elderly man with a frown of discontent and disdain.Personal Development Relationships 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder – a Danger to Relationships

Very few people have ever heard of it, but Narcissistic Personality Disorder is an almost commonplace occurrence in both personal circles of influence and in business relationships. It’s not getting any better either.  Narcissistic Personality Disorder has found its way into even school aged children whose parents have been so ill-prepared in raising emotionally (and spiritually) balanced children, that their children grow up thinking and acting out narcissistic behavior. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) can wreak havoc on relationships if you do not get it under control too.

It is something that is continually addressed in personal development coaching and success coaching practiceA – and many times it is discovered that it is the result of some of the main stream ‘motivational’ and ‘personal success’ coaches that have brought it out in people through ‘self-help’ products that are eagerly bought up by people who want to ‘take control’ of their lives.

Hey, I am all for someone getting a handle on their lives. Don’t get me wrong here. What I AM opposed to is the result of such teachings and motivational lectures that ultimately bring with it a mentality of superiority and self-exaltation to a place where it does more harm than good. I have seen NPD destroy marriages, bankrupt businesses, and adversely affect the lives of children who are exposed to adults (mainly parents) who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

See if you can recognize any of the following symptom in those in and around your life, or in young adults that you might know. As in everything that we learn as a part of personal development, take a little time and do a serious self-examination of your own life. See if any of these symptoms are present in your own life. NPD is characterized by dramatic emotional behavior. If you have ever been around someone who is continually instigating drama and escalating hostilities in a relationship because they are not getting their way or they do not feel understood, there is a very good possibility that they are struggling with this disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include any combination of the following, or even all of these symptoms:

– 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 are 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 and then justifying your actions.
– Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
– Being jealous of others or always being suspicious of the motives of others more successful than you.
– Believing that others are jealous of you and suspicious of your motives.
– Trouble keeping healthy relationships, especially with the opposite sex
– Setting unrealistic goals for yourself or for others
– Being easily hurt and rejected – living from one pity party to another
– Having a fragile self-esteem and feeling that you don’t measure up
– Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional

How did you do? See anything that jumped out at you about someone you know?  How about in your own life? I know what you are thinking if you are seeing things here that seem familiar, are rationalizing some of them. Many of the features of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) could easily be rationalized as seeming to have confidence or a strong self-esteem, but it is not the same.

NPD crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don’t value themselves more than they value others. When you have NPD, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations or speak over others when they attempt to interject or contribute. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior.

You may have a sense of entitlement (an “I deserve this” mentality). And when you don’t receive the special treatment to which you feel entitled, you will quite often become very impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything — the best car, athletic club, medical care or social circles. You may for instance feel that you deserve these things even if it is at the expense of the happiness or well-being of others. This one issue alone is the cause of many a financially bankrupt marriages, and a leading cause for divorce when the one suffering does not get their needs met in these material ways.

Most often, underneath all this behavior there lies a fragile self-esteem. If you are suffering from this, it may have come about as a result of your own wrong decisions and self-centeredness. If you or someone you know suffers from NPD, you most often have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. When others who know and love you try to speak into your life about things that they are perceiving as unhealthy in your life, you get defensive and take offense at it.

You may, but not always be living with a long standing (and well hidden) sense of shame and personal humiliation. The result of this can often be that you feel better by reacting with rage or contempt, and efforts to belittle the other person to make yourself appear better.  This is especially common in marital relationships, and the recipient of such abuse can suffer for years afterwards in recovering from this sort of abuse.

If you Suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from this, the best thing you can do for the health of all involved is to seek out intervention and counseling. I often recommend a book that I read years ago that really had an impact in my life in getting to the root of things in my own life (not that I thought I had NPD). I just really wanted to make sure I was not dealing with some unhealthy reoccurring events in my life any longer if they were truly there, and I was hungry to learn about something that could have a powerful impact on my life – which it did.

This book really made a big difference and changed my life in HUGE ways almost 30 years ago. I still have it in my library to this day and have referred hundreds to it whom were grateful for what they learned in it.

When to See a Doctor

When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may not want to think that anything could be wrong — doing so wouldn’t fit with your self-image of power and perfection. But by definition, narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of your life, such as relationships, work, school or your financial affairs. You may be generally unhappy and confused by a mix of seemingly contradictory emotions. Others may not enjoy being around you, and you may find your relationships unfulfilling.

If you notice any of these problems in your life, consider reaching out to a pastor, Christian counselor, rabbi, trusted health care provider or mental health provider. Getting the right help and/or intervention treatment can radically change your life for the good, and dramatically help make your life (and relationships in and outside of your family) more rewarding and enjoyable.

Acknowledgements: Our thanks to the medical staff at Mayo Clinic for their research and medical intervention assistance in helping those who suffer with this debilitating disorder. Please visit the following link to learn more and to see how you or someone you know can get help:  MAYO CLINIC


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15 Thoughts to “Narcissistic Personality Disorder – a Danger to Relationships”

  1. Jill Simmons

    Very insightful article. Is there any hope for a person suffering from this disorder to get free of it and its affects on the people around them? I have struggled in my marriage with this very thing and it has been brutal.

  2. Frank V.

    I have a boss who has almost every manifestation of narcissism and he is impossible to work for. I have three years until I retire and he is (at least it seems as if he is) doing everything he can to make me quit, if not fired. Help?

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