Narcissism Checklist: Am I a Narcissist?

If you have been in a relationship with a narcissist or are the adult child of narcissistic parents, your biggest fear may be discovering that you, too, may have some narcissistic traits. The key characteristics of narcissism are a lack of empathy and the inability to give unconditional love; if you can be empathetic with others or can give unconditional love-you are not a narcissist. Narcissism is a “spectrum disorder”, that is, it is on a continuum and we all have some traits along that continuum.  You may have narcissistic traits at the lower end of that spectrum and you would be considered confident and emotionally healthy with good self esteem.  The more traits along the spectrum that you have, however, the more difficulties you will experience in your relationships.  For example, you might have difficulty in the give-and-take relationship with others or the ability to tune in to your children’s emotional needs.

If you wonder about yourself and where you fall on the continuum, read the following checklist and see how it applies to you.  The following is adapted from the nine narcissistic traits listed in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-fourth edition).

Am I a Narcissist?

  • Do I exaggerate my accomplishments and say I have done things I haven’t really done?  Do I act (feel) more important than others?
  • Am I unrealistic about my thoughts and desires regarding love, beauty, success, and intelligence?  Do I seek power in these things?
  • Do I believe that I am so special and unique that only the very best institutions and the highest academic professionals could possibly understand me?
  • Do I have an excessive need to be admired all the time?
  • Do I have a sense of entitlement and expect to be treated differently, and with more status, than others?
  • Do I exploit others to get what I want or need?
  • Do I lack empathy and rarely see what others are feeling or needing?  Can I put myself in other people’s shoes? Can I show empathy? Do I feel genuine empathy- not simply feigning concern and attention towards others in order to gain “supply” (such as approval, praise, recognition or favors)?  Do I truly feel others pain?  If I am empathetic I will seek to help others- not from a position of wanting to feed my ego- but because I truly would like to make a difference. This could include a wide range of activities like charity, volunteering, simply helping friends or people in the community in need, or sitting with your child and truly listening with your focus being on your son or daughter- without making it about yourself.  Genuine empathy is having concern for others without having an agenda for you.
  • Am I jealous and competitive with others or unreasonably think that others are jealous of me?
  • Am I a haughty person who acts arrogant and superior to my friends, colleagues, and family?

If you exhibit one or two of these characteristics you probably are a confident person with “healthy narcissism”.  Five or more of these traits are necessary to be diagnosed with Narcisstic Personality Disorder (NPD) which is at the upper end of the spectrum.

Diagnostic Criteria for NPD

Pathological narcissism or NPD is a lifelong pattern of traits and behaviors which suggest obsession with ones’ self to the exclusion of all others, and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one’s own gratification, dominance and ambition.  This is very distinct from ‘healthy narcissism’ which we all possess; pathological narcissism is maladaptive, persistent, causes significant distress and functional impairment. To meet the diagnosis of a personality disorder, the person’s problematic behaviors must appear in two or more of the following areas:

  • Perception and interpretation of the self and other people
  • Intensity and duration of feelings and their appropriateness to situations
  •  Relationships with others
  • Ability to control impulses

There are nine traits listed in the DSM-IV that distinguish a narcissistic personality. In general, narcissism is characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity” in fantasy or behavior”, need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts. It is indicated by five (or more) of the following:

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


Only a qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and they do this after lengthy tests and personal interviews. If you feel you demonstrate five or more of the narcissistic traits, it would behoove you to make an appointment with a mental health professional to further explore this issue as NPD is a life-long debilitating disorder that can wreak havoc on a person’s life. Chances are, if you are reading this and are concerned that you have narcissism and its effects on your life, you are probably not a pathological narcissist; you may have ‘healthy narcissism’ or just a few narcissistic traits which is common. Remember that the key characteristics of narcissism are a lack of empathy and the inability to give unconditional love- if you can be empathetic with others or you can give unconditional love to your children–relax–you are not a narcissist.


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Written by Alexander Burgemeester on

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. He devotes himself to writing important information about certain mental health topics like Narcissism and Relationship problems. He is the main author of all content on Want to know more? Read by author bio page.

10 thoughts on “Narcissism Checklist: Am I a Narcissist?”

  1. This article is ignorant at best.

    There is no such thing as “healthy narcissism”, or if there is, that should be called “healthy self-esteem”, and has nothing to do with NPD.

    Real narcissists are psychopath monsters.

    • If you’re ignorant to whether or not healthy narcissism even exists, you’re hardly qualified to called the writer ignorant. You’re opinion and feelings may differ from what’s written, but what’s written are facts. And arguing the literal facts that define something, that is ignorant. That’s like trying to argue that the sky isn’t(doesn’t appear to be)blue because it’s a different shade than exact true blue; blue is blue, regardless of which shade of blue it is. And this article does explain what clinical narcissism is and what it is not. To go out of your way to insult the writer/article and name call people who suffer from NPD, and be in denial, believing that you know better than the definition and that your opinion is more true than the facts, is quite narcissistic in itself and I wouldn’t rule out you, personally, qualifying for a diagnosis somewhere on the spectrum of narcissism. That being said…
      You and your comment are ignorant at best, and it’s people like you, that want to redefine words and throw incorrect opinions around as facts, that keep people misinformed and promote mass ignorance among the entire population and incite stupidity and unnecessary, evil actions, such as the Salem witch trials, and the holocaust. Before you speak, or write, or even think/form an opinion… Educate yourself, like the writer has… Otherwise please spare humanity your bs, and just keep it to yourself.

