Narcissitic Personality Disorder

Individuals with this disorder exhibit a lack of ability to empathize with others and have an inflated sense of self-importance. 

 

Definition

The hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also concentrate on grandiose fantasies (e.g. their own success, beauty, brilliance) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment. These characteristics typically begin in early adulthood and must be consistently evident in multiple contexts, such as at work and in relationships. 

People with narcissistic personality disorder believe they are superior or special, and often try to associate with other people they believe are unique or gifted in some way. This association enhances their self-esteem, which is typically quite fragile underneath the surface. Individuals with NPD seek excessive admiration and attention in order to know that others think highly of them. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder have difficulty tolerating criticism or defeat, and may be left feeling humiliated or empty when they experience an "injury" in the form of criticism or rejection. 

Related Personality Disorders: Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, Paranoid. 

Symptoms

Narcissistic personality disorder is indicated by five or more of the following symptoms:

  • Exaggerates own importance

  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal romance

  • Believes he or she is special and can only be understood by other special people or institutions

  • Requires constant attention and admiration from others

  • Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment

  • Takes advantage of others to reach his or her own goals

  • Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy

  • Is often envious of others or believes other people are envious of him or her

  • Shows arrogant behaviors and attitudes

50 to 75 percent of the people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder are male. However, there are female narcissists that walk among us and are hidden in plain site as well. Additionally, it is common for many adolescents to display the characteristics listed above; this does not indicate that they will later develop narcissistic personality disorder.

Causes

Causes of narcissistic personality disorder are not yet well-understood. Genetic and biological factors as well as environment and early life experiences are all thought to play a role in the development of this condition. 

Treatments

Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder can be challenging because people with this condition present with a great deal of grandiosity and defensiveness, which makes it difficult for them to acknowledge problems and vulnerabilities. Individual and group psychotherapy may be useful in helping people with narcissistic personality disorder relate to others in a healthier and more compassionate way. Mentalization-based therapy, transference-focused psychotherapy, and schema-focused psychotherapy have all been suggested as effective ways of treating narcissistic personality disorder.

References

  • American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Revised.

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition

  • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Assessment and Treatment of Patients with Coexisting Mental Illness and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No.9.

  • National Institutes of Health - National Library of Medicine

  • Caligor, E., Levy, K. N., & Yeomans, F. E. (2015). Narcissistic personality disorder: diagnostic and clinical challenges. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(5), 415-422.

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Swallowing the Pill

Once you find out that you were only fuel for the narcissists' fragile ego, the sting will most likely be agonizing. You may feel like your soul was ripped from your body. Why? Because while you thought it was real, the narcissist was faking the entire relationship. 

Learning this devastating news will leave you shocked and appalled, not to mention deeply wounded. You will also be left with several unanswered questions. 

Swallowing the pill of being used isn't easy, but the only closure you will get after a relationship with a narcissist is the closure you give yourself. They will never validate you or apologize. That's another tough pill to swallow. 

Work with Gracie for tips and training on coping during this harsh transition. 

Narcissistic Abuse 

 

Are you in a relationship where your gut is telling you that something isn't quite right? Are you constantly confused? Do you feel anxious regularly (like you're walking on eggshells to keep the peace?) Does your partner randomly ignore you or withhold affection? Do they repeatedly invalidate your opinions and make you uncomfortable with sharing any good news with them? Do they use pity plays to make you feel sorry for them after they've hurt you? Have they claimed that all of their ex's are "crazy"? Do they show very little empathy for others, if any at all? Are they often unapologetic, insensitive and unaccountable for their actions? Do they blame other people for their behavior? Are they openly grandiose and just a little too confident for comfort? Do they give the impression that they are superior to others, while often times "proclaiming"  that everyone is created equal? Is your partner overly sensitive to any form of criticism, even if it's constructive? Do they hijack conversations where no one gets a chance to speak? When confronted about something suspicious, does your partner resort to angry outbursts or violence?   And finally...if they are caught in a lie, do they find a miraculous way to make you feel like you should be the one apologizing to them? 

All of the above are signs of emotional & narcissistic abuse. These signs are often mistaken for "marriage problems" or a miscommunication issue when you are actually being manipulated and quietly abused. 

How to Escape 

 

Escaping any type of abuse takes courage, consistency and cleverness...and you have to be completely FED UP. Once you've had enough, the thought of escaping becomes easier! However, leaving can also      be excruciatingly painful and confusing. Gracie can help guide you through your transformation and give you the right tips and tools to find your courage and strength to escape. 

 

Photo by Robert May III

TST Network ATL

Educated Empath 

 

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, I can tell you that it can take years to recover. But, there are coping strategies that can help victims while on that journey. These tips can enlighten you and help you to feel grounded again.