Are you a narcissist?
It’s hard to be humble when you’re one of the most talented, intelligent, and good-looking people in the room, but if you’re a narcissist, it’s all about you. You’re the star of your own show, and everyone else is just there to serve your needs. If that sounds like you, you could be a narcissist.
Friends, our guest today is Dr. Ramani Durvasula, and she’s on a mission of demystifying and dismantling the toxic influence of narcissism in our lives. So I want you to dive in, buckle up, and get ready because this is going to be such a powerful conversation that I had to break it up into a two-part episode. This is part one, and this is such a fascinating topic for me. So many of you were asking me about doing an episode on this subject because we live in an era of narcissism where social media has amplified and showcased people with narcissistic attitudes. Fortunately for us, Dr. Ramani is just the right person to talk about this subject.
Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology at California State University in Los Angeles. She’s also the CEO and founder of LUNA Education, Training, & Consulting, a company offering a variety of programs focused on educating clinicians, survivors, businesses, and coaches on the impact of narcissism on wellness, health, and functioning.
She was a recipient of the American Association of University Women Emerging Scholar Award. She takes on our modern scourges of entitlement and incivility in “Don’t You Know Who I Am”: How to Stay Sane in the Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility.” Dr. Ramani is also an author of a book on modern relationship survival manual, Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist. Her other book, You Are Why You Eat, teaches you how to change your life by changing your food attitude.
Her works have been featured on various media platforms, such as Investigation Discovery, BravoTV, Red Table Talk, and the Today Show. She’s also a featured expert on the digital media mental health platform, MedCircle. Dr. Durvasula is known for her brutally honest yet authentic voice on the struggles raised by narcissism across the globe, and in this episode, she shared with us the main traits of narcissists and how people become them.
Some of us can identify people who are narcissists. They’re the people who always need to be the center of attention and seem to have a sense of entitlement that knows no bounds. What you may not realize is that anyone can become a narcissist if they’re not careful.
Narcissism is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, and often a lack of empathy for others. But what causes somebody to develop these personality traits? How can you tell if you’re becoming a narcissist yourself?
“Narcissism is a complex inter-blend of biological temperament meeting up [with] all these environmental conditions. And there’s a range of conditions that can result in adulthood narcissism at the most extreme, and probably the most difficult is trauma in childhood. So a child who is raised in and experiences trauma … [such as] significant caregiver loss, chaos, abuse, [and] observing abuses — … that can put a person at risk for developing an adult narcissistic personality. But here’s where it gets tricky: The majority of people exposed to trauma in childhood don’t become narcissistic.” – Dr. Ramani Durvasula
Traumatic events in childhood do not always lead to narcissistic traits later on. In fact, most people who experience trauma as children go on to develop into kind and compassionate adults. The media often portrays survivors of child abuse as narcissists, but this isn’t the case for a majority of people. Trauma is one possible factor that can lead to narcissism, but it’s important to remember other factors like peer influence and family history also play a role in developing these tendencies.
“Narcissistic people are insecure, and they are free and have lots of feelings of inadequacy, … but that’s all happening at an unconscious level. But I want you to think of a narcissist as somebody who constantly has a stomach ache because they’re going through their lives like there’s almost this tension. They’re not aware of why they have it, but the tension at the top is going to get blown off, and we’re going to be able to see their inadequacies. That’s why they’re so sensitive to criticism.” – Dr. Ramani Durvasula
Narcissistic people are extremely sensitive to criticism. They often react defensively and may become agitated, argumentative, or even hostile when their self-image is challenged. While this reaction can be frustrating for those around them, it’s important to understand that the narcissist’s sensitivity is a symptom of their condition. By understanding what drives this sensitivity, we can better manage interactions with narcissistic individuals and help them manage their condition.
Sometimes we mistake narcissists for being psychopaths. They may have similar tendencies but they’re totally different disorders. So, it’s important to know the difference between these two so that you can spot a person with narcissistic tendencies before they do something terrible.
Narcissism and psychopathy are two different personality disorders. Narcissists believe the world revolves around them, while psychopaths have a disregard for social norms and laws. Psychopaths tend to be more violent than narcissists because they don’t care who gets hurt or what happens as long as it benefits them in some way.
