6 Sidnes of Narcissism You May Not Know About

The recently published 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists precisely the same nine criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) as did the previous version, published 19 years earlier. So these longstanding diagnostic yardsticks are by now quite familiar—not only to professionals but to interested laypeople as well. Because only the extreme, or “classic,” narcissist fits all of these criteria, DSM specifies that an individual need meet only five of them (barely more than half) to warrant this unflattering label.

As a starting point, I’ll reiterate these selected criteria—before, that is, adding six important ones of my own, which either complement or extend these “official” yardsticks. My particular measures for identifying pathological narcissists are based not only on my exposure to the voluminous writings on this character disorder, but also on 30+ years of clinical experience. This experience includes doing personal, couples, and family counseling with such troublesome individuals. But it also involves working independently with those involved with narcissists—whether their distressed children, spouses, parents, friends, or business associates—who repeatedly express enormous frustration in trying to cope with them.

To begin, however, here are DSM’s requirements (link is external) (slightly condensed, and with minor bracketed amendments) for “earning” the unenviable diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
4. Requires excessive admiration [regularly fishes for compliments, and is highly susceptible to flattery].
5. Has a sense of entitlement.
6. Is interpersonally exploitative.
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling [or, I would add, unable] to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty [rude and abusive] behaviors or attitudes.

So what’s left out here? Actually, as regards identifying descriptors, quite a bit. And I’ve no doubt that other therapists could add further to the six additional characteristics I’ll provide here—features that, although regrettably minimized or omitted from DSM, I‘ve routinely seen displayed by the many dysfunctional narcissists I’ve worked with. So, to enumerate them, such individuals:

1. Are highly reactive to criticism. Or anything they assume or interpret as negatively evaluating their personality or performance. This is why if they’re asked a question that might oblige them to admit some vulnerability, deficiency, or culpability, they’re apt to falsify the evidence (i.e., lie—yet without really acknowledging such prevarication to themselves), hastily change the subject, or respond as though they’d been asked something entirely different. Earlier for Psychology Today I wrote a post highlighting this supercharged sensitivity called “The Narcissist’s Dilemma: They Can Dish It Out, But . . . ”. And this aspect of their disturbance underscores that their ego—oversized, or rather artificially “inflated”—can hardly be viewed as strong or resilient. On the contrary, it’s very easily punctured. (And note here another related piece of mine, “Our Egos: Do They Need Strengthening—or Shrinking?”). What these characteristics suggest is that, at bottom and despite all their egotistic grandiosity, they…

2. …Have low self-esteem. This facet of their psyche is complicated, because superficially their self-regard would appear to be higher and more assured than just about anyone else’s. Additionally, given their customary “drivenness,” it’s not uncommon for them to rise to positions of power and influence, as well as amass a fortune (and see here my post “Narcissism: Why It’s So Rampant in Politics”). But if we examine what’s beneath the surface of such elevated social, political, or economic stature—or their accomplishments generally—what typically can be inferred is a degree of insecurity vastly beyond anything they might be willing to avow.

That is, in various ways they’re constantly driven to prove themselves, both to others and to their not-so-confident “inner child” self. This is the self-doubting, recessive part of their being that, though well hidden from sight, is nonetheless afflicted with feelings and fears of inferiority. Inasmuch as their elaborate defense system effectively wards off their having to face what their bravado masks, they’re highly skilled at exhibiting, or “posturing,” exceptionally high self-esteem. But their deeper insecurities are yet discernible in their so often fishing for compliments and their penchant for bragging and boasting about their (frequently exaggerated) achievements. That is, they’re experts at complimenting themselves! And when—despite all their self-aggrandizement— others are critical of them, they…

3. …Can be inordinately self-righteous and defensive. Needing so much to protect their overblown but fragile ego, their ever-vigilant defense system can be extraordinarily easy to set off. I’ve already mentioned how reactive they typically are to criticism, but in fact anything said or done that they perceive as questioning their competence can activate their robust self-protective mechanisms. Which is why so many non-narcissists I’ve worked with have shared how difficult it is to get through to them in situations of conflict. For in challenging circumstances it’s almost as though their very survival depends on being right or justified, whereas flat out (or humbly) admitting a mistake—or, for that matter, uttering the words “I’m sorry” for some transgression—seem difficult to impossible for them.

