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Shedding some light on narcissism

Are you a victim of narcissistic abuse? Do you feel like your partner or friend is always taking advantage of you or somehow manipulating you? If so, you're not alone.

There is a lot of debate surrounding the term "narcissism." While everyone seems to have a different opinion, there is one thing most people can agree on: Narcissism is unhealthy and dangerous.

So what exactly is narcissism? According to many psychologists, narcissism is a psychological disorder marked by an inflated sense of self-worth and an excessive need for admiration. Because narcissists are obsessed with themselves, they act selfishly and frequently seek to manipulate others into serving their own needs.

Narcissism has been considered a personality disorder for centuries and it feels that we are still learning more every day about this complex condition. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the authority on psychiatric diagnoses, recognizes five types of narcissism based on personality traits: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Covert Narcissistic Personality Disorder (CNPD), Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder (ANPD), Grandiose Narcissistic Personality Disorder (GNP), and Idealistic Narcissistic Personality Disorder (INPD). While NPD is commonly associated with antisocial behavior, CNPD is characterized by covert narcissism, which is less likely to result in destructive behavior but can be just as harmful to other people as NPD. Meanwhile, ANPD is associated with a lack of empathy and a disregard for other people's feelings. Finally, GNP is characterized by a tendency to be self-obsessed and entitled while INPD involves a desire to be admired and idealized by others.

Let's shed a light on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recognizes narcissism (NPD) as a disorder that can be manifested in both children and adults and is characterized by several personality traits:

  • Insufficient or no empathy or consideration for others

  • They compulsively lie

  • They use flattery and excessive love bombing

  • Need for constant attention and admiration from others

  • Use of manipulation and deceit to get what they want

  • They have a grandiose sense of self-importance

  • Often they feel entitled to special treatment

  • Lack of remorse or guilt when hurting others

  • Behaves in an impulsive and irresponsible manner

  • Lacks realistic life goals

  • Very sensitive to criticism/punishment

  • Deeply sensitive to rejection, a constant fear

  • Obsessed with physical appearance and may engage in excessive grooming

  • Unable to take responsibility - blame others for their mistakes

  • Can come across as arrogant and egotistical

  • Can be very self-critical - compare oneself unfavorably to others

  • Are often jealous or resentful of others

  • Expect others to love them unconditionally

  • Have difficulty maintaining sexual relationships, and may have several sexual partners at one time

  • Their coping mechanism is through power, money, and fame.

  • They also cope with their mental issues through addictions such as gambling, alcohol, drugs, sex, porn, etc.

Even though narcissism is generally considered to be a psychological disorder, some people manage to hide their traits and lead normal lives without attracting any attention. These individuals are often able to mask their negative behaviors by projecting a false image of perfection onto the world and are typically unaware of their inflated sense of self-importance and the abusive impact it has on others. Therefore, it is important to understand the causes of narcissism to develop effective treatment strategies and overcome its effects on both the victim side and the one suffering from narcissistic behavior.

Why do some individuals develop narcissistic behaviors while others do not?

People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder are people who have been deeply wounded in their childhood and it continued throughout their entire life. They have undergone some form of abuse that has left them with feelings of worthlessness and shame. As a result, they mostly operate from an unconscious fear-based behavior and have a deep sense of inferiority which compels them to compensate for it by showing others that they are superior and that they deserve to be treated as better and with respect.

Several factors contribute to the development of narcissistic behaviors. First and foremost, childhood experiences play a major role in shaping an individual's personality. If a child is repeatedly belittled or neglected by his or her parents or other caregivers, the child may develop a strong sense of entitlement and the belief that he or she is superior and entitled to special treatment. This may help to explain the relationship between parental criticism and narcissistic behaviors later in life. However, it is not entirely certain that narcissism is an innate personality trait, as opposed to a learned behavior that is developed as a result of prolonged exposure to unhealthy relationships in the family environment. Further research is needed to elucidate the role genetics plays in the emergence of narcissistic behaviors and their impact on the physical and mental health of individuals who suffer from NPD.

What is there to do about it?

The victim of narcissistic abuse is often in denial about his or her own needs. The victim may fear abandonment if he or she expresses concerns about his/her relationship with an abusive partner and this fear may lead to reluctance to leave the relationship. Victims of narcissistic abuse may also experience low self-esteem and believe that they cannot function successfully on their own and therefore cling to their partner for emotional support. When in a relationship with a narcissist, the victim will often become responsible for meeting the emotional needs of the narcissist to avoid being abandoned. If you are a victim of narcissistic abuse, it is important for you to recognize the signs so you can get the support needed to break that pattern.

The best way to approach this mental disorder in oneself or others is by using self-reflection. Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Coaching can all be very helpful in this regard because it allows a person to uncover the underlying causes of his or her behavior and change his or her destructive patterns of thinking and relating. In addition, the process of self-discovery can be very beneficial because it can lead to the development of healthier relationships with oneself and others and a more satisfying life overall.

If you are a victim of narcissistic abuse or you simply want to learn more about narcissistic behaviors and how they can be managed effectively, please contact me directly. I would be happy to discuss this topic with you in greater detail and provide support if you choose to pursue therapy to address these challenges. You have a voice; break the fear and use it.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao Tzu


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