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Your Selfie's Don't Make You a Narcissist, These 7 Traits do.

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

By Sarah Nutt


If you know me, you know I love a good documentary. I especially love watching crime documentaries, but only if it has a satisfying ending where the criminal is caught, and justice is served.

After watching many crime documentaries on Netflix, like The Ted Bundy Tapes and Murder Among the Mormons, I noticed how much each criminal loves talking about their crime and themselves. I cannot help but scoff and think to myself,

"What a narcissist."

but then I caught myself wondering,

"Wait, What actually is a narcissist?"

The more I thought about what I knew about narcissism, the more I realized I had mixed perceptions of a narcissist. I was in middle school when Facebook and, soon after, Instagram became popular. Before influencers and online shopping ruled the social networks, people used these apps mostly to keep in touch with their loved ones. Back in those awkward, golden days, I had Facebook albums filled with 300+ photos of slightly different pictures all captured at thanksgiving or cringe, over-exposed, edited high school "photoshoots".

Once social media started to shape into it's a more "refined" form (i.e., when everyone, including myself, stopped posting hundreds of almost identical photos to an album) and camera mirror pictures were discovered, selfies started to rule the feed. Being a young social media user, I indulged in my fair share of selfie-taking. Still, I deleted many for fear of being known as a narcissist.

As I researched narcissism, I realized that it is much darker than posting selfies online. Psychology Today explains that while one may exhibit narcissistic behavior from time to time, it differs from being a pathological narcissist. Author Preston Ni writes,

"What distinguishes certain narcissistic behavior from pathological narcissism are frequency, intensity, and duration. While some people may exhibit narcissistic traits occasionally and mildly, a pathological narcissist will routinely use destructive narcissistic tactics to gain false superiority and exploit relationships."

This means a conceited person may be very self-obsessed but still not a narcissist. Narcissists have a personality disorder that makes them both egocentric and prone to hurting others.

The seven prominent qualities of a narcissist include:

1. A lack empathy and are highly insensitive towards others.

As seen in crime documentaries, the killers often have no remorse for the evil they've done and the lives they've destroyed. While not all narcissists may physically harm others, they all share the quality of not possessing the ability to process and understand others' feelings.

2.The need to receive whatever they want immediately.

Narcissists cannot understand others' emotions. In their world, only their desires and feelings matter. They get angry when their desires are not fulfilled as quickly as they would like or when someone refuses them.

3. No respect for the boundaries of others.

Preston Ni states that this characteristic sticks out among others. He writes that having no respect for boundaries is, "One of the most striking traits of many pathological narcissists is that they believe they are 'above the law' and 'exceptions to the rule,' which entitles them to boundary violations... Other people's thoughts and feelings are disregarded".

4. Exaggerate. Exaggerate. Exaggerate.

The Mayo Clinic reports that not only do narcissists have "an exaggerated sense of self-importance", they are also often caught exaggerating their accomplishments. They like to make themselves look good and think they'll look even better by making others look bad. Unfortunately, "They often resort to distortion of facts, misleading statements, personal attacks, blaming, and coercion in order to achieve their ends. They also rely on these tactics in order to boost their fragile self-esteem."

5.Manipulate and exploit others.

Some tactics narcissists use to manipulate others include love-bombing, gaslighting, and intentionally vague or withholding information. They are often passive-aggressive, criticize others, and blame shift, so they do not have to take responsibility for their shortcomings. If you are interested in reading more about the manipulation tactics of narcissists, check out this link.

I find this the most concerning trait as a narcissist use and do not feel guilty doing it. Ni writes that "To them, others merely exist as extensions of their selfish machinations, to be exploited at will. Common manipulative devices include insincere flattery, negative pressure, guilt-tripping, blaming, shaming, and threatening. Chronic narcissists do not relate; they use."

6. Self-absorbed and have a grandiose sense of self.

According to, "Grandiosity is the defining characteristic of narcissism. More than just arrogance or vanity, grandiosity is an unrealistic sense of superiority. Narcissists believe they are unique or "special" and can only be understood by other special people".

7.Expect special treatment

Along with expecting what they want, as soon as they want it, Authors Melinda Smith, M.A. and Lawrence Robinson write, "they also expect the people around them to automatically comply with their every wish and whim. That is their only value. If you don't anticipate and meet their every need, then you're useless. And if you have the nerve to defy their will or 'selfishly' ask for something in return, prepare yourself for aggression, outrage, or the cold shoulder."

The Bottomline

Posting a selfie does not mean you are or aren't a narcissist. Narcissism is a personality disorder and a mental illness. Unfortunately, there is no one cure, but often therapy can help, as long as the individual is willing. This post is solely for educational purposes and should not be taken as a diagnosis. Check out these resources to get more information on the topic.



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