Further, their “my way or the highway” attitude in decision-making—their stubborn.competitive insistence that their point of view prevail—betrays (even as it endeavors to conceal) their underlying doubts about not being good, strong, or smart enough. And the more their pretentious, privileged, exaggeratedly puffed-up self-image feels endangered by another’s position, the more likely they are to…

4. …React to contrary viewpoints with anger or rage. In fact, this characteristic is so common in narcissists that it’s always surprised me that DSM doesn’t specifically refer to it among its nine criteria. Repeatedly, writers have noted that angry outbursts are almost intrinsic to both narcissistic and borderline personality disorders. And although (unlike the borderline) it’s not particular fears of abandonment that bring out their so-called “narcissistic rage,” both personality disorders generally react with heated emotion when others bring their deepest insecurities too close to the surface.

The reason that feelings of anger and rage are so typically expressed by them is that in the moment they externalize the far more painful anxiety- or shame-related emotions hiding just beneath them. When they’re on the verge of feeling—or re-feeling—some hurt or humiliation from their past, their consequent rage conveniently “transfersthese unwanted feelings to another (and see here my PT post “Anger—How We Transfer Feelings of Guilt, Hurt, and Fear”).

The accompanying message that gets communicated through such antagonistic emotions is “I’m not bad (wrong, stupid, mean, etc.), you are!” Or, it could even be: “I’m not narcissistic, or borderline! You are!” (Or, in slightly milder version, “If I’m narcissistic, or borderline, then so are you!”) And if the mentally healthier individual has no clue as to what provoked their outburst in the first place, such a sudden explosion is likely to make them feel not only baffled but hurt, and maybe even frightened. But what cannot be overemphasized here is that narcissists…

5. …Project onto others qualities, traits, and behaviors they can’t—or won’t—accept in themselves. Because they’re compelled from deep within to conceal deficits or weaknesses in their self-image, they habitually redirect any unfavorable appraisal of themselves outwards, unconsciously trusting that doing so will forever keep at bay their deepest suspicions about themselves. Getting anywhere close to being obliged to confront the darkness at their innermost core can be very scary, for in reality their emotional resources are woefully underdeveloped.

Broadly recognized as narcissists by their fundamental lack of self-insight, very few of them (depending, of course, on how far out they are on the narcissistic continuum) can achieve such interior knowledge. For in a variety of ways their rigid, unyielding defenses can be seen as more or less defining their whole personality. And that’s why one of the most reliable ways for them to feel good about themselves—and “safe” in the world they’re essentially so alienated from—is to invalidate, devalue, or denigrate others. So they’ll focus on others’ flaws (whether or not they really exist) rather than acknowledge, and come to terms with, their own. And in many curious ways this habit causes them to…

6. …Have poor interpersonal boundaries. It’s been said about narcissists that they can’t tell where they end and the other person begins. Unconsciously viewing others as “extensions” of themselves, they regard them as existing primarily to serve their own needs—just as they routinely put their needs before everyone else’s (frequently, even their own children). Since others are regarded (if they’re regarded at all!) as what in the literature is often called “narcissistic supplies”—that is, existing chiefly to cater to their personal desires—they generally don’t think about others independently of how they might “use” them to their own advantage. Whatever narcissists seek to give themselves, they generally expect to get from others, too (which is yet another dimension of their famous—or infamous—sense of entitlement).

Even beyond this, their porous boundaries and unevenly developed interpersonal skills may prompt them to inappropriately dominate conversations and share with others intimate details about their life (though some narcissists, it should be noted, can display an extraordinary, however Machiavellian, social savvy). Such private information would probably focus on disclosing facts others would be apt to withhold. But having (at least consciously) much less of a sense of shame, they’re likely to share things they’ve said or done that most of us would be too embarrassed or humiliated to admit. Still, with an at times gross insensitivity to how others might react to their words, they’re likely to blurt out things, or even boast about them, that others can’t help but view as tasteless, demeaning, insulting, or otherwise offensive.

They might, for instance, share—and with considerable pride!—how they “chewed” someone out, and expect the other person to be impressed by their courage or cleverness, when in fact the listener may be appalled by their lack of kindness, tact, or restraint. Additionally, they may ask others questions that are far too personal or intimate—again unwittingly irritating or upsetting them. And such a situation can be particularly difficult for the other person if the narcissist is in a position of authority over them so that not responding could, practically, put them in some jeopardy.

