Narcissist—I do not exactly remember the first time I heard the term narcissist, but I do remember the first time I heard the term and shrugged it off when I really should have stood at attention. I was sitting in my therapist office, my boyfriend and I had been going to joint and individual therapy sessions to try to work through some irreconcilable differences, differences that I had concluded if we could not resolve that we should probably part ways. We had been dating about two years at this point. I was in the best shape of my adult life, I worked out almost daily and watched what I ate, but my boyfriend was constantly unhappy about my weight, despite the fact that he had been hovering around two-hundred and forty pounds himself at the time. I wanted children, he did not, I wanted to get married, he did not, you know, pretty major differences.
After a few weeks of therapy my boyfriend decided he was willing to accept all of the things I wanted out of our relationship: marriage, a family, and that my weight wasn’t really all that big of an issue after all…..
During my last individual session, my therapist let me know that my boyfriend had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He was subtle about the way he told me because I do not think he was supposed to disclose that information to me, but he did and I shrugged it off because at the time I really had no idea what the implications were or how insidious this disorder really was.
Like most people, when I heard the term narcissist, I just thought of someone who probably had a slightly over inflated ego and who got excited by their own reflection in the mirror. I was so thrilled that the man that I had grown to love with all of my heart had agreed to all of my wishes in therapy that you could not have pried my rose-colored glasses off my face with a crowbar.
The next ten years would prove to be a slow, torturous educational process of exactly what the term meant that I had so carelessly ignored.
Today, I know more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder than I had ever hoped to learn. Like many individuals who have suffered from Narcissistic Abuse, I have been educating myself as a means to try to make some sense out of the chaos that has been my life over the years, but especially this past year.
So what is Narcissistic Personality Disorder you may be asking?
According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which in the United States serves as a universal authority for psychiatric diagnoses, the NPD trait model is as follows:
- Grandiose sense of self-importance
- Fantasies of unlimited success, power, etc.
- Believes being special and unique
- Requires excessive admiration
- Sense of entitlement
- Interpersonally exploitive
- Lack of empathy
- Envious of others
- Arrogant, haughty behavior or attitude
These traits do not provide a complete conceptualization of the disorder such as the scope of narcissism: from normal and healthy to pathological and malignant and how the pathology is expressed such as overtly, externally, interpersonally, covertly, internally or subjectively, but the above nine traits are a very good starting point for identifying someone with NPD. I will likely provide examples from my personal life and more details based on psychiatric manuals and studies of all of the above in the blogs to come.
Aside from the therapeutic benefits of sharing my story, I started this blog as an educational tool. I’m not a professional in the field, but if passing along some of the knowledge I have picked up along the way serves to help even just one of my readers identify someone with the disorder, steer clear of them and saves them from the trauma that I have endured from ignoring the severity of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I will consider my blog a success.
Until next time, remember to be kind to yourself.