Sunday, September 12, 2010

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

I've decided to blog about people I know with personality disorders. It's a cheap and fun way to entertain myself. I am hopeful that some of these people will recognize themselves in these paragraphs, and get some much needed psychotherapy. Nice people like me, and probably you, shouldn't have to keep putting up with these train wrecks.

I do not intend to be subtle. Subtlety on a person with a personality disorder never works.

So.....even though I will change names to protect the emotionally impaired, it shouldn't be too hard for anyone to figure out who I'm talking about. If you recognize yourself here, GOOD. GET SOME HELP and stop your maddening behavior. No one likes you but you.

Overview of Narcissistic personality disorder:

A condition in which there is an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with one's self.

Symptoms of Narcissistic personality disorder:

*Reacts to criticism with rage, shame or humiliation.

*Takes advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals.

*Has feelings of self-importance.

*Exaggerates achievements and talents.

*Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love.

*Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment.

*Requires constant attention and admiration.

*Disregards the feelings of others and lacks empathy.

*Has obsessive self-interest.

*Pursues mainly selfish goals.

I chose this disorder first because I have a close relative who is suffering from it and because of her affliction, I find her insufferable. Let's call her Princess PaintBox. I call her this because no matter how much her behavior stinks, she pulls out her watercolors and paints herself in a favorable light. She does this mostly by lying. Of course, she's mainly lying to herself, but she is a convincing liar and has caused me much grief with her false statements and eternal self-promotion. Next to painting herself in a beautiful light, her favorite past time seems to be painting me in a bad one. I realize she does this because she's jealous of me, for reasons that are probably as ridiculous as the jealousy. I understand that mostly, she's just an insecure, unhappy person who doesn't want anyone to guess the truth of her shallowness. She is extraordinarily threatened by me because she knows I can see beyond the layers of rosy images she toils to project. I see straight through to the sadness of the empty person beneath all that hype and self-promotion. I've always been cursed, with dead-on insight. This makes her very agitated because I am the one person in the crowd she cannot fool. Therefore, I am her favorite target, or at least, I was.

I've put our relationship at a comfortable distance, which is more than arm's length. She seems to be spiraling more and more out of control as she is less and less able to sustain the image she wants everyone to have of her. When she gets agitated, I'm her target. I have become detached to protect myself, and I have to say, I feel quite content with it. I didn't realize how much I had grown to dislike her behaviors because, being a close relative and all, I'm supposed to "love" her. I guess I do.....from a remote and detached place. It's my survival instinct. Mostly, I just feel sorry for her.

To make matters worse in this relationship, I know why I'm her target. I know a secret that she has carried for several decades. It's such a big secret that I'm sure she's desperately unhappy and threatened by the fact that I do know it. I could really give a rat's ass about this secret; to me it's not that big of a deal, but to her, it's a lie she'd probably kill to hold onto. If anyone else knew, then that "holier than thou image" she holds of herself and projects to the world would be blown out of the water. Frankly, the secret is eating her up in big and little bites. She needs to come clean with herself - no one else - and understand that it's not ME she's angry with, it's HER fifteen year old self. She's seems to be stuck in fifteen. She's only angry at me because she suspects I know the secret. I didn't seek this knowledge, it was given to me by a third party. I didn't want this knowledge, but here I am stuck with it.

So get help, little Princess Paintbox. Your big secret and your narcissistic personality disorder are a big mismatch and a potential chemical reaction of nuclear proportions. You'll never have the life you want, none of us will, unless we're totally honest about how we got to the point we're at. Every one of us has some pretty icky stuff lingering in the past. Much as we'd all probably like to, we can't rewrite our personal histories, we just have to understand them and move on. Big clue, Princess Paintbox, life is not celluloid. Though you write and direct the movie of your life and try to control the images, it's not so much a Disney film as it is a cartoon. We adults just don't believe it.

If you have an insufferable friend who honestly believes they are better than everyone else, please direct them to this blog.

Things to know about people with personality disorders:

1. If they don't get what they want, there will be hell to pay.

2. They don't like honest people. Of course, who does? Most people are perpetuating one sort of lie or another. The problem is, the more honest a person is, the easier it is for them to spot a liar. Narcissists, by their very nature, are huge liars.

3. A narcissist will go to unbelievable lengths to promote an image that has nothing to do with reality; to the point it becomes their reality. Therefore, narcissists can't be honest or open with anyone with any consistency. Lying, even just to oneself, takes an enormous amount of planning, energy and manipulation. Generally, these people wake up exhausted one day, and can't figure out why they're all alone.

4. Narcissists take. They take the lion's share. They steal the thunder. They take and take and take, hands reaching and grasping all the time. They do believe they deserve more than anyone else. Though they are capable of giving, they do it with clenched teeth and they don't necessarily like it. Their gifts are always setups for some future taking event. Giving interferes with the taking, and taking is the nature.

5. Don't feel bad if you forget to compliment a narcissist. They will get around to blowing their own horn. Always.

6. No matter how dismal a contribution a narcissist has made to life in general, in their opinion, no one has done more, done better or looked as good doing it.

7. A narcissist will spout off at the mouth about people, places and things they know absolutely nothing about. This is not coming from any knowledgeable base; a narcissist doesn't need to do research; no one could be more smart or more right. It is best not to invite them to parties where intellectuals are in attendance. Although they could provide entertainment fodder, they will hate you for life for putting them in a situation where they are asked to defend their ideas. They may be clever, but they just seem to lack that intelligent gene.

I'd write more about these people, but frankly, having had to suffer them at close range, I'm now closing this chapter and fervently praying I can avoid this personality disorder in the future.

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