Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) - Malignant Self-Love/Narcissism
What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Upon searching the internet for the subject of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) you will most likely stumble upon an endless amount of confusing information regarding the personality disorder. Generally, most people have come to believe that a 'narcissist' is somebody who is simply in love with their self causing them to become vain and big-headed. This isn't really the nature of the narcissist as this isn't their true self.
The truth is that narcissists have a deeply embedded invisible psychological barrier, made up of a false sense of self-esteem (ego) behind which their true emotions and persona are hidden away. Behind this virtually impenetrable exterior narcissists are actually feel weak emotionally and behind the facade they suffer with extremely low self-esteem. They repress awareness of their hatred and contempt, not just for themselves, but for just about everything around them also, which is usually caused by some kind of long term emotionally/mentally damaging subjective experience (abuse).
Narcissism is a natural defense mechanism, a normal human trait which we all possess, but in narcissists has been triggered into overdrive - that is, it has become malignant.
How Does the Disorder Work?
Narcissists build a false sense of self-worth from narcissistic supply (attention, adoration, adulation) which helps to regulate their ego and they often do this by using and slandering the people around them, sometimes showing off and putting other people down in order to make themselves feel and look good; they may carelessly and severely damage the lives of people around them in doing so.
Narcissists are experts at psychological manipulation and mental and emotional abuse. When confronted narcissists make projections, they twist the evidence to make it look like everyone else is wrong and that they are right and furthermore, that they are the one being victimized - they play the victim oh so convincingly. If in a relationship the narcissist manipulates their relationship partner to reflect the behavior desired in them so that the partner acts out the narcissist's rage for them - the partner will have already been ostracized behind their back, usually starting very early into the relationship, so that people around them start to believe that the real victim is the one who is mentally unstable.
Over long-term periods of time the disguised abuse gradually wears down at the psyche of the partner of the narcissist, eventually leaving them feeling like their soul is being worn down and crushed, though the victim often does not consciously realize or understand what is happening or why, the abuse is simply too well disguised and insidious in nature - usually it's the narcissist's partner who ends up having to go to therapy to learn how to deal with them and is the one left scratching their head wondering 'is it me?'
Narcissists can sometimes be extremely paranoid to the point where they will go off the rails if they so much as hear that someone has mentioned their name, even if in innocent conversation. Narcissists develop an obsessive compulsion to uphold the false sense of self that they have created, it has become a part of them and it needs to be consistently and constantly fed.
When in conversation narcissists usually discuss everything in the manner of how it relates to them or their own past experiences therefore giving the illusion that they are in love with themselves - In reality the opposite is usually the case, deep down inside narcissists are emotionally scarred and weak and have repressed their true emotions resulting in a callous, shallow exterior - a highly evolved and highly elaborate defense mechanism which acts to protect the hidden inner emotions.
There are actually various types and sub-types of malignant narcissism/NPD, despite what you may read about narcissists being either cerebral or somatic. A somatic narcissist is someone who uses their body for constant attention by becoming a satyr (if male) or a nymphomaniac (if female). A cerebral narcissist gains this attention by showing off their intelligence and sometimes finances to make others seem inferior. There are also many other forms of the disorder.
Covert (or stealth) narcissists can be extremely difficult to detect and it's actually possible to live with a covert narcissist for all of your life without even realizing it. Don't be fooled by the statistics that shows most sufferers of NPD to be male. This is an inevitable misconception and statistical research shows that the figures may actually be closer to 50% male and 50% female. Females are naturally more narcissistic in their nature anyway, it's part of the natural female defense mechanism so it's much easier for female narcissists to remain unrecognized.
Despite the original belief that only approximately 1% of the world's population suffer with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, more recent research indicates that the true figure could be as many as 13%-16%. Narcissists are masters of invisibility, they don't get picked up by the standard radar of human perception, only intuition and even then you won't quite be able to put your finger on what's really going on.
How Do I Recognize a Narcissist?
