Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder
By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
The name “Narcissist” comes from Narcissus who was a beautiful hunter in Greek Mythology but also exceptionally proud. In order to reveal his arrogance, Nemesis drew him to a pool of water. Upon seeing his reflection and not realizing that it was his own image, Narcissus became so attracted that he refused to leave and died there. Thus, the name Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) very correctly portrays a person who fixated on themselves.
So what is NPD? Here is the technical DSM-V definition:
· Identity: Exaggerated self-appraisal
· Self-direction: Personal standards are unreasonably high, sees oneself as exceptional
· Empathy: Impaired ability to identify with the feelings or needs of others, excessively attuned to reaction of others
· Intimacy: Relationship largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation
· Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, belief that one is better than others, condescending toward others
· Attention Seeking: Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of attention of others
The practical definition looks more like this:
· Believes they better than others
· Fantasizes about power, success and attractiveness
· Exaggerates achievements
· Expects constant praise and admiration
· Believes they are special
· No empathy for others
· Expects others to go along with ideas and plans
· Takes advantage of others
· Expresses disdain for those they feel are inferior
· Believes that others are jealous of them
· Trouble with relationships
· Sets unrealistic goals
· Easily offended
So many movies have portrayed NPD but perhaps the funniest and most exaggerated example is of Will Ferrell’s character Ron from “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”. Ron’s admiration of his looks and talents despite his obvious flaws is characteristic of NPDs. But NPD can be seen not just in movies, but also in real life from CEOs of large corporations to political candidates on both sides of the aisle to crime bosses and gang leaders.
So how do you deal with a person who might have NPD? Here are a few suggestions:
· Use sandwich method: compliment, confront, compliment. Don’t do it too frequently.
· Agree with them whenever you can, don’t look for ways to disagree.
· Be straight forward and short in explanations, too long gives too much time for attack.
· Expect immediate decisions and don’t question their judgment.
· Find ways to praise them without being patronizing.
· Look them in the eye when talking and give them all of your attention.
· Even when they are gloating, find something to admire.
· Don’t talk too much about yourself or others; focus the conversation on them and then you will get what you want.
· Find ways to help them feel special.
Once you realize the narcissism, it becomes much easier to manage the excessive admiration that a NPD craves. But don’t lose yourself to their narcissism by constantly giving them what they need at the expense of what you need. This is disastrous and will end badly, not for them but for you. Get some help and learn when to walk away.
To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.