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What It’s Like to Be a Diagnosed Narcissist (thecut.com)
91 points by pseudolus 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 94 comments

There's a good chance my brother suffers from borderline personality disorder. My therapist has explained the biggest issue about PDs: the disorders make a person extremely unlikely to seek out help, as (to put it poorly) they believe the problem exists with the people around them and not themselves. This means that very little is understood, medically, about the disorders and how to treat them effectively.

The author of this piece is an extreme anomaly, not for having a PD (it is surprisingly common), but for having received effective treatment.

If you suspect that someone in your life suffers from a PD, I strongly recommend "Out of the FOG[1]." It focuses on what you can do to protect yourself and potentially have the semblance of a healthy relationship.

[1]: https://outofthefog.website/toolbox-intro/

There is also a healthy debate over the degree to which personality disorders represent a true disorder, or just an extreme personality on the edges of normal distribution. If you consider it in those terms, then “treatment” amounts to having someone voluntarily attempt to change their personality at a fundamental level. Even if they wanted to, how likely is that to succeed?

All too often treatment for personality disorders, especially in Cluster B just train people how to better fake “normalcy” and to speak the language of therapy.

> There is also a healthy debate over the degree to which personality disorders represent a true disorder, or just an extreme personality on the edges of normal distribution.

I'm not sure that's a meaningful distinction. That is to say, a "disorder" should be something that interferes with your ability to function and flourish in a normal environment. I'm not sure it's meaningful to draw a distinction between people who absolutely cannot function and people who merely effectively cannot function. Just because your ankle is sprained and not broken doesn't mean you don't need medical care or that you should be walking.

Well, if functioning and fluorishing is defined by conformity, this doesn’t seem very meaningful. Some personality disorders allow a high functioning career and social life.

To be clear I am trying to illustrate the idea that a disorder seems inherently devilish to define.

Years ago I dated a woman with a “high functioning” career and from outside apparently normal social life who in retrospect was clearly BPD.

She was very good at hiding her feelings during most casual interactions, and was clever and generous and fun to talk to when calm, but had almost a second personality which would come out when she became even slightly stressed which was bitter and entirely self-centered and extremely manipulative. She was at that stage of her life completely incapable of maintaining a close personal relationship, and she was frequently (on a daily basis) under extreme stress about perceived grievous slights from everyone around her that were to an outside observer inconsequential mistakes or misunderstandings, and she was harboring numerous long-term grudges.

It seemed like she knew she had a problem, and during times where she wasn’t stressed out would regret her outbursts and seemed to wish she generally had better emotional control. She seemed generally pretty miserable about it, but maybe I was projecting based on the way her problems made me feel.

I dated a high-functioning borderline as well. It was a horrible experience, but in retrospect I'm (kind of) grateful to have learned about personality disorders as a result. I guess I learned a lot about myself too.

I feel absolutely awful for people who date high-functioning borderlines and never learn about it. At least with the ones who are low-functioning, you absolutely know something is deeply wrong with them at all points in the relationship. With a high-functioning one, you second-guess yourself constantly.

I really do think there needs to be more general awareness about Cluster B personality disorders. The occurrence rate among the population is low, but the nature of the disorder means a high-functioning borderline establishes relationships with (and potentially harms) a large number of people. It's hard for victims to seek help when they don't even know the name or nature of what they're dealing with.

> I feel absolutely awful for people who date high-functioning borderlines and never learn about it. ... I really do think there needs to be more general awareness about Cluster B personality disorders.

But people are increasingly aware of it. The "creepy abuser" (male) and the "crazy chick" (female) are stereotypes for a reason, and both of these seem to closely match Cluster B. More specifically, people are also becoming aware of Cluster B's associated dysfunctional thought patterns, and how to mitigate those, or at least how to effectively counter e.g. the gaslighting, unprovoked outbursts/tantrums, fanciful accusations, etc. that result from such thought patterns.

Right, everyone knows the stereotypes, but not everyone knows that there's an identifiable condition behind it, with signs and patterns that are identifiable and uniform, as well as support for victims.

>More specifically, people are also becoming aware of Cluster B's associated dysfunctional thought patterns, and how to mitigate those, or at least how to effectively counter e.g. the gaslighting, unprovoked outbursts/tantrums, fanciful accusations, etc. that result from such thought patterns.

I also like to think that this is true, but I still don't think awareness is spreading as fast as it should be. We'll get there, though, right?

