Although we can't stress enough that this test alone is not a screening tool and not specifically meant to uncover genuine pathology or need for treatment, we do believe that knowledge of one's traits can create opportunities for change. If you score 20 or higher on the test, it's highly likely that there will be one or two components on the inventory that are predominant in explaining your score. If you find that most or all of the answers that earned you points pertained to one or two specific personality traits, consider focusing some attention on these characteristics, which are likely, at the very least, to be dominant aspects of your personality.

Let's say your overall score is an 18, but your high score is largely the product of your higher results in the superiority category. You might consider monitoring this trait in your daily life by paying attention to your feelings of superiority, how you tend to express them, and what effect they seem to have on other people. Then, try to let go of your feelings of superiority, and see whether other feelings, such as fear or anger, emerge in their place. Own these feelings, but try to stay aware of what the other people in the conversation are experiencing in that moment. What are their motivations? Are their points of view in any way valid? Does acknowledging their feelings somehow make you feel diminished? (This is common; you might consider it the flip side of envy.) Understand that what you're experiencing is just your feelings; they don't necessarily reflect reality, or even what the other person is experiencing.

As you move past any of the feelings represented by the categories in the NPI, you'll generally experience a certain amount of anxiety or discomfort. You may feel vulnerable or even attacked by the other person with whom you're interacting. Hang on; usually, this will pass. However, be aware that any time you're dealing with narcissistic tendencies, aggression is always right around the corner. You may actually start feeling exactly the opposite of the feeling you're working on. For example, as you work on acknowledging your feelings of superiority, you may find feelings of inferiority creeping in. You're not going to like these feelings, but stay with it. The object is to start creating a more realistic appraisal of reality without the distortions created by your narcissistic traits. The fact is that, no matter what you're feeling, you, yourself, is neither superior nor inferior to the other person. Even if you're actually in a position of authority, your feelings are not superior to anyone else's. In reality, other people probably have some valid points and some feelings you could easily relate to if you gave them a chance. Slowly, you'll begin to develop the capacity to process interpersonal experiences more realistically and without triggering feelings of emptiness, envy, or rage.
Excerpted from The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America by Dr. Drew Pinsky. Copyright © 2009 by Dr. Drew Pinsky. Excerpted by permission of Harper Collins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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