Are Narcissists Aware of Their Disorder?

When it comes to narcissists and their irrational behaviors, one of THE most frequently asked questions posed by victims of narcissistic abuse is whether the narcissist is aware of what they’re doing.  A common misconception is that if they’re not aware of what they’re doing, then we shouldn’t hold them accountable for their seemingly unintentional wrongdoings.  Instead, we should offer them compassion and try to help them through whatever “pain” they’re suffering that is making them behave in such a hurtful way.  After all, hurt people hurt people, right?

There is one major flaw in the question – are narcissists aware of their disorder? – in that it assumes all narcissists fall on the same place in the spectrum of the disorder.  They don’t.  When it comes to narcissism, there are individuals who have few enough traits that they might not be identified as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder (which is a huge defect in the DSM criteria, since it only takes one pathological trait to completely ruin another person’s life).

Besides, there are also people who possess the dark traits of Machiavellianism and psychopathy.  These individuals are highly cunning and engage in dangerous forms of deception and manipulation.  These are the people who can live two or three different lives behind their partners’ backs and rig the heaters in the winter to emit carbon monoxide, hoping to collect on their family members’ life insurance policies.

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