The one-sentence summary

It is possible to outwit narcissists if you understand what makes them tick and tackle their objectives head on.

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  • You can free yourself from self-centred agendas in order to pursue a lighter, more fulfilling and successful life.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or megalomania is a personality disorder characterized by a long-term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive craving for admiration, troubled relationships, and struggles with empathy.
  • Common characteristics of narcissism include an unrealistic, grandiose self-image, being self-centred, speaking only about themselves, feeling special or unique, arrogant and haughty, quick to criticize and judge others, highly sensitive to criticism, think the rules don’t apply to them, constant self-promotion, feeling entitled to the best of everything, value power and fame, demand constant acknowledgement, will respond with aggression when questioned, and being deceitful and manipulative.
  • The so-called dark triad is the three personality disorders: psychopathy, Machiavellianism and narcissism. These cover a large range of symptoms, but include among others glib and superficial charm, lack of remorse or guilt, superficial emotional responsiveness, impulsivity, poor behavioural controls, and the need for constant stimulation.
  • These types of people focus only on their own ambitions and interests, prioritize power and money over relationships, and exploit and manipulate others to get ahead. Anyone with these traits will pose a genuine danger to the mental health of those they encounter.
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) is a pattern of excessive attention seeking, uninhibited and seductive behaviour, and an exaggerated desire to be accepted. A mnemonic to remember this is PRAISE ME: Provocative behaviour, Attention seeking, Influenced easily by others or circumstances, Speech style designed to impress, Emotional lability (frequent mood swings), Make up (physical appearance used to draw attention), and Exaggerated emotions.
  • Narcissists want control. They prefer to be in the driver’s seat because it makes them feel better than everybody else. There’s simply no way to satisfy a narcissist and they usually feel unfairly treated by life because their wishes never come true.


  • By the 1970s, many of the inhibiting ideas of the 50s were abandoned. Introversion fell out of fashion and the extraverts took over. The self-help industry burgeoned, with many ending up wanting everything for nothing. Strong self-esteem became associated with success in life. Nowadays, narcissistic tendencies are normalized.
  • Strong self-esteem is not the same thing as narcissism, and it doesn’t naturally follow that those with weak self-esteem become narcissists.
  • Collective narcissism is very common these days. It is caused by dependence on other people’s admiration and recognition. Prevailing attitudes include views such as:
    • I wish other groups would be much quicker to recognize my own group.
    • My group deserves special treatment.
    • It makes me really angry when others criticize my group.
    • The true value of my group is often misunderstood.
  • There is a test you can take to find out if you are a narcissist. It can let you know when you’re at risk of behaving in ways that might make you unpopular with others. On the other hand, if you couldn’t less what other people think, then you’re probably not a narcissist anyway.


  • There is a somewhat peculiar chapter on how car design has made them look more aggressive, and occasionally the author strays from scientific fact into personal opinion.