Tuesday, 9 August 2011

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder really?

I thought is best that somewhere I post what is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I am going to cut and paste from another website - I will sight it when I remember where I got it from - this is the best I could find in plain language. I hope it helps people understand.

This is something posted by a woman on a forum I am on for victims of Narcissists. Sadly as you further and further into this it is EXACTLY what has happened to me. I know I will move on but seeing it in black and white sadly really hits home. If you can read it all the way through you may understand a bit of what myself, and many others have been through.

In normal relationships partners are able to genuinely appreciate the others separateness having mutual regard for each others boundaries, feelings and needs. Hotchkiss explains the "Fusion Delusion" that occurs in relationships with Narcissists. When "two such lovers connect, the goal for one - and often enough for the other as well - is complete and total merger, the obliteration of one partner's autonomy in the service of the other's narcissism." (pg. 122) A power struggle ensues to see which one can bend the other to meet their needs.

Narcissists can be experts in manipulation and seduction of the opposite sex. Lowen defines seduction as a "false statement or promise to get another person to do what he or she would not otherwise do. The promise can be explicitly stated, or it can be implied. Psychopathic swindlers openly promise something they have no intention of giving. But most seductive ploys involve promises that are not clearly stated." For a Narcissist seducing someone in to having sex with them reinforces their view of themselves as special and powerful - they have won control over the "object".

He explains that "Narcissists use sex as a substitute for love and intimacy". Some are very good at knowing how to pleasure their partner e.g. being able to maintain an erection for as long as is required for their partner to orgasm. They've spent time learning the techniques they use because the better they get the more narcissistic supplies they are bound to secure, the more powerful they feel.

Narcissists tend to make poor lovers long term. To them it is a mechanical act; it doesn't really require true intimacy just physical closeness. Usually in order for a partner to experience "mind blowing" orgasms they need to feel connected to their lovers own sexual excitement and feelings of love. Narcissist's don't have these passionate feelings they've spent so much effort repressing them. They essentially masturbate with the "object's" body. A Narcissists orgasms are not intense as a result. Some even prefer pornography and masturbation to sex.

To Narcissists commitment is akin to castration. They don't want intimacy because that leads to people knowing their faults and insecurities. On the other hand they will be keen to show that they are capable of living a normal life and having a relationship with someone but this will depend on the person. "His own self-image requires that other people also see the love object in an idealized way. Toward that end, he must select someone who is beautiful, intelligent, accomplished, or otherwise widely recognized as exceptional. The Narcissist hopes to commandeer those admirable qualities that he or she lacks, acquiring "guilt" by association." Hotchkiss (pg. 124)

Narcissists demand adulation and respect from their partner. They have a belief in their absolute uniqueness and as such they want to be the only important thing to the person they "love". Even if they have had children Narcissists often expect their partners to choose them above their offspring. They can be extremely competitive with their children who they see as challengers for their partner's attention.

If you're in love with a Narcissist you might have heard them say "You don't really love me" and on some level they're right because THE PERSON YOU FEEL IN LOVE WITH IS A FALSE SELF. NOT REAL. To love them would mean you have to love all of them good and bad. To love them is to accept that the Narcissist does NOT know the meaning of love which comes as a result of not being loved by their parents for who they truly are. For this reason they don't know how to receive love or how to give love - they MERELY act it out to get the narcissistic supplies they need. They see love as twisted and they don't want it from you, they want your admiration and respect. Their relationships are filled with conflicts as a result. No, they can not love.

Nobody likes to think they give love to receive love but for a person to be in love with a Narcissist it is necessary to deny their own feelings and to accept that they can never have that which they defiantly seek to give the Narcissist - love. Denial of feeling is the road to insanity.

What feelings do they have?

Shame - for their weaknesses. When their weaknesses are brought to their attention it shatters their grand illusions of themselves. Sometimes they rage when exposed.

Envy - for others who have what they don't, who are skilled at what they are not, who can feel what they don't, who are happy just being themselves.

Entitlement - to special treatment and having all their needs and wants met at the instant they need them to be met.

Any good feelings they have are linked to how others perceive them. Without an audience to play to they can become bored and despondent. It's almost as if they cannot bear to spend time on their own for fear of their own thoughts betraying their omnipotence.

What does the false self look like in action?

Narcissistic people will do whatever they can to ensure people see them as they see themselves i.e. special. Some focus on materialistic things ensuring they are seen in the best clothes at the right places and driving new or expensive cars etc. even if they can't afford to live that way. Some Narcissists in particular will focus on the perfection of their bodies.They will want to impress others with stories of their accomplishments; new jobs, wage rises, expensive holidays, their sexual conquests etc. (Sometimes it may be apparent that these accomplishments are not as substantial as they have been made out to be or are not attributable to their own efforts. Lies and distortions of the truth are not unusual from the lips of a Narcissist.)

