Traits of narcissism in the birth chart – some red flags

14/11/2019

Narcissism seems to be an epidemic these days, from partners to parents, colleagues, managers and CEOs. They come in all shapes and sizes, presenting as ‘wolves in sheep clothes,’ and sadly we often find out too late that we have been targeted by these robots masquerading as people.

Having had personal experience with such disordered characters, I only discovered about 8 years ago the concept of personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and the alphabetical clusters of disorders contained within. Cluster B is known as the ‘dramatic, emotional, and erratic’ cluster. This includes Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Disorders in this cluster share issues concerning impulse control and the regulation of emotions.

It was like a light bulb went on and my life finally made sense. Better still, I knew it wasn’t me and could finally start healing from all the puzzling, bewildering, crazy-making stuff that I’d been through. Reading all I could about Narcissistic Personalty Disorder (NPD) aided my understanding and I became a Holisitic Counsellor in part to assist in enlightening others dealing with the debilitating effects of narcissistic abuse.

Criteria for NPD:

According to the DSM-5, in order to diagnose NPD, the following criteria must be met:

A. Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by:

1. Impairments in self functioning (a or b):

a. Identity: Excessive reference to others for self-definition and self-esteem regulation; exaggerated self-appraisal may be inflated or deflated, or vacillate between extremes; emotional regulation mirrors fluctuations in self-esteem.

b. Self-direction: Goal-setting is based on gaining approval from others; personal standards are unreasonably high in order to see oneself as exceptional, or too low based on a sense of entitlement; often unaware of own motivations.

AND

2. Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):

a. Empathy: Impaired ability to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others; excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self; over- or underestimate of own effect on others.

b. Intimacy: Relationships largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation; mutuality constrained by little genuine interest in others’ experiences and predominance of a need for personal gain.

B. Pathological personality traits in the following domain:

1. Antagonism, characterised by:

a. Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, either overt or covert; self-centeredness; firmly holding to the belief that one is  better than others; condescending toward others.

b. Attention seeking: Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of the attention of others; admiration seeking.

C. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations.

D. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual’s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment.

E. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual’s personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).

Source: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC.

Astrological symbolism:

As I learned about NPD, I wondered what traits could be found in a person’s natal chart which might point to their having NPD.

Firstly, we can all exhibit some of these personality traits occasionally. However, to meet the diagnostic requirement of NPD as listed above, these traits need to be regularly observed, and cause impairment; interfering with the ability to be a functional member of society, including being functional in interpersonal relationships. Therefore, when self-absorbed behaviour harms others, then there is a level of impairment (from little to extreme).

Lack of Water element:

Water is the element associated with feelings and emotions; the way we understand and respond to life through these. This is the element where we are sensitive, where we create emotional bonds with others, and need emotional security (think of the sign of Cancer). It also suggests having a deep attachment to another (Scorpio), or connecting with the divine, experiencing compassion and empathy, tuning in psychically and sensing vibrations underneath the surface (Pisces).

Since narcissists lack empathy, sensitivity and the ability to feel deeply and intuitively, being unable to relate to others on a true emotional level, it is fitting that planets in the Water element could be missing in the horoscope. On the flip side, those of us with a lot of planets in Water in our charts make prime targets for narcissists, as our empathy and the dissolution and merging of emotional boundaries can allow them to manipulate and exploit us, fostering codependency, enabling and enmeshment.

Many planets in the first quadrant – Houses (areas of life) 1-3:

Author Bil Tierney in his book, Dynamics of Aspect Analysis (1983). CRS Publications, US., gives a good run-down of understanding quadrants:

The first quadrant encompasses houses from the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres; from the Ascendant or first house cusp to the 4th house cusp. Self-identity, self-motivation and individual freedom are associated with the Eastern Hemisphere (houses 10-12 and 1-3).  The Northern Hemisphere contains houses 1-6 and concerns subjective, personal interests and involvement, and self-concern.

Many planets found in this quadrant increases the potential for self-centredness and being self-absorbed, especially if those planets fall in the element of Fire, which drives independent self-expression.