To conclude, I can only hope that these additional characterizations of the pathological narcissist (vs. those with less pronounced narcissistic qualities) may be helpful in enabling you to identify them before their “malignancy” does a number on you. And if you’ve already been duped by their machinations or manipulations, perhaps this piece will be a “heads up” for you to prevent them from wreaking any further havoc in your life.

NOTE 1: I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the narcissism addressed here centers on its most maladaptive, or “toxic,” forms. Unlike DSM (the standard diagnostic reference tool for mental health professionals), the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (link is external)(PDM, 2006)—respected, but much less well known than this official volume—explicitly notes that the disorder exists “along a continuum of severity, from the border with neurotic personality disorders to the more severely disturbed levels.” And additionally, that “toward the neurotic end [these] narcissistic individuals may be socially appropriate, personally successful, charming and, although somewhat deficient in the capacity for intimacy, reasonably well adapted to their family circumstances, work, and interests.”

NOTE 2: As a blogger for Psychology Today, I’ve written quite a few posts on the subject of narcissism. If you’d like to explore them, here are the links: 

The Vampire’s Bite: The Victims of Narcissists Speak Out,”

“9 Enlightening Quotes on Narcissists—and Why,”

 “6 Signs of Narcissism You May Not Know About,” [the present post]

The Narcissist’s Dilemma: They Can Dish It Out, But . . . “,

“Narcissism: Why It’s So Rampant in Politics,”

“Our Egos: Do They Need Strengthening—or Shrinking,”

“LeBron James: The Making of a Narcissist” (Parts 1 & 2), and

“Reality as a Horror Movie: The Case of the Deadly Sweat Lodge” (Parts 1 & 2—centering on James Arthur Ray).

NOTE 3: If you know of anybody who you think would be interested in this post, please consider sending them the link. And if you’d like to explore some of my other work for PT—and on a broad variety of topics—click here.

© 2013 Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

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Why if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.

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We all have seem to have forgotten the golden rule that we learned early on, which landed us in timeout if we didn’t follow it.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

Time and time again, we bring negativity into our lives without realizing the negative things we say about people are like boomerangs.

As someone who is quick to please and enjoys making people happy, the world of negativity and heavy criticism has come my way via my writing online.

It’s hard sometimes to put your thoughts out there and refrain from reading comments from people who do not know you, but who feel obligated to reply just because they have a keyboard and an opinion.

I learned early on to not read comments. I know I am nowhere near perfect and I appreciate constructive feedback, but whether it is online or anywhere else, people often forget the impact their words have.

A person’s words are the most powerful things he or she has. It’s your job to keep them positive and reliable. So, if you have something to say, first ask whether it will hurt someone. Second, ask how what you say will benefit someone.

We often fail to realize the negative affects our words have. I believe in karma. If you speak badly about someone, then the universe will correct it in some way.

No one is perfect, and sometimes, you need to just rant and complain. But, once you are done, revisit your thought process. We must learn that negative words lead to a negative life. Remove the words “awful” and “hate” from your vocabulary.

If you are on social media, think before you post or say something: “Does this send out negative energy to anyone reading this?” If the answer is “yes,” why post it?

Sometimes, I get it; people need to vent, but I came to realize that any negative things I ever posted or said or brought into a situation only made my life worse.

I learned to send out positive energy, to love more and channel any emotions that aren’t positive into something healthy. Our words are a domino effect for life. If someone says something mean to you, turn away from it. Do not let it enter your bubble.

You can completely create your own happiness by choosing your words carefully and being self-aware of how you respond to situations.

It’s not always easy to keep your cool, but if you think about something before you say it and realize what the words will do to the situation, you’ll be able to make more thoughtful decisions.

Think of everything you say as a mirror. Yes, you may be insulting someone else, but it will come back to you. When you speak negatively about someone, it doesn’t reflect the person; it reflects you and your own insecurity.

The best types of people in the world do not have time to badmouth others; they know the value of their words.

We learned early on that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say it at all. While we can’t control the words people say to us, we can choose whether we accept those words and let them influence us.

We can’t help if someone hurts us, but if you do not respond to negative words, positive will likely come out of it.

None of us are perfect, and mean words will slip out from time to time, but if we can learn anything and if I have learned anything, it is the power of words put together.

Your words can either bring people higher or knock them down, and let me tell you, the moment you use words to hurt someone, the person will never forget it.

Please remember the only words you regret more than the ones that go unsaid are the ones used to hurt someone else.

