Posted by: counselorcarmella | August 12, 2011

Understanding Narcissism Part Two

DSM-IV TR defines NPD as: A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance. “Tell Carmella its me and she’ll change her schedule around to see me Tuesday morning,  even though she doesn’t even work Tuesday morning.”

After college, I volunteered for a statewide mental health related HelpLine for a nonprofit organization.  One day a man called asking to speak with the director.  I told him that I  couldn’t transfer  the call because  we weren’t in the same  office and offered to give him the phone number for the administrative office, where he could reach the director. He said, “You obviously don’t know who I am.  That’s a long distance call for me.  I called this number because its toll-free. Here’s my number. Have him call me.”  I called the  director of the agency and relayed the message. He said this man donated a lot of money and thought he was  a VIP for that reason.  He  said he would call  him back and got a good laugh out of the fact that this man  gave  plenty of money but  didn’t want to pay for a long-distance phone call.    It wasn’t about the money; he needed to be treated like someone  extra special.  He’d bought the rights to that, in his mind. 

2.  is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.  Real life never measures up. “This job doesn’t pay enough and I’m not able to take charge and  use all my amazing  creativity and leadership abilities so  I’ll just quit because they don’t deserve or appreciate me.” “Our relationship isn’t making me happy anymore. It isn’t giving me all the butterflies and  euphoric feelings it used to and  its starting to be kind of routine and boring. That must mean we’re not really soulmates and I need to go find the right person.  I know I made promises to you and that we have kids together, but  I have to do what’s right for me.” 

3. believes that he or she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also “special” or of high status. Always has to have the best doctor, lawyer,  and so on.  “That school is good enough for everyone else’s kids, but not my  artistically gifted and athletically talented little genius!  He has to go to the most expensive and well-known private academy in the city.”

4. requires excessive admiration.  “You’re so wonderful, smart,  attractive, successful,  gifted,  the best lover, etc., etc.,”  Ra! Ra!  Wives say all they do is cheerlead him and he still  goes out and finds a girlfriend. Bottomless pit of need.  These people may put themselves in situations where they’ll be  praised for what they do.   Ex:  giving a lot of money to the church/charities,  taking time to  take care of an older relative or  family member going through a hard time, talking about “good things” they do so  people will tell them how great that is.  

5. has a sense of entitlement. “If I wantit, I should be able to have it.”  I’ve worked with a lot of  adolescent and adult  women, and occasionally a male, who would shoplift.  “I just wanted it. I wasn’t stealing from an actual person.  It was just a shirt or  it only cost a few dollars. Its not my fault  I don’t have money for anything.” “If I have to cheat to make a good grade, that’s easier than  studying.” “I know we agreed to talk about major purchases, but I wanted that TV/boat/new car so I just decided to get it.” 

6. is interpersonally exploitative.  Sienfeld: “There for you and then just there.” when  a woman he wants to date is having marriage problems, he  pretends to want to be “there for her” if she needs to talk, as a friend who cares about what she’s going through. He’s hoping being “there for you” turns into   being “just there.”  His motives are self-serving.  He has no concern for this woman’s  pain or taking advantage of  her vulnerability. He’s  not concerned about her marriage.  He wants  her for himself.

Howard’s widowed Mom on Andy Griffith is an example of this.    Howard is an adult but  spends a lot of time with his mother. When he does  go out,  he has to call several times to check on her. She claims to be sick so he goes home early. She’s not sick; she’s lonely. On another episode, she tells Goober  lies so Howard will get blackballed from becoming a member of the lodge because she doesn’t want his involvement there to take time away from  her.

To the narcissist,  you are not a person, you are   a means to an end. You are a possession for my use. While normal people seek friends for companionship and support – the narcissist uses up his friends the way the sick consume medication or the hungry food. Here, too, a basic pattern emerges: to the narcissist, other people are objects to be used and tossed away. Sam Vaknin.

Ex.  “I’m marrying this person because they have money  or because I want a baby or because I want to work for their  family’s business.”

7. lacks empathy.  If I’m narcissistic, it is very hard for me to  imagine being in your shoes or how my words or actions impact you. I can’t  see  things from someone else’s perspective or feel sad just because that person is sad. “Those commercials on TV about starving children or  neglected animals are so annoying.”  No sense of  concern for anyone else’s circumstances.  Sienfeld didn’t care that the woman he was pursuing was hurting or vulnerable.  Howard’s Mom didn’t think about his need for a social life or feel empathy for how he  felt when she  guilt tripped him and  tried to get him to stay home or when he was upset about  being black balled.

8.   is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her.  “I’m possessive 

because my wife is hot and every man who sees her wants her.”  “I want that guy’s wife and she only is with him because she hasn’t met me yet. She doesn’t know what she’s missing.” “I deserved that promotion.” “I’m the one who should have that boat, car, etc. I deserve it more than they do.”  

9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes. Rude to support staff. “You’re just the help. I  can’t be bothered with even being polite to you.” These people brag about their  professional status,  boast about  how many people they’ve slept with,  and  love to hear themselves  talk. “I’m the best thing that ever happened to that company.”  They’ll make stuff up if they need to (degrees, titles,  accomplishments,  how much money they make)  At the very least, they exaggerate.  “I’m too sexy… so sexy it hurts. I’m too sexy forMilan,New York, andJapan.  I’m too sexy for your party, too sexy for my cat, too sexy for this song.. (Right Said Fred).      



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