Inside Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Although Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) only affects about 1% of the population – narcissism became a buzz word in 2014. Often people associate it with masks, because the person with NPD will often hide their true self by projecting a false version of themselves which appears human.
What is a narcissist? A narcissist is someone who loves themselves – however the version of themselves that they love is not their true self – and they are actually in love with the false self which is the version of themselves that they project. When someone else falls in love with this projected version of themselves, knowing it’s not their true self, it angers the person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) because of their belief that no one will truly love them for who they are but only who they portray themselves to be.
At the end of the day, we all have a bit of narcissism is us but it isn’t always unhealthy and doesn’t always become a personality disorder. Healthy narcissism is often associated with good self esteem that enables the person to leave their imprint on the world – but, as Simon
Crompton points out, they are also able to share in the emotional life of others. People with NPD are unable to share in the emotional life of others because they cannot feel empathy and this feeds into the fact the Greek word “narce” means “to be numb”.
What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)? NPD is a disorder where the person is unable to feel empathy and instead focuses excessively on personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity. This focus causes them to lose sight of the destructive damage they are causing themselves and others. Both men and women can be narcissistic, however 75% of narcissists are believed to be male – there is very little difference between the behaviours of the two, and there are no conclusive studies around how many people have NPD or suffer from narcissistic abuse.
How would you describe someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)? There are many ways to describe someone with NPD but two are particularly apt and targets will be able to identify with them almost immediately:
“A soul without footprints” – Jeni Mawter who says they’re the original hollow man trying to get their lifeblood from destroying their target’s soul.
“A psychological parasite” – Savannah Gray who likens them to a zombie with brains – a narcissist will latch onto things that become their supply until they exhaust them and move onto another source.
Do I have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)? Often targets of narcissistic abuse will question if they are the problem. There is a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders which claims people with NPD must exhibit at least five of the following traits:
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes
- Grandiose sense of self-importance
- Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, beauty, talent or ideal love
- Belief that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- Need for excessive admiration
- Sense of entitlement
- Takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- Lacks empathy
- Often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
What should someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) do? If you think you have NPD, I recommend psychiatric assistance as soon as possible to help delve into why hurting others brings you the satisfaction it does and how you can change your behaviour in order to have healthy relationships.
In my experience the person who narcissistically abused me claimed “I only hurt people I love” – but he was so caught up in himself to seek the help he needed and continued his path of destruction. Thankfully upon learning about NPD and narcissistic abuse I came to realise it wasn’t love – the actions he took which I confused for love (mainly seen at the start of the relationship) were acts of grooming.
How can someone else’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) affect me? A narcissist deprives their partner of the ability to feel joy and love by deliberately attempting to destroy or compromise their identity. Simply for the challenge, they will often target intelligent, self- sufficient, empathetic and highly attractive people.
They often like people who are already in a relationship and feed off any expression of vulnerability including relationship troubles, grief, depression or other experiences they can pretend to relate to. Their intent right from the start of this relationship is to bring this person down – deliberately using any sign of vulnerability to get inside their head, heart and soul.
What should I do if I am with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)? Have you ever had a nightmare where you’re being chased – and no matter how fast you go, where you hide or how much strength you use, the person catches you? That’s what narcissistic abuse is like – only you can’t wake up to escape it.
If you think your partner has NPD and you are having difficulty removing yourself from this relationship, I also recommend you seek psychiatric assistance. If you can recognise these NPD traits in someone currently in your life, remove yourself from the person and cease contact where you can.
At some stage in the relationship you will go through excruciating pain as they continue to destroy your soul. You may find yourself becoming desperate for help – stay calm – although challenging, rebuilding after narcissistic abuse is possible and it starts and ends with you. It’s just knowing the correct steps to take that holds many targets back in their healing process.
NO contact is the only way forward from a narcissist and that includes you checking up on them or trying to find out what they’re up to or looking to verify things you’ve heard etc. While your urges and actions are normal – it is no appropriate or beneficial for you to act on them. However, when you cut contact with your abuser you fall into a pit of desperate aloneness and emptiness which is caused by trauma bonding. Relationship Free offers The Healing Journey Detox Program to accompany you on your healing journey and assist you to detox from this abusive person. One on one coaching services, meet ups and various other forums are also available to assist you.
