It is easier than we might think to spot a narcissist, and yet at the same time much more difficult. Why is this?
Under threat, a narcissist will act crazy - simply insane. So at such a moment in time, it is easy to spot him or her. When a narcissist feels very secure, the narcissist plays games. These games are spotted by the frequency these games are suddenly substituted by other games. So if there are sudden changes within an email of the like 'I hate you all' and then comes a statement like 'hahaha', that sounds narcissistic. We can call this emotional instability in its extrem. If you live with a narcissist you might remember the early stages of all being wonderful (except a few strange interruptions where the narcissist probes you). But quite strikingly, the narcissist will stop activities which you established with him or her (like not going to the movies or eating out). Additionally, the narcissist will attempt to prove that these changes are due to you. So at this stage, permanent changes to the relationship and to the activities you share are a give away.
The problem only really occurs when the narcissist does not feel secure but not under threat at the same time. Unfortunately, this is most of the time. This is the time when the narcissist enters your mind, changes facts, projects and transfers and rationalizes events. Again unfortunately, all sounds so plausible too. This is the time when the narcissist really manages to confuse you (alters your perception). You even believe him or her that beating you is a sign of his or her love. Taking a step back and a few months or years later, you might look at yourself and think: 'I must have been crazy.'
Most of the time the narcissist is preoccupied with proving him or herself. I'll give you a personal example: I went on holidays with my narcissist. She had a problem with a waitress there. She quite clearly felt inferior to her (appearance is all to a narcissist). So then I was told that I made my narcissist jealous by the way I acted. Argument after argument ensued. I then begged my narcissist not to return to this restaurant the next day, but we had to go back. Again argument over argument ensued.
Back to the question of how you spot the narcissist. In some situation is is easy and in others it is hard. However, it is only hard if you accept the perception of the narcissist to enter your mind. If you force yourself to be yourself, the way you were before, you will spot the narcissist very easily.
Dr. Ludger Hofmann-Engl
Chameleon Group of Composers © 2005