Elinor Greenberg·SatPsychologist, Author, Lecturer, and Consultant on Narcissistic DisordersWhat’s the one big red flag that distinguishes someone with NPD from people who just have emotional difficulty coping with life?
The Short Answer: Imagine you are out in public with a new lover and you are on the way to a restaurant or a party together. You are having an argument. It rapidly escalates. Suddenly, the person angrily walks away and leaves you standing alone in the street. You are stunned and unsure what to do next. You do not know whether to run after them, wait to see if the person comes back, or leave and go back home. Every time I have been in that situation, the other person turned out to have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
It is a rather obvious sign of “splitting” (you are now the all-bad enemy), a lack of emotional empathy, a lack of self-control, a hair trigger temper, and a desire to punish, publicly humiliate, and take revenge on ANYONE who angers them.
Punchline: Not everyone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder will angrily walk away and leave their partner standing alone in the street. However, when it does happen, I have found it to be a pretty reliable red flag for Narcissistic Personality Disorder that I would not ignore. If it happens once, it will happen again.