Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a condition which was first described in 1925 by Robert Waelder , a noted Austrian Psychoanalyst. It is defined as a personality disorder with a long term history of abnormal behaviours of which the hallmarks include grandiosity , a malignant need for admiration and lack of empathy.
In the real world , individuals who are narcissistic in nature will present with features of self-centredness , arrogance , will be highly manipulative and demanding. They believe that they are superior or ‘special’, and have a high sense of entitlement . Alongside this, they seek excessive admiration and attention , in order to satisfy their need for validation.
The self-esteem of those with narcissistic personality disorder is fragile at its core, and consequently , their sole purpose lies in seeking validation from the outside world in order to gain a level of much needed self-importance.
Why are they like this ?
The cause of Narcissistic personality disorder is currently not well understood . However it is thought to be due to a dual effect of genetic inheritance and environmental factors. Dr Ramani Durvasula describes the narcissistic personality , as one which develops as a result of a simultaneous over and under indulgence of a child. In essence , this would involve achievement oriented expressions from the parents of a child e.g. the parents cheering the loudest at a football game or as their child made the valedictorian speech. However , these parents often fall short in supplying emotional grounding for their child, almost as if they didn’t care. This leaves the narcissist with an unfed emotional core , resulting in a lack of empathy , and a desperate need for the world’s validation.
How to know whether you are or are with a Narcissist ?
Narcissistic personality disorder may be indicated by the presence of the following symptoms :
- Exaggeration of self-importance – Entitlement
- Requirement of constant attention and admiration from others
- Unreasonable expectations of favourable treatment from others
- Disregards the feelings of others and lacks empathy
- Shows arrogant behaviour and attitudes
- Is often envious of others and believes others to be envious of him/her
- Takes advantage of others to reach his/her own goals
- Is preoccupied by thoughts/fantasies of success , power , intelligence , beauty or an ideal romance.
- Is prone to episodes of rage and anger (particularly when things aren’t going their way)
- Expression of extreme levels of paranoia – e.g. that other’s are trying to take advantage of him/her , are envious or unfaithful
- Highly manipulative nature
- Have you feeling as if ‘ you have lost your mind’ – Gaslighting
These are part of an exhaustive list of some of the common traits found in the narcissistic personality.
Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
The impact of the emotional manipulation subjected upon victims of narcissistic abuse is devastating . The thought control used as a means of manipulation , leads to the victim handing over their mind and will , with the sole purpose of submitting to their abuser’s drive for personal gain… at all costs.
The narcissist typically distorts the reality of their victim , leading them to exist within an altered reality filled with powerlessness, hopelessness , and a state of confusion.
The venom of the predator results in mental and emotional paralysis , with a constellation of symptoms , which ultimately leads to the destruction and death of the victim’s self-esteem , thoughts and desires.
The emotional abuse associated with narcissism , leads the victim to :
- Constantly question their own sanity
- Feeling unheard and unwanted
- Doubt their ability to make sound decisions
- Obsess about ways in which they can change in order to make the narcissist happy
- Obsess on their flaws or mistakes
- Devalue and discard their own desires and needs
- Minimize and make excuses for the narcissists behaviours
- Devalue their own contribution to the relationship
- Submit to the narcissists will – give them whatever they want
- Idealize the narcissist
- Mistrust the loving relationships they may still retain
- FEEL WORTHLESS
Often the victim of narcissistic abuse is unaware of their maltreatment , and is instead focused on their own flaws. She/he is often filled with mental anguish and desperately seeking the answers to their inadequacies and failures. The mind of the victim of narcissistic abuse is one filled with self-blame and condemnation and as such mirrors what the abuser has sewn into his/her emotional being.
Want to learn more ?
There are several resources which provide more advanced information about Narcissism and narcissistic abuse within intimate relationships. Of them all , I have found the book ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go ?: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist ‘ by Dr Ramani Durvasula , most enlightening. There are also several videos on YouTube which aim to delve into the mind of the narcissist.