Narcissism in High-Functioning Individuals – Big Ego or Severe Disorder?




Blossom yellow white

Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.

— William Blake from “The Clod and the Pebble”

Though Blake showed an intuition of the evils of pathological narcissism in the quoted verses, there are certain personality disorders that are easier to spot for the non-professional, because they dramatically hinder the normal functioning of individuals in society. While common people tend to be able to spot a common and identifiable disorder like major depression, which may prevent individuals from going to work and going out, for example, they rarely put a name on certain types of NPD, often dismissing it as just a “big ego” problem.

In fact, narcissists can be huge performers in their professional field, because their inflated sense of self-importance drives them on, to show the world just how important they really are. As society commonly associates personality disorders and psychiatric conditions with the inability to perform and function normally, these high performers may remain undiagnosed for years, and sometimes even for their whole lives. The fact that the scientific community has devoted comparatively little attention to NPD, as opposed to other personality disorders, further boasts its underdiagnosis.

The problem of diagnosis

The bulk of the literature dedicated to narcissistic personality disorders over the last decade has largely focussed on the need to establish new and improved diagnosis models:

The attention to the narcissistic individual’s external, symptomatic, or social interpersonal patterns — at the expense of his or her internal complexity and individual suffering — has also added to the diagnosis’ low clinical utility and limited guidance for treatment. Recent studies and reviews have pointed to the need for change in the diagnostic approach to and formulation of narcissism.

Let’s take a look at the standard diagnosis criteria of NPD, as set forth by the DSM-IV-TR, which defines NPD as:

… an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts.

According to this diagnostic manual, NPD is present when at least five of the following criteria are met:

  • has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • requires excessive admiration
  • has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Now, with just a quick glance at this list, I am sure each one of my readers can think of at least a handful of people they know, who seem to meet many of these criteria. Not all of them must, of course, necessarily be suffering from pathological NPD, though some of them might be, and they might remain undiagnosed, due to the fact that the line between pathological and healthy narcissism is an extremely blurry one.

Ronnie Solan dedicated much of her work to attempting to establish these boundaries:

The process of narcissistic self-love is activated by three absolute narcissistic needs: (a) to experience an affective state of well-being (homeostasis) in the familiar and constant state of self-love; (b) to separate the familiar self from the unfamiliar non-self; and (c) to integrate or befriend the unfa- miliar yet “similar enough” non-self within the self in order to contain over-excitation.

Within a healthy narcissistic structure, these absolute needs must reach a state of equilibrium, which means that deciphering the familiar and befriending the unfamiliar (non-self) must be coherent and integral with the genuine identities of familiar self-codes. However, if one of these needs is incoherently regulated in relation to the others, the threat of narcissistic imbalance emerges, further imperiling the integrity of the self-codes.

What Solan calls the “narcissistic imbalance” can appear very elusive to the naked eye of the non-professional observer. The pathological narcissist, with his/her lack of empathy and sense of self-importance will be the last to acknowledge that he/she has a problem. Therefore, the call for help that might bring in a therapist capable of identifying and treating NPD may never come, especially if the individual in question is a high performer, which society tends to view as a sign of personal success.

Expanding the NPD concept

If scholars and clinicians can’t agree on diagnosis criteria, it will be no surprise to find that the general assumptions of society about what constitutes NPD will be rather uncertain. Regarding this issue, a study published in 2008 found certain core features of the disorder which are not included in the DSM-IV’s description of it. These were: interpersonal vulnerability and underlying emotional distress, anger, difficulty in regulating affect, and interpersonal competitiveness.

The same study, which used 200 different criteria to identify NPD patterns, identified three subtypes for the disorder:

  • Grandiose/malignant narcissism (characterized by anger, manipulativeness, thirst for power, exaggerated self importance)
  • Fragile narcissism (characterized by grandiosity as a defensive function, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and loneliness.), and
  • High-functioning/exhibitionistic narcissism  ( characterized by individuals being self-important, articulate, energetic, and outgoing.)

The elusive third subtype

It is not casual that one of the authors of the above mentioned study, Drew Westen, PhD, is someone who largely developed on this third subtype of high-functioning narcissists in a previous paper entitled The Relations Among Narcissism, Egocentrism, Self-Concept, and Self-Esteem: Experimental, Clinical, and Theoretical Considerations. Regarding the third subtype, Westen and his colleagues state that:

They tend to show good adaptive functioning and use their narcissism as a motivation to succeed.

High-functioning/exhibitionistic narcissists have relatively good adaptive functioning and less psychiatric comorbidity.

