcissists of this type love to wreak havoc around themselves, the same that reigned in their childhood in relationships with their parents. These narcissists often give their partners an emotional rollercoaster of humiliation and praise. They take pleasure in destroying other people's careers, destroying people morally and spiritually.

Mixed representatives of these types also exist. nine0005

Treatment for Narcissism

Most often, narcissists do not even suspect that something is wrong with them, because they do not tend to blame themselves for something. So if such people were seen by a specialist, then the reason for this could be related problems: depression, bipolar disorder, or excessive alcohol consumption. There is no cure for narcissism yet. Psychotherapy has a positive effect on such patients. Properly structured classes can help a person establish relationships with loved ones, learn to withstand criticism, stop despising themselves and others, set realistic goals and achieve them, and not dream of sky-high heights [7]. nine0005

Although there is no cure for narcissism yet, psychotherapy has a positive effect

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How to communicate with a narcissist?

Building an even relationship with a narcissist is not always easy. Some prefer to just cut them off. But what if this is not possible? Let's say that person is a family member or ex-husband/wife with whom you have children in common.

  • The first thing psychologists advise is to try to detach yourself emotionally. Ignore toxic statements and manipulations. It is useless to expect sudden changes in behavior from such people. According to research, narcissists do not tend to learn from their own mistakes simply because they are sure they did not make them [8]. nine0124
  • Your personal boundaries are your guard against the actions of a narcissist. “This won’t happen to me anymore”, “I won’t fall for these manipulations” - phrases that will help to avoid an unpleasant conversation or intrusive requests of a narcissist. You can't wait for a response.
  • The shortest answers, conditionally "yes" and "no", are your main allies in a dialogue with such a person if he began to resort to manipulation. By minimizing communication, you give him much less reason to hook on to some phrase and launch an attack. nine0124
  • Stick to the topic of conversation and don't get sidetracked. Perhaps your counterpart will try to knock you out of the saddle with accusations or get personal. In this case, the phrase “We are going off topic” will help bring the discussion back on track.
  • Compliments. If you really need to get something out of a narcissist, don't be stingy with praise. Most likely, he will even enjoy fulfilling your request. Yes, this is manipulation, but who said that only a narcissist can use this technique? nine0124

How to get away from a narcissist

The end of a relationship is never easy. With a narcissist, breaking up can be doubly difficult. For him, the fact that he was abandoned is an intolerable insult. That is why he will try by hook or by crook to bring the partner back. During this period, he will become sensitive and gentle, will swear eternal love and will do this until his victim loses his vigilance. Often, therefore, relationships with a narcissist develop into a cycle of breaks and reunions. Nevertheless, if you decide to put an end to your communication, psychologists recommend the following:

  • Write down the reasons why you want to leave. It's best to keep this list around in case the narcissist decides to drag you back into the relationship by talking about eternal love.
  • Give up illusions. It is difficult for such people to change, especially without the help of a specialist. Do you have time to wait until he finally learns to show empathy and respect?
  • Disconnect all contacts. Ask a friend to pick up your belongings from the narcissist. Block this person in all phones and messengers. If you have children in common, at first ask someone close to you to be with you at general meetings. nine0124
  • Let go of your feelings. Breaking up, even with a toxic person, is always hard. Give yourself time to get over this situation. Just don't expect the narcissist to suffer in return. Most likely, during this period, he will try to restore his shattered ego and will choose not the most pleasant ways for this: either he will tell everyone what a bad person you are, or seek solace in the arms of someone else.

There are nine signs of narcissism, but five signs can already be suspected of it

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Kristina Andreyuk, clinical psychologist, researcher. Research interests: mentalization, manipulative behavior, personality disorders

In addition to family relationships, external factors can also enhance narcissistic traits. Media and social networks broadcast often unattainable ideals, and self-improvement services are imposed by advertising. All this can affect the psyche.

In "normal narcissism" people try to please others, to achieve success in their work, which helps them to adapt in society. However, in the case of pathology, a person's ideas about themselves are distorted. In this case, the emphasis is on the grandiosity of his figure. He experiences difficulties in forming adequate ideas about other people, abuses manipulations, grossly violates the boundaries of the interlocutor and ignores his comfort. Narcissistic features can manifest themselves in pathological perfectionism, hypochondria, constant attempts to correct their "flaws", including, for example, transforming one's appearance as the most noticeable attribute of self-presentation for others. nine0005

On the surface, narcissists give the impression of being rather pleasant people. According to research, many socially active narcissists have charisma, know how to hold an audience, are not afraid to express themselves, appear self-confident, and have high claims regarding academic and professional achievements. These qualities often show up in job interviews and help narcissists get into leadership positions. However, such bosses may use too subjective criteria when evaluating employees, focusing not on their professional achievements, but on the degree of admiration, devotion, and the absence of doubts about the correctness of the leader's decisions. nine0005

Close relationships are difficult for narcissists. In partners and friends, they are primarily looking for confirmation of their exclusivity, superiority (which reinforces vulnerable self-esteem). Often, such people confuse the attachment that accompanies healthy partnerships and collaborations with the addiction that can shackle and inspire fear. The demands of constant adoration and recognition of their grandiosity, which the narcissist often implements in the form of excessive control over the thoughts and feelings of a partner, in most cases, sooner or later are not fully satisfied, which leads to conflicts and increased manipulative behavior. nine0005

If you have found any manifestations of narcissistic traits in yourself and want to change them, then it will be useful for you to develop the skills of self-reflection, mentalization (understanding mental states), work on the development of emotional intelligence, empathy (for example, discuss with friends the films you have watched, read books in terms of understanding the inner world of the characters, their motivation, etc.). It is very important to learn to analyze what is happening from different positions, without sliding into extreme points, such as, for example, idealization and depreciation - look for alternative explanations. Try to look at situations or actions from different angles, noting the possible positive aspects of seemingly negative events, including during conversations with loved ones.

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