In many cases the narcissist often has an ex-partner (or several) who they will claim is mentally ill in some way and who may have become dependent on alcohol or drugs (therefore, in the narcissist's opinion, it's all their fault). This is commonly the result of being subject to narcissistic abuse over a long period of time. In extreme cases, this alien behavior can go as far as to develop into full blown psychological murder. Narcissists are experts at using very cleverly plotted, calculated, emotional, mental and verbal abuse, guilt and sympathy to manipulate and exploit the people around them. In covertly narcissistic relationships this is usually solely the narcissist's partner (victim) and in a lot of cases the covertly narcissistic behaviour gradually becomes more and more overt over the years.
Narcissists naturally use hypnotic forms of communication to very cleverly disguise abuse within embedded verbal commands and they use subliminal persuasion tactics, undermining the perception of their victim(s). Seeing as they have been practicing this hypnotic art since they were a child they become experts in it and have what is commonly described as a superhuman capacity for manipulation. So much so, that narcissists can use other people as pawns and can use them to carry out their manipulative tactics and deceit on their behalf without the pawns even being aware of what's really happening (abuse by proxy), it is as though the narcissist's subconscious mind is their conscious mind.
Malignant narcissism can be described as a severe or complete lack of empathy whereby the narcissist is unable to put themselves in anybody elses shoes, they are unable to relate to other people's emotions, although they often pretend to - this is simply learned behavior and is recalled from script as and when needed - it is not genuine empathy.
Narcissism starts to develop naturally at the age of about six years old and continues to develop from there, it is a necessity for life but for some people traumatic experiences can cause this aspect of personality development to become stunted and as they grow into adulthood, the narcissist remains 'stuck' in the frame of mind of a child or, at the other end of the spectrum, they are overly spoiled and smothered as a child (also a form of abuse). That is, narcissists go through life playing pretend in the same way that a child does - they remain in the self-love stage of development and do not go on to learn love of another.
When confronted and guilty a narcissists deny everything outright to the point where they will swear on their own children's lives without so much as a flinch then will try to convince their victim that they were imagining everything and that it was all imagined and didn't really happen. They will go as far as to try to convince their victim that they need professional help (and medication). Narcissists are highly skilled expert liars and some can even beat the polygraph due to a lack of physiological response (no empathy).
Over the years it's a possibility that people closest to and who live near the narcissist, particularly family and friends around them, may start to point the finger and make accusations, which are often wrongly targeted at the narcissist's victim. Sometimes people may gradually begin to realize the shocking truth and will eventually have no choice but to break off all contact with the narcissist (and family) and move away, there may even be a great deal of damage done - however, this will only ever take place over the course of several years and it involves somewhat of an 'awakening' process. The narcissist will act innocent usually having everybody around them fooled, thinking that everybody is incorrectly pointing the finger at them, no matter what. They play the victim better that a professional actor could.
Many narcissist's have one very close friend in particular, a kind of 'scapegoat' who trusts them. Someone they turn to for sympathy, someone they can rely and depend upon, someone who believes they see the narcissist for who they really are despite being fooled by their charismatic facade; narcissists really are that naturally skilled.
What's So Bad About NPD?
The worst thing about malignant narcissism is that it's so infectious, not contagious but infectious. Someone who is brought up by parents who are narcissists will inevitably suffer with similar related symptoms and it's not uncommon for children of narcissists to be diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). It's a rapidly increasingly problem in society and is spreading at a fast rate - not just from people who suffer with the disorder naturally but from people who are manipulated or abused resulting in them becoming narcissistic resulting from the abuse itself which,essentially, seems to be how the disorder manifests in the first place. It's a vicious cycle yet recognizing a narcissist can be extremely difficult.
Whereas psychopathy is a lack of guilt or remorse and sociopathy is a lack of conscience, narcissism is a lack of empathy - a narcissist cannot relate to another persons emotional needs or understand the pain they may be inflicting upon them. However, they certainly know the difference between right and wrong and between good and evil.
Note: The terms psychopath and sociopath (which are considered derogatory) have now been merged into the new diagnosis of Anti-Social Personality Disorder.
- How To Deal With A Narcissist(ic) Personality
- Various Types Of Narcissism & The Mechanics Of NPD
- Co-Narcissism, Covert Narcissism & Co-Dependence
- 10 Common Myths About NPD Dispelled
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