People generally don't write glowing reviews of their exes, so forgive my skepticism of your and parent's anecdotes.

The event that ended the relationship was: I was talking to her nice (edit: male) roommate about politics or something at about midnight while she went to bed apparently in a good mood. Turns out that was unacceptable, and she came back out of her room 20 minutes later, started berating me for it while I was confused, escalated to shouting at me for an hour while I remained calm, and finally threatened to call the cops on me. I walked a couple miles home at 2 AM through a snowstorm, while she sent me 10 desperate text messages. I never talked to her again, though I spent months agonizing about it (to the point of panic attacks), because I felt guilty that she desperately needed help and I thought I might be able to help her through continuing to patiently and reliably engage with her (it didn’t seem like anyone else was around to help her), and I liked and respected her as a person, but decided I couldn’t take it for my own mental health.

We only dated for a relatively short time, but it took me a move across the country and a year to sort out my feelings and start dating again.


Had a pretty similar relationship. I was the one that wanted to get back together though. But this one time he didn't apologize and did the most incredible 180 on me. Never felt so hated, almost killed myself [0]. I tried to engage once in a while, sometimes he would too. But would never act/talk "normal" again. He found a new bf and talked about how much he loved him just to make me sad [1]. And one day just minutes after insulting me all of a sudden he starts talking like the old him again. Wanted to meet up. Was so happy. He wanted to just hook up tho, not into that, but still I wouldn't outright say know, was very happy to meet him anyways. I tried saying something like "lets go eat something and we'll see what happens", but he snapped and started berating me again. And that was the final end of us, never messaged him again and neither did he.

[0] which what made me start reading about BPD [1] he'd either talk about this or berate me, wouldn't mention anything else, work or anything. We were always super chatty about literally everything so yea

FYI you're responding to a borderline on a throwaway. Don't waste your time.

Don't you think calling out somebody as having BPD based on a couple comments discredits your BPD anecdote somewhat?

For those taking notes, your girlfriend may respond negatively to going to bed alone while you have one-on-one time with her friend or roommate (or any other woman) late at night, especially if the other is being "nice."

Yes, it’s reasonable and entirely within the realm of normal human feelings to not want to go to bed alone while your boyfriend continues a conversation with your male roommate. It is reasonable and normal to feel upset that this desire wasn’t implicitly obvious to your boyfriend.

But the typical response to a minor misunderstanding like that is to make the communication more explicit with a simple request that the boyfriend come to bed and share that you felt upset about it, trusting that your caring boyfriend will feel sorry, make a note and try to do better next time. Not to lead with accusations of ill intent and quickly escalate to a full range of emotional manipulation and threats of physical violence.

Maybe you just need to know better people.

> Some personality disorders allow a high functioning career and social life.

No, they don't, because built into the definition of disorder is the impact it has one someone's life.

Which is a bit of an issue isn’t it. Is Shkreli in Cluster B? Probably, and now he has the impact on his life to prove it. So before that, when he was just incredibly successful, had no criminal record, and seemed able to function at a high level did he have the same disorder? If outcomes represent a diagnostic criteria then it reveals a weakness in understanding or even defining the disorder in question.

It’s important to distinguish between diagnostic criteria, and the disorder itself, if they are actually disorders.

Ok... so most mental “disorders” with high functioning people aren’t actually disorders? The definition seems useless without meaning simply “nonconforming”.

Homosexuality was considered a disorder until fairly recently

Yes, so was gender identity disorder (i.e., transgender) which was often classified with pedophillia or body integrity disorder.

There is no frame of reference for psychology to use except society and general assessments of normality and expected behavior. That mean the only method to determine whether or not something is a disorder at all is a) determine the impact of the condition on the individual's ability to function, and b) determine whether or not the condition results in harm to the individual or others. These are both very subjective measures. The fact that we think we're more right today than we were yesterday is really pretty immaterial.

>> especially in Cluster B just train people how to better fake “normalcy” and to speak the language of therapy.

Really effective, non-superficial therapy is very hard. You may have to dig deep. Really deep. And when you do reach the roots there's still the issue of how to deal with what you find. It's not like surgery where you take out an infected appendix and say "you're cured".

>> If you consider it in those terms, then “treatment” amounts to having someone voluntarily attempt to change their personality at a fundamental level. Even if they wanted to, how likely is that to succeed?

