Do you have
someone in your life that is you believe is narcissistic? Is it all about them? Are they just selfish, self-centered or do
they have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of
grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for
admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward
others. People with this disorder often believe they are of primary
importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet. While this pattern of
behavior may be appropriate for a king in 16th Century England, it is generally
considered inappropriate for most ordinary people today.
with Narcissistic Personality Disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or
patronizing attitudes. For example, an individual with this disorder may
complain about a clumsy waiter’s “rudeness” or “stupidity” or conclude a
medical evaluation with a condescending evaluation of the physician.
laypeople terms, someone with this disorder may be described simply as a
“narcissist” or as someone with “narcissism.” Both of these terms generally
refer to someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
general, a personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and
behavior that deviates from the norm of the individual’s culture. The pattern
is seen in two or more of the following areas: cognition; affect; interpersonal
functioning; or impulse control. The enduring pattern is inflexible and
pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations. It typically
leads to significant distress or impairment in social, work or other areas of functioning.
The pattern is stable and of long duration, and its onset can be traced back to
early adulthood or adolescence. This can be difficult to diagnosis because a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder tends to believe they are not only perfect but smarter than the average mental health professional.
can you defend yourself against the tyranny of the narcissists? Here
are some strategies for dealing with the narcissistic relationship in your
- Know yourself: How you react to the Narcissist is largely
determined by your previous encounters with such personalities. If you had a Narcissistic parent you may find
yourself more vulnerable to intimidation and you may more sensitive than
someone who hasn’t had that experience.
In a strange way you may find yourself drawn to the Narcissist because
of their larger than life persona and the way they make us feel when we are
included in their grandiosity. Be aware
of your feelings when in the company of someone who repeatedly shames you,
evokes anger and discomfort. When you have uncomfortable or intense
feelings in the presence of a Narcissist, ask yourself what buttons of yours
are being pushed? Think about a time in
the past when you felt this way and, from this more emotionally distant
perspective, consider why you are responding the way you are. Detach yourself from the feeling of being
diminished by the Narcissist. It may
help to think of the person as behaving as a two year old. Deflect the shame projected on to you by the
Narcissist and resist the urge to retaliate.
Retaliation will only escalate the situation. This may help because you have put the shame
the have projected back onto them, if only in your own mind.
- Learn to life in reality: A Narcissist lived in an
unrealistic world. Whether they are
expecting idealization, perfection, manufacturing images of themselves, illusions,
outright lies or other kinds of exaggerated delusions of grandeur, a Narcissist
requires accomplices for their grandiosity.
They want to be an admiring public persona. Instead of hitching your wagon to their star,
find your own dream. See people for who
they are, not who they want you to believe they are and no matter how special
you feel you are to be in their favor.
Learn to accept the Narcissist for who they are despite their lies, disrespect
and betrayal. Don’t believe that because
you love them enough or that your relationship is special and they will spare
you. Don’t go into a relationship with a
Narcissist believe that you are going to change a person, or that he or she
will change because of the way they feel about you. Remember life in the reality of the
relationship and of their Narcissistic behavior.
- Set boundaries: We all get along better when we
set good boundaries. A Narcissist will
routinely violate and disrespect your boundaries. If you were not taught to set good boundaries
it may be especially hard to recognize this behavior. When
setting boundaries remember that it the most important thing is your
control. You may not be comfortable with
being in control and that is why you are comfortable with a Narcissist. You will be going up against someone who is
much more comfortable with being in control.
It is important to think about how you can improve your lot and what
your options are. You should think about
what you are willing to risk and who has the real power in the
relationship. The ordinary assertiveness
is often ineffective with a Narcissist.
You may need to go gentler in your approach if you wish to preserve the
relationship. However, this is where you
need to evaluate what is important to you and what you decide you can accept in
- Avoid relationships with
Narcissists: This may seem like a simple
strategy, just avoid narcissistic people.
When you can’t avoid them, which may be difficult if they are family
members, a boss or significant other, you can limit your involvement and
instead try to surround yourself with healthier people who will support your
dreams and who are capable of more give-and-take relationships.
Narcissists are everywhere, if you can’t avoid them, you will have to take stock
of your own options and evaluate your limitations and vulnerabilities, be
realistic and set boundaries. Ask
yourself what you need and want. You
have choices and it is your responsibility how you choose to live your
options. Cultivate reciprocal
relationship in your life and be grateful for the healthy relationship you
have. If you desire to improve your own
self esteem to fortify yourself against falling into a relationship where you
lose your voice and your power find a therapist who can help you develop your
coping skills and resilience.