Narcissistic disorder is an abnormal need for praise, compliments, attention, adulation etc in order to boost an inflated ego and to maintain an outsized sense of importance and superiority.
Narcissus in Greek mythology fell in love with his own reflection in a pond as punishment by the Gods for being cruel. He eventually faded away because his love was not returned and became a flower.
Some say we all have a bit of narcissism in us because we like to be complimented, receive approval and to hear nice things about ourselves. But this is considered normal human behavior.
And, in fact, normal childhood development has a narcissistic phase where the child has grandiose self-views and considers themselves as the center of the universe. Around 7 or 8, their self views become more realistic as they develop the ability to compare themselves to others.
In narcissistic disorder, or more correctly, narcissistic personality disorder, there is a problem with the personality where the individual does not have empathy for others. There is no guilt, remorse, care or consideration for others. The lack of these 'socializing emotions' means that the malignant narcissist treats people as objects in order to achieve their aims. (This is very different to those who are said to have healthy narcissism.)
And what they typically want is to be treated as superior, superhuman, important, talented, intelligent and successful. They may have very strong beliefs about themselves in these areas and to some extent they are living in a fantasy world of their own construction.
What they want is for others to recognize these things and to constantly acknowledge them. This recognition and acknowledgement is called narcissistic supply.
In initial interactions with these people, they often seem to be witty, articulate, intelligent and charming. They like to quickly make friends because this gives them more supply.
But remember they have no feelings for others and no conscience about how they treat others.
They trick people into making friends with them and then they continue to manipulate and deceive these folks into continuing the praise and adoration. This is what they want more than anything. They want to be seen as dominant, in control, superior.
Their behavior is chameleon-like, in that if they need to be seen as intelligent to get praise, they will pretend they are intelligent. If they need to be seen to be wealthy or powerful to get praise, that is how they act.
But that's all it is, an act. They will lie, cheat, exaggerate and deceive to keep people 'under their spell', so to speak.
When they are called out on it, they feel their ego is being threatened. This is called narcissistic injury. But their ego has to be protected at all costs and they fight back. Typically they belittle the person rather than deal with the substance of the argument. They will fight very dirty and have no problem using the courts to intimidate and bully others.
Or they act like the victim. And they do it very well! They know that pity is a powerful force for normal people and they will use this to manipulate their way out of problems.
Narcissistic rage is another response to threats to them.
People with narcissistic disorder are actually using mind control and brainwashing techniques to control those around them into giving them what they want. They will use lies, the truth, physical force, sex, emotional manipulation, mental torture, sexual abuse and combinations of these things to keep their victims in line.
This goes way beyond wanting the occasional compliment. It really is pathological!
The better ones can go undetected for years, for example, abusing the family at home, but seeming to be very friendly and helpful outside. Or they can wreak havoc in the workplace, climbing the corporate ladder very rapidly while destroying the careers and reputations of the competition. In the end, someone with a narcissistic disorder can do huge damage to the reputation and/or the finances of an organization.
The person with narcissistic disorder considers themselves above the usual societal norms and values. They often get into trouble with the law, end up drinking to excess, doing drugs, having extramarital affairs, losing money or spending excessive amounts of money. All these things at the expense of those around them.
The cause of narcissistic disorder is unknown but traits typically appear in childhood. Because the personality is defective it is thought to be a congenital problem, but can be aggravated by factors in childhood.
It is thought that excessive praise and admiration, or excessive criticism, that is not balanced by reality can aggravate narcissism. Obviously, narcissistic parents are guilty of treating their children in this manner and some believe that narcissistic parents effectively cause narcissism in their children. But, of course, not all children of narcissists become narcissists.
It is probable that there is a combination of nature and nurture at work.
Acquired situational narcissism does have a cause. It results from becoming very famous or rich or successful. The persons sense of importance and brilliance is reinforced so often by the fans, agents and media that they fall into the trap of actually believing it themselves.
Those with narcissistic disorder have such a high opinion of themselves and an inflated sense of their own importance that is reinforced by their victims that they generally don't seek treatment.
They are never the problem. They are not responsible for the failures. It's bad luck, a bad situation or bad people around them.
Treatment won't work for those who don't think they need to change! In fact, such things as group therapy can aggravate the situation because the person with narcissist disorder learns more about human psychology and uses this to enhance their manipulation skills!
Those with acquired situational narcissism may seek treatment for drug or alcohol dependency or relationship problems. They often have experiences of good relationships in the past, for example, and recognize that things are not quite right. However, the narcissism disorder makes it difficult for them to recognize that they are the problem and many never actually recover. (The movie star who ends up in rehab 5 or 6 times, for example!)
Undoing the damage takes time. you need to learn about malignant narcissists, their behavior and especially about mind control and how it was used against you.
Many people don't learn about these things and may be caught by another narcissist (they go from one abusive relationship to another) or continue to suffer other effects such as difficulty trusting, difficulty making decisions, other problems in relationships, physical health problems and other symptoms that they may not connect to the abusive relationship but which often disappear when they undo the manipulation. Learn about dealing with a narcissist and recovering from narcissistic abuse.
Return from Narcissistic Disorder to What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder
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