That's exactly why it's hard. The fundamental drivers are often hidden and can be scattered (my term). You don't really change until you change the core. Most therapy seems to try to work from the outside in - probably because it's easier to do but less effective.

There's a more nuanced debate about the degree to which many personality disorders (particularly Cluster B disorders) don't qualify as a mental illness for another reason. You are considered mentally ill if you have cognitive and behavioral patterns that harm yourself. If your cognitive and behavioral patterns harm other people but leave you relatively unscathed, that's arguably not mental illness.

Where are you getting that definition from please, because it's not one I recognise.

While I can't find a source, it's a relatively common standard that I've seen used in multiple places, including in the psychology classes that I took (or sometimes dropped in on) in college.

The distinction is most useful because many mental illnesses aren't necessarily qualitatively different than "normal" or "healthy" human behavior and cognition; they're just more extreme versions. For example, normal people regularly engage in compulsive rituals, and engaging in these rituals is sometimes beneficial to them--consider a baseball player's ritual at stepping up to the plate, or a basketball player's ritual when stepping up to the free throw line. But if you start engaging in rituals that are a little too compulsive and too disruptive to "living a normal life", that's when it crosses the line into obsessive-compulsive disorder.

However, even if you can life a "normal" and successful life, that doesn't mean you aren't harming the people around you, unless you harm them enough that the long-term social consequences end up hurting you. Most cluster B personality disorders end up with the disordered person alienating people and suffering the consequences of their antisocial behavior. But if you're a high-functioning narcissist or whatever and you get away with everything...?

Here's a rather snarky example of this standard being applied to a certain alleged narcissist (whose name I'll redact in my quote, below, since this person's identity is a bit of a distraction from the more general point): https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/opinion/an-eminent-psychi...

> Most amateur diagnosticians have mislabeled <<a prominent individual>> with the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. I wrote the criteria that define this disorder, and <<this person>> doesn’t meet them. He may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder. <<this person>> causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy.

Have we just defined conscience as a mental disorder?

that wouldn't be profitable to the current industries so I guess not. There was talk of "An Ancient Virus May Be Responsible for Human Consciousness" not long ago so that at least is some acknowledgement in that direction: https://www.livescience.com/61627-ancient-virus-brain.html

Excessive conscience probably constitutes an anxiety disorder.

in general i'm skeptical that the medicalization of these kinds of idiosyncrasies is helpful. implicit to that process is normalization (defining the normal and the abnormal), and that by itself causes psychological and social pain for the so-called abnormal. we each have our crosses to bear (in all kinds of abilities, including mental and physical) and medicalization can give a false sense of understanding, treatability, and absolution of personal responsibility.

tangentially, on a population level evolution happens on the margins and medicalization can only dampen that process (not that this is important on a personal level).

There is not. Anyone takes care of a person with a PD would tell you that.

And the high functioning people with PDs would explain to you the all the very specific deficits they have to overcome in order to function.

And the clinical researchers would explain to you as much as we know regarding regarding the developmental and environmental causes of specific PDs.

There is not. Anyone takes care of a person with a PD would tell you that. And the high functioning people with PDs would explain to you the all the very specific deficits they have to overcome in order to function.

Interviewing people in Cluster B is often an exercise in being lied to. It also requires them to have insight which is generally lacking as a clinical feature. Their caretakers are in a tough position, since they’re often the target of many manipulations gauges to engender sympathy and continued care. All in all it reveals a weakness in diagnosis and formulation of disorders by anecdote.

And the clinical researchers would explain to you as much as we know regarding regarding the developmental and environmental causes of specific PDs.

When they can accurately predict such outcomes from first principles even as well as they do for something like major depressive episode, schizophrenia, etc, I’ll take those claims seriously.

I'm in recovery for BPD. I did a shit load of emotional damage to my family because of it.

My BPD stems from childhood abandonment (absent father) and persistent emotional abuse from my likely NPD mother. I learned to doubt things I feel/thought and often reality sometimes. Real love and emotion connection were terrifying to me on a subconscious level. I never could trust anyone, not even myself (the only one to trust was my abuser). I developed so many coping mechanisms to protect myself from my mother that involve projection, distortion of reality and emotional manipulation. My brain learned all these horrible ways of protect myself from my abuser and I applied those behaviors to everyone around me.

It has taken years of unpacking my childhood trauma to get to like 90% remission of symptoms. Before that it was years of denial about my behaviors before I even started to entertain the fact I had BPD.

