The key theme for narcissistic personalities is “self-aggrandizement.” People with a histrionic personality style want attention from others. People with a narcissistic personality need not only the attention of others, but their admiration as well. However, even though narcissists are extremely concerned with how others view them, they tend to be remarkably self-centered and to do very poorly when it comes to empathizing with the needs, thoughts, and concerns for others.
Narcissists have heightened levels of grandiosity and vanity. In essence, they believe that they are unique and deserve special treatment. Individuals with a narcissistic personality rarely see problems with their own behavior. In many cases, their family and loved ones find them self-absorbed and shameless, but narcissists don’t see themselves this way at all. Entitlement is a key feature of the narcissistic personality, and narcissists can get very angry if they do not get the special treatment that they think that they deserve. Narcissists typically think that they’re above the rules and will often take it personally if someone insists that they’re not. They tend to have beliefs like “if others don’t recognize my special status, I must put them in their place,” or “if I am to maintain my superior status, I must demand others’ subservience.”
In this way, narcissistic personalities almost think of themselves as princes or princesses. They believe that they have a special status that places them above ordinary people. They see themselves as prestigious and as elevated above the average person, while they see others as their vassals and potential admirers. They seek recognition from others to maintain their grandiose self-image and preserve their superior status. A core belief of theirs is: “Since I am special, I deserve special privileges and prerogatives.” On the other hand, when narcissists experience a significant defeat, they are prone to a catastrophic drop in self-esteem. Often, it is very stressful and uncomfortable for the narcissist to have to remain in a situation where they are not admired, and many may give way to aggression, fits of rage, or despair if forced to do so. Their main affect is anger when other people do not accord them the admiration or respect which they believe they are entitled to, or otherwise thwart them or fail to buy into their grandiose façade in some way.
Narcissistic personalities who end up in the role of manager or leader are often unpopular with their subordinates. In positions of power, narcissists are prone to exploiting their employees towards furthering their own wishes and career. Narcissistic bosses often take credit for the work of their subordinates, play favorites, or appear empathetic with the needs and wishes of their employees.
Though narcissists have an easy time manifesting an air of contentment about them, their friendships with others are usually superficial, and deep down many narcissists are actually lonely. Usually, a narcissist will have a hard time forming a friendship or romantic relationship if the other person is not likely to enhance their self-esteem or help them in some way.
The narcissist’s self-centeredness means that they lack an appreciation for other people’s points of view. It is difficult for them to understand that other people might have their own thoughts and feelings and that the narcissist’s well-being is not the most important thing to everyone else.