Recently it seems like everyone with a computer and an opinion has chimed in on whether the POTUS hits all the marks of being a narcissist. Some experts have even gone outside of their professional comfort zones to diagnose him with full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Recently, another of one these articles showed up on my Facebook feed. The person sharing it (not my friend) was touting the value of this article because, “Thank God it wasn’t written by a professional…”
Um. I’m sorry, but why was he thanking God that an article about a personality disorder was not written by someone who knows a thing or two about actually diagnosing one? SMH.
But here’s something the thankful post sharer should know about mental health professionals: Yes, we diagnose and treat clients with personality disorders, but we also experience them in our families, lovers, friends, and coworkers.
But you don’t need a degree in Psych to recognize NPD. Here are just some of the ways these folks present and behave:
1. Your Fault. Yes, they blame you. Why? Because nothing is ever their fault. They may apologize for something they did, but they never truly own their own behaviors. It’s, “I’m sorry, but if you hadn’t…” Since narcissism takes root in childhood, they begin by blaming their parents for their woes. That blame is then expanded to include anyone unfortunate enough to enter their orbit.
2. My Way. They make decisions that may dramatically affect others without truly considering the ramifications. It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s because their faulty wiring renders them incapable. Ultimately, no matter what justification they offer, the decision is always one that benefits them first and foremost.
3. Endless (Self) Love. No one has ever had a vacation, relationship, break up, fill-in-the-blank like theirs. Everything in the narcissist’s life is the best, the worst, the most. Others’ life experiences can never truly measure up.
4. Charisma and Caring. NPD-ers can be charismatic. No question. But their charisma is studied. They’ve learned how to keep themselves in the spotlight by cultivating the admiration of others. Narcissists can appear caring, even kind at times. But any caring responses are usually the result of an emotional filtering through which the narcissist imagines how another’s challenges would affect them. True empathy eludes them.
5. “Good” parents. Some narcissists can be good parents especially when their children are young and adoring. But when those cuties turn nasty and defiant in adolescence, things always go awry. Narcissists are never happy about having to deal with anyone questioning their authority.
6. Grudges. Narcissists are experts at holding them. It’s easy to do when they’re always right. They hold on to slights (real and perceived) for years on end.
7. Groupies. Rubbing shoulders with those who’ve “made it” is better than good sex for narcissists. It confirms they truly are special. It could be several degrees of separation (My friend’s brother’s ex-girlfriend’s nanny’s sister’s husband is Lady Gaga’s third cousin…) but it’s close enough to get an invigorating whiff.
8. Broken relationships. Ex-spouses/partners and ex-communicated friends dot the landscape of the narcissist’s life. Because how is it possible to negotiate the rises and falls of any relationship if you’re always the victim and incapable of taking responsibility?
9. Criticism. Narcissists have such thin skins, others’ successes are psychologically painful for them. Your success is a hurtful reminder of something they wanted to do but didn’t, or tried to do but failed. So, they boldly criticize (or passively critique) your efforts in a way to make themselves feel better.
10. Smartypants. Narcissists always think they’re the smartest people in the room. If you think your mindset/opinion/position is inarguably perfect, accurate, and true, of course you’re the smartest person around!
11. Lying and deceit. Narcissists are masters at it because it precludes them from taking responsibility. They justify their lesser behaviors because they truly believe they have no other choice. How can anyone else possibly understand the desperate circumstances that led to their affair? How can anyone else possibly comprehend their dire financial situation which makes it necessary to steal?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder isn’t easily treated in therapy. And it’s almost never adequately addressed by those afflicted by it. NPD is selfishness and self-absorption on steroids. It takes self-righteousness to levels that always leave destroyed relationships in its wake.
If you’re in a relationship (of any stripe) with someone who never sees it your way, never apologizes fully, or always thinks others (including you) are responsible for his/her disappointments, you may be dealing with a narcissist.
If you are, please know this: You’re dealing with someone who is incapable of experiencing despair without blame, failure without accusation, and love without strings. Narcissists will never, ever be able to provide you with what you need or want in a relationship because their relational bandwidth starts and ends with them.