At the same time, they refer to the fact that high-functioning narcissists have received “little empirical attention.” Added to the fact that such individuals generally tend to pass off as “normal” in society, this creates an environment extremely conducive for the underdiagnosis of this type of NPD.

The case of Lara

I now want to refer to a particular case, in order to identify certain behavior patterns that may occur in society around high-functioning narcissists, which contribute to fostering underdiagnosis.

Lara is a performing artist and writer. She has a beautiful singing voice and works as a professional singer. Furthermore, she is her own manager and excels at promoting herself and finding high quality and high-paying gigs. While she is extremely popular with acquaintances, fans, and people she meets casually or online; it is very hard for her to keep a deep lasting friendship or relationship. After a while, people seem to find it rather hard to put up with her conversation, which revolves exclusively around herself and her achievements, without a break, making it impossible for the other person to make a comment. Other than that, Lara is constantly complaining about ways in which the world seems to plot against her, displaying a sense of self-righteousness which people tend to find equally annoying.

As with many other high-functioning narcissists, the problem is: who will advise Lara to seek counseling? It won’t be her friends, because she fails to develop a meaningful friendship, and it won’t be her family either, as Lara comes from a dysfunctional family with a history of domestic violence, with which she has a very superficial relationship. The people she works with dismiss her as someone with a histrionic personality and an inflated ego, plus, she responds very well professionally, so they have no complaints.

Even if Lara came from a healthier family environment, if her relatives didn’t think what she had was pathological, they would probably have a difficult relationship with her, which would create a distance that makes it rather hard to help someone in these matters.

A stranger who met Lara (or any other untreated narcissist of this kind) and became emotionally attached to her might want to help somehow, if he/she had a sense that something was amiss, but the very essence of pathological narcissism shuns every possibility of telling the person that they are wrong about something: we fear that they will be offended and thus, we leave it at that.

If, like Lara, the person in question has been unable to develop deep and meaningful relationships, then there is nobody else we can talk to, and the high-functioning narcissist will roam free, without the slightest possibility of diagnosis, let alone treatment, perhaps, for all their life.

Conclusions

As we can see, both NPD in general and high-functioning narcissism in particular call for further empirical studies, in order to determine a set of revised diagnosis criteria. As regards high-functioning narcissism, it seems to me that there is work to do in terms of educating the public, since the general dismissal of this disorder subtype as a “big ego” problem may be partially responsible for its large underdiagnosis.

References

Kay J (2008). Toward a clinically more useful model for diagnosing narcissistic personality disorder. The American journal of psychiatry, 165 (11), 1379-82 PMID: 18981068

MILLER, J., CAMPBELL, W., & PILKONIS, P. (2007). Narcissistic personality disorder: relations with distress and functional impairment Comprehensive Psychiatry, 48 (2), 170-177 DOI: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2006.10.003

Ronningstam, E. (2010). Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A Current Review Current Psychiatry Reports, 12 (1), 68-75 DOI: 10.1007/s11920-009-0084-z

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: APA.

Solan, R. (1998). Narcissistic Fragility in the Process of Befriending the Unfamiliar The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 58 (2), 163-186 DOI: 10.1023/A:1022112416259

Russ, E., Shedler, J., Bradley, R., & Westen, D. (2008). Refining the Construct of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Diagnostic Criteria and Subtypes American Journal of Psychiatry, 165 (11), 1473-1481 DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2008.07030376

  • http://healthvsmedicine.blogspot.com cervantes

    In fact, narcissists can be huge performers in their professional field, because their inflated sense of self-importance drives them on, to show the world just how important they really are. As society commonly associates personality disorders and psychiatric conditions with the inability to perform and function normally, these high performers may remain undiagnosed for years, and sometimes even for their whole lives.

    Excuse me, but if the person is functioning successfully in society and the subject doesn’t think she (more likely he) has anything wrong with her/him, what makes you think this person has a disease? Just because you don’t like somebody doesn’t merit a disease label.

    This is why psychiatry is, fundamentally, bullshit.

    • R

      While I’d have to disagree with you that psychiatry is, fundamentally, bullshit, I do agree that the idea of mental disorders can be somewhat misleading. As I see it, there’s a continuum between “normal” and what people may consider a mental disorder. Psychologists may label someone with Aspergers when others would just say the person is introverted. Its just a way of classifying, albeit one that may carry some stigmatization.

