Inflated Self ADORATION and vanity
- The tale of narcissus
- What is narcissism?
- Spotting the signs of narcissism
- How to deal with narcissism
- Inverted Narcissist
- Narcissism: Introduction from the DSM
- The Prince and Princess
- Self love without narcissism: Balancing self with others.
- Related Reading
"The main quality of narcissistic (egotistical) people, in whatever form, is that they are not givers they are takers, they suffer from vanity, a terrible inferiority/superiority complex, and are so self-obsessed that they don't know how to join in with life and how to relate to and love others."
Narcissistic personality syndrome occurs when the individual is unable to appropriately and meaningfully connect with their peer and adult world. The normal stages of human development are sabotaged. The individual is only able to connect with themselves and thus fails to establish a meaningful and satisfying adult life.
The legend of Narcissus actually tells us the tragedy of the narcissistic disturbance. Narcissus sees his reflection in the water and falls in love with his own beautiful face, of which his mother was surely proud. The nymph Echo answers the young man's calls because she is in love with his beauty, just as their mothers are with our patients. Echo's answering calls deceive Narcissus. His reflection deceives him as well, since it shows only his perfect, wonderful side and not his other parts. His back view, for instance, and his shadow (all the usual human negative traits that we need to understand and eventually overcome) remain hidden from him; they do not belong to and are cut off from his beloved reflection.
Narcissus and his reflection.
This stage of rapture can be compared with grandiosity, just as the next (the consuming longing for himself) can be likened to depression. Narcissus wanted to be nothing but the beautiful youth. He denied all the other areas of his life and just wanted to be at one with the beautiful picture. This leads to a giving up of himself, to death or, in Ovid's version, to being changed into a flower.
This death is the logical consequence of the fixation on the false self. It is not only the 'beautiful', 'good' and pleasant feelings that make us really alive, deepen our existence, and give us crucial insight - but often precisely the unacceptable and unadapted ones from which we would prefer to escape: impotence, shame, envy, jealousy, confusion and mourning. These feelings can be experienced in the analyst's consulting room and grow beyond their archaic form. In this way this room is also a mirror of the analysand's inner world, which is much richer than the `beautiful countenance'!
Narcissus was in love with his idealized picture, but neither the grandiose nor the depressive 'Narcissus' can really love himself. His passion for his false self not only makes object-love impossible but also love for the one person who is fully entrusted to his care: he, himself.
"Self interest, vanity, inflated self importance, and self obsession as a way of life. No interest or consideration of others unless they serve the narcissists selfish aims."
A pattern of traits and behaviors which signify infatuation and obsession with one's self to the exclusion of all others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one's gratification, dominance and ambition.
NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders ("co-morbidity") - or with substance abuse, or impulsive and reckless behaviors ("dual diagnosis").
The onset of narcissism is in infancy, childhood and early adolescence. It is commonly attributed to childhood abuse and trauma inflicted by parents, authority figures, or even peers.
There is a whole range of narcissistic reactions - from the mild, reactive and transient to the permanent personality disorder.
Narcissists are either "Cerebral" (derive their narcissistic supply from their intelligence or academic achievements) - or "Somatic" (derive their narcissistic supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess and "conquests").
An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:
- Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion.
- Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions).
- Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation - or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply).
- Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favorable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations.
- Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends.
- Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others.
- Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her.
- Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.
Narcissists are so completely self-obsessed that they are not interested in you as a person. In their perception you are only there to serve their desires.
Getting your attention and then controlling you to suit their purposes is their number one goal. They will attempt to control every area of your life (as represented by the seven centers).
For example, in conversation they do not listen to others and only monologue about their achievements and interests. They are mercenary people and you are best advised to realise them as SICK people who are very damaging and dangerous to everybody. They are manipulative to the extreme and over the years they have learned how to manipulate and control people in ways that disempower your ability to challenge them on this, or any other, matter.
Narcissistic people are often compulsive egotists.
- Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict them.
- Never offer them any intimacy .
- Look awed by whatever attribute matters to them (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on) .
- Never remind them of life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to their sense of grandiosity .
- Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self-image, omnipotence, judgment, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence. Bad sentences start with: "I think you overlooked ... made a mistake here ... you don't know ... do you know ... you were not here yesterday so ... you cannot ... you should ... (perceived as rude imposition, narcissists react very badly to restrictions placed on their freedom) ... I (never mention the fact that you are a separate, independent entity, narcissists regard others as extensions of their selves, their internalization processes were screwed up and they did not differentiate properly) ..." You get the gist of it.
People who depend on other people for their emotional gratification and the performance of Ego or daily functions. They are needy, demanding, submissive. They fear abandonment, cling and display immature behaviours in their effort to maintain the "relationship" with their companion or mate upon whom they depend. No matter what abuse is inflicted upon them they remain in the relationship.