I'm sorry to hear BPD is effecting both you and your brother. There is hope but he has to be on board and it's a long road.

> he has to be on board

I'll always love my brother but, for this reason, I'd need to see proof that he's doing what you are. My brother has taught me that forgiveness does not imply a return to the previous status quo: we have our own, our spouses' and our childrens' mental health to protect.

I wish the best for you and patching up things with your family; I'm sure that they all still love you and want nothing more than a healthy relationship with you.

It's a hard decision to cut family off but sometimes it's necessary. I gave my mother an ultimatum a few years back, either hear what I'm saying and deal with your shit or I can't talk to you anymore. She chose the later. Going through the same process now with my dad. Yet to see where that's going. But you must defend yourself first. If others are causing tons of harm and totally unwilling to hear you and work on things, there's no shame in disconnecting. You don't owe anyone anything because they are blood.

>> The author of this piece is an extreme anomaly, not for having a PD (it is surprisingly common), but for having received effective treatment.

Last I checked, the only accepted treatment for any PD is DBT, and then only for borderline PD. I think real change is quite possible but it's LOT of internal mental work. Work you can only begin once you can see the problems. Half the stuff therapists do is really superficial and possibly harmful. The other half can be useful to varying degrees. And I'm gonna guess the line that divides these two varies a bit depending on both the person and the therapist.

...oh brother. That types overviews describes, like, half my disorder arsenal.

Probably not a good idea, to self-diagnose online.

> My therapist has explained the biggest issue about PDs: the disorders make a person extremely unlikely to seek out help

Sounds like a completely shit therapist, because the vast majority of people with BPD know full well they have a problem and are desperately seeking help for it.

What do you base this statement on? Are you confusing BPD (borderline personality disorder) with bipolar disorder? BPD and NPD, based on several psychology books I've read, including the very good book Schema Therapy, are very unlikely to seek treatment.

Most cluster B personality disorders inflict the bulk of the suffering and anxiety, not on the person with the disorder, but on those around them. Most of the suffering experienced by someone with this disorder comes as an indirect consequence as they alienate themselves from others. Making matters worse, cluster B disorders tend to cognitively predispose people to avoid any kind of self-blame or self-criticism.

These are sweeping claims to dismiss the suffering of a group of people who kill themselves at a rate ~50x higher than normal. I have no idea what the rate is for those around them, but it's hard to imagine it's any higher. It's true that they rarely seek treatment for a personality disorder but anecdotally, the person I knew was always in treatment for something. BPD is highly comorbid with other disorders:

> 96% of patients with BPD have a mood disorder during their life, and lifetime depression is reported at 71% to 83%. Anxiety disorders are also extremely common: 88% of patients have an anxiety disorder, 34% to 48% have panic disorder, and 47% to 56% have PTSD. Alcohol and substance abuse or dependence are reported by 50% to 65%; eating disorders affect 7% to 26% over a lifetime


I was talking about cluster B disorders in general, and not BPD in particular. A lot of the literature I've read seems to indicate that BPD in particular can be an unhealthy coping mechanism for extended childhood trauma, which also explains a lot of the comorbidity. But a high-functioning narcissist or antisocial or even borderline who doesn't have any other untreated disorders might be completely toxic to everyone else in their lives without ever suffering any consequences themselves, as long as they can cycle through victims and enablers fast enough.

I know a couple of men like this, and it's not confidence, arrogance, or judgmentalism that defines them, it's a lack of respect for normal adult boundaries, and a need for external validation that motivates their basic decision making. It's solvable for them if they learn enough, but I see them as psychologically un-weaned.

Men interact based on boundaries and often hierarchies, and a guy who is obliviously transgressive to that is usually thought of as "on the spectrum," or more rarely, a narcissist. Sometimes they are in actual positions of competence or authority, where their lack of respect for personal boundaries is consistent with an externally granted authority role, and this misdirects from the more pathological aspect of their behavior. Being transgressive is sometimes a sign of exceptional intelligence as well, so people tolerate it under the aegis of "brilliant jerk."

Personally, I have some sympathy for them because it's such a steep hill to climb if they are going to ever improve, but have learned to just be unambiguous about setting boundaries and making it clear I think they have a blind spot on boundaries they need to manage.

Provided you aren't being paid to take their abuse, you can reasonably say to them, "Consider whether you may have a blind spot on personal boundaries." If you are being paid, I recommend getting paid somewhere else.

