While many mental health problems are harmless to the people around the person experiencing it, some do more external than internal damage. A common personality trait that tends to do this external damage is narcissism.

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I was listening to a podcast recently that helped me learn a lot of valuable information. So, let’s take a deeper look at what Mel Robins and Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a narcissism specialist, have to say about narcissists on The Mel Robbins Podcast.

While there is a rare diagnosis known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, narcissism is also viewed as a personality trait that isn’t necessarily a diagnosis. Like how someone can be an introvert or extrovert, but that isn’t a diagnosis.

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash
Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

If you feel like you might be dealing with a narcissist in your life, here are 5 characteristics Dr. Ramani Durvasula says to look out for:

Very Reactive to Criticism

Whenever faced with any form of feedback or criticism, they tend to react very poorly. They have a sense of ‘how dare you say that’ and can’t process that the feedback is there to help them improve.

Don’t Like Being Told What to Do

On similar terms, they will actively oppose things they are told to do. If they are asked to do something that was not originally their idea, they will likely have an aggressive response and show anger towards being told what to do.

Superficial Empathy

The base of their empathy is that it is performative and transactional. They might seem like an empathetic person on the surface, but it is done in a performative way to make themselves seem like a good person, or to get something they want from someone. You’ll notice that their empathy is very short lived, and they don’t handle other people’s emotions well.


The thing that we all think of the most when dealing with a narcissist is their ego. They are only interested in their own experiences and will often turn conversations into a one-sided experience. They will insert themselves into other people’s experiences and aim the attention at themselves, only being able to listen to other people’s experiences for a short time.

Putting Others Down to Lift Themselves Up

As the culmination of the previous characteristics, they tend to put other people down to make themselves look better. This often looks like diminishing other’s accomplishments, insulting their life choices, or generally critiquing someone to make themselves look better.

Bonus: Gaslighting

A big part of the previous characteristic is that they will gaslight someone to make them look better. They will deny doing or saying things or tell someone they did something they didn’t in order to make the situation look better for them.

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