“Psychopaths are not anxious. Psychopaths are not insecure. Their nervous systems are different. So there’s a part of our nervous system called the autonomic nervous system — this is the involuntary part of our nervous system, and it’s from which the sympathetic nervous system comes off, which you know, is fight or flight or freeze.” – Dr. Ramani Durvasula
Psychopaths have no empathy for other people, and they may even take pleasure in hurting others. Narcissists can be manipulative and lie to get what they want, while psychopaths do not care about consequences like getting caught. Also, narcissists need validation from others to feel good about themselves, while psychopaths don’t care what other people think because their only concern is with satisfying their own needs at all costs.
“For somebody who’s a psychopath, … they have no anxiety and no excitement, and they’re very stress-resistant in that way. That’s why there are so many psychopathic CEOs. If you’re going to be a CEO and nothing bothers you, you’re able to say ‘Cut those hundred thousand jobs,’ and then you still go off and play golf in the afternoon because nothing gets you. … There is a coldness and a callousness because there is almost like no capacity for empathy, no capacity for intimacy, and psychopaths are almost singularly motivated by power, pleasure, and profit, and mostly by power. They solely want to dominate because that’s what they do.” – Dr. Ramani Durvasula
Psychopaths don’t experience emotions like anguish or regret. This makes it much easier for psychopaths to commit crimes without feeling remorse afterward. On the other hand, narcissists can’t make any emotional connections with others, but they do have some capacity for guilt and shame, which prevents them from committing more serious crimes. Sometimes, their manipulative behaviour makes it easy for them to establish relationships with someone, but often those relationships are harmful. So, if you happen to find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist, Dr. Ramani shared some advice on what to do.
You may be in a relationship with a narcissist and not even know it. This is because narcissists can be very charming and manipulative when they want to be. If you’re currently in a relationship with someone who you suspect may have narcissistic personality disorder, there are some things you should know. First, narcissists lack empathy and won’t often really see things from your perspective. They care primarily about themselves and their own needs. Second, narcissists are control freaks and need to be the ones in charge of everything. Lastly, they often exhibit signs of pathological lying, cheating, and abusive behavior. If you’re currently struggling with a relationship like this, don’t give up hope! There are ways to deal with a narcissistic partner.
“If you’re going to have to stay in this relationship, you have to engage in something that I and others have called ‘Radical Acceptance.’ This is never going to change. This is who they are. This is it. So, … I have something called ‘The Deep Technique’ that I talk about, and the deep technique is: If you’re dealing with a narcissist, don’t defend, don’t engage, don’t explain, don’t personalize. … Now, narcissists don’t like that.” – Dr. Ramani Durvasula
Are you in a relationship with a narcissist? If so, then you know how challenging they can be. The key to dealing with them is not defending yourself, engaging them, or personalizing their attacks. By doing any of these things, you only fuel their fire and make the situation worse. Instead, try to stay calm and centered, and keep your focus on what you want to achieve. With time and patience, you can eventually break free from their grip and reclaim your life.
Guys, this was such a powerful interview with so many words of wisdom from our special guest, Dr. Ramani Durvasul. Listen to the full episode for more, and don’t forget to share our conversation with someone who needs to hear it. You could make a difference to someone’s life today.
Follow Dr. Ramani on social media. She’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Check out her website as well, and get notified about her upcoming monthly virtual workshop series on Narcissistic Relationship Healing Program. You can also subscribe to her YouTube channel for access to more of her videos on narcissism.
Thank you so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode and that it inspired you on your journey towards greatness. Don’t forget to check part two of our conversation, Episode 1196: How to Create Boundaries With a Narcissist where we talked about the biggest misconceptions about narcissists, the essential components of every healthy relationship, the red flags to watch out for in your own relationships, how to create boundaries with a narcissist, and so much more.
The next episode is for you if you’re ready to learn how to find the healthy relationship you desire, how to avoid dating the wrong person, and how to potentially improve your current relationship. So go ahead and check it out, and don’t forget to share your greatest takeaways from our conversation. I really love hearing feedback from you guys!
If no one’s told you lately, I want to remind you all that you are loved, you are worthy, and you matter. Now, it’s time to go out there and do something great!