Around Thanksgiving I stumbled across a tweet making the rounds, including among some of my followers dealing with their own issues. The tweet was basically saying these things
No cure for narcissism
They are Evil and must be removed from your life
Bad people with no chance at recovery
I was shocked. Apparently, even within Mental Health circles, there is a hierarchy. It was especially disturbing to see other Personality Disorders just piling on. Ripping apart (Probably started w/a person) Narcissism. So while they run around justifying, explaining and begging for less stigma for their ailment they pretty much want to bury the Narcissist.
Narcissist's don't bury easily :-) But there is hope. There is also a profound difference between being Narcissistic and having it as a disorder. By definition (in part) a narcissist believes that the rules that may apply to others may not apply to them. That is not enough to be a disorder on its own. We all know people like that. CEO's, CFO's, Upper Management, Sports and Film stars. They all live by their own rules. Wealth alone can create narcissism.
That type of behavior is inexcusable. But its created with a sense of entitlement , power and wealth. Trump, to me, is as narcissistic of a personality we have ever seen. He just doesn't get it. He thinks the world is as he sees it.
Does this mean he carries it as a disorder. Well, we don't know every moment of his life but on appearance it would seem to be a product of his status versus an actual disorder. But....before we let him off the hook too quick, its still inexcusable behavior.
Let's look at how NAMI defines the DISORDER versus the condition. This also draws the contrast and similarities between borderline and narcissism as the 2 go hand in hand in many cases.
Just like Borderline Personality Disorder, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists nine symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If you exhibit five of these nine symptoms in a persistent manner, you meet the criteria for diagnosis of NPD:
- An exaggerated sense of one’s own abilities and achievements
- A constant need for attention, affirmation, and praise
- A belief that you are unique or “special,” and should only associate with other people of the same status
- Persistent fantasies about attaining success and power
- Exploiting other people for personal gain
- A sense of entitlement and expectation of special treatment
- A preoccupation with power or success
- Feeling envious of others, or believing that others are envious of you
- A lack of empathy for others
Some of those symptoms can be part of Borderline as well. Here are the differences though
NPD and BPD: Similarities and DifferencesNarcissistic Personality Disorder can exist on its own, but can also be found co-occurring with Borderline Personality Disorder. Mix and match five out of nine symptoms of NPD with five out of the nine symptoms of BPD, and you get someone who will likely be described at least as “difficult” or “high maintenance,” and who certainly is having a tough time in day-to-day life.
Both people with BPD and with NPD deal with an intense fear of abandonment. Enhancing that fear of abandonment is the fact that sustaining relationships with others in the face of these symptoms is a challenge to say the least. “Intense and stormy relationships” is, in fact, one of the characterizing symptoms of BPD.
In an article for Psychology Today, Susan Heitler, PhD, author and Harvard graduate, describes emotionally healthy functioning in the absence of BPD or NPD: “Emotionally healthy functioning is characterized by ability to hear your own concerns, thoughts, and feelings and also to be responsive to others’ concerns.”
In the world of the narcissist, that second part just isn’t present. Narcissists are unable to step outside of themselves to imagine any weight behind someone else’s opinion. This renders someone with NPD socially and emotionally ineffective, and affects their ability to maintain relationships.
On the other hand, those with BPD are often over-responsive to other’s concerns, especially when they are in the “idealization” phase of a relationship. But anger and resentment from putting the other’s concerns first inevitably cycles around, causing resentment, at which point the relationship will enter the “devaluation” phase.
For me, having observed my mother attempt suicide at age 4, clearly spawned the disorder. At age 4 you are at the height of narcissism, you believe that everything you observe is a reaction to what you did.
It's a shitty existence. However the part that talks about the inability to look at others doesn't quite hold true for me. By nature I am empathetic but also narcissistic. How do the two reconcile?
If I am sitting down with someone and sharing my story it isn't a natural thought for me to hear them try to relate to me. Or to think on my own that they have their own issues. But...if that conversation begins about them I am not narcissistic at all, rather helpful and caring.
Again I can only speak for me. But all the "symptoms" could begin (for me) with "It never occurred to me that...."
It's not a hopeless disorder. In fact, on one hand it is a little painful but on the other hand processing that was easy enough. I am now aware that I need to guard against being (too) narcissistic at times. My dad and I laugh about it all the time. One day we started talking about how I could start a singing telegram type business only I could show up and go off on Management for employee's lol. For $50 I'll tell your boss where to go ;-)
My concern really is with other people suffering from their own battle that slam Narcissistic when its a disorder as well. Pretty hypocritical.