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Navigating Narcissistic Behavior And Personality Disorders

The term 'narcissist' is having a moment right now- but is the word being overused? It's important to know exactly who and what you are dealing with. An accurate, clear understanding of personality disorders is essential to living with this condition.

Dr. Phil discusses narcissistic personality disorder and how to deal with individuals who exhibit this behavior. Narcissists have a pattern of grandiosity, lack empathy, and see themselves as superior. They can be difficult to confront since they manipulate and gaslight others. Dealing with narcissists involves setting boundaries and recognizing their behavior. Dr. Phil emphasizes the importance of protecting oneself, having a support system, and being aware of narcissistic behavior to prevent exploitation.



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Personality Disorders

A personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.

  • 10 specific types of personality disorders.

  • Long-term patterns of behavior and inner experiences that differ significantly from what is expected

  • Begins by late adolescence or early adulthood

  • Causes distress or problems in functioning

  • Without treatment, personality disorders can be long-lasting. Personality disorders affect at least two of these areas:

  • Way of thinking about oneself and others

  • Way of responding emotionally

  • Way of relating to other people

  • Way of controlling one’s behavior

Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5-TR). American Psychiatric Association. (2022)

Fictional Characters With Narcissistic Behaviors And Other Personality Disorders

Dexter Morgan DEXTER Serial killer, inability to conform, manipulation, and impulsive aggression; coldness, detachment, and complete lack of interest in normal human interaction.

Walter White/ Heisenberg, Breaking Bad

Grandiosity, pathological lying, manipulation, a superficial charm, callous, unemotional, low neuroticism and lack of guilt or remorse. has a parasitic lifestyle, being prone to boredom, sensation seeking, impulsivity, irresponsibility, a failure to have long-term goals, poor behavioral controls, and criminal versatility.

David, Fatal Affair

David, diagnosed by his therapist as having "Narcissistic Personality Disorder." has abnormal mood swings and psychotic behavior. Annie in Stephen King’s Misery, a psychotic fan who rescues a best-selling novelist (played by James Caan) after a car accident but turns on him when she finds that he has killed her favorite character in his latest novel.

Narcissistic Behavior

Handling personality disorders and narcissistic behavior

Types of Personality Disorders

Antisocial Personality Disorder-

(also known as Psychopathy and Sociopathy) A pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others.

Characteristics of Antisocial Personality Disorder

• Failure to conform to social norms

• Deceitfulness

• Manipulation

• Impulsivity

• Irritability and aggressiveness

• Reckless disregard for safety of self or others

• Irresponsibility

• Lack of remorse

Avoidant personality disorder:

  • A pattern of extreme shyness

  • Feelings of inadequacy

  • Extreme sensitivity to criticism

  • May be unwilling to get involved with people unless they are certain of being liked

  • Be preoccupied with being criticized or rejected

  • May view themselves as not being good enough or socially inept

Borderline personality disorder:

  • A pattern of instability in personal relationships

  • Intense emotions

  • Poor self-image and impulsivity

  • May go to great lengths to avoid being abandoned

  • Have repeated suicide attempts

  • Display inappropriate intense anger

  • Have ongoing feelings of emptiness

Dependent personality disorder:

  • A pattern of needing to be taken care of

  • Submissive and clingy behavior

  • May have difficulty making daily decisions without

  • Reassurance from others or may

  • Feel uncomfortable or helpless

Histrionic personality disorder:

  • A pattern of excessive emotion and attention seeking

  • Uncomfortable when they are not the center of attention

  • Use physical appearance to draw attention to themselves

  • Have rapidly shifting or exaggerated emotions

Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5-TR). American Psychiatric Association. (2022)

Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

  • Grandiose sense of self-importance

  • Preoccupied with fantasies

  • Belief of being “special” and unique

  • Requires excessive admiration

  • Sense of entitlement

  • Interpersonally exploitative

  • Lacks empathy

  • Envious of others or believes others are envious

  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder:

  • A pattern of preoccupation with orderliness perfection and control

  • overly focused on details or schedules

  • work excessively not allowing time for leisure or friends

  • Inflexible in their morality and values. (This is NOT the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder.)

Paranoid personality disorder:

  • A pattern of being suspicious of others

  • Seeing them as mean or spiteful

  • Often assume people will harm or deceive them

  • Don’t confide in others or become close to them

Schizoid personality disorder:

  • Being detached from social relationships

  • Expressing little emotion

  • Typically, does not seek close relationships

  • Chooses to be alone

  • Seems to not care about praise or criticism from others

Schizotypal personality disorder:

  • A pattern of being very uncomfortable in close relationships

  • Having distorted thinking and eccentric behavior

  • May have odd beliefs or odd or peculiar behavior

  • Speech or may have excessive social anxiety


  • Certain types of psychotherapy are effective for treating personality disorders.

  • Will depend on the specific personality disorder, how severe it is, and the individual’s circumstances.

Commonly used types of psychotherapy include:

  • Psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapy

  • Dialectical behavior therapy

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

  • Group therapy

  • Psychoeducation (teaching the individual and family members about the illness, treatment and ways of coping)

  • No medications specifically to treat personality disorders

  • Medication, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication or mood stabilizing medication

Self-care and coping strategies:

  • Learn about the condition. Knowledge and understanding can help empower and motivate

  • Get active

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol

  • Get routine medical care

  • Join a support group

  • Write in a journal to express your emotions

  • Try relaxation and stress management techniques

  • Stay connected with family and friends

Source: Adapted from Mayo Clinic, Personality Disorders

  • Having a family member with a personality disorder can also be distressing and stressful.

  • Family members may benefit from talking with a mental health provider who can provide help coping with difficulties.

Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5-TR). American Psychiatric Association. (2022).

Lenzenweger MF, Lane MC, Loranger AW, Kessler RC. 2007. DSM-IV personality disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry, 62(6), 553-564.

Need Help?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F 10 am – 10 pm, ET.

Connect by phone 800-950-6264 or text "Helpline"

to 62640, or chat. In a crisis call or text 988.*


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2 comentarios

Dr Phil, thank you for the information on narcissism. I am currently in the middle of a divorce and would really appreciate information on how to heal from the abuse. Also, any information on how to protect my children (11 and 13) would be so helpful. There is a lot out there about narcissism right now. You posting these podcasts gave legitimacy to the subject and helped me to let go of the fear that I was falling into a trendy label for my experience. The toll that the abuse suffered is significant and I am hopeful that there are ways to proceed in life in a healthier manner.

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08 jun 2023

'It Takes 2 Narcissists To Tango'.....

Dr. Phil I have a ton of questions about the Narcissist podcast. Because I believe both my partner and I both have a lot of these traits ourselves and so many things you said hit home hard and true. And it makes me wonder if we are worth it, or so much alike in this aspect that it could always be toxic to us.

I guess my main question is can 2 Narcissists survive a relationship with each other?

He will never admit he is one, but I'm willing to admit I'm at fault. I've been working really hard on my mental health the last few years and I want to find that chang…

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