Narcissists Handbook

25 11 2011

I’ve had, over the span of my blogging with references to my Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a few comments which make me think that people don’t really understand what the disorder is about. So, it’s time to lay it all out there for people, see if we can’t haul this out of the dark into the not so dark.

There’s not a great deal of information about NPD, which doesn’t really surprise me, so I’ll introduce what I know there is and go from there.

First stop is that font of all, possibly accurate, knowledge – Wikipedia. If you have the time to play with the descriptions, go read it here. Suffice to say, I’ve read it and it’s pretty accurate, I’ve even run it by the test of reading it out to people I know who, without fail, answer with “Yeah, that’s you”. Ok, I’m not going to claim that it’s all correct but then it is trying to encompass what is a broad spectrum of things that may be included.

So let’s play with things and expand this knowledge based on my experience, knowledge of self, and epic level of reference and analysis. Modest aren’t I.

Now, key thing about all personality disorders is that they appear early on in a persons life. To me what this means is that a young personality is a fragile thing, influenced by both racial memory and external factors. Due to stressors within upbringing, the personality disorder comes about as a way of the core personality protecting itself. What do I mean by this? Imagine it like putting up a facade to protect the original personality, like a shield with a big scary face on it. All the while, this original personality doesn’t grow as it should because it’s shaded by this facade of a personality, the protection working in a good way (to protect from stressors) and a bad way (to protect from actual experience). It’s a coping mechanism, a survival strategy.

This whole protection idea is not unusual, we all do it. Think not? Ever had to cover your own ass because of a perceived negative situation? Everyone does, from when you were a child you knew how to lie to shift negative focus from yourself. This is where personality disorders come from, the same method but used in hugely different quantities to normal (for a given level of normal) people because the stressors are there far far more often.

Now, the interesting bit from this comes in the form of how a personality disorder will manifest itself. Going through the list of things which narcissists like myself go for, it’s power, fame, sexual prowess, money, all the usual attention seeking things. It would be fair to say that not all of this applies to me, I don’t want to be rich because money is a means to an end, it’s there essentially to fund other stuff rather than to say “Look at me! I’m RICH!”. What this suggests, and logic plays a huge role in supporting this, is that the actual intent is to magnify whatever was deemed to be lacking from life to make it what the personality perceived was the target.

This all making sense so far? If not then feel free to comment below for clarification.

One of the big demons around personality disorders is the idea of lack of empathy. Ok, I’ll admit that, for myself, this is true. I cannot conceptualize a situation and see how I feel, I can only infer from what I’ve actually experienced, there is no emotional link unless I’ve gone through it, or something similar. I can, however, sympathise because that’s a logical process of thinking “Ok, that’s not a good thing” and interpolate from there the conclusion that it’s bad for the person. Empathy requires emotional content, sympathy doesn’t. To clarify this point a little, people with personality disorders may find it difficult to empathise but it’s not impossible for them to do so, they struggle with the emotional link.

So can a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder be treated? If you look at the writings of one of the internet experts out there who is prolific in his writings and videos, you’d think the answer is a solid “No”. This is, and forgive my language here, complete and utter bullshit. As with all personality disorders there is treatment, however there are some caveats to this.

1. The person must want to be treated. It’s possible to treat someone who doesn’t want it but it’s immensely more difficult and it’s not guaranteed to have a significant effect.

2. You can’t teach old dogs new tricks. Ok, a misnomer but the idea is that the later in life you leave it to get help, the harder it becomes for that help to work. It will work though, let’s face it, with age usually comes wisdom which can ameliorate things anyway, but people will never be as able to cope without treatment as they will with it, regardless of age.

3. Related to the above: The immutable law of mutation means there is no ‘cure’, only coping mechanisms, ways to modulate. No matter what system it is, once something learns to do something once, it becomes a lot easier to do again. As such, you are working to reduce the likelihood of issues reoccurring, much like the patient told to eat healthy and get some exercise after recovering from a heart attack.

Can you live with these conditions? If so, then you can be treated and treated well.

Ok, we’re almost at the end here but I wanted to address something which impacts everyone with a personality disorder, and that’s how professionals deal with us.

If you’re one of the chosen few (yes, I’m joking) to have NPD, then the advice given to professionals is to attack you and everything you profess to know because it’s the way to get passed the facade you have developed for those many years. Are you, again language forgiveness requested, fucking kidding me? Seriously? If you attack anything, what’s going to happen? They will defend themselves, the harder or more pointed the attack, the more vicious the response. Does this sound like a good idea? Sounds idiotic to me, although I’m biased. It doesn’t make sense from any aspect and I wish professionals would give it a rest because it’s not productive in any way.

Of course, if we widen things to encompass other disorders, there is an even bigger problem out there in Mental Health Professional land and affects us all. What do you do if someone has a personality disorder? You ignore them right? After all, it’s attention seeking and by giving attention you are feeding the disorder. Logical huh. It’s also monumentally wrong. Yet is de facto method of dealing. I blame Dr Spock (not the Star Trek one) for this, for making people thinking that ignoring children will make things go away and create better behaviour. There’s logic there but it’s ultimately flawed because;

a) there aren’t many mammals who would ignore their offspring in order to get them to tow the behavioural line, and

b) whilst you can view those with a personality disorder as children in their original personality, they are adults and tend to be a lot more wise in the ways of the world.

So what do you do? You set boundaries, limits. It’s ok if you take what we say with a pinch of salt, it would be abnormal if you didn’t, but ignoring us will make things worse as it hampers treatment. With boundaries and limitations we know where we stand and can then do what every other child does, act natural and learn from experience what isn’t right, what harms. In itself this will aid treatment because it’s how we were meant to act, and it’s how mammals have survived for so long.

I live in hope, I know.

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2 responses

25 11 2011
Rachael Black

Well, of course you’re modest -grin-. Nice piece and it really applies (as to the cause and treatment) to virtually every other personality disorder.
Hell, you cannot treat or help (I never use the word ‘cure’ unless it’s in reference to ham) a patient that isn’t willing to accept it. For ANY illness.

thanks for posting Null!

27 11 2011
Narcissists Handbook: The Revenge « Is There A Future?

[…] the last post I did on Narcissistic Personality Disorder? If you didn’t read it, you can catch up here. Hopefully it makes sense as a general overview, however I’ve been asked to get a bit more […]

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