Sun-Moon conjunction

A Sun-Moon conjunction is a New Moon, where the energies of the Sun and Moon are fused. People with this aspect are very subjective, identifying with themselves rather than others. They are self-contained, insular, unaware of others’ needs and perspectives, and act instinctively in directing their lives. The sign and house will modify the aspect, for example, if it falls in Aries (Fire) and the first house (self), the person’s focus will be on that narrow area of life.

No oppositions

The opposition aspect teaches us awareness of others and therefore to become aware of our needs. When there are no oppositions in the chart, the need to relate to others is innately missing, and often learned the hard way, if at all. For example, Fiery self-oriented Aries needs Airy relationship-oriented Libra to teach it to learn to accommodate others through compromise and negotiation.

Sun in high focus

Since the Sun rules the ego, pride, self-expression and where we like to ‘shine’, having this planet (or luminary) in high focus in the chart can point to narcissism. For example, an unaspected Sun in the sign of Leo (sign of it’s Dignity), or being the only planet in an element, especially the Fire element, as a singleton in a quadrant (especially the first), or hemisphere (especially the subjective Northern or self-identified Eastern) are all potential traits of narcissism.

Planetary aspects 

The Sun in aspect with Mars suggests having pride in being courageous. These types love a challenge, love to fight and win, having no qualms about going after what they want; being competitive and impulsive.

The Sun in contact with Jupiter can inflate the ego, giving rise to grandiosity and arrogance, and a perception that the person is God.

The Sun, Moon (emotions and feelings), Sun/Mars and/or Sun/Jupiter in a difficult combination with outer planets such as Uranus (separation, detachment), Neptune (deception, fantasies) and Pluto (power, manipulation, including emotional manipulation) too can indicate narcissism.

An astrologer’s role is to find a theme in the chart. The more times the above symbolism is included and presents itself in a chart, the more likely it is that the person is a narcissist, or at least have narcissistic traits to some extent of impairment.

Above all, when dealing with narcissists, remember, it is always, always about them.

  • 12 comments
  • Rebekka 05/04/2020
    Reply

    Weeell i dont agree!
    There is a difference between a lot of selfesteem and narcissism. Additionally their is something called covered narcissism. And those are hidden narcs, meaning upfront very nice, but are still nsrcs.
    What is narcissism?
    Its self deception and Frustration! Low selfesteem covered up and ill perceived.
    Something I always look for is moon square neptune or opposition.
    I have seen moon pisces & sun pisces who are covert narcs. All had mars conj saturn and mars square neptune. They are able to switch off their emotions and portrait themselves as the victim whilst they believe it themselves!
    The probleme here stems from a superficial understanding of the types of narcissism there is. Npd are not! Just superinflated egos. Its not enough!!!

    • Reply

      Hi Rebekka, yes narcissism is more than an inflated ego, and can definitely have various types, like covert ‘wolves in sheep clothes’, and personally I unfortunately know various ones who are covert, ignoring, somatic, confabulatory and altruistic, though narcissists do have some common traits too, like the lack of self awareness, never taking responsibility for actions/blaming, playing the victim etc. Coming across with high self-esteem and ego (false self) covers up their poor sense of self worth stemming from childhood neglect, abuse or, being treated s the ‘golden child.’ Not surprised that you would know covert narcs with Pisces Sun and Moon, Mars square Neptune since Pisces’ modern ruler is Neptune and associated with deception. Michelle

  • Inok 05/04/2020
    Reply

    I’ve had 9 years personal experience with a narcissist who was quite high on the spectrum. He had a grand set of traits indeed, having seduced several women into giving him $100’s, a 3 acre property with a 4 bedroom house on it, and me. Additionally he founded what became a small cult and inspired/100’s of people to donate their time to his false nonprofit, eventually growing a business that would sell $15k a month, all of which he pocketed and had full time live in volunteers paying for their own phones and dental work. He would fight or bully whomever he could, and obsessively talked about his own spiritually and intellectually based superiority. No respect for the law- sold drugs, never filed taxes, refused to have license, registration etc for the cars, and would brag about how sovereign he was.