      Likewise, here, I think there’s some difficulty of categorizing people with NPD. Take, for example, a man I work with: he is definitely seen by many as having a big ego. He will let you know what he’s worked on that has been successful, and how much money has been involved. He also would consider himself the best in his field. HOWEVER, this stuff is all true. He has earned his position and is at the top of his field, though he lets it get to his head. Does he have NPD? What if he wasn’t a professional but instead someone with meager accomplishments; assuming he wasn’t delusional and feigned accomplishments, would he have NPD?

      Thats the problem with this all — who knows for sure if NPD “exists” apart from human categorization. But, it is a helpful way to categorize and study.

      • http://tamedanimals1.bandcamp.com/ Dan

        Psychologists may label someone with Aspergers when others would just say the person is introverted. Its just a way of classifying, albeit one that may carry some stigmatization.

        This is exactly why I agree that psychology/psychiatry is, fundamentally, bullshit. Foundations that are built by making judgements about something without understanding what really drives them are unstable. Yes, I know you guys say It’s science and that you really do know what drives people by using the scientific method etc… In my humble narcissistic opinion, you guys don’t have a clue why people behave the way they do (for the most part). Why don’t I go ahead and make a new disorder called:

        I’m a scientist and I think I know everything because I spend obsessive amounts of time studying and writing down useless information that makes me feel more valuable than I am, but I’m so WELL INFORMED AND ULTIMATELY SMARTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE DISORDER. Oh wait, that sounds like NPD doesn’t it !LOL!

        Here’s a solution for humanities questions: Everyone is an asshole sometimes and sometimes they aren’t. Stop trying to classify all of human experience into a nice and tidy (and fair) little package. Doing so is not reality and it is not progress.

    • Adam

      If he was the only one with a problem, then you would be right. But chances are that type of person isn’t liked by many. These days where money rules and people like that are, quite sadly, admired, it doesn’t seem like a bad thing. However, take another time in history where social cohesion was more important and he wouldn’t last long. Unless of course he got lucky and was of an important family or what not.

      Fundamentally bullshit? Not a chance. Family doctors and school nurses diagnosing people with everything under the sun is the problem. However the problem there is with implementation, not the fundamentals.

    • Anonymous

      Because even though they’re successful they are complete cunts.

    • Michael

      I don’t think this is a matter of liking or disliking a person. It’s a matter of this type of behaviour being hurtful to others.

      I found this page while looking up the behaviour of a dearly close friend, whom I live and work with. Lately it seems like my lack of response towards this type of behaviour has hurt our relationship. I always felt like they had my best interests in mind, but now I am discovering that the majority of their actions are geared towards satisfying their narcissism and any “good” that I received was just a byproduct.

      It is painful to watch them suffering when they are not perceived in the light that they feel they are entitled to. I mean, they struggle daily to uphold their grandiose image, to the point of constant lying. In can understand it when it comes to public image and especially business, when it can help you sell. But there is no place for it in your personal relationships. It bubbles up constantly, little lie upon little lie and you start to wonder, is there any sincerity left?

      For a long time I thought it was a problem with me. But now I realize that the person’s history of failed relationships are indicative of some deeper personal issue they have.

      • Marina

        Very true? this is exactly the problem – when narcissists come to hurt others by devaluating them and abusing their boundaries.

    • Dan

      Yeah………there was nothing wrong with hitler. Look in the mirror.

    • Sarah

      Excuse me but that person may harm another particularly I they are a narcissist that’s why its an antisocial disorder speaking from someone who has an ex who is one. People like you think you can poo poo a life times work when it suits you. What is your personal issue with psychiatry?

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  • Raven

    I feel like I married the 2011 poster child. He is a Dr. of education. He thinks he is very important, has spent 20K on billboards to advertise,,, Himself.

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  • Catherine

    Wow, here’s a label Dan, you sound like a total knob. If those of you who think recognising NPD is simply about creating labels, stigmas or being jealous of those who function well in our society and rise to the top, then you clearly haven’t suffered at the hands of a pathological narcissist. When you’ve experienced the baffling torment, the passive-aggressive manner in which they systematically go about eroding your belief in yourself, filling you with an unnamed sense of fear each time you find yourself anywhere near them and you can never be sure why, then speak up. When your find yourself feeling worthless, empty and scared, and realise that the people around you start turning against you when they are fed lies by the narcissist who maintains that they’re the embodiment of good and you must be evil, then speak up. And when they have you under their power so much that you realise that you doubt the very core of who you are, even though you start to see through their act, but every time you try to tell someone else they don’t believe you because the narcissist is always so charming and nice to them, maybe then you might begin to understand. And when everyone else begins to attack you, to the joy of the narcissist who delights in your pain, plotting more ways to break your spirit while you try to be strong and have faith that if you’re kinder to them they’ll stop being so evil, perhaps you’ll understand. Maybe then it might be “interesting” to hear your opinion.

