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Narcissistic Personality Disorder, what is a Narc?

Discussion in 'Dealing with Narcissistic People' started by AudryLeigh, Oct 24, 2019.  |  Print Topic

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  1. AudryLeigh
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    What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

    Many people who come to this site are knowingly or unknowingly dealing with a Narcissistic parent or partner. People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (often referred to as Narcs) are potentially very dangerous people. At best they are difficult to live around, at the worst they can be a threat to another person’s life. If you are in any kind of relationship where the other person is abusive, especially verbally abusive, it is important to know whether or not they suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), because none of the “normal” strategies for dealing with abuse will work with them. Following are some excerpts from an article by Melinda Smith, M.A., which was last updated in June of 2019.

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    What is narcissistic personality disorder?
    The word narcissism gets tossed around a lot in our selfie-obsessed, celebrity-driven culture, often to describe someone who seems excessively vain or full of themselves. But in psychological terms, narcissism doesn’t mean self-love—at least not of a genuine sort. It’s more accurate to say that people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are in love with an idealized, grandiose image of themselves. And they’re in love with this inflated self-image precisely because it allows them to avoid deep feelings of insecurity. But propping up their delusions of grandeur takes a lot of work—and that’s where the dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors come in.

    Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) involves a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, a lack of empathy and consideration for other people, and an excessive need for admiration. Others often describe people with NPD as cocky, manipulative, selfish, patronizing, and demanding. This way of thinking and behaving surfaces in every area of the narcissist’s life: from work and friendships to family and love relationships.

    People with narcissistic personality disorder are extremely resistant to changing their behavior, even when it’s causing them problems. Their tendency is to turn the blame on to others. What’s more, they are extremely sensitive and react badly to even the slightest criticisms, disagreements, or perceived slights, which they view as personal attacks. For the people in the narcissist’s life, it’s often easier just to go along with their demands to avoid the coldness and rages.

    Grandiose sense of self-importance
    Grandiosity is the defining characteristic of narcissism. More than just arrogance or vanity, grandiosity is an unrealistic sense of superiority. Narcissists believe they are unique or “special” and can only be understood by other special people. What’s more, they are too good for anything average or ordinary. They only want to associate and be associated with other high-status people, places, and things.

    Narcissists also believe that they’re better than everyone else and expect recognition as such—even when they’ve done nothing to earn it. They will often exaggerate or outright lie about their achievements and talents. And when they talk about work or relationships, all you’ll hear is how much they contribute, how great they are, and how lucky the people in their lives are to have them. They are the undisputed star and everyone else is at best a bit player.

    Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur
    Since reality doesn’t support their grandiose view of themselves, narcissists live in a fantasy world propped up by distortion, self-deception, and magical thinking. They spin self-glorifying fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, attractiveness, and ideal love that make them feel special and in control. These fantasies protect them from feelings of inner emptiness and shame, so facts and opinions that contradict them are ignored or rationalized away. Anything that threatens to burst the fantasy bubble is met with extreme defensiveness and even rage, so those around the narcissist learn to tread carefully around their denial of reality.

    Needs constant praise and admiration
    A narcissist’s sense of superiority is like a balloon that gradually loses air without a steady stream of applause and recognition to keep it inflated. The occasional compliment is not enough. Narcissists need constant food for their ego, so they surround themselves with people who are willing to cater to their obsessive craving for affirmation. These relationships are very one-sided. It’s all about what the admirer can do for the narcissist, never the other way around. And if there is ever an interruption or diminishment in the admirer’s attention and praise, the narcissist treats it as a betrayal.

    Sense of entitlement
    Because they consider themselves special, narcissists expect favorable treatment as their due. They truly believe that whatever they want, they should get. They also expect the people around them to automatically comply with their every wish and whim. That is their only value. If you don’t anticipate and meet their every need, then you’re useless. And if you have the nerve to defy their will or “selfishly” ask for something in return, prepare yourself for aggression, outrage, or the cold shoulder.

    Exploits others without guilt or shame
    Narcissists never develop the ability to identify with the feelings of others—to put themselves in other people’s shoes. In other words, they lack empathy. In many ways, they view the people in their lives as objects—there to serve their needs. As a consequence, they don’t think twice about taking advantage of others to achieve their own ends. Sometimes this interpersonal exploitation is malicious, but often it is simply oblivious. Narcissists simply don’t think about how their behavior affects others. And if you point it out, they still won’t truly get it. The only thing they understand is their own needs.

    Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others
    Narcissists feel threatened whenever they encounter someone who appears to have something they lack—especially those who are confident and popular. They’re also threatened by people who don’t kowtow to them or who challenge them in any way. Their defense mechanism is contempt. The only way to neutralize the threat and prop up their own sagging ego is to put those people down. They may do it in a patronizing or dismissive way as if to demonstrate how little the other person means to them. Or they may go on the attack with insults, name-calling, bullying, and threats to force the other person back into line.

    Don’t fall for the fantasy
    Narcissists can be very magnetic and charming. They are very good at creating a fantastical, flattering self-image that draw us in. We’re attracted to their apparent confidence and lofty dreams—and the shakier our own self-esteem, the more seductive the allure. It’s easy to get caught up in their web, thinking that they will fulfill our longing to feel more important, more alive. But it’s just a fantasy, and a costly one at that.

    Your needs won’t be fulfilled (or even recognized). It’s important to remember that narcissists aren’t looking for partners; they’re looking for obedient admirers. Your sole value to the narcissist is as someone who can tell them how great they are to prop up their insatiable ego. Your desires and feelings don’t count.

    Look at the way the narcissist treats others. If the narcissist lies, manipulates, hurts, and disrespects others, he or she will eventually treat you the same way. Don’t fall for the fantasy that you’re different and will be spared.

    Focus on your own dreams. Instead of losing yourself in the narcissist’s delusions, focus on the things you want for yourself. What do you want to change in your life? What gifts would you like to develop? What fantasies do you need to give up in order to create a more fulfilling reality?

    Set healthy boundaries
    Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect and caring. But narcissists aren’t capable of true reciprocity in their relationships. It isn’t just that they’re not willing; they truly aren’t able. They don’t see you. They don’t hear you. They don’t recognize you as someone who exists outside of their own needs. Because of this, narcissists regularly violate the boundaries of others. What’s more, they do so with an absolute sense of entitlement.

    Narcissists think nothing of going through or borrowing your possessions without asking, snooping through your mail and personal correspondence, eavesdropping on conversations, barging in without an invitation, stealing your ideas, and giving you unwanted opinions and advice. They may even tell you what to think and feel. It’s important to recognize these violations for what they are, so you can begin to create healthier boundaries where your needs are respected.

    Don’t take things personally
    To protect themselves from feelings of inferiority and shame, narcissists must always deny their shortcomings, cruelties, and mistakes. Often, they will do so by projecting their own faults on to others. It’s very upsetting to get blamed for something that’s not your fault or be characterized with negative traits you don’t possess. But as difficult as it may be, try not to take it personally. It really isn’t about you.

    Don’t buy into the narcissist’s version of who you are. Narcissists don’t live in reality, and that includes their views of other people. Don’t let their shame and blame game undermine your self-esteem. Refuse to accept undeserved responsibility, blame, or criticism. That negativity is the narcissist’s to keep.

    Don’t argue with a narcissist. When attacked, the natural instinct is to defend yourself and prove the narcissist wrong. But no matter how rational you are or how sound your argument, he or she is unlikely to hear you. And arguing the point may escalate the situation in a very unpleasant way. Don’t waste your breath. Simply tell the narcissist you disagree with their assessment, then move on.

    Know yourself. The best defense against the insults and projections of the narcissist is a strong sense of self. When you know your own strengths and weaknesses, it’s easier to reject any unfair criticisms leveled against you.

    Let go of the need for approval. It’s important to detach from the narcissist’s opinion and any desire to please or appease them at the expense of yourself. You need to be okay with knowing the truth about yourself, even if the narcissist sees the situation differently.

    Look for support and purpose elsewhere
    Learn what healthy relationships look and feel like. If you come from a narcissistic family, you may not have a very good sense of what a healthy give-and-take relationship is. The narcissistic pattern of dysfunction may feel comfortable to you. Just remind yourself that as familiar as it feels, it also makes you feel bad. In a reciprocal relationship, you will feel respected, listened to, and free to be yourself.

    Spend time with people who give you an honest reflection of who you are. In order to maintain perspective and avoid buying into the narcissist’s distortions, it’s important to spend time with people who know you as you really are and validate your thoughts and feelings.

    Make new friendships, if necessary, outside the narcissist’s orbit. Some narcissists isolate the people in their lives in order to better control them. If this is your situation, you’ll need to invest time into rebuilding lapsed friendships or cultivating new relationships.

