Thursday, January 8, 2015

defining narcissism

We've heard the term before. Chances are, we've all met one. Some of you have been married to one. Many of us have been hurt by one. But what exactly is a Narcissist?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a psychological disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM) that is characterized by:

-arrogance, grandiosity, & self-importance
-a preoccupation with fantasies of success and power
-a conviction that one is special or unique
-a desire to receive the admiration of others
-a sense of entitlement
-interpersonally exploitive behaviour
-an inability to empathize with the needs and feelings of other people
(Spencer, Garcia-Simpson, & Mewland, 2007)                                                                                 

So what does that look like in real life? 

Relationships for the narcissist are about what people can do for them.

In romance someone with NPD values outwardly attractive people more than those who can 
offer a true intimate relationship. In fact, they often view intimacy as a threat. Research
indicates that narcissists report lower levels of empathy, intimacy, caring, commitment,
and selflessness.  Narcissists look for mates with high social status, good looks, or success. 
They do not normally stay in a relationship beyond the point at which they benefit. 

In a society where take-charge personalities are respected and revered, the charm and 
seduction of the narcissist will be irresistible to almost everyone. It is a misconception that
only those with low self esteem date someone who is self-centered.

She is often beautiful and if not, she carries herself as though she were.  She flaunts her 
assets and is convinced that she is worth every dollar you spend on her. The reward of her
pleasure is more than enough to keep you engaged. A narcissist needs to be the center of
attention- the prettiest, the most fortunate, the best.

She/he is very focused on material possessions – house, car, clothes, jewelry.
She/he is jealous of anyone who has more, does more and gets more.
She/he can become demanding, unpredictable, mean and cruel.
Their home and children need to be the best
Her spouse, job, career, and income must meet her needs or she is unhappy.
She/he is not opposed to lying or misrepresenting the truth.
She/he surrounds self with those who will be manipulated into admiring and loving them.

Like her male counterpart, the narcissistic woman can be just as abusive.  

She can be prone to  histrionics, but she can also be very controlled – showing only the her 
best to the public, and  keeping the worst side of herself for those closest to her.  She reacts 
badly to loss, and will go to great lengths to protect what is hers.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a very real disorder. And unfortunately,
personality is generally difficult to change.  The added difficulty with changing Narcissism is 
that people who are narcissistic often don't want to change. In those cases, changing another
person is very, very difficult. Approximately 6.2% of the population suffers from lifetime 
NPD, with 7.7% of them being men, and 4.8% being women.

***I first wrote about NPD in a previous post called "When Love is Not Enough." 

To date, it has been my all-time most-read post.***

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