    • TK

      Could not agree with your more Catherine, I’ve been stung by more than one of these predators. It is paradigm shiftingly real my dear ignorant friends. I understand where you’re coming from, because you would have to experience it to believe it. Once you experience it, it’s still so unreal that you have a huge amount of trouble beleiving it YOURSELF!
      Then you try to communicate that to other people and have an impossible time trying to get them to understand what has actually happened to you which feeds back into you doubting yourself and questioning EVERYTHING YOU EVER BELIEVED.
      If you can come out on the other side of that healthy and not do anything that will complicate the issue for you down the line then you have a chance to deal with it. Meanwhile this person who has dedicated their life to destroying you BEFORE you realised what they were, this person that you treated with love and respect and now just want to be safe from and seperate is ruining whatever is left of your reputation after you’ve done a number on it yourself because you’ve been engaged in a desperate battle for survival for a long time that you didn’t even know you were in!
      So in short, if you think this isn’t real, fuck off you piece of shit because you’re invalidating people who have been systematically destroyed by able and vicious predators.

      • Tish

        My child’s father is pathological narc. Catherine and TK are right. I won’t be free of mine for at least the next 16 years, if ever. :(

      • constance

        Thank you for saying what I have not been able to say. “f–k off”! I lived it for 30 years (25 of those in therapy). It was pure hell being married to a narcissist. I thank him for leaving me because now I am alive and well. No one understands like a person who has been the victim of a narcissist. It is as debilitating as being a battered woman, only your scars can’t be seen and your abuser can’t be prosecuted.

    • cilipadi

      Very true indeed…lucky i manage to hang on to my sanity…5children…now what do i do?

    • Gertrud

      Been there, done that Catherine. I have experienced this at work, thanks to my Boss. When he started working for our Department he seemed like a charming individual. It took about a year to figure out that he was a narcissistic tool. Normal people don’t use their position to ruin careers and reputations. He lied, manipulated and cheated, and God help anybody who had the temerity to point out his behavior. He surrounded himself with butt kissers, and those that were easily manipulated. Just like you I had a feeling of dread around him because I realized just how evil he was. He was the text book case of NPD, and I learned everything I ever needed to know about narcissistic rage! It was not a pretty sight. It was only because of my extremely head strong nature that I was able to survive. I understand what you were subjected to, and I don’t wish that on anybody.

    • Roos Demol

      Thank you so much for this reply. I’d love to get in touch with you. I thought I was reading about myself here.
      I hope you have recovered from this relationship. I am still trying to recover from a similar one.

    • Angela

      Catherine
      I know exactly how it feels. Being put down to the extreme on a daily basis, him going off his brain if I did one tiny thing that he didn’t like, walking one step in front of him, pulling a face (even when happy) that he didn’t like, and then telling people how bloody wonderful he is and charming people into believing that he is this great sainly person, when all he does is selfishly live his life putting everyone around him down. Recently seen at the pub with his “puppet” friends, because they are all dumb and desperate to be validated by someone charming. The lies that he has told about me to people has had my self confidence take a beating, my ego is crushed and I think I nearly fell into depression believing the things that he said I was. The sad part is – he will keep doing this to the women and girls in his life. I begged him to get help, and he admits at times that he needs it – but wont actually do it. As long as the puppets keep making him feel good. Massive alcoholic as well – so this doesn’t help. Not to mention the diagnosed abandonment issues and trigger patterns that made my life hell. Exhausted from it – but learning to live with love and light and I am starting to feel relieved that this nightmare is over.
      Good luck to you and all those people out there. Therapy is the answer and believe in yourself that things are not going to always be like this.

    • Jb

      Incredible. You have just described my marriage in uncanny detail. It makes you sick as hell when you realize what you have let someone do to you. It is the deviousness of what they do to you that weakens you. It is just hard to believe that someone would go to such lengths to destroy someone they “love” so much. If your a decent person it is just too hard to fathom that this person is actually trying to destroy you on every level. It makes you question your sanity and that is where they have you. You have to trust yourself and run before its too late. The worst part of it all is that you knew. You knew all along. They are true masters at what they do.

    • Marcy

      WEll SAID!!!!