    Look for meaning and purpose in work, volunteering, and hobbies. Instead of looking to the narcissist to make you feel good about yourself, pursue meaningful activities that make use of your talents and allow you to contribute.

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    (The above is slightly edited by the removal of a couple of paragraphs, irrelevant to this post. Also, it is I think, a rather good description/explanation of NPD, but it isn't a touchstone. If you think you have a Narc in your life, but something about the description above doesn't fit, let's talk about it here. We're not authorities, but we can find other information, and listen to other people's ideas and experiences and figure some things out.)

    In addition to the above, it is important to note that narcissists cannot stand to lose. If you have been living with a narcissistic parent, and you finally reach the age of 18 and move out, the Narc will do everything in their power to keep you under their control. People who have been victimized by Narcs often describe behavior by the Narc referred to as “Hovering,” which is the use of crafty means to suck the person back into their sphere of influence. For example, “Well let’s at least just have coffee sometime -- I miss you.” The “I miss you” is total BS. Their one and only objective is to get you where they can use their deceptive techniques to gain your sympathy and reverse your course of action (to get you to move back in with them, for example, where they can continue to use you to bolster their ego. Remember, this is NOT about you! They don’t give a damn about you, your mental health, what their abuses might be doing to you, even whether or not they are ruining the rest of your life -- it’s never at all about you, it’s entirely and only about them.


    Narcissists are incredibly skillful liars. The usually have no conscience, so they don’t see lying as being wrong. Not seeing it as wrong leaves them free to tell you anything they think might win your sympathy, or make you feel badly about the way you treated them. “You know you broke your mom’s and my hearts when you moved out. How could you do such a thing to people who loved you and cared for you your entire life?” They (the Narc) never loved you, the only love they know is love of themselves. Even your life is meaningless to them. If you died tomorrow, the only loss they’d feel is the loss of someone to feed their ego. If you haven’t experienced it, or recognized it, it’s hard to believe that anyone could be so callous, could care absolutely nothing about others feelings and needs, hard to believe that anyone could say what they say and have it be a total and absolute lie, intended to manipulate your feelings and emotions. They seem so incredibly sincere that even if you know their game, it’s hard not to believe them. “Oh, they’re being so sincere, they must have changed.” Not a chance. Narcissists NEVER change -- NPD is incurable.


    Narcs are such incredibly good liars that most psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors will fail to spot them, so if you get them to go to a counseling session with you, your counselor is likely to side with them. They will convince anyone you know who they have access to that you’re the one who is damaging their relationship with them. They will have no qualms about going through your phone, reading your texts and emails, and collecting the phone numbers and addresses of your friends, and to check to see if you’ve been reaching out to anyone or if you have contacted Child Protective Services. They’d not flinch at a visit from CPS, they know they can lie their way through anything, but knowing in advance would give them a chance to go to work on you -- to intimidate you so that you don’t say the things you need to say (and that he needs you not to say).


    Perhaps the worst thing about Narcs is that they are so incredibly hard to get rid of. They really cannot lose, so they’ll keep coming back, trying to Hoover you back under their control. I know of about 16 cases where the person had to leave the state to amputate the Narc. A very good friend of mine changed her name and moved to my state to escape a Narc EX-husband. One woman commented to me once at a bar, “Sometimes ya just gotta shoot em.” Made me want to move away from her. She never did tell me how she’d amputated her EX-Narc. Anyway, Narcs are extremely hard to get out of your life, but it’s often an absolute necessity.


    This forum is here to help people learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, to provide support for those having to deal with it, for people to talk about their experiences (sometimes, telling your story and having it validated is a necessary step, because any good Narc will have you convinced that your version of things is all wrong -- so having knowledgeable people go “Yup, that’s a narc for ya,” can be crucial in your learning that it’s HIS version that’s all wrong). Anyway, feel free to post here and help this become a valuable resource for victims of Narcs, and anyone who needs or wants to know about them.


    Hugs,
    Audry Leigh
     
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  2. zen

    zen Curator, Royal Academy of Inappropriate Handshake
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    Quote:

    "Their tendency is to turn the blame on to others. What’s more, they are extremely sensitive and react badly to even the slightest criticisms, disagreements, or perceived slights, which they view as personal attacks."

    We've recently witnessed this exact behavior on this site, and not all the victims have been back yet.
     
    #2 zen, Jan 11, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020

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