I had to disentangle myself from a friend who was a narcissist.

Looking back it feels like I was his 'sidekick'. I was one of his sources of narcissistic supply.

He thought he was improving me, helping me with my 'problems', like I was his project. This went on for years before his personality became sufficiently extreme that I couldn't ignore it any more.

It was a very difficult time, and it was surprisingly hard to disentangle myself, even though being around him made me feel bad.

Hey - I was recently in a similar situation. Friend of 8 years, roommate, etc.

His arrogance, narcissism, having to be right about every single little thing (impossible to be wrong), built so much toxicity I could not take it anymore. I had to cut him out of my life, it was so toxic to me as a person.

I'm about three months out from it. I feel better. I feel less anxiety, he isn't stressing me, etc.

Now I can better focus on my own problems and continue building myself to my best self.

Hope your journey is going well!

It's been a long time so I'm ok, thanks for asking.

People who haven't been in that kind of relationship can't really know what it's like.

You really do have to sever all ties with a person like that. You can't be in 50%, they demand all of you and more.

It sounds like you did the right thing.

Yup, came to the conclusion it has to be severed ties. And I really look for the best in people too

What helped me was when my best friend growing up committed suicide a few months ago, when I was home I kept thinking how amazing a person he was, how nice, how pure and caring....

Then I thought about this person I was spending all my time with, the opposite kind of person. It made me sad to lose someone so good, I decided I would cut that other person out because they were so bad. IF that makes sense...

I think children get really harmed by parents who happen to be narcissists. I’ve seen a lot of hurt on Reddit about being raised by narcissists and It’s almost as if children of these parents should have been warned growing up and so they could have avoided the pain of realizing the love is different than normal. I think healcare needs to focus on the family development with a narcastic parental figure and similar to other illnesses.

I'm married to someone who has a narcissistic parent. One of the big problems for children is they end up entrapped. They can try to cut them out of their lives completely, but there's immense social pressure to not do that. The result tends to be that the narcissist plays the victim and manipulates situations to turn entire families against them. This results in immense social pressure to keep them in their life. Often narcissists will pick favorites too, so its hard for one child to believe their parent is a narcissist when they're showered with gifts and superficial things to win affection.

The only helpful advise given to my wife was that she needs to put actual physical distance between herself and her mom. To move far enough away so she could limit in person interactions to a couple times a year.

Isn't blaming their parents' character flaws for the adult children's character flaws just a way to avoid responsibility by those adult children?

If a grown up child thinks parent should've fixed their flaw before it affected the child, then they presume that the flaw could have been fixed or mitigated.

In that case, why the child spends time blaming the parent on reddit now, instead of working on fixing the flaw that was, in many cases unknowingly, created by the parent?

Determining the etiology of a problem sounds exactly like taking responsibility. I think you wrote your post with a mean-spirited attitude.

What are you trying to say? In order to understand which of your own behaviors are abusive and which behaviors are healthy, you must first be able to identify abuse in general. It is not an exercise in assigning blame.

"Isn't blaming their parents' character flaws for the adult children's character flaws just a way to avoid responsibility by those adult children?"

No. That's not how it works. Understanding a cause of a behavior is not the same as denying responsibility for the behavior. This sort of thinking is what leads to the (extremely flawed) conclusion of "I was abused, and I turned out okay, so your behavior because of your abuse was your decision" thinking.

What you're doing here is victim blaming. If someone abuses you, this is not your fault. If, because of this abuse, you have social problems you're still going to have to figure out a way to deal with these problems. Understanding the root cause of the behavior (ie; my mother molested me, thus I have a strange view of sexual norms, thus I engaged in abusive sexual behaviors) can help in the treatment of this behavior. In fact, I would go so far as to say that understanding the root cause is almost always needed in order to treat the behavior.

You make the extremely flawed assumption that by exploring an understanding of causation (abusive parent in this case) that the person in question is not working on fixing the flaws. These ideas aren't mutually exclusive. And for many people, groups, including reddit groups, act as a way to work through their problems with others capable of relating to their situation.

If someone's entire course of action is "my parent was abusive, so I'm going to keep engaging in this behavior because now I have an excuse" the problem present is this person's continued desire to behave poorly. It doesn't absolve the parent from their portion of creating the problem, nor does it absolve the person in question from engaging in the behavior.

Tl;dr- No, none of your points stand on their own.