  • CC

    I understand why people would be against the labelling but in a way a label seems helpful- so you can stop wondering what is it about a person that seems so wrong but you just can’t put a finger on.

    There is something wrong with me for constantly being drawn to such people.

  • Steve

    I agree with Catherine & TK. After having survived a of a narcissist woman with this dysfunction. I can tell you first hand that this is true.The diagnosis is correct and the label is correct also. Is everyone a narcissist no. You must examine that person because they are not what they appear to be . And yes the labels are there to classify. It is quite real and in fact very sad and extremely disappointing.she didn’t make me doubt myself but she certainly did everything that she could to turn others against me . She is a liar,she’s manipulative , has a overly-bloated opinion of herself and her accomplishments, thinks the world revolves around her and expects everyone to bow to her tune and when you don’t, she is verbally physically aggressive and insulting , angry all the time, manipulating others against you and while pretending to be your friend is plotting constantly against you and fits all the descriptions of this dysfunction .She is shallow , hollow when it comes to others feelings and she needs help. Her false self merged with her real self and there isn’t a difference .Once you experience it, you will understand.To say that this malady is hogwash is ignorant and uninformed. I know that I survived the hurricane and ordered it back to hell. A pretty face is one thing her mental state is entirely another. Call it what you want but it’s neither normal or healthy.Having been a victim of it I know that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is real and not imaginary.

  • Diane

    I agree I too have experienced a person with this type of behavior, My husband was really good friends with this guy and he had been single for a while one day he brings a girl home he met three weeks earlier and says he is getting married. She seemed confident and very well educated in the surface and quickly became my friend. I noticed that she always had trouble in social places like, school, work with others we would hang out with she always had an argument with someone. At first I thought it was just because she didn’t like to be wrong then I started to notice how she would monopolize random conversations and get very loud when people didn’t see things her way. One day we disagreed on a subject and she got so angry she said she that I was weak to her and for that she wanted nothing to do with me. She then and please note we did not live in the same neighborhood, she called my neighbors and told them what happened but told a totally different story and when my neighbors ignored her she became very upset. She then bad mouthed me to the only girl she was friends with and told that girl she did not want her talking to me, and that if she did talk to me she wanted no part in it. So when the girl decided to stay friends with me this woman got so upset she left for two weeks to visit familiy and when she returned she stopped by the poor girls house to bad mouth me again and tell her that she was upset and hurt that she was still talking to me.

  • http://brainblogger.com Angela

    So..I’m reading a lot of anger and hurt here, caused by all the behaviours described, with which all family and friends of an undiagnosed NPD sufferer can easily identify.

    Here’s the thing; what can anyone do to persuade the high-functioning undiagnosed narcissist/hedonist that they need help? Our NPD person has a group of forgiving, understanding friends and family, all waiting the moment to help.That moment never comes.

    ONLY ONE OF US had the nerve to tell her she needs help. She was predictably banished & subsequently repeatedly threatened with legal action, accusations, put-downs. Result? We all avoid stating the obvious..She has had extraordinary stresses for a year, including hospitalisation for a burnout breakdown;she convinced the psychiatrist she needed only rest & was discharged.

    So she self-medicates; booze, diazapam, zopiclone. Parties hard, works hard, shops hard, takes frequent holidays which are never a break and several failed short-term relationships & 1-nighters.

    (BTW our friend is capable of showing empathy; she helps people when poss..her way ! I do not believe that all NPD sufferers lack empathy all the time..they just get caught up in their own lives and work).

    To summarise my question…do we simply accept that NPD often goes
    undiagnosed/untreated? Do we all wait for her stresses to subside & behaviours to improve? The fury in her is palpable; the compartmentalisation is disintegrating. Her histrionics are legendary.

    Any suggestions?

    • constance

      Just stay away from her. She is certain she is wiser than any psychiatrist and that YOU are the one with a problem – and you are! Want to get rid of your problem? You know the answer! She will bring you down to a place lower than hell and you won’t even realize you’re on your way. GET AWAY NOW! Save yourself. She can’t (won’t) be saved, ever.

  • 3nads

    I’ve worked with all sorts of negative people but I’ve only worked with one severe narcissist 12yrs ago and he was the WORST. It was surreal. He’d get the whole workplace on his side like he owned the place. He was very intuitive and magnetic it was like he can see right through you it was eerie. I got to the point where I thought he sold his soul so he can be “cool” and have the world worship him. He used this intuitiveness to coldly press your buttons for his benefit. If you didn’t go along with his bullshit he’ll turn the store against you I’ve seen him do it. He was insular and unscrutable and had an air of self-importance that his time and presence was too valuable for you to even ask him a question related to work….and he was an assistant supervisor!!! He was really good at his job and he charms everyone who comes across his path…whether you want him to or not and he’ll get in your face until he wedges into your psyche you can’t just sit there and mind your business because if you do he’ll tear down your character to others.

