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When you spot a Narcissist, Run in the opposite direction!

The media interest in the Johnny Depp/ Amber Heard defamation trial has a lot of people speculating about who is the "real" narcissist. The relationship appears to have been peppered with domestic violence, name calling and dramatic, highly emotional altercations. If you have survived those kinds of relationships, then you know that an altercation can quickly turn violent and leave you questioning your sanity and the sanity of your partner.

While it may be difficult to tease out the true narcissist in the Depp/Heard Relationship, a true Narcissist will exhibit characteristics that are unmistakable in hindsight, although you may not recognize the patterns until you are out of the relationship.

Characteristics of a Narcissist

Let's start by defining "Narcissism." The DSM 5 states that Narcissistic personality disorder is a disorder with a long term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. People affected by Narcissistic traits often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power or success, or about their appearance. They often take advantage of the people around them. Narcissist can display:

1. grandiosity: the belief that they are better than others and deserve superior treatment.

2. Fantasies of power: Narcissists will often display fantasies of power, success, intelligence, and attractiveness that is inconsistent with their status in life or with their jobs. For example, a narcissist may brag about their work performance, make comments like my boss "thinks the world of me," or " I can get away with anything at work because the place would fall apart with me." They portray their looks or athletic ability as being heads and shoulders above others and believe that other people are motivated by jealous behavior and are envious of their "skills and talents." Narcissistic people may believe in the concept of an "ideal love" and will put their partners on a pedestal as long as the person buys into their "world view" and enables their behavior.

3. Believes He/She/They are special: Narcissist see themselves as being unique and "better" than most people. They believe that only "high status" people who are similar to them can understand or relate to them.

4. Requires admiration: Narcissist perceive the world as revolving around them. They will only have use for other people if those people are providing them with "fuel" for their beliefs and sense of "entitlement." Narcissist will set unreasonable expectations of others in relationships or become angry when others do not comply with their expectations. Many experts on narcissistic abuse describe individuals in relationships as "fuel for the narcissists," when someone ends a relationship or attempts to end the relationship before the narcissist is ready or has found a new source of fuel the narcissist will turn on their partner or friend and attempt to destroy them emotionally or "love bomb" them back into believing them.

5. Exploits other people: Narcissist may take advantage of the kindness of other people to achieve his or her own ends. Narcissists will often fail to follow through on promises, hold up their end in business deals, or will exploit other people if the situation can benefit them or they can get what they want and come out on top. Narcissist frequently view partners or children as trophies to be shown off to others, they may support the success of their partners but only if it makes them look good. Friendships are usually centered around ways in which the friendship will benefit the narcissist. The narcissist will play upon the kindness and friendship of others to get "what they want" but will only repay "kindness" if there is some personal benefit for doing it. They will expect you "to go the extra mile" for them, but will not voluntarily repay a favor even if they have made a grandiose promise to someone, unless it is done with the motivation of "saving face" or the expectation of "quid pro quo."

6. Narcissists Lack empathy: Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see the world from a different perspective. It is a sign of emotional maturity and is considered an executive functioning skill that our brains develop as we mature. Narcissists do not possess the ability to show empathy for others, and they "are often unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others." Put quite simply, they don't acknowledge the feelings of others as being important. They view other people more as "pawns on a chess board" the purpose of others is to meet their needs. In the mind of a narcissist, the feelings of other people are irrelevant, even though at times they will make a big public display "to acknowledge" someone else's feelings or provide "help" to them it is usually insincere and will often be motivated by public attention on "the act of kindness" which then reinforces "what a great person" the narcissist truly is.

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