Narcissistic Personality Traits Checklist & Common Missed Signs

One of the biggest problems when researching narcissistic behaviors, traits, or definitions, is articles usually focus on only one narcissistic type, grandiose narcissists. This can be misleading to those dealing with other types. Let’s go over some narcissistic definitions, signs, diagnoses, and behaviors.


Narcissistic: (adjective) extremely self-centered with an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Most people are guilty of mild or occasional narcissistic behaviors, some more than others, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they have narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: (diagnosable mental illness) potential diagnosis of a mental condition in which individuals must meet 5 out of the 9 criteria listed in the DSM5 (more info below), which is the diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders used by healthcare professionals. Narcissistic personality disorder focuses on grandiose narcissism.

Pathological Narcissism: (continuum) based on a continuum of current research, captures criteria that are missed in the DSM5 for narcissistic personality disorders. Pathological narcissism includes grandiose and vulnerable narcissism.

Find Out If You Are Dealing With A Narcissist

Pathological Narcissism Signs

Frequency, intensity, and duration distinguish certain narcissistic behaviors from pathological narcissism. Pathological narcissists will exhibit patterns of destructive tactics.

Destructive signs to look out for:

  • Exploitation of others
  • Coercive control
  • Mental Abuse
  • Gaslighting abuse
  • Lack of empathy
  • Manipulation

While some people may exhibit narcissistic traits occasionally and mildly, a pathological narcissist will routinely use destructive narcissistic tactics in order to gain false superiority and exploit relationships.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Traits

Many professionals and advocates that have a deep understanding of narcissism and work with either narcissistic personality disordered individuals or their intimate partners, would agree that we need an update in the DSM to resemble our current understanding. The DSM focuses on the grandiose narcissist, which misses some very toxic narcissists that do the most damage to their targets.

In order to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), someone must meet 5 out of the 9 listed criteria in the DSM5, which is the diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders used by healthcare professionals. It helps them to guide the diagnoses of mental disorders, including narcissism.

Diagnostic Criteria for NPD

  1. Lacks empathy: unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  2. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance. Exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.
  3. Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  4. Requires excessive admiration
  5. Believes that he or she is unique or special, and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  6. Has a sense of entitlement; unreasonable expectations and favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  7. Interpersonally exploitative – takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own needs
  8. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  9. Often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her