    I was damaged by this guy I was already going through emotional shit and I’m an emotional doormat so I let others have their way I guess this didn’t help at all. It wasn’t until YEARS later that I realized that…..I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG. He just sits there with everybody surrounding him in awe like he’s god and if you’re in the corner somewhere not praising him he’ll draw attention to you patronizingly punishing you for not going along with it. This guy was evil. He finds a vulnerable center in you and exploits/destroys/displays it for everyone to see and I didn’t even do anything except be weak. I was relatively lucky because I stayed out of his way but I saw him turn the whole store against an unlikeable person. He’s able to do this because he charms the higher-ups and they turn a blind eye because of his flawless work. You would think that reporting this horrible daily bullying would help stop it but it’s so subliminal that it’s viciousness is hidden and he’ll just find a way to make you look bad his “puppets” will see to it. If hypothetically he ever really does get in trouble his “puppets” will find a way to bail him out.

    This guy was vicious and as you can see I’m still traumatized. It wasn’t until this year that I stumbled upon the definition of narcissist and tears almost welled up because 99% of every symptom I’m read pertains to this guy I don’t even want to think about it it makes me sick.

    People of this magnitude you simply have to transfer to another department I hate to say it. If you’re not headstrong you can’t survive someone of this severity especially someone mousey like me.

    Well I guess everything happens for a reason and atleast I learned to stand up for myself a little bit better.

    I thought it was just me but now at least I have an explanation

    • http://elance.com karenhandot

      How do you get away from people like that, when they sabatoge your
      life. isolate you from everyone else, says they are the one that cares about you, and you end up in another mental and emotional abusive situation. and you credit is destroyed. they turn everyone against you. do anything you can. expect you to work and make money for them. but when they are mad they sabatoge your resume on line, your accounts, have inappropriate emails sent to
      recruiters. etc etc. and tell you it is on in your head. and sides with people who bullied you and turns your mother against
      you. and it is a little club now. and I am so tired and exhausted I can not keep up with it. or stay ahead. and trying to get a job with a ruined reputation, and your presentations ie resume tampered with, how do you ever survive. and you cant quite
      put your finger on exactly who it is. I think it is my ex boyfriend from high school. and he has tied your life up with so many lies, and you do not find out how many until you are 55. and
      it hits you like a ton of bricks. the shock is enough to kill you.
      and just speculating the possible connections drives you crazy. and the minute you got something figured out, and he knows it they
      lambasted you with another hypocracy.
      and you are basically drowning, living on his cough. your mother who knew you all your life doesn’t want to talk to you, and sides
      with a brother who has something to do with the scandle. and all you know is that he had a misterminar when you was young for drugs.
      and he is bitching at you. and you say well no one bitched at you when you spend a whole years away at college living off mom and dad
      and having is hs buddy move up to college.
      and he says non of that happen it was a traffic violation.
      and it just goes on and on. and you do not know where to start.
      what speculations are accurate. but, you know you are shunned.
      expect for this guy who insults you to death.
      km

      • 3Nads

        I don’t know Karenhandot my best advice is to just stay away from that person and cut them COMPLETELY out of your life. One thing about narcissists is that they can’t be by themselves and they’ll find a way to invite themselves back into your life. Don’t take the bait. Cut them out completely until they genuinely acknowledge their ways and genuinely try to get better. As for your mother NO MOTHER should ever turn their back on their child ever. I don’t know the dynamics going on there.

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  • Suzy

    Wow Catherine you’ve just described my father and how he has treated me over the years, turning my mother against me too, because I got fed up of being controlled by him. (and i mean everything: how i talk, what i said, who my friends were,what i wore, what i did with my life, the type of music i should listen to etc..)
    Ive only just realised that he has this disorder and it’s been a revelation to me. He completely controls my mother, however when I told my mum about NPD, without hesitation she knew he must have it. I hope my mum and I can now start to enjoy a better relationship.
    To be honest I think that the sufferers of hurt from these utterly destructive people should be the ones that get help. And perhaps all NPD sufferers could all live together?!

    • Royal Welcome

      Yes, put them all on a small island and let them belittle each other to death.

