Have you been called a “narcissist” by your partner, family members, or anyone else in your life?
It’s a buzzword these days, an easy label to slap on anyone who causes problems in a relationship, or who’s hard to get along with.
But Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a real condition with real symptoms. The current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) defines it as consisting of a pervasive pattern of at least five of the following:
A grandiose sense of self-importance… a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love… a belief that he or she is special and unique, and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people… a need for excessive admiration… a sense of entitlement… exploitative behavior in relationships… lack of empathy for others’ feelings… envy of others, or belief that others are envious of him or her… arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes…
YouTube videos, TV programs, and magazine articles describe those with NPD as “malignant” and “pathological.” They urge loved ones to abandon them, insisting there’s no hope for them to change. Some mental health professionals even refuse to treat NPD, as though they’re beyond help.
(Spoiler: they’re not.)
The truth is, as human beings we ALL fall somewhere along the narcissistic spectrum — at one time or another in our lives, or in one relationship or another.
Those with diagnosable NPD, however, have a destructive pattern of these behaviors, which causes tremendous pain for the people who love them.
But the most painful damage done is to the lives of those with NPD themselves.
No one chooses to have NPD because they’re evil. Treating people poorly, not trusting anyone, “not feeling feelings” and a lack of empathy are hardwired defense mechanisms that go all the way back to wounds from childhood.
As with any form of trauma, we ALL deserve the compassion and understanding we need to heal and move forward.
NPD is often co-occurring with alcoholism or other substance use disorders, as well as sexual or other behavioral addictions. That’s why I’m committed to helping clients with NPD as part of addiction and recovery treatment overall.
It can be difficult for those with NPD to understand their patterns and reach out for help. But if you’re aware it’s a problem, it’s essential. Without change, it will become more and more difficult to get along with others, to have an intimate relationship, or keep a job in the long-term.
Don’t isolate yourself anymore. I offer individual and group therapy to help you get the support, tools, and understanding you need to change your life.