On a personal interaction level they may offer to put themselves out to help you in your work, treat you like a Princess/Prince, taking you out and buying you gifts, complimenting you, making seemingly creative one off gestures to show they care or have thought about what you would like, treating you as a valued friend, spending lots of time with you etc. They make you feel special and at this point you are special to them, not for who you are but because they see you as an extension of themselves. This view of you is known as "Inflation". (On the part of the Narcissist all these lovely gestures are usually undertaken on a shallow level and if you are emotionally invested it is unlikely that you are going to notice until it's too late - even if they have given you good warning that they're not always this nice).

Narcissistic people do not make these gestures selflessly; they behave this way to feel good about themselves which is accomplished through how you feel about them. The positive feelings (and at times negative ones) that they are in essence trying to extract from you are a bid to confirm that they are important or special. These feelings they extract from you are known as narcissistic supplies. A source of these narcissistic supplies termed a "Narcissistic Supply Source" (NSS).

The Narcissist doesn't have the emotional reserves to pull off this facade indefinitely - it is hard work.

What happens when the false self starts to crack?

A Narcissists charming behaviour lasts as long as they get what they want from you i.e. that you provide evidence to confirm their view of themselves as special. In any relationship where people spend a lot of time together it is normal for the parties involved to notice the others bad habits and behaviours. To some degree it is normal behaviour for people to point these bad habits and behaviours out to the other person in order to try and improve the relationship. Narcissists do not react kindly to this, they see it as an attack on their perfection. As a result of this their behaviour starts to change. The lovely person you know will start to disappear as the damaged part of them emerges, the things they do to impress you will become fewer and farther between, you will start to feel less and less special to them as they start to treat you badly and show their frustrations (overtly or covertly) at your inability to meet their needs more frequently. This is known as your "Devaluation".

During periods of frustration which are brought about as a result of their needs not being met narcissistic people will certainly make you aware of your inability to meet these needs. They will either do so overtly; raging, abandoning, publicly humiliating you, belittling your abilities and possibly becoming abusive. Or they will do it covertly; giving you the silent treatment, sulking, discussing things that they know will upset you or behaving in ways they know you find hurtful regardless of if they are related to the frustration you have "caused" or not.

If their frustration stems from their own inability to meet their wants and needs e.g. not getting a promotion, loosing at sport, receiving criticism for work they have done etc. the frustration is usually transferred onto the people they interact with (often their nearest and dearest) or it is channeled into harmful activities such as excessive drinking, drugs, gambling, driving fast etc. In "transference" what the Narcissist is in effect doing is taking their feelings of "I'm bad/inadequate/guilty" and passing them on to you because they don't want to cope with anything that shatters their good image.

Maybe at this point you will try to work harder to make them happier; you will start to question the things that you have done wrong to bring this change about and try and make amends. Maybe they will start to manipulate your emotions to extract more narcissistic supplies from you even if that's through intimidation and fear. They may even tell you the truth, tell you that they are no good for you and how badly they behave. Maybe you'll jump to their defence telling them they are valuable with renewed hope that there is something alive/good inside them. Before long you won't know what's real/the truth and what's not. Years may pass and you will wonder when the person you first met is going to come back. If you are prone to loosing yourself in relationships it's likely that by the time you've decided you've had enough (or you've been dumped by the Narcissist as a NSS) you will already have lost sight of the best parts of yourself and taken on a few of their more interesting character traits.

When the end comes it doesn't arrive quickly. The Narcissist may come back for more when other NSSs aren't in ready supply or not doing their jobs properly. They may even enlist the aid of their friends to bring you back to the fold or intimidate you. Or maybe you will try to go back to them because you miss their presence in your life (which is usually the result of a loss of adrenaline that was previously generated by the highs and lows that interactions with Narcissists bring). You're unlikely to get any closure on the basis that you to and fro or because there isn't going to be a happy ending where you're going to get the answers you need to feel happy about what happened in order to be able to put a lid on it.

There are a few things you can console yourself with, firstly, and most importantly you will have people you can turn to. Your friends, your family (if they're not part of the reason that you've accepted this type of Narcissistic behaviour for so long) and your Doctor or a Counsellor. Even people who cry in the street are asked "Are you ok?" if they stand still for long enough, I've seen it (not that I suggest you trust any stranger you meet - choose your confidants wisely -- I made a mistake or two myself).

Secondly, the Narcissist isn't going to be spending time worrying about how you're feeling or analysing their part in what went wrong in your "relationship". This is because they won't think they've done anything wrong and they don't like to dwell on any negative emotions. In fact it's likely they will feel a sense of relief that they no longer have to work so hard at keeping up appearances. They'll just go and find another NSS to replace you, if they're good looking or successful it won't take them long so rest easy for them. Talk about it out loud, analyse it till you're blue in the face, anything that helps you to process what's happened and learn from it.

So try not to be too hard on yourself if you've taken all you can stand.

Finally, things will get better. It may not be quick in fact it may be hell on earth for some time but like any loss or death of a loved one it will get easier for you to cope and you'll start to feel good about yourself again.

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