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  • Nikki

    I also suffered an horrific nervous/mental breakdown at the hands of who I believe to be a well practiced highly functioning narcassist. Because it is so hard to spot and diagnose, this person took me from a happy, stable, confidant woman to a quivering wreck. I suffered acute anxiety and panic attacks day and night for 16 long suffering months. After falling to my knees in a hell words can’t describe to the average person on the street(you’d rather loose a limb).. To add insult to injury, my family from which i had been isolated from, accused me of being overly dramatic and I was told to get a grip. It was impossible to articulate to the health professionals due to my sheer despair, what i was going through. Due to lack of understanding&funds in this area, I was left for weeks climbing the walls post breakdown , as GPs refused to implement treatment without diagnosis from someone in the mental health team. For the first time in 31 years I found myself on anti-dependants, beeta-blockers and diazipan, this monster had done the full works on me i was told. The most upsetting part is whilst this individual is free to attack his next victim, I still go without counselling that was promised within 6 Mts and has now been just over a year. Its de personalized me, broken my world.. It has destroyed my whole life. I don’t know who I am, how to be.. Where I find my peace or where to start this mission e…Which brings me here. I began to trail the internet for my own answers. Self help! Otherwise what do individuals like me do?

    • Angela

      PLease do yourself a favour – read this “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”” by Marianne Williamson. It saved my life.
      At least you didn’t go back for more tourture like I did. These people are pure evil waiting to get their next victim. He even said to me when we broke up he needs someone that he can “control and manipulate”, not someone like me.
      How disgusting is that – and how niaeve was I??
      I have to let go, learn to love again – myself and others, and move forward to enjoy the beauty that life has to offer. The nightmare is over, feel relieved about this, grow and slowly take yourself off the drugs. Do exercise and the things that keep you busy. Exercise, self help and friends and family are the only reason I am still here. The light is there at the end of the tunnel – just focus on that, and all of a sudden you will forget that is your goal because your whole world will be filled full of it.
      Good luck

    • BeenThere

      I have nothing really constructive to say, except that I’ve been there. To a lesser extent than you, only around 4mo of pain, but it was intense and horrific. I can relate to the constant panic attacks, paranoia, etc. It was one of the worst times of my life.

      Just remember that there are good people out there! It may take some looking, patience, and acknowledgement that you may run across some more NPD one day. Knowing how to spot it and how to avoid it is critical. You have the tools now!

      I wish you the best of luck, and hope that you meet more good humans soon.

    • fabian

      Call me I went through the same shit.6477677063

  • http://brainblogger.com Dave Knitche

    Facebook Twitter and Blogging – Perfect tools for modern day egotism, vanity, and pride. Hey, look at me!! Look at how important I am!! Hey, my ideas matter so much!! Look at my pictures!! This discussion is nothing more than narcissistic people discussing 50 shades of narcissism and of course, none of you believing that you are the problem! I’ve had a facebook account for about 50 minutes just to see how disgusting the lot of you are. What has the world come to?

  • Nikki

    @Dave. What an ignorant, revolting thing to say! You’re probably one of the abusers we speak of here, backing their corner. Probably a walking disaster! Stay off here if you have nothing constructive to add. You are clear as day the disgusting one. We have been the victims of Narcs & you are demeaning us further and belittlein our hell and misery. So butt out of matters you clearly have zero understanding of.. Being on the receiving end of at least!

  • 3nads

    @Dave
    I really don’t understand what you’re talking about or why you’re here.

  • Boris

    Just another female covering up their own lies and deceit by blaming onto a guy they lusted for and were jilted by. :) The road to same sex marriage.

  • Nikki

    Why are these males with idiotic remarks even coming to these sites?!! Actually; most of us ladies on here have been in a position where we’ve had to fight long and hard for our freedom from these vile individuals, and have incurred much emotional damage along the way. This site is not for trolls trying to create further upset. You and your stupid comments are not welcome here.

  • Paul

    Regarding Dave , I think some elements of facebook are tiresome but its obviously social and most people get good enjoyment out of it. As a world community we are certainly getting closer , the cynic in me thinks that these organisations that run social media have too much private information on the people who engage in their services.

    Is it narcasistic , no thats a gross exageration. Some people just want to be heard and be noticed. Don’t think it’s that bad. Better than sittin at home staring at the walls.

  • 3nads

    @Boris

    I am a MALE!!! I’m a dude.

    You’re a heartless CYNICAL person.

    and probably miserable.

    These people are in pain.

