Narcissism Explained

By D U Sivri

“My ex-husband was such a control freak and manipulator! A real Narc in fact!”

“My boss is so selfish and demanding. The perfect definition of a Narcissist!”

“My ex-Mrs. was always spying on me and checking my every move online. I’m sure she suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder!”

We have all heard things like this being said by friends and family about other people … maybe we ourselves have even used the word ‘Narcissist’ as a term of abuse or description without realising exactly what it means and where it originates from.

As a qualified Psychotherapist with over twenty years of experience in this field, I have come across many types of Personality Disorders, and the one group that fascinates me more than any other relates to people suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

On the outside, they tend to be attractive, self-assured and confident people who can be pretty charming and complimentary about other people. But over time, you realise it’s just one big ruse to reel people in before they can start working their ‘Narcissistic Magic’ on their chosen victims. Narcissists tend to look for people with natural empathy who like to give, help and nurture other people. The classic taker and giver relationship in its most heightened and destructive form!

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Of course, a person suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder may be predisposed genetically to behave in the ways that they do, but it is also believed on a psychological level that external factors play a big part in the formation of a person with this affliction.

Neglect in childhood and even abuse, as well as excessive parental pampering in the formative years all contribute to developing a Narcissist during childhood. Also pushy, overprotective parents with unrealistic expectations don’t help to create empathy and sympathy, quite the opposite in fact. Later on in life, Narcissists also tend to be sexually promiscuous as a way to get the constant attention and validation that they continually crave and desire.

Although there is only one type of diagnosis for Narcissistic Personality Disorder as a Mental Health condition, there are in fact a few types of Narcissism in terms of definition.

So what are they?

Well in fact Narcissism can manifest itself in different ways and is closely connected to extreme self-focus, an inflated sense of self, and a strong desire for recognition and praise.

Let’s take a closer look …

Overt Narcissism

This is what most people associate and recognize as being a Narcissist, or as connected to having a Narcissistic Personality. Someone like this tends to come across as:
• Arrogant
• Competitive
• Entitled
• Exploitative
• Having an exaggerated self-image
• Lacking empathy
• Outgoing
• Overbearing
• Needing to be constantly praised and admired

People with Overt Narcissism also tend to overestimate their own abilities, capabilities and to also overestimate their own levels of Emotional Intelligence.

Covert Narcissism

People with this type of Narcissism aren’t loud and brash as in the previous example. They are almost the complete opposite and their traits include:
• Avoidance
• Defensiveness
• Expressions of low self-esteem
• Higher likelihoods of experiencing Anxiety, Depression and Shame
• Introversion
• Insecurity / low confidence
• Tendencies to play the victim

Although still very self-focused, Covert Narcissists have a deep fear and sense of not being ‘enough’ in some way. They find it difficult to accept criticism and internalise everything as they always feel victimised.

In fact both types of Narcissism, Overt and Covert, can have crossover periods depending on mood swings and emotional imbalances.

Antagonistic Narcissism

Similar to Overt Narcissism, the main focus here revolves around Competition and Rivalry. Some features of Antagonistic Narcissism include:
• Arrogance
• Disagreeability or a tendency to be argumentative
• Tendencies to compete with other people
• Tendencies to take advantage of others

People afflicted with this type of Narcissism tend to be mistrustful of other people and they are also less forgiving than people with other types of Narcissism.

Communal Narcissism

This group is also similar to those with Overt Narcissism as they tend to see themselves as being altruistic and fair, but in reality, there is a huge gap in what they believe and how they actually behave towards other people. People with Communal Narcissism might:
• Become easily morally outraged
• Describe themselves as being empathetic and generous
• React strongly to something they deem to be unfair

Although people with Communal Narcissism portray themselves as being caring, concerned and thinking about other people, their true feelings revolve around their own feelings of self-importance and having some sort of social power and/or social status. In this example, it really is a case of ‘actions speak louder than words’. A person like this will say all the right things, but what they do and how they treat other people never really matches up to what they say.

Malignant Narcissism

Narcissism has a ‘gauge of severity’, and at the top of the tree is Malignant Narcissism. This can be very problematic to a person afflicted with the most severe form. Someone with this form of Narcissism will also have a strong need for praise and to feel elevated above others; pretty similar to Overt Narcissism in fact. In addition to these traits, Malignant Narcissism can also show up as:
• Aggression when interacting with other people
• Paranoia and feeling threatened continually
• Sadistic behaviours and inflicting pain on others
• Vindictive and vengeful behaviour patterns

These traits can also interlink with antisocial personality disorder patterns. This group is more likely to experience substance abuse and to also experience legal trouble. They also have much higher levels of anxiety and sometimes struggle to function on a day-to-day basis.

The real problem here is that nearly all people afflicted with these traits and variations hardly ever seek the help they need because they feel there is nothing wrong with them. The problems are always with someone else! It could also be argued that although they have the potential to change, they hardly ever do if their ‘paybacks’ for their behaviours are too great.

So where exactly did the term ‘Narcissist’ come from?

In Greek Mythology, Narcissus, the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope was famed for his beauty. When he rejected the love of the nymph, Echo, the gods unleashed their vengeance on him. Aphrodite punished him for his vanity and treatment of Echo with a curse. This meant that he would fall in love with his own reflection when he gazed into the waters of a nearby spring. So that’s why in Freudian psychiatry and psychoanalysis, Narcissism denotes an excessive degree of self-involvement, self-love and self-esteem, a condition that has its roots based in emotional immaturity.

Being involved with a person who displays all these features in their personality can be extremely difficult. From the outset they can appear smart, charming and generous, but once you get drawn in, it can be a roller-coaster of a relationship with many highs and many more lows. A person who is involved with a Narcissist often craves the good times, which although may be fleeting, can become addictive and difficult to break away from.

In fact, you learn a lot more about a Narcissist’s true nature when you manage to finally break away from them. This can also take some time because a concoction of money and sex usually keeps people hanging on until the bitter end.

Never suffer in silence and always make sure you have a strong network of family and friends around you. Of course, sometimes it can be difficult to share your thoughts with the people closest to you, so make sure you get in touch with a Counsellor or Therapist who can help you. Narcissists revel in isolating you and making you question your sanity, so reach out and get the help you need.

Be brave … help is always at hand!

If you have been the victim of a Narcissist and would like some professional guidance, then please feel free to reach out for some advice and help.

In my new book, Confessions of a Narcissist  I take a greater in-depth look at Narcissism and make more of an analysis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). I especially focus on what it’s like to be in a relationship with one and what it means to be ‘Gaslighted’ continually.

My book includes sessions with a ‘Grade A’ Narcissist, and how he uses money to control and manipulate people around him, especially women. All Narcissists are fascinated by either sex or money, but it’s usually a combination of both. I cover these aspects and much, much more. So if you would like to learn more about the mindsets of people with NPD, then order your copy today via Amazon or download on Kindle.

D. U. Sivri is a UK Qualified and Professionally Insured Psychotherapist, as well as a Certified Counsellor, NLP Master and Life Coach. His unique and eclectic style of Therapy has helped hundreds of people over the years find both Answers and Resolutions in their lives.
A renowned expert in the Psychology field, he has also written eighteen books, twelve of which are in the Personal Development and Self-help genres.

Confessions of a Narcissist
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