      • Narcissim carries a dose of negative connotation, and rightfully so. Being a narcissist to any degree is never a good thing.
        Hence, wrong use of words, such as “healthy narcissist” is a perfectly valid complaint by the OP. While their tone may be wrong, we should not throw away the kittens with the water. And similarly, I would not discount everything in this article simply because of wrong choice of words. It is still a good article, with that one, minor, exception. If it is a mistake, and I believe it is, it was certainly not made out of complete ignorance or with some ulterior motives.
        “Healthy narcissism” is a misnomer at best, or contradiction in terms at worst.
        There is nothing healthy about narcissism, but there is plenty of goodness in healthy self-esteem, or loving others and oneself, or self-confidence or whatever we want to call it.
        Perhaps, the only exception to the rule would be the “healthy developmental narcissism” which is present in toddlers and children: they have many traits of narcissists, but we understand them as an essential step in their personality development.

  2. I have the displeasure of realizing that I am a magnet for men with Narcissism. Now that I know what I am doing wrong, it will certainly not happen again.

    • Take a look at Ross Rosenberg’s channel on YouTube if you’re not familiar with him yet. It’s VERY helpful for anyone who is codependent or regularly finds themselves with narcissists, sociopaths, borderlines, etc. Good luck.

    • I feel for you. While I was interested enough to click on and read this article, my biggest concern is not whether I myself might be a narcissist, but of being targeted by one because I seem like a good “source of supply”. Being the primary source of supply to a narcissist in an intimate relationship such as marriage seems to me like the absolute worst case scenario and I can only imagine how much hell you must have been through! Hope you stay safe and well.

  3. I think maybe I have NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) except for lack of empathy because it really bothers me when I learn of bad things happening to good people or children, and animals too… I am, however, quite self-centered, prideful & boastful, and I brag a lot… I am a perfectionist, especially when it comes to photography because to me, it’s an art form, and I make fun of people who take bad pictures, and I am critical towards many other things such as motorists on the road (I like to race drivers in cars with my motorcycle to let them know I’m faster)… I do tend to believe I am wonderful & unique, and God’s special creation (I do believe in God, and go to church every Sunday)… I am extremely judgmental when it comes to certain music… I tend to believe most of the sounds of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s & 80’s and some of the 90’s is the best & only music worthy of listening to and the rest is crappy & irritating noise… I extremely dislike rap, punk, hard & metal rock, foreign music, and 99.9% of todays music (sorry if I offended anyone)… I have “ZERO” interest in sports, and I think those who like sports are silly, but I mostly keep it to myself so as to not piss anyone off… I hate my noisy neighbors with their loud shitty music & their barking dogs, plus neighbors who shit their dogs on my lawn which causes me to have high hopes of their dogs somehow getting killed by a bear or cougar, and I wish a plane would crash into their house, so I won’t have to hear their noise anymore!!!… However, with that said, I believe I am a good person. I NEVER literally hurt anyone. I can be a good friend & a good listener. I am loyal to my wife and never once cheated, but in general, I am enormously sad & miserable… DOES ANYONE THINK I’M NARCISSISTIC?

    • The article suggests you speak with a qualified mental health professional if you worry you may be narcissistic.

      Joke: if you wrote your post to receive attention & positive feedback, you may be a narcissist.

    • Take a look at OCPD instead. Much more likely to be your “problem”. You’re definitely not NPD or anywhere on the narcissism spectrum. Hope that helps.

    • I would rather say you have anger issues. Many people do, and they often have a few things in common: they come from a passive-aggressive parents who undermined their self-confidence in such ways that to this day they are not aware of it; or they have an underlying health condition which makes them more sensitive to certain things than other people (e.g. Candida overgrowth, or one of the oral bacteria which tend to find their way into the brain and increase aggressiveness…). Also, constant stress, perhaps a combination of an sub-clinical infection and life circumstances leaves one’s glands exhausted and makes them more prone to aggressive behavior such as anger, and so on.
      But with all that said, you don’t seem like a narcissist. You could become one if you were to stop questioning your own behavior. That is the first step toward narcissism and the rest comes automatically. Perhaps, the “diagnosis” would be “arrogance due to ignorance”. Once you realize that all those people who go on your nerves could not be any other way due to their upbringing and conditioning, and that you doo may have been like them if you were just a bit less fortunate, you will have the necessary compassion to understand them instead of hate them.
      Once in a while compare yourself to Jesus and see how much more love and goodness He exhibited in his life than you ever did. That should be enough for you to realize that compared to Jesus, you are the noisy, obnoxious neighbor or bad driver that you cannot stand. Are you that despicable? Probably not. In that case, neither are your neighbors. (ps. as for their noise, that is different, and there should be a way to make them stop listening to loud music! Same goes for bad drivers – if someone is all over the road, obviously drunk and such, I call 911 and report them).


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