What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder? (NPD)
NPD is a mental health condition that usually develops in adolescence or early adulthood and is characterized by;
A superior sense of self/Inflated sense of self-importance
Abuse of Power & Control/ Impersonally exploitative behavior
A need for Excessive admiration and praise
A fragile ego
Lack of empathy/ An inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs of others
Sense of Entitlement/Pretentious and boastful
A belief that they are special & unique
Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, Ideal love
Arrogant & Demanding
React negatively to criticism
Encounter difficulties in relationships
Accept no responsibility for their actions
What are the causes of NPD?
While the causes of NPD are not well known, and the area requires further study, many cases are believed to be due to:
Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving by parents
Unrealistic expectations from parents
Excessive parental control
Excessive praise for good behaviors in childhood
Excessive criticism for bad behaviors in childhood
How is NPD diagnosed?
In order to qualify as symptomatic of NPD, the individuals manifested personality traits must substantially differ from the cultural norms of society. Identifying the distinctive traits of narcissism is a core element in the diagnostic process. A mental health professional must first rule out all other potential causes for symptoms (other personality disorders, accident/brain injuries, etc.
NPD is rarely the primary reason for someone seeking treatment, due to the nature of the illness, narcissists do not accept that the problems with their behavior or the difficulties that they encounter in life, is of their own doing. Diagnosis is usually prompted by other difficulties, for example; finding themselves on the wrong side of the law due to being abusive in a relationship, losing their temper or because of substance misuse, etc.
Treatment of NPD
Counseling and psychotherapy, CBT, and transference-focused therapy are often used to treat NPD. There are mixed findings on how successful these treatments are, further study is required. It is reported, however, that psychotherapy for treating NPD has a high drop out rate. Psychiatric medications are not considered effective in treating NPD but may be given to treat co-existing symptoms, such as anxiety or depression.
What signs should I be looking for if I think I am in a relationship with a narcissist?
The biggest sign has to be; Why you are asking the question?
What has motivated you to look for answers?
Healthy relationships do not move people to ask these questions in the first place, so it is worth asking yourself – "what is happening that has made me question this relationship? "Am I truly happy with how I feel"? Be honest, given the choice, is this the relationship you would choose? Because whether you know it or now, you do have a choice!
Phase 1. Idealization
If you are in a romantic relationship, initially, it is unlikely there will be any signs – on the contrary, you will have been led to believe you have found the perfect match.
You will feel loved, respected, idolized even. Your charming, attentive partner appears to be equally besotted with you as you are with them. Everything appears to be wonderful, you feel great – sexy, loved up, like the most important person in their lives! For all intents and purposes, you appear to have met your would mate – and your new romantic partner will endeavor to reinforce these beliefs, telling you how special you are and how long they have waited to meet someone like you.
Phase 2. Devaluation
If you are dating a narcissist, sooner or later the thought will enter your mind 'something feels wrong!'
You may be asking yourself, "What did I do/say wrong"! As your loving, attentive partner suddenly appears distant and uninterested. You may begin to wonder if there is someone else on the scene - a former partner perhaps. Even if you dare to ask, the narcissistic partner is unlikely to put your mind at ease. Instead, they will encourage your doubts and revel in your misery. And so begins the rollercoaster, push-pull misery that is phase 2.
Phase 3. Discard
Easily bored, the narcissist moves on to their next supply, quickly and easily with little thought or concern for the victim. They undoubtedly leave the door slightly ajar, just enough to keep their victim clinging on in the hope that their soul mate present in phase one, is still in there somewhere and will return any day now.
(Falling for a narcissist continues in part 2)