Peace and Healing

A Perspective of Traditional and Non-Traditional Methods of Healing

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The narcissistic personality disorder is one of the top three most difficult personality disorders to treat. It is defined as an ongoing pattern of grandiosity and need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. It should be noted that it is three times more common in males than females. These individuals have an obvious self love, and believe they are knowledgeable and indeed an expert in a wide variety of areas. They are usually shocked when they are not praised for their efforts. These individuals are preoccupied with success and power. They feel they are gifted and talented. They may make statements like, “I have a photographic memory,” when in reality they do not. They rarely admit to a mistake or wrongdoing. They rarely apologize when the occasion arises. These individuals insist on having the best of everything. They are grossly defensive, and unable to look at themselves objectively. They have an inflated and false sense of entitlement, and lack of sensitivity towards others. They feel they deserve whatever they want or need. These individuals are extremely self-absorbed. If they are giving, they usually give monetarily, and are unable to give emotionally. They are viewed by others as arrogant and snobbish, act condescendingly towards healthcare providers and therapists in the assessment phase. It is also very common for these individuals to act ingratiatingly and very complimentary in the first session, very similar to traits found in sociopathic personality disorder. These individuals are extremely sensitive to criticism, although may not show it outwardly. When their shortcomings are targeted, however, they may appear extremely wounded.

They frequently compare themselves to others, and complain that most individuals are better off than them. They are very cunning, and hide many of their symptoms from extended family members. Their children suffer, as they are emotionally absent, lie frequently, and embellish their physical ailments, and inflate their accomplishments. Substance abuse is not uncommon, and they feel as if nothing can hurt them.

What are the causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

There are many theories regarding what causes a narcissistic personality disorder. Subsequently what you are about to read is one more theory, based on my experiences in treating many patients with narcissistic personality disorder. I have found definite commonalities between individuals from which one can draw conclusions regarding causation. As such, I believe one of the most common causes is impoverished self-esteem, occurring at a young age. These individuals often have a loss of a strong father figure in their lives. If they have not lost their father figure, then the father has been emotionally absent. These fathers are usually condescending, critical, and do not empower their children at a young age. Subsequently, as they grow older these children overcompensate for their lack of self-esteem, carrying with them some traits from their fathers such as the emotional distancing, while inflating their false sense of self worth. Sadly, individuals with narcissistic personality disorder really never find their true selves. In therapy, it is extremely difficult because these individuals are grossly defensive. When targeting a narcissistic personality disorder and in trying to reflect back to them perceptions of their loved ones and others around them, they become defensive, digging their heels into the sand, adamantly believing that it is “everyone else’s fault.” This author has found that if the narcissist’s parents are still alive, it can be extremely beneficial to discuss with them the importance of focusing on some of the issues that exist, such as the father-son relationship, and some of the voids in that relationship. This may be of benefit in terms of turning around some of the symptomatology of the narcissist. The narcissist’s mother is usually a passive individual who has enabled the pathology to continue over the years. There may or may not be alcoholism present in the family.

How do you know if you are married to a Narcissistic Personality?

In the dating phase with these individuals they are mostly about “show,” and how to impress. We all want our date to be impressed, we dress sharper, groom, and want the other individual to like us. When that desire continues even after a disclosure of mutual love to the point of expensive cars, watches, clothes and style in general this should raise a red flag. It is about image, external cues, not the internal qualities. Over time be alert for this spouse to buy materialistic items and rationalize why it is important for he or she to have them. During this time are you aware of a gross disparity of gifts? Is there critical comments regarding your ability in work or home? Is their job more important than anyone else in the home? Is there substance abuse? Is there binging on weekends or experimentation with other substances? Remember nothing can hurt them, they are invincible, so they think. They frequently run their work colleagues and friends down to inflate themselves, as well as an intense jealousy that borders on extreme controlling behavior. If you are aware of some of these warning signs there should be concern. I strongly advise before marital therapy, you seek out individual therapy. The effects of being in this type of a relationship are overwhelming. A shattering of self, extreme self doubt, as well as symptoms of anxiety and enabling. Therapy can help and at the bare minimum prevent you from falling into another one sided, hurtful relationship.

What is the treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Treatment of narcissistic personality disorder takes the form of one-to-one therapy. Sessions should be a minimum of 45 minutes long. The patient should not be confronted at the start. It takes awhile to develop a trusting relationship. Eventually the sessions should be twice a week. It is important at some point to move into marital and/or family sessions, for one-to-one therapy will not long be beneficial.

Medication is of no use. In fact, patients usually adamantly resist medication. It is not uncommon for these individuals to be referred to therapy by their employers, especially when increased conflicts continue in the workplace. Nevertheless, the prognosis is dim. These patients usually consistently have relationship problems, and therapy does become stressful and tiresome.

Narcissists DO NOT try to commit suicide. When you love yourself as much as a narcissist does, suicide is not an option.

What movies portray a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

In 2009 “Solitary Man” was released with Michael Douglas,Danny Devito and Susan Sarandon. Michael Douglas does a superb job portraying a car salesman focused on money, power, and women. The brilliance of this movie was in the writing, not the acting. Someone did their psychological diligence on the sign and symptoms of narcissism and sexual addiction. The movie has a tendency to lean towards explaining his sexual addiction as a mid-life crisis which gives an excuse to his pathology. Narcissistic personality Disorders as in “Solitary Man” have a great ability to size up others for their own gain. They are focused on ANYTHING that can give them power, defined by sexual gratification, money equals power, and fame. They have no empathy for others, and will go to any extreme for their pleasure. Danny Devito of course excels as an actor in all his movies, and in my opinion is a natural. I would of liked to of seen more of his futile attempts at trying to instill morality and values into Douglas’s extensive ego.