How did Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) begin? The term was introduced through Greek mythology, which is where we’ll start:
Once upon a time…
In ancient Greece there was a hunter who was renowned for his beauty called Narcissus. The son of a river god and nymph, he was exceptionally proud of what he did to those who loved him. One day Nemesis – the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to arrogance – lead him to a pool, where he saw his reflection for the first time. Narcissus instantly fell in love with it – not realising it was his image or merely an image itself. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus died.
In the myth, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection – but if we look deeper what he really fell in love with was his reflection – this reflection was not his true self. This is a very key principle to understand when learning about NPD, because as far-fetched as the myth may appear, this is actually the reality today. We talk a lot more about a narcissist’s true and false self in our fourth post in this series – stay tuned!
It could be concluded that the fact he fell in love with the illusionary part of himself meant that he was not capable of loving his true self. This is part of the reason it is very difficult for someone with NPD to recover, along with the fact that ironically they often don’t seek help or refuse help, because it doesn’t align with this illusionary part.
Symptoms of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder Key features found in someone who is likely to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder and use tactics associated with narcissistic abuse include:
- Pathological lies
- Lacks empathy
- Jealousy (either jealous of others or believes others are jealous of them)
- Obsessed with fantasies, beauty, power, unlimited success, ideal love
- Believes they’re an exception
- A very strong sense of entitlement
- Exploitative of others
- Fragile self-esteem
- Easily hurt and rejected/Hyper-sensitive to criticism
- Appearing tough-minded or unemotional
- Difficulty keeping healthy relationships
- Failing to recognise other people’s emotions
- Exaggerating your achievements or talents
- Bizarre sense of time
- Often maintain strange work and eating habits
- Seek constant attention and admiration
- Self-centred and boastful
- Consider themselves better than others
- Exaggerate their talents and achievements
- Expectations others will go along with what he or she
What happens if I stay? The longer the relationship continues, the narcissist becomes less considerate towards their targets and more actively cruel as they enhance their abuse as a way to feel alive themselves.
What sort of people do narcissists go for?
Studies are starting to show that there are personality types that narcissist’s are particularly attracted and drawn to because they are more likely to be co-dependent and offer the love they never received as a child. The three types that have been identified include:
- Myers Briggs Personalities
- Highly Sensitive People
1. Myers Briggs Personalities
This includes INFJ (Myers Briggs Personality testing) – which is an Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling Judge. Some people also believe the INFJ personality type is the easiest to control because they desperately want to be liked, which leaves them vulnerable to the narcissist’s overpowering spell.
Psychopath Free released a chart that showed the personality types most likely to be abused were: INFJ (at just under 45% of targets), followed by ENFJ (17% of targets), INFP (11% of targets) and INTJ (11% of targets).
Empaths are people who are affected by other people’s energies and they lean towards being the peacemaker. Although this makes them at greater risk of coming in contact with someone who has NPD, it also completely eliminates the possibility of them being a psychopath, sociopath or someone who suffers NPD themselves. A relationship with a narcissist causes great confusion to an empathy because they tend to mimic and before the empathy realises it, they’re snared in a relationship they thought was real and equal but all of a sudden can’t find a way out.
3. Highly sensitive people
A highly sensitive person is particularly sensitive to anything affecting their senses including: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. Often they will avoid situations where there is conflict or they feel discomfort from light or sound. Because they pick up on so much they are prone to overstimulation and quicker to feel stress, which means they need more time to process on their own than someone who is not highly sensitive.
How can I stop someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) from hurting me? A narcissist will push boundaries over, crawl under them, jump over them, go through them – whatever it takes to stay in the relationship with you and keep their source of supply.
For the sake of self-preservation it’s critical to set solid personal boundaries around lying, cheating, abuse (any kind), someone who lacks empathy or remorse – and be clear in the consequences if these boundaries are crossed.
If you notice that your boundaries appear useless, it’s because you’re not enforcing the consequences you attached to them and perhaps that’s out of fear, guilt, shame or another emotion evoked by the abusive person.