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Narcissism Part One: What It Is And How To Recognize It

Although peacocks are associated with pride and vanity, narcissism is so much more than just being arrogant.


We get a lot of calls from people who are considering a divorce because they believe their spouse is a narcissist. This makes for a potentially complicated situation, as divorcing a narcissist comes with its own unique set of problems. With that in mind, we’d like to spend a little time discussing narcissism, what it is, and how it could affect your divorce.


What is narcissism?

Many people think that narcissism is a mental disorder, like schizophrenia or obsessive compulsive disorder. But it isn’t. Narcissism is a personality disorder that, at its most extreme, results in people who are manipulative, cold and unkind, easily angered, and in some cases, downright dangerous!


What are narcissistic people like?

Narcissism is defined as extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration. People who have narcissism lack empathy for others, and have little to no compassion. They are concerned only with themselves, and with other people’s opinions of them.


Are all selfish people narcissistic?

Definitely not.  Many people can be selfish. Many people can be arrogant, manipulative, or even have an unhealthy need to be the center of attention. However, there’s a difference between someone who’s perhaps overly vain or boastful, and someone who’s actually suffering from a personality disorder.


It has also been said that Narcissism should be viewed as a spectrum, much like autism. Someone may show a few tendencies, or come in at the very edge of the narcissistic personality spectrum, while others are text-book cases whose heartlessness and calculating coldness is legendary. It can be very hard to diagnose the disorder, as most narcissists don’t believe that anything is wrong with them, and so they don’t get help.


Where does the term “narcissism” come from?

Narcissism is named after Narcissus, the Greek mythological character who was known for his incredible beauty and extreme pride. He fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, and because he couldn’t stop staring at himself, he wasted away and died. It’s a story about arrogance and vanity, which can lead to very bad consequences.


Unfortunately, in the myth, the only person who suffered was old Narcissus himself. The myth does nothing to address the pain and suffering he caused others. So while the death of one good looking guy is a tragedy, the real tragedy lies in how much damage can be caused to innocent bystanders by narcissists! Specifically, their spouses and children.


Are you considering divorcing a narcissist?

If you want to know what’s involved in ending your marriage to a narcissist, join us next time as we unpack this difficult issue. Until then, if you or a loved one are considering filing for divorce, come in and talk to our skilled family law attorneys. We have decades of experience handling contentious divorces, and understand the difficulties faced by those who are divorcing a person with a personality disorder. We’ve spent decades helping local families with all of their family legal issues. Call us today at 866 766 5245. We’re here for you.




Stephanie just finished settling my divorce case. She did an excellent job handling every aspect of the case. When I came to her looking for an attorney, not knowing what was to come, angry and upset, she did excellent job reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. She explained the divorce process, what I could expect over the next few months and outlined the possible outcomes. She was well aware of my financial situation and very limited expendable income and did a great job doing whatever she could to keep my costs down. At times she would even remind me that she is happy to pursue any direction I wanted to go, but the cost involved may not outweigh the outcome. She did an excellent job letting me know where I could do things myself rather than paying the firm to do it as well as provided assistance to make sure I did it in the proper manner. And what was most impressive is a meeting with the ex and her lawyer. Stephanie actually had her phone out pulling up case law and verifying it to make sure the ex and her lawyer didn’t get something over on me. VERY IMPRESSIVE!. If you want an excellent attorney who isn’t going to tell you what you want to hear just to increase the cost for the firm’s benefit, call Stephanie Service.

Brian on Avvo, 2014

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