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Pamela Martin Director of Engagement for the BC Liberal Party


Pamela Martin is currently Liaison to B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Director of Engagement for the BC Liberal Party. She previously worked as a television journalist, anchoring award-winning newscasts and reporting in the British Columbia market for over 35 years.

From 2011 to 2013, Ms. Martin served as Director of Outreach in the office of Premier Christy Clark.  (Her prior political experience includes serving as membership chair for Clark’s successful campaign for the BC Liberal Party leadership in 2011.)

Pamela Martin has been a pioneer for women in BC broadcasting, with numerous “firsts” in the industry.   She began her broadcast journalism career in 1975 at CHEK-TV in Victoria.   A year later she became the first female beat reporter for top-rated radio station CKNW.  That same year, she joined BCTV as a reporter and became the station’s first female anchor of a major Six pm newscast in B.C. in 1977.

Ms. Martin anchored, reported and produced newscasts at BCTV until 2001, when she joined the BC affiliate of the CTV network as anchor of CTV News at Six.  With Martin at the helm, CTV News at Six won numerous awards including  Best Newscast of 2010 chosen by the Radio and Television News Directors,   the 2008 International Edward R. Murrow award and in 2006, the RTNDA National Award for Best Spot News Coverage.

In 2008, Martin was awarded the National RTNDA Award for Best Feature Story for her report on breast cancer, called “Kelli’s Red Devils.” In 2003, she won a Leo Award (BC’s Oscar Awards for Film and Television) chosen by viewers as favourite on-air news personality. And in 2000, Martin was chosen Woman of the Year by the Consumers Choice Awards.

In 2010, Martin and Bill Good anchored a nightly national Olympic newscast for the duration of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, winning numerous broadcasting awards.

Ms. Martin served as Co-Chair of the United Way of the Lower Mainland campaign of 2008.    She was Honourary Chair of the Canadian Cancer Society campaign for BC/Yukon from 1998 to 2003.  She stepped off the boards of the Looking Glass Foundation (for eating disorders) and the Pacific Autism Family Centre when she became active in politics and is currently on the board of the Face the World Foundation.

She also served on the board of directors for the Vancouver International Film Festival for 18 years.  One of her most cherished  memories  is running with the torch for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.   Pamela was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  In 1968, as Miss Teen USA, she toured the US and Japan.  Pamela became of proud Canadian Citizen in 2002.

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PAMELA MARTIN Director of engagement for the BC Liberal Party

Pamela Martin

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Pamela Martin (born 1953) is an American-born television reporter and news anchor on Canadian TV who now works as a director of engagement for the BC Liberal political party.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, she immigrated to British Columbia, and joined Victoria‘s CHEK-TV as a co-host and producer in 1975. She moved to Vancouver‘s CKNW AM 980 the next year and became that station’s first female reporter. She accepted an offer from BCTV (then Vancouver’s CTV affiliate) in 1977, and anchored at that station until 2001, when she joined CTV British Columbia (CIVT). She formerly co-anchored the weekday 6pm newscasts on CTV British Columbia alongside Bill Good.

On December 7, 2010, Martin announced her resignation from her position as Anchor on CTV News Vancouver along with her co-host Bill Good. Their last broadcast aired on December 29, 2010.[1]

On January 5, 2011, Martin announced that she had joined politician Christy Clark‘s campaign team for the BC Liberal Party Leadership race after another television reporter, Chris Olsen (from CTV’s Olsen on Your Side) resigned as Clark’s media aide. [2] Clark was named party leader March 14, 2011. Martin defended the shift from journalism to politics.[3]

In September 2013, Martin left her  government position in the premier’s office to be the director of engagement for the BC Liberal party, in order to campaign for Clark in the May 2014 election.[4]

In 1968, Martin won the Miss Teen USA title (not to be confused with the Miss Teen USA pageant established in 1983).

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Who would you consider being partnered with to be accountable

Sales Motivation: Are You Accountable for Your Goals?


Unless you’re willing to be held accountable, there is no way you will ever accomplish meaningful goals.  Sure, you can accomplish goals without being held accountable, but I’ll argue that 95% of the time, those goals are ones you’d achieve no matter what. They are, in fact, easy goals.

Real growth occurs when you accomplish goals that push you to a level of performance that is beyond what you expect. The only way you will really do that is by being willing to hold yourself accountable to someone else who will challenge and prod you to achieve that higher level of success.  More importantly, if you allow yourself to be accountable to the right people, they will then be the ones who will help you determine what needs to be done to help you achieve the goal.