    He has Sagittarius ascendant with Uranus and Jupiter pretty much conjunct the ascendant.

    All other planets were in the 11th-4th houses, with a strong concentration in the first.

    He did have some planets in water, however there were no oppositions, like you mentioned.

    Thanks for the assessment. I hope this mode of identifying predatory personalities gains traction.

    I know of few other ways to spot them before they’ve done their damage.

    • Reply

      Hi Inok, sorry to hear you have had personal experience with a narcissist, he sounds very self-entitled and grandiose. Every immoral and unethical thing they do is completely justified in their own mind. They can put on the charm, ‘love-bomb’ and are master manipulators in extracting their sources of supply. The Sagittarian Ascendant with Jupiter rising would give a ‘larger than life’ persona, a ‘Guru’ who can come across as the wise sage. Uranus can be detached, different, unusual and live by their own rules. I hope so too, the more we can educate people about these predators the more we can help make people aware of their true colours and motivations before they have had their lives ruined. Thank you. Michelle

  • Priya 23/07/2020
    Reply

    I am also having this hellish experience of being with a narcissist. Its 9 years now, he has Sun and Mars together,also Jupiter aspects mars and Sun in his chart and has Jupiter in ascendant house .Also I think his Pluto together with moon in the same house ,too causes narcissistic tendencies.He has this “everyone is my slave “attitude also “I can say anything to anyone but it can not be the other way round.”

    • Reply

      Hi Priya, sorry to hear you are in this situation with a narcissist. I encourage you to make a plan to leave, have courage, and trust that it will work out for you. I know it isn’t easy as life circumstances and barriers can be an issue as well, especially if you have children together and/or he controls the finances. He has a lot of Fire which can be assertive if not aggressive, and Moon Pluto can be emotionally manipulative. Yes it’s often ‘their way or the highway’ and ‘do as I say not as I do.’ I wish you well. Michelle

  • guy 26/07/2020
    Reply

    Having 4 planets, sun and ascendant in water signs i have attracted more than my share of npd people.
    The list started with my Dad, who was a highly malignant type of npd exhibiting explosive moods that often turned to violence. He was an alcoholic whose drunken moods were of 2 extremes: he would be antagonistic, combative or play the victim by inventing an imaginary slight that my mom had supposedly just done to him as an excuse for him to storm out and disappear for another 10 to 12hrs drinking. His other way of drunk was putting on his hillbilly hank williams albums and be flirty & smoochy with my Mom or he would swoop me in his arms and dance me around the room, booze on his breath. He created a house of horrors for me, my Mom and older brother yet at the same time he was well liked and sought after by others in his public life. Mom’s parents & siblings were a large and loving family but lived 2hrs away. Driving there for overnight or longer stays was the only event we would do as a family outside the home. My mom made sure we visited my grandparents 6-8 times a year. The little bit of normalcy in me and being capable of feeling love for others is a direct result of those metered visits to my extended mom’s family. Visiting there was the only thing my mom could dictate to my dad and he would always take us there. Which at the time i thought of it as his way of showing his family love. Only now do i understand it was not love for us. It was just another narcissistic agenda. He willingly visited my grandparents because they were a source of narcissistic feed for him. He treated my mom’s family, particularly her parents, very well. Her family adored him in return. And my mom saw his special treatment of her family as his way of making up to her for always mistreating her. I thought it too. I know now it wasn;t love, or anything benign, it was a npd gaslighting event directed at my mom and us to further enhance the already prevailing dissonance within ourselves and family unit grappling with ‘Who the f**k is this man! What is this man?!
    I’m 65yrs old. This all took place in the 1960’s, early ’70’s. We lived in a nice home and town. I always had everything my friends & peers had such as toys, bikes, stereo’s, albums, etc. In fact, I even had something they didn’t, I had my own personal monster living at my house, lol. My Mom’s family have all long passed away never knowing what this man did to her and his offspring. He cheated on her the entire marriage. Assaulted her several times. My older brother had a genius IQ of 140 and as a result endured countless beatings from my dad and I can still hear him shouting at my brother as he’s beating him “I’ll teach you to be too big for your britches” as i run to hide under my bed. My brother went on to struggle with heroin addiction between the ages of 19 and 21yrs. Kicked it, then died in a car accident. My parents divorced the summer i graduated high school. My mom remarried happily. Still, my dad positioned himself in her life from a distance. He would call her to talk from time to time. It was more of a triangulation to make 2nd wife jealous, rather than the call showing an interest in my mom. They both passed away in 2012. I hope my story doesn’t pull too hard on your heartstrings for me alone because unfortunately these crazy making people are traumatizing more and more families every year. My family were only the pioneers, lol. Here’s my dad’s chart. It contradicts a strong placement of water signs bestowing empathy and feelings. My dad had neither, not counting anger. He had plenty of that. Ascendent cancer 18, pluto 16 cancer, mars 25 cancer,
    sun 13 taurus, moon 10 pisces, mercury 0 gemini, venus 22r aries, jupiter 20 taurus,
    saturn 0r capricorn, uranus 9 aries, neptune 28r leo

