18 thoughts on “20 Styles of Narcissism: Which Ones Describe Someone in Your Life?

  • April 5, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Thanks for a good article. My girl with ADHD/DESR exhibits all of these at differing times. Is this common?

    • April 5, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Steve, thank you for your question. Many younger children, not just children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and DESR (Deficient Emotional Self-Regulation), may at times exhibit some of the behaviors in this article (such as acting controlling, competitive, demanding attention, exaggerating, and acting like victims). This does not necessarily mean they will become narcissistic adults or will have behavioral issues in adulthood. As the DSM-5 states, “It should be recognized that the traits of a personality disorder that appear in childhood will often not persist unchanged into adult life.” Personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder are rarely diagnosed before adolescence and generally not diagnosed before early adulthood. In addition, ADHD and the as-yet less studied DESR tend to amplify what can be normal childhood behaviors into a range that can become problematic. But the presence of time and growth, as well as treatment if needed, may moderate these behaviors.

      It is also a common observance that adults with unhealthy narcissism often seem to act like children, though in more sophisticated ways than children, as narcissistic adults struggle with grandiosity, impulse control problems, and a desperate need for attention.

      As a parent who cares about his daughter, perhaps the most important question is to what extent are your daughter’s behaviors causing her and those around her problems and suffering. Behavior exists on a continuum, behavioral issues may be more pronounced in certain settings or at certain times, and there is a range of behavior that can vary among children and still be considered normal and healthy. The more often a child’s behavior causes problems and/or the more severe those problems and suffering, the more important it is as a parent to be proactive and seek professional help as needed.

  • April 5, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for the article! I am pretty sure my mom has the manipulative and depriving forms of this disorder, which is why she never really would look like a narcissist to anyone who didn’t know her really well. She is the type that has severe problems when she is not the controller of information in our family. I feel like it started when I would call her from college and get info about the rest of the family only through her, but probably started before then. As I have grown and have my own family, I can see more clearly how they are treated, and then I have slowly put up boundaries, each with more resistance from her. At this point we have moved out-of-state because of the constant push-pull of this relationship. She will not even come visit or barely calls, likely because she thinks she should not have to pay for a plane ticket since I am the one who moved away. Haha, I can only laugh because I am so jealous of other families that have such different attitudes.

    • April 14, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Birdlover, thank you for sharing your experience. It can be bittersweet — so good and healthy to distance yourself and your own family from the unhealthy influence of a narcissistic parent, yet sad when you see other families with healthier ways of relating. But you are changing a dysfunctional pattern that is often passed down for generations, and giving your own children a healthier model. That is no small feat.

    • July 27, 2018 at 10:30 am

      This sounds so much like my mom. You are not alone. We tried to move away a couple times but it didn’t work out. LOL .

  • April 6, 2017 at 2:16 am

    Hi, and thanks for this article. I was raised by a narcissist I think, and at times I have wondered about myself too. I do know people who individually fit all 20 of these categories. As a psychology student, this hasn’t been covered yet (I’m still waaay undergrad). Is there some other criteria that establishes narcissism before breaking it down into these categories? I know it’s not a truth, but it seems that the whole world could be narcissistic otherwise. I also have some cognitive issues, so I could also not be seeing the whole picture in order to understand completely. Or, are we all narcissists per se? Thanks for an article making me work my brain muscle. LOL

    • April 14, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Hi Liana,
      For a comprehensive description of narcissism you may wish to read a medical-model description in the DSM-5 on narcissistic personality disorder. In addition, important scholarly theoretical works include Freud’s “On Narcissism,” Otto Kernberg’s “Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism,” James Masterson’s “The Narcissistic and Borderline Disorders,” Heinz Kohut’s “The Restoration of the Self,” and Alice Miller’s “The Drama of the Gifted Child.”

      For more recent, consumer-oriented works, you can find a list on my website’s resources page

      If other readers want to suggest other books they have found helpful about narcissism, please contribute as well.

      Hope this helps, and good luck with your psychology studies.


  • April 7, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you, from one trapped financially in marriage to a narcissist who fulfills about 19 of your 20 styles. It was frighteningly helpful when I first learned of NPD in 2010. Since then I’ve seen professional information on NPD evolve and become rather scarce, and I’m always glad to see current information from a reliable source. Just in 2015, I also figured out that my mother is also a textbook narcissist; and that I am a textbook adult child of a narcissistic parent… possessing all the symptoms you have mentioned. It’s thrilling to have knowledge that clarifies the seemingly odd story of my life, especially regarding relationships. Now the challenge is to continue healing, grow into a solution for freeing myself of this marriage and live in joy… at quite a late time in life. Again, many thanks. I want others who are the ‘chosen one’ of a narcissist to understand and free themselves earlier in their lives!

    • April 14, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. Clarity is freeing even when it is, as you wrote, “fighteningly helpful.” Sometimes lessons do come later in life but in my experience those lessons sometimes can be more powerful and absorbed more deeply when they come after decades of experience than when they come much earlier in life.

  • April 7, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Sounds like the USA to a “T”.

  • April 8, 2017 at 2:00 am

    Thanks for another great article Dan. Love the 20 Styles of Narcissism. So concise…easy to read and of course…on the money. I think I’ve met at least one of each in my time.

    Cindy in Oz.

  • April 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    This article is a must read for everyone who is suffering with a narcissist. I had no idea what was going on with the man I was involved with until I stumbled across similar articles. I know I’m not the person with problems now. Invaluable reading.

    • April 14, 2017 at 11:26 am

      Hi Maree,
      Thank you for sharing your experience. It can be freeing, after thinking you are the one with problems, to see things more accurately.

  • April 16, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Such an interesting article which has reaffirmed things for me. I was in a friendship with a N and reading the article has made me feel better as from time to time I question myself and ask, is it me? Is it my fault?

    I’m no longer in the friendship but I still see him sometimes ( we like the same band). In the end I had to involve the police and although he no longer speaks to me I still feel like he’s playing a game. Are there any good books or articles that you could recommend I read that might help me? Many thanks

    • April 16, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Chill,

      You can find a list of helpful books on narcissism on my website’s resources page

      If other readers want to suggest other books they have found helpful about narcissism, please contribute as well.


  • April 6, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Grandmother: entitled, power-and-status hungry, greedy, manipulative, controlling, bullying
    Mother: perfectionistic, victim, oppositional, manipulative, controlling, smothering, depriving, negative

    Me (daughter): manipulative, all-knowing, preachy, controlling



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