See also the definition of the Dependent Personality Disorder in the DSM-IV-TR.
Previously called "covert narcissist", this is a co-dependent who depends exclusively on narcissists (narcissist-co-dependent). If you live with a narcissist, have a relationship with one, are married to one, work with a narcissist, etc. it does NOT mean that you are an inverted narcissist.
To "qualify" as an inverted narcissist you must CRAVE to be in a relationship with a narcissist, regardless of any abuse inflicted on you by him/her. You must ACTIVELY seek relationships with narcissists and ONLY with narcissists no matter what your (bitter and traumatic) past experience has been. You must feel EMPTY and UNHAPPY in relationships with ANY OTHER kind of person. Only THEN AND if you satisfy the other diagnostic criteria of a Dependent Personality Disorder can you be safely labeled an "inverted narcissist".
(DSM: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
The DSM-IV-TR uses 9 criteria to define the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). It is sufficient to possess 5 of them to "qualify" as a narcissist. Thus, theoretically, it is possible to be NPD WITHOUT being grandiose. Many researchers (Alexander Lowen, Jeffrey Satinover, Theodore Millon and others) suggested a "taxonomy" of pathological narcissism. They divided narcissists to sub-groups (very much as I did with my somatic versus cerebral narcissist dichotomy). Lowen, for instance, talks about the "phallic" narcissist versus others. Satinover and Millon make a very important distinction between narcissists who were raised by abusive parents and those who were raised by doting and smothering or domineering mothers.
Glenn O. Gabbard in "Psychodynamic Psychiatry in Clinical Practice" [The DSM-IV-TR Edition. Comments on Cluster B Personality Disorders Narcissistic. American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 2000] we find this:
" what definitive criteria can be used to differentiate healthy from pathological narcissism? The time honoured criteria of psychological health to love and to work are only partly useful in answering this question."
"An individual's work history may provide little help in making the distinction. Highly disturbed narcissistic individuals may find extraordinary success in certain professions, such as big business, the arts, politics, the entertainment industry, athletics and televangelism field. In some cases, however, narcissistic pathology may be reflected in a superficial quality to one's professional interests, as though achievement in and acclaim are more important than mastery of the field itself.
Pathological forms of narcissism are more easily identified by the quality of the individual's relationships.
One tragedy affecting these people is their inability to love. Healthy interpersonal relationships can be recognised by qualities such as empathy and concern for the feelings of others, a genuine interest in the ideas of others, the ability to tolerate ambivalence in long-term relationships without giving up, and a capacity to acknowledge one's own contribution to interpersonal conflicts. People who are characterised by these qualities may at times use others to gratify their own needs, but the tendency occurs in the broader context of sensitive interpersonal relatedness rather than as a pervasive style of dealing with other people. One the other hand, the person with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder approaches people as objects to be used up and discarded according to his or her needs, without regard for their feelings.
People are not viewed as having a separate existence or as having needs of their own. The individual with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder frequently ends a relationship after a short time, usually when the other person begins to make demands stemming from for his or her own needs. Most importantly, such relationships clearly do not 'work' in terms of the narcissist's ability to maintain his or her own sense of self-esteem."
Narcissitic attention seekers (unhealed childhood personalities) set themselves up as little princes and princesses in their own private world (especially in the family home). From the throne of their private home they tyrannize their spouse and children in their mercenary drive for attention. Controlling and manipulating family members to suit their selfish desire for attention. If a family member shows any signs of equal abilities, intelligence, and skill or of even being better at certain things (and thus threatening the power hierarchy) then they are crushed. Often, the egotist will become immensely competitive in their desire to stay on top. Attention seeking and narcissistic parents will destroy their own children, and spouses will destroy each other in this unnecessary battle that has its roots in unhealed childhood and adolescent issues.
The main thing about narcissistic people, in whatever form, is that they are not givers they are takers, they suffer from vanity, a terrible inferiority complex, and are so self-obsessed that they don't know how to join in with life and how to love others.
Liking yourself, loving yourself, guiding yourself, enjoying a holistic and balanced life are all essential qualities for a good life. The narcissist is completely self-obsessed and does not consider others. The narcissist is completely selfish and their self-love is not of the healthy type, it is selfish self-adoration mixed with delusions of grandeur and the need to be adored (and served upon) by others. We generally find that beneath the appearance of charisma, charm, and self-adoration there are many personality disorders that make the narcissist miserable.
Self-love, self-respect, self-worth, and living a healthy, balanced life are essential qualities as long as they are not expressed in a selfish, greedy, attention-seeking manner.