    • Reply

      Hi guy, my apologies for the delay in reply. Your Dad sounds definitely sounds like a malignant narcissist unfortunately. I am so sorry for what you and your brother and Mom went though, and that your brother passed so early and didn’t reach his potential. Everyone is a source of narcissistic supply for a narcissist; no empathy, people are merely objects. Your Dad hoovered your Mom and definitely triangulated her with his second wife after they divorced. The ego would not have liked her leaving him one bit either! (If that’s what transpired). The strong Water placements can point to emotional control and manipulation (especially Mars in Cancer), plus enmeshment – no one can be an individual in the family, you are all part of the whole ie whatever the narcissist says you are. I know a malignant narcissist with Mars and Pluto in Cancer, along with Mercury and Venus, who controls his family and anyone else if he can, with money. Cancer tenaciously ‘hangs on’ especially to family. Narcissists are also ‘street angels and home devils’ so can charm their way into any situation with anyone (like your grandparents), since, the narcissist may need to take advantage of them one day. I hope you are doing well, and thank you for sharing your story. Best wishes, Michelle

  • Jones 13/08/2020
    Reply

    Exceptionally well written article. Recently met a friend with a Sun/Moon/Venus and Mercury all in Leo, a Leo stellium conjunction if you will. Before I knew his bday and could look up his chart my intuition was at first whispering, then screaming “narcissist! don’t get involved!” as there were just little red flags everywhere. First there was mocking, then projecting, then an annoying air of self-centeredness that quickly crossed over to arrogance. I had to terminate all communication as it was leaving me confused. Trust your intuition

    • Reply

      Thank you Jones. Good move trusting your intuition, and terminating all communication. A Leo stellium could definitely point to narcissism, although I know a narcissist with an unaspected Sun, but has 5 planets in the first quadrant (including the Sun). All the best, Michelle

  • Carol Saia 05/09/2020
    Reply

    Well now, I am glad I found this post and that you did it. I am Taurus 4th with Aquarius Pisces. Rising. I have found that child abuse worsens the narcissistic tendencies. My ex Aquarius, Leo rising with Stellium in Cap 5th was sexually abused, and a blend of covert and overt NPD. Div. And custody battle..got very ugly and painful. So I started up with an old boyfriend afterward. No obvious child abuse, just cultural verbal abuse. He is a Cancer/Leo rising with a stellium in 2nd house Leo, 1955. Sun, Pluto, Uranus, not sure exactly of exact birth time, just early morning. Possible Moon in Taurus. I thought he was bipolar, then he used meth, now only marijuana to calm himself. He fits your descriptions. But he has water signs too. When he overworks himself, he turns into a temperamental monster blaming everybody else except himself. Sighhhh.

    • Reply

      Thank you for sharing your experience Carol. Sadly, child abuse can be the cause of narcissism. Obviously drugs will not help anyone’s situation, personality disordered or not. And yes, they blame everyone else for their issues, taking no responsibility for any wrongdoing. Take care, Michelle

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