A New Lease—on Life!
By Judit Rajhathy, B.A., RNCP, D.Ac.
Am I Crazy?
(Narcissistic Personality Disorder)
A dear friend of mine recently dated a man who came very close to literally driving her crazy. This is a woman who is well respected in both her profession and her community, is one of the most level-headed and together people I know, yet had to run far and quickly from this ill-fated relationship. It turned out that he had Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD); that is just one of the manifestations of what is better known as Borderline Personality Disorder. At least my friend could terminate the relationship fairly early on, but when a family member is afflicted you can’t just eliminate them from your life – you need to somehow deal with it without allowing yourself to be pulled into the vortex, thinking that maybe you are the crazy one—easier said than done.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Mayo Clinic Website)
- Believing that you are better than others
- Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
- Exaggerating your achievements or talents
- Expecting constant praise and admiration
- Believing that you’re special and acting accordingly
- Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings
- Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
- Taking advantage of others
- Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
- Being jealous of others
- Believing that others are jealous of you
- Trouble keeping healthy relationships
- Setting unrealistic goals
- Being easily hurt and rejected
- Having a fragile self-esteem
- Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional
Another symptom of NPD is coming across as boastful or pretentious, often monopolizing conversations, having a sense of entitlement – insisting they have “the best” of everything, are always right and when challenged, fly into a rage (emotional dysregulation). Sadly, from a young age, kids with NPD are often chastised because it is thought that their behaviors are done on purpose. People with NPD always blame the other – they rarely take responsibility for their actions. Family members are left puzzled and confused. Guilt and shame soon take over the family unit.
Often the most skilled therapists and psychiatrists do not recognize this disorder.
Cause of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
In recent years NPD is thought to be a complex mental health condition that is related to genetics, environment and possibly unresolved trauma in childhood. The problem is that often there are no outward visible signs and the individual is dismissed by therapists as being fine. The symptoms are reserved for those closest to them – usually family members and later in life, their spouses and/or partners. It is agreed however that regardless of the actual cause, the narcissist creates a flawless ‘false self’ which must be defended at all cost throughout their lifetime. There have been studies through brain imagery that have proven that the brains of those with Borderline Personality Disorder which is related to NPD are not operating at full capacity.
Normally it is the families of people afflicted with NPD who seek help. There is that “aha!” moment when they discover for the first time that finally there is a valid reason for the strange and often aggressive behaviors of their loved ones. Because people who have NPD do not believe there is anything wrong they rarely seek help. If and when they do, it is because they realize that their lives are not functional, they feel generally unhappy and want to find out why. Light medication for the emotional dysregulation combined with long term Dialectical Behavior Therapy, changing the crazy-making behavior into a more focused, constructive approach to life – is the only treatment choice for this issue.
Am I crazy? If you say so . . .
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