So today think at least one person who you trust and who isn’t afraid to ask you the tough questions about the status of your goals.  You could even have different accountability partners for different sets of goals.  This way, you are always gathering fresh insights and ideas on what it is going to take to keep you on a track of high sales motivation and sales success.

At Sidney Meet Up Networking Group we are going to start and accountability program and I would like anyone who is interested to send me the name of three members you think you might like to be accountable to.

The meeting will be held at Upstairs on Beacon Feb 4th at 5:30.  I would really like to know your thoughts on this matter so please contact me and let’s discuss it

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How is the issue of personal accountability viewed in your organization?

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How is the issue of personal accountability viewed in your organization?  Seasoned workers have undoubtedly seen their share of finger pointing, dishonesty, and “CYOA.” However, personal accountability is a critical step towards improving leadership.  When people are accountable for their own decisions, work, and results, the effectiveness of an organization can greatly increase.

One of the greatest issues in accountability stems from the amount of control people actually possess in their work. When employees are in control of the what, when, and how of a decision, their accountability is sky high. On the other hand, when others are in control of how work gets done, accountability significantly decreases. Studies on control and influence in autocratic, democratic, and laissez faire organizations show that the most effective organizations have teams where everyone feels they have influence. When people feel like their voice is heard, their investment in their work increases far more than when they’re being told what to do and exactly how to do it.

The second issue we researched was the way leadership behaviors could promote a greater sense of accountability in others. Intuitively, leaders might think that demanding accountability, letting others make the decisions, or giving pep talks would make the difference. However, our experience is that none of these tactics work very well and all are suboptimal choices. Instead, we looked at 360-degree assessments from 40,000 leaders and examined leaders who scored in the 90th percentile on effectiveness for accountability. When I looked at these exceptional leaders’ behaviors I found eight that were linked to high personal accountability. They are as follows:

  1. Drive for Results. Sometimes in organizations it is really hard to focus. When we are sending multiple messages about what is critical and what others are accountable for, accountability dissipates. If you want people to be responsible, then you must clearly define the results that you want them to deliver, and let them have a fair amount of control on how they deliver those results.
  2. Honesty and Integrity. When your boss asks in a company meeting, “how’s that project coming?” do you honestly reply, “we are really behind” or “pretty good?” Those who are accountable have the courage to tell the truth. This courage is often reinforced because people see their managers being open and direct with them.
  3. Trust. We did some research on a set of leaders who were not trusted and found their employees had the following issues:

I am not confident that my efforts will be rewarded I suspect the leader may take advantage of me

I constantly question the leader’s motives

I am sure they will take credit for my accomplishments

These are not factors that will build accountability. In contrast, the three pillars that build trust are positive relationships, knowledge, and consistency of leaders.

  1. Clear Vision and Direction. There is an old Chinese proverb that explains this issue well: “The hunter that chases two rabbits catches neither one.” In organizations, people are often chasing multiple rabbits and they don’t catch any of them. How can you expect people to be accountable if they aren’t absolutely clear about the organization’s vision for where they’re going and what needs to be accomplished? Clearly, you can’t.
  2. Problem Solving and Technical Expertise. It is impossible to feel accountable when a person is confused and doesn’t know how things work. Teach your people the skills and give them the training they need, and make absolutely sure they know how to do the job you expect.
  3. Communication. When a leader can effectively communicate, others can understand what they are accountable for. This requires being able to tell, ask, and listen to others.
  4. Ability to Change. We found that people who are really good at creating change in an organization had employees who are operating at higher levels of accountability. Leaders who are good at instituting change are effective at the following behaviors: accepting feedback, taking on challenges, innovating, spreading optimism, showing concern, and setting clear goals.
  5. Collaboration and Resolving Conflict. Collaboration is a difficult skill to achieve in an organization. Are you cooperating or competing with others in your group? Peter Blow at Columbia University did a series of studies on this issue that showed that teams who collaborate and are cooperative are far more successful than those who compete. Cooperation breeds accountability.

On the long personal and organizational “to do” list, accountability should be at the top of the list. If you see a fatal flaw in yourself or your current leaders on any of these eight points, you should address it immediately. In fact, the single greatest way to leverage accountability is to pick a few of these key behaviors to work on yourself. Why? The research is clear on this issue: great accountability in the organization begins with you.

Norma Jeans Closet