It's interesting, considering my mother's side of the family tends to seemingly run a bit narcissistic. My grandmother especially, but I also see bits of it in my mother.

The best way to describe it is that her world sort of exists around her. Things only really matter if they personally affect her, and when they do it revolves around her feelings, regardless of the feelings of those around her. She clearly deeply cares about me, but the ways she shows that affection revolves around herself if that makes sense.

It does make discussing emotional matters a bit...difficult, at times. But I've long since accepted that.

I think that the vast majority of people (narcissist or not) will never do something unless they personally benefit from it in some way. Everything that people do is for themselves. Even when people give money to charity; they do it because it makes them feel good.

I think that maybe the difference between a narcissist and an altruist is that a narcissist doesn't derive any positive emotions from helping others.

I disagree, I personally believe it's possible for people to be altruistic entirely for the sake of altruism. Making themselves feel good is secondary to the altruistic action.

And I think that's what differs between a narcissistic action and an altruistic one. Narcissists absolutely can and do derive positive emotions from helping others, but it's either entirely to help their own self-worth and/or achieve a certain goal, like the example in the article of helping an old lady accross the street.

An altruistic action is done for the sake of helping someone first, with the positive reinforcement as a potential bonus. A narcissistic one is done for the sake of positive reinforcement with helping others as a side effect.

You may not realize it consciously, but writing this comment probably made you feel (at least slightly) good about yourself.

Not consciously realizing that helping others feels good doesn't mean that you're more of an altruist.

> I think that the vast majority of people (narcissist or not) will never do something unless they personally benefit from it in some way.

I tend to disagree, and would recommend that you read https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism-biological/

I think that the the evolutionary argument strengthens my point. The positive emotions that someone feels could be a chemical adaptation devised by certain genes precisely to help the survival of similar genes across specimen boundaries. So genes trick the individual into helping another individual who shares certain specific genes (genes related to altruism itself).

Narcissism could be a predatory evolutionary strategy which works by fooling altruistic genes within other specimens into thinking that they're the same. That would explain why narcissists are often described as 'charming' - It's all about giving an facade of altruism without incurring any costs for the specimen.

Even the most altruistic people don't usually want to help convicted criminals.

Oh, but bullshit. Comparing altruism to narcissism is so entirely self-centered, it fails to encompass the sheer idea of the fact that people do things for other people that bear no benefit to themselves.

And don't even start the whole "But you feel good about it" line. Do I feel accomplished from writing a supportive message? Not particularly. I wrote it because I saw it a good thing to do, because I'm that kind of a person. I'd keep doing it even if I'm going to be dismissed or disparaged half the time.

The kind of reductive argumentation you express, at best, prevent proper self-actualization – and at worst, prevents its development in the first place.

The thought that self-development leads to altruism and that questioning the source of said altruism (and it's potentially selfish roots, I make no claim about that here) is reductive (or perhaps even a bit ridiculous, if you'll allow me to read between the lines) doesn't seem to me to be something that is really a given.

The only real arguments you've given to counter this are that it's bullshit and that you're just that kind of person. Not terribly convincing in any real sense, if that is what you were going for.

I wasn't aiming to convince anyone. Sometimes, I find calling something out as bullshit important enough to speak up, even if I have nothing else.

For what it's worth, I'm not buying that altruism is just another conduit for the good feels. It can be frustrating, it can be exhausting, it can seem pointless at times because you seemingly make no difference, and it can make you give up for a while.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not denying that altruism is about the person committed to it, to some degree. What I'm denying is that it's about some kind of personal gain, in the same way narcissistic supply is.

There's this idea of projects of immortality that people commit to in their lives, to escape physical death by becoming culturally immortal through the change they'd effected. Ernest Becker wrote about it in his book, The Denial of Death. The higher purpose, the meaning of life... We're all very much about that – self-actualization – as long as we don't have to just survive.

I find it difficult to accept that this kind of effect is entirely selfish and is based entirely in self-satisfaction.

> The thought that self-development leads to altruism

I've never claimed that. What I did claim is that one may be dissatisfied with the prospect of helping others out of a natural impulse if they're convinced it's selfish – and, therefore, promoting altruism as selfish is a negative consequence, rather than a matter of self-knowledge, as the parent commenter seemed to have posited.

It's "reductive" in a sense that it reduces a complex, interconnected system of personality to a basic matter of whether we feel good about something. It makes things seem far simpler than they are. If it were that simple, psychotherapy wouldn't need to exist.

