PsychotherapyHELP Newsletter

by Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D. MFCC 


"Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Competitive,   Attention Seeking Behavior"



If you have ever been turned off by the excessive self-centeredness, egotism and attention seeking, of a "ME - ME" person, then read further ...

There you are in the middle of a competitive conversation and the other person is drowning you in self-centered, "there and then" personal aggrandizement. You are getting turned off and tired of listening to the claptrap and boring patter of the "Me - Me" person.

You are amazed at how easily and quickly this Narcissitic person can turn a conversation around and center all of the attention on him/herself. The conversation continues and becomes a one way thread ... all about self-aggrandizement, ego inflation, notice me, see me, I am somebody, I am important. Slowly, this third chakra overly egotistical, ego centered individual is pushing you away and turning you off.

Don't let this behavior fool you! It's really about the loss of the real self. A new image/facade substitutes for the lost, hurt self ... one that has an all encompassing, excessive need to be noticed and seen as extremely special.

So, what do you do? Ordinarily, you would write off and reject this egomaniac and think he or she is only interested in self. However, I've outlined other options that are more constructive below.

Question: Is there a way to work with and relate to this individual or do I split and cut my losses? Is this something that can change?

Answer: If you are intimately involved with someone suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, you are basically a captive audience, an object to be sucked dry and used as an inflating mirror for the narcissist. At your expense, you will be lost as the narcissistic uses you as a breast to feed a flagging and deflated self. The decision to remain and work through the relationship problems with a personality disordered person is always up to you. You can begin to see that your present situation is an opportunity for you to grow and learn more about yourself.


Remember, that the narcissist is not always in the disorder. There are times when he or she is quite normal, loving and pleasant. But, when the disorder is overpowering, the narcissist becomes a turnoff machine who has absolutely no empathic capabilities whatsoever. Narcissists overvalue their own opinion, prejudices, perceptions and judgments and have very little capability for entertaining the inner reality of other people.

Question: I can never get a word in. Every time, I want to talk, I get turned off and the conversation becomes self-centered. What's the problem here?

Answer: The problem is distance. You need a safe distance from the narcissist where you can establish a state of separation/individuation in order to maintain a stable sense of your self. Narcissists are in a dual relationship with themselves and you are just a reflecting soundboard for mirroring back their image. Remember, the narcissist is not a real person. He or she is merely a reflection of the true self.


You will have to work hard to break through the defenses of a narcissist, in order to relate to the real person residing underneath. But, as soon as you feel success in getting through, narcissists will revert back to their disorder and keep you on the outside. Narcissism is a wall to keep others on the outside, where you are incapable of penetrating and hurting the very soft tender and vulnerable inner core self.

Question: So, what do I do about myself?

Answer: Say this to yourself, "I know who I am. This is me. I exist. I am somebody separate and distinct, strong, reliable and valuable in my own right. The narcissist is really somebody else underneath and I respect and can relate to that real person hiding behind the wall."

You have your own life. You can live your life to the fullest and deserve to be in healthy relationships with healthy people. You deserve the right to work on yourself and become the healthiest, most real person that you can become. The narcissistic person is in your life to teach you how to be a more empathic listener. But, remember that healthy conversations are very open, equal and democratic. A constructive conversation is when two people equally and openly share who they are with one another. Anything else is exploitive.

Question: I hate to keep you. But quickly, what are some of the characteristics of a narcissistic personality?

Answer: There is a grandiose sense of self-importance in which the potential for exaggerating achievements exisits. The person wants to be recognized as superior. They may be preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited power, intelligence, beauty and success. Their conversations are usually shaped to show you how special and unique they are and how and why they are associated with other special people. The narcissist may also require excessive admiration and have a sense of entitlement, expecting special treatment.


He or she may take advantage of others to achieve personal goals. The narcissist also lacks the willingness to recognize and identify with the feelings and needs of others. There could be envy of other people and believe that others are envious of him or her. There can also be arrogant and haughty attitudes.

I would also consider behavior that reflects selfishness, always having to appear to be right and others wrong coupled with an inability to understand and identify with what other people are feeling and thinking. There may be excessive negativity surrounding the activity and achievements of others, while inflating one's own sense of importance and accomplishment. Conversations can suddenly shift attention from the central theme to something that only relates to the experience of the narcissist. The narcissist is habitual in the ability to always deflect attention back onto the self.

Narcissists tend to monopolize conversations, misinterpret and misperceive events, and see the behavior of others as having some kind of negative impact on them. Narcissists can be quite hurtful in their conversations, without even knowing it. They may say things that injure other people and justify their actions, without seeing the entire picture. There may be elements of paranoia and suspiciousness in their thinking and as such could warrant a dual diagnosis.

Conversation and interactions with a narcissist may facilitate an inability of others to confront or deal with their behavior. One strategy that partners of narcissists engage in, may consist of ignoring the provocative narcissistic behavior. Therefore, the protagonist of the narcissist may always seem to be in a position of having to choose to react or not to react. It is a challenge to the theme of temptation. People who have had interactions with the narcissist, usually leave the field with many conflicting and disturbing after thoughts and feelings. Negativity is the ultimate product of narcissism.

My advice to anyone who is involved with someone who has narcissistic disorder traits, is to use the experience for further growth, knowledge and wisdom.


Resources on Narcissitic Personality Disorder:


Knowledge is power and reading all that you can about a disorder is the first step to changing your situation. Additional resources on Narcissistic Personality Disorder area available from PsychotherapyHELP. Two excellent e-books on the disorder, "Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A Profile" and "Coping with the Disorder" can be purchased directly from our web site. Click on the titles to be directed to PsychotherapyHELP for more information.


If it's therapy you are seeking, go to PsychotherapyHELP and check out my therapy links. Usually, it is the significant other who is in the most emotional pain and needs help dealing with a narcissistic partner. Call for help ... one phone call is all that it takes.


Thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy our newsletter. Please feel free to explore my web site at PsychotherapyHELP at You find articles to download, information on therapy, and links to a myriad of resources.


Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D. MFCC 



voice: 818-882-7404