  • 3nads

    I know not all women are victims and just want to be dramatic or exaggerate to get the man in trouble but most times this is NOT the case. Narcissism is real and it’s debilitating especially to a more receptive person look up the definition.

    I’ve experienced it first hand and am still fuc*ed up over it seriously it’s compounded if you have other stuff going on. Being sensitive is not a crime but playing the victim to hurt others is but that’s not the case all the time.

  • Anonymous

    I read only a few lines for a total of 60 seconds and saw enough negativity ,,if people havent experienced what it is like first hand , your comments are not welcomed , and if you need to judge , disrespect people’s feelings and be just plane ignorant and negative its best to just look in the mmirror and JUDGE yourself as you yourself have serious issues …..
    I experienced first hand a narcisstic , being A 40 YEAR OLD independant self sufficient woman and not wanting to have children or marriage still experience a nightmare with nascisstic,NEVER KNEW THIS DISORDER EXISTED and yes they are probably suffering but not excusable ,,..never thought would happen to me….am emotional then what became verbal abuse….if you have nothing good to say it’s best not to say anything,….SHOW SOME CLASS,MATURITY AND INTELLIGENCE as this is a serious topic .

    FOR THOSE WHO ARE TRAMATIZED BY TEH EXPERIENCE READ READ READ ABOUT IT AND OTHER VICTIMS EXPERIENCES AND YOU TUBE IT WILL HELP EMMENSELY …..I did my own self therapy but I wasnt married or had cheildren with him so maybe was easier otherwise may have consulted a therapist as they do try to drain you in every aspect

  • 3nads

    Narcissists are so cold because they have nothing inside of them. They’ll set you up to fail with a smile on their face and if you call them out on it they make it seem like YOU did something wrong.

    Since they have nothing inside of them they have no feelings, no love, compassion, encouragement, comfort, reassurance. They only give these out strategically for their own benefit they don’t know what “unconditional” is.

    They say that the opposite of love is not hate, but rather cold indifference. Cold indifference is something narcissists have plenty of. You could be on fire next to them and they’ll just make a remark about how they’re so glad it’s not them and then look back down to read their paper. They’re like a vacuum. They suck up all your joy and light and love and fun because they don’t know what these things are in a genuine sense. They have darkness inside of them.

  • Bejah Notrettu

    I find Veronia’s paper (et al) to be very intriguing, thought provoking. It stimulates me to go off in search of the mysteries of the mind and because my own brother suffers from Narcissism, this strange uncharted territory especially. Much of what we read about Narissism is boilerplate, outdated and simplistic and that is very discouraging. Now that the disease is becomming a cultural phenomenon it is critical to determine what drives it to the level of a contaigen that can have profound effects on the economic, spiritual and psychological wellness of a culture or nation. It seems closely linked to capitalism, free enterprise, speculation, etc. without any probable and manageable parameters…very thrillng for the Narcissist who operates supconsciously to a considerable extent and ver much in the moment and with misplaed certainty. We must ask where this leaves us as a nation, a culture, a community. Create the world you want to live in people, before it is too late.

  • Unclewail

    Hello Veronica,
    I always found it difficult to accept whether it was coming from a psychological or social source. Then i came across “Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ typological approach to personality” and was impressed by its accuracy and methodology as well as testing the results not only by myself on myself but on other by myself and vice versa.
    I think “some” narcissists can be helped to an extent by confusing them with a two sided approach. I tried it with a person i know who is definitely at least a level 5 narcissist.
    I showed them superiority and extreme kindness at the same time, putting them in a situation where they were forced to listen and then lead by example on issues such as compassion and not giving much thought to materialism and money.
    Sometimes i feel that i am narcissist in nature but lucky enough to be in an environment that allowed me to resent narcissism and specifically many of its traits. Due to local societal and family moral standards and in many cases religious guidelines, even though i have eventually looking at religion in a very loose or modest understanding.

  • Unclewail

    I always found it difficult to accept CLASSIFICATION (correction to previous comment)

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  • Virginia

    Sorry about my choppy sentences above.
    I am typing my comments on a tiny keyboard and screen…

Veronica Pamoukaghlian, MA

Veronica Pamoukaghlian, MA, holds a Masters in Creative Writing. She has directed two documentaries shot in psychiatric wards and a feature documentary about the 77-year old senior Decathlon champion of the world, Raul. Her last production is Monstruo, a short film about non-voluntary euthanasia. She is the CEO of Uruguayan film production company Nektar FIlms. You may visit her blog at The Wander Life
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