> I find it difficult to accept that this kind of effect is entirely selfish and is based entirely in self-satisfaction.

I can't see it as anything but fundamentally egocentric, I'm afraid. What is wanting something of yourself to persist after you die except for a fundamentally self-serving goal? It speaks of a desire to have people remember you (hopefully even commend you) for what is basically the eternity after you live.

> It's "reductive" in a sense that it reduces a complex, interconnected system of personality to a basic matter of whether we feel good about something.

I agree that being reductive isn't always the best approach. But it does have it's place - with so many people doing what is essentially virtue signaling it can be valuable to remember what the primary driver for behavior like that is. Perhaps it really isn't like that for you, and that's great.

If the goal is not to convince me that that is the case, then why talk about it at all? Is it just so I can remember that this is also a thing that people say?

Your point on psychotherapy seems to be to be a bit of a tangent. To wit, most of the time the problems and the way you solve them are indeed fairly simple. It's just a matter of picking one of the choices you already know you have and sticking with it. Making choices can be difficult, but not because following through on them is necessarily very complicated. I am purposely excluding big outliers from this, because that's where it might actually be complex (and also because I don't know enough about them to really say anything useful).

Its worth noting that the line between Aspergers (which I probably misspelled) and NPD can be blurred, particularly in women. Similarly, egocentrism, generalized anxiety disorder, NPD share features. This matters because empathy and patience is an effective strategy for engaging with those suffering from most of these disorders... but not NPD unless you're trained to do so.

Can you tell me more about this? I think I'm facing this situation - it increasingly feels some kind of half-ASD, half-NPD that makes my domestic life less than ideal.

I'm no expert but suspect the empathy deficits present differently. Seems more willful on the part of the NPD, perhaps. With ASDs, it's often a case of not being self-aware enough to know how you come across, but once pointed out, it can be helpful to know. The narcissist may not even care? The subject of this article, to his credit, may not be the norm. And there are other differentiating factors. Along with autism comes certain sensory issues.

The best explanation I can provide is one that won't provide you much immediate info or relief. You and your partner would want to see a psychologist or PsyD, preferably with both a clinical and diagnostic background for counseling. At some point if your partner is NPD you're going to be made aware of it. Everything until that point will have been the easy part.

The author's comments about the "positive vs negative aspects of narcissism" are interesting.

I remember reading[0] about how one of the most effective ways to determine if someone is a narcissistic is to ask them... "are you a narcissistic?". That surprised me at first because self-diagnosis is almost always a bad idea, but on second glance it makes sense that people who think about themselves all day could be more introspective than normal (or sometimes not: they could waste their day thinking about how great they are).

But if part of success is understanding your own thought process and working around your strengths/weaknesses, these are useful insights for anyone on the narcissism spectrum (see: everyone)

Ref: [0] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/socially-relevant/20...

> I remember reading[0] about how one of the most effective ways to determine if someone is a narcissistic is to ask them... "are you a narcissistic?"

So what would a narcissistic person answer to this? Yes?

Yes - or they would explain all of the good things about their worldview.

Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/280718.php

"People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact. You can ask them directly because they don't see narcissism as a negative quality - they believe they are superior to other people and are fine with saying that publicly."

I believe the self-test works because the person treats narcissism as a source of their special status, thus conforming to their desired false image.

In other words, it makes them special, so they happily admit to it, because being special is exactly what they want.

Thanks. This was a disturbing read as each paragraph further convinced me I suffer from the same thing. Time to go see a shrink.

EDIT: and clearly only a narcissist would comment on how relevant the article is to them specifically... sigh

Even if you don't have a PD, going to a shrink is always a good thing. It's great that we spend so much time looking after our physical health in the modern world, but we should also be taking more care of our mental health.

Did you get to the part where his girlfriend has multiple personalities? 21 to be exact, one of which is a rabbit.

I started taking him and the article less seriously after that. Really smacks of someone who thinks they have the world figured out at every point in their life and every 6-12 months they realize how wrong they were but now they have it figured out.

I think a lot of what this person describes about their thinking process and life patterns is actually going on in everyone's brain, but with less awareness of it.

The irony is, I guess, that the narcissist part is only the part that actually making him think that these patterns are somehow special or unique to him.

All mental disorders are made of up behaviours, and mental processes that are common to everyone, just taken to an extreme.

It usually starts to be considered a disorder when it starts to