Red Flags of Narcissism
By Kathy Krajco
Since narcissists are such expert con artists, how do you spot them? By not judging by appearances. Or reputation.
A specific behavior, such as being haughty, inconsiderate, or ignoring someone, can occur in widely varying contexts. So, it can be done for many reasons, not just narcissistic reasons. Nonetheless, there are few behaviors so unique to persons suffering from NPD that they should serve as red flags.
Here are eight red flags:
- puts on a conspicuous display of goodness and kindness
- damages the images of most others
- has a history of past upheavals
- is hated for mysterious reasons by people close to them
- exhibits unnatural and perplexing behavior -- backwards reactions to things
- is a control freak, trampling privacy/boundaries
- is extremely self-absorbed
- has a hostile reaction to attention and credit given others
This was a quote of the late Kathy Krajco's book from the Narcissists Suck blog article "Controlling Others vs. Self Control"
I'm going to use these red flags from now on. I also have one to add, "gives patronizing untruthful compliments that veils underlying hostility." Sometimes there's even a strategy behind empty compliments in an attempt to try and make another more deserving person feel jealous of you. I'll never forget how embarrassed I was when I was one of the first people announced at a dinner banquet for having worked at a trial. The attorney announced my name to thank me and I knew I was undeserving of such praise. I knew many women who had worked far harder and longer hours in the room were horrified as I was just a temporary employee. Their names weren't even called. This tends to cause certain types of women to hate you. Then at the dinner table, a few attorneys centered the conversation on me and called me "awesome." I did jack swat, a little typing, clerical work. I was so embarrassed.
Opening Wollmann's Deceptive Fan Mail "Your Jazz Singing!"
It was ultimately difficult to avoid Wollmann on-line due to his posing behind a fan email, however I should have never responded. Regardless of knowing red flags, for me the problem remains there are an overwhelming number of control freak and malignant narcissists who live in San Francisco who gravitate towards management, especially in law firms. The fact is, narcissists are everywhere and usually seek positions of control and power over others.
Narcissists at Work; Hard to Avoid
I noted one of the worst cases of narcissism of a co-worker last year, call him "M". M did nothing but think and talk about himself all day and continually put on a display of kindness and goodness. He'd ask me to run Google searches on his name to see his accomplishments on behalf of charities. As I sat next to his desk one day, he'd keep asking "have you run a search on me yet?" I'd have to respond "Not yet, I'm finishing up my work."
M would feel it necessary to continually brag about whatever he was excelling in from his bowling tournaments to recent success skydiving. He even showed me his sky diving video at work. This had followed his bringing photos of himself at a AIDS charity bicycling event in 1992. He even offered for me to take the photos home to take adequate time to view them. At parties, he would talk hours about his stunt in the military way back in the early 80's. I only put up with it all because he was gay.
Shortly after showing me his bicycling photos, M entered into another charity biking event from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I donated as with other co-workers and attorneys but apparently that wasn't enough. I was duly punished for not showing up to his return cycling ceremony in which he ignored me thereafter. I apologized via email for not being able to attend. He not only didn't respond by email but ignored me when I returned to work; my punishment for not worshiping his majesty.
My co-worker had all the classic signs of malignant narcissistic personality disorder. M even once told me I meant the world to him though I didn't even know him nor him me. He'd project onto me often and give me empty compliments having nothing to do with reality. He'd continually refer to me as "honey" at work and just behave like an absolute ass while believing I bought his con. I saw through him right from the start but unfortunately in a work environment there's little you can do about such a person. Under normal circumstances I would have told this guy to take a hike. You can't do that in the workplace due to politics.
After all of our discussions, out of the blue M would ask me what I had done with my life. When I didn't respond appropriately, he would tell me how great I was (i.e., project what he wanted me to be for his ego). Where does one begin to answer such a rigged question? A narcissist says in so many words, "I've demonstrated how great I am in my life and accomplishments, now what have you done?"
The reality is M is just a legal word processor at 50 helping out a legal staff, including secretaries. M was one of the worst cases of male narcissism I've ever encountered other than my crazy former roommate from 1999 and cyberstalker Wollmann. Because it was at work it was of little consequence to me personally, although he did attempt to forge an alliance with my employment agency he had worked for in order to have some form of authority over me.
Then of course, my neighbor seems to have control issues with me suggesting she may be a control freak kind of narcissist. Because of this neighbor, I no longer sing in my own home. She'd complain by pounding on my walls at 7:00 p.m on a weekend night. She'd knock on my door, ring my door bell and even leave notes. I tried to reason with her, but finally gave it up. Because of her, I think twice when I leave my "cell" (i.e., home) to do a large load of laundry because she may indeed open her door and ask me "why are you leaving so much?" as she did a few days ago. I haven't seen nor heard one guest entering her unit in nearly 6 years. Like a former roommate, she's focused on me because I'm the closest human being in her proximity, and make noise at times. Like my former sick roommate, she probably keeps a diary of my comings and goings, so typical of mentally ill control freaks.
A Creepy Little Tenant's Offers of Help
There's this other creepy little tenant who often shows up out of nowhere to extend offers of help lifting heavy objects. You keep telling her no thank you and she just keeps offering. I recently responded to her offer of lifting heavy bottles of water, "No thank you, I don't want you to risk hurting your back." Her response "I could go open the garage for you to bring up your item in the elevator?" "No thank you!"
The very next day the creepy little lady shows up out of nowhere on my floor offering to help me move my solar panel to the garage even though I have it under control. She asks, "Do you need help with that?" "No thank you." She remains gawking at me and I add "You're really a nosy person, I've made it really clear I don't need your help, go away!" "Okay". Whew, she finally leaves. Later that day creepy little tenant forced a favor on me in the garage, propping open the door entry way for me without my requesting it. Creepy! I don't want this lady's help. (See Controlling Others vs. Self Control)
"For people as self-absorbed and seemingly uninterested in you as malignant narcissists are, they are very snoopy. They go through your drawers and papers. They are looking for dirt, and they are trying to find out if you're on to them. Hence, like all abusers, they often spy on and stalk their victims." - The late Kathy Krajco's Blog
The next day this creepy little tenant was spying on me from the laundry area. I passed by the hallway to note her peeking her creepy little head out to see if it was me. For a split second our eyes locked and I swear the woman looked like one of the zombies in the photo of this article (the one on the bottom right of the picture). She seemed even fearful of me, typical of those who take on the role of the victim. In a narcissist's mind, there's something wrong with me, not her, because I don't want her help. I'm the offensive one! How dare I reject her generous favors? The same goes for my neighbor, I'm sure in her mind I'm victimizing her for not catering to her needs in some way. That is, her need for absolute silence for me to stay in my unit at all times, etc.
These lonely women in San Francisco can be really crazy and whenever I get a hint of a control freak I now become proactive to the max. Otherwise, they'll just try to use you to accommodate their illness. When you observe red flags of an acquaintance or stranger's behavior towards you, you must become proactive and do something about it. If you just pretend the problem doesn't exist or choose to allow it fester it will burn into an enormous fire to consume you and your life.
Doing Nothing vs. Being Proactive
You have to be proactive dealing with these personality types effectively or they'll take over completely. They're illness is like a virus looking for ways to grow. You have to know the "red flags" as stated above and avoid these kind of control freaks. They seem to gravitate towards me because in the past I've been easy to control, but not anymore. I will not detail how I've acted proactively this time with my harassing neighbor, but I can say I will never sit back and let these people trample all over me ever again if I can help it.
- The late Kathy Krajco's Narcissists Blog
- What Make Narcissists Tick Book Site
- Narcissists Suck Blog
- Controlling Others vs. Self Control