Narcissists are characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance of which they portray to the world by their construct (known as the false self), an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. Narcissists will spend a lot of time thinking about how to be in control and install fear in their victims. In the beginning of their relationship, a Narcissist mirrors his victim’s interests and values to ensnare them. Once the golden period has ended, Narcissists will feed off of their victims for emotional fuel commonly referred to as narcissistic supply that the Narcissist extracts by manipulating his victim to feel a roller coaster of both positive and negative emotions.
The Narcissist’s construct oozes with grandiosity and a sense of entitlement that is the diagnostic hallmark of pathological narcissism. Research indicates that pathological narcissism occurs in two forms, (a) a grandiose state of mind in young adults that can be corrected by life experiences, and (b) the stable disorder described in DSM-IV, which is defined less by grandiosity than by severely disturbed interpersonal relations.
The leading hypothesis states that narcissism is caused by very early affective deprivation; however, the clinical material tends to describe narcissists as unwilling rather than unable to change, which renders the narcissistic behaviors as volitional. Even while narcississm is termed a personality disorder, it tends to be discussed as a character disorder. In treatment, the therapist must access whether it is an irremediable condition (such as a infantile brain damage) or whether it’s a behavioral pattern that is possible to be un-learned.
Narcissism is believed to effect 1% of the general population. As a hallmark, a Narcissist views his or her self as “god” with other people being objects that are used to them at their disposal like an appliance. Narcissists rarely enter treatment and if they ever do (usually by duress when it pertains to the control of money) progress is very slowly or ineffective. On average, it takes at least two or more years of frequent sessions before the Narcissist can acknowledge even that the therapist is sometimes helpful as they believe his or her knowledge to be superior. Often it is near impossible for a Narcissist to remain in therapy to where improvement can be made.
Narcissists are very reluctant to open up and trust and they do not prefer drugs such as Prozac as they aggrevate the Narcissist’s sense of grandiosity and lack of social inhibition. Despite contrary belief, Narcissist’s are very emotionally sensitive to criticism to a degree that is highly abnormal. Narcissists lie and manipulate without remorse. They commonly will misinterpret other people’s speech and actions, so that they may believe that they are liked and respected despite a history of callous and exploitative personal interactions.
The criteria of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is defined in the DSM-IV 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 (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or highstatus people (or institutions).
4. Requires excessive admiration.
5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.”