“I am part of all that I have met.” — Alfred Tennyson
Too often, I have lost my way by forgetting that I am part of a community, a society, a world. There were low points in my life when I closed myself off from others and drifted off all alone. Fantasy, rituals and acting out took me not out of myself, but deeper into loneliness.
As we all maneuver and make our way through life we make contact with others even if we don’t realize it. Looking, talking, smiling, touching, eating, walking, working, playing – all these activities are likely to bring us into contact with others. And the way we act and react does make a difference. Often, a simple smile can make someone else’s day. A hug breaks the ice of solitude. A kind word strikes a chord and is remembered.
Yes, we are all part of the interconnected web of Life; referred to by some as humanity; and we get love and power simply from knowing this. I want to feel part of a strong, healthy and loving community.
- Ten of the best mirrors in literature (guardian.co.uk)
My previous relationship was with a man with a paranoid personality disorder. Eventually, it was determined that he also had a narcissistic personality disorder. With this knowledge I chose to stand by the side of my then partner, as I felt that, through no choice of his own, he was afflicted by mental illness. It goes without saying, that this affliction played a major role in my life both individually and in the relationship. Each day proved to be a difficult day. I have blogged about my experience with his paranoid personality disorder. The insight I have gained through my process of understanding narcissism has broadened the scope of my comprehension of the bigger picture of what was going on and what was “in play” within our relationship. I stated in my blog about paranoia that by sharing this type of information openly in forums such as this and my decision honor the commitments I have made to my partner, I have alienated myself from key persons I would normally choose to have in my support network. As a result of my openness and honesty, I sacrificed both family connections and close friendships.
Contrary to what some people may think, I felt I had given considerable thought to my decision to stand by my partner, again consulting with both paraprofessionals and professionals in the field of psychiatry. It is a lonely experience trying to share the struggles my partner and I faced to some in our support network, and some abandoned us altogether. I was often asked,” Why do you stay with such a person?” When faced with trying to understand his narcissistic behavior, I found myself in a very familiar place, asking myself that very same question.
As I continued to learn to live with the decisions I made, I saw more of the options available to me. Thoughts, feelings and emotions were so jumbled up inside my head. I felt as though I was hanging onto a very thin rope over a very deep abyss. I knew that in times such as those I was experiencing, I needed to first take care of myself. Eventually, healthy people came into my life. One or two of them were there all along, only I wasn’t open to receiving their opinion and I didn’t pursue the friendship. I found I had a small circle of stable people I could call and talk to and spend time with outside of my home environment.
I knew I needed a tool to process the jumbled feelings, the hurts, resentments and fears that were consuming my thoughts; even manifesting themselves physically in my body. One way I typically approach the more significant issues in my life is to look at the situation very analytically. One of the ways I do this is to write a blog and journal which incorporates the more factual matters; much like the way one would approach writing a research paper on the subject matter. Following is the result from my research, condensed and specific to my situation with my former partner:
The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a condition characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, need for admiration, extreme self-involvement, and a lack of empathy for others. Individuals with this disorder are usually arrogantly self-assured and confident. They expect to be noticed as superior. Individuals with NPD are sometimes called “serial bullies.” Many highly successful people might be considered narcissistic. However, this disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviors become persistent and very disabling or distressing. The narcissist does not cater at all to his own needs. Contrary to his reputation, the narcissist does not “love” himself in any true sense of this loaded word.
He feeds off other people who hurl back at him an image that he projects to them. This is their sole function in his world: to reflect, to admire, to applaud, to detest – in a word, to assure him that he exists. Otherwise, they have no right to tax his time, energy, or emotions – so he feels.
NPD is a true mental diagnosis for people who need admiration, lack empathy and have a grandiose sense of their self-importance. It is called a pervasive pattern of grandiosity in fantasy and behavior, and usually begins by early adulthood and it presents itself in a variety of symptoms. To make this diagnosis, a person presents five or more of the following:
Are You Narcissistic?
Fill in the blank next to each question with a number from 1 to 5 as follows:
1 strongly disagree 2 disagree 3 neutral 4 agree 5 strongly agree
_____ I am very concerned with what others think of me.
_____ I am easily bored.
_____ I feel that I am attractive
_____ I call, text or email my friends when we haven’t spoken for a while.
_____ People are always coming to me with their problems.
_____ I am more important than most people I know.
_____ I find that other people’s remarks can be hurtful.
_____ I don’t like being alone for long.
_____ People often don’t appreciate me.
_____ I feel that I am always sorting out people’s problems for them.
Scores between 24 and 34 are normal (The average is 29).
If your score is 35 or more you may be narcissistic.
If your score is 23 or less you may be lacking in self-confidence.
It is rare for a narcissistic person to be diagnosed with NPD because those who really should be don’t seek help and so don’t get clinically assessed; it is usually members of their family or work colleagues who seek help to cope with them. Here are a few pointers that may help you identify one:
Their lack of empathy colors everything they do.
They may say, “How are you?” when you meet, but they are working from memory.
They are not interested in how you are.
Virtually all of their ideas or ways of behaving in a given situation are taken from others, people they know and perhaps think of as an authority (mirroring).
Their sense of self-importance and lack of empathy means that they will often interrupt the conversations of others.
They expect others to do the day-to-day chores as they feel too important to waste their time on common things.
Listen for the constant use of “I”, “me” and “my” when they talk.
They very rarely talk about their inner life, such as their memories and dreams.
They feel that the rules at work don’t apply to them
They will always cheat when they think they can get away with it
If you share workload with them expect to do the lion’s share yourself.
They love to delegate work or projects, and then interfere by micro-managing it. If it goes well, they take the credit, if it goes badly they blame the person they delegated it to.
There tends to be higher levels of stress with people who work with or interact with a narcissist, which in turn increases absenteeism and staff turnover.
They get impatient and restless when the topic of discussion is about someone else, and not about them.
How is narcissistic personality disorder treated?
There is no known cure for narcissistic personality disorder, but psychotherapy might help the person learn to relate to others in a more positive and rewarding way. Psychotherapy tries to provide the person with greater insight into his or her problems and attitudes in the hope that this will change behavior. The goal of therapy is to help the person develop a better self-esteem and more realistic expectations of others. Medicine might be used to treat the distressing symptoms, such as behavioral problems, that might occur with this disorder.
What are the complications of narcissistic personality disorder?
People with narcissistic personality disorder might abuse drugs and/or alcohol as a way of coping with their symptoms. The disorder also might interfere with the development of healthy relationships with others.
What is the outlook for people with narcissistic personality disorder?
The prognosis depends on the severity of the disorder.
Can narcissistic personality disorder be prevented?
There is no known way to prevent narcissistic personality disorder.
- Living with a Person who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (brighthub.com)
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Children (brighthub.com)
- Insight into Treatments for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (brighthub.com)
- Bipolar or Narcissistic Personality Disorder? (everydayhealth.com)