Narcissistic personality disorder
Last Saturday I went to a counselling workshop on narcissistic personality disorder to find out more about the condition. Although I had heard the label and had a rough idea about what might be involved, I knew that my knowledge was at best sketchy and at worst unreliable. What I found out is that this condition, like many others, is on a continuum from moderate to severe.
One of the interesting things with NPD is that the sufferer will usually be unaware that they have the condition. This is because one of the symptoms is an inflated sense of grandiosity. Sufferers of NPD tend to believe they are greater and more significant than others and, within that context, are far less likely to consider they might own a personality defect.
Typical external traits of a narcissist are:
- They are often very successful in business – often rising to the top.
- They prefer to work alone.
- They expect/demand constant admiration and praise.
- They are highly competitive, often with unrealistic goals for self and others.
- They believe other people are jealous of them.
- They cannot listen to criticism without becoming extremely defensive.
- They have little or no empathy for the feelings of others.
- They can appear arrogant and disdainful.
However, this tough exterior masks and compensates for a very different internal world. At the core, the narcissistic person unconsciously believes that he is inferior to others. The strong drive to prove himself is due to the thought of being weak or unsuccessful being too scary to consider.
Relationships with a narcissist can be tough and if you are in an intimate relationship with one or have one in your family you probably feel exhausted much of the time.
Do any of these feelings ring true for you?
Feeling of walking on eggshells yet really wanting to help him/her.
Often being criticised by him/her.
Feeling weak, small, afraid.
Remembering that you used to be more confident.
Loss of friendships and/or hobbies.
Fantasising about leaving him/her and starting again on your own.
Narcissists can wear down your self-esteem. It is possible to maintain a relationship with a narcissist if you can stay grounded and continue to value your friendships, opinions and interests by seeing your friends and making time for your interests and your self.
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About Caroline Brown
Caroline Brown is a person-centred counsellor based near Lincoln. She has a special interest in clients with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.