The legal profession contains more than a disproportionate share of big egos. But there’s a difference between excessive self-confidence and narcissism. Learning about how the mental health profession defines narcissism can help attorneys keep an even keel, even when working for, litigating against or appearing in court in front of a narcissist.

A clinical understanding of narcissism is beyond the scope of this article, but criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the mental health profession’s classification system for mental disorder (commonly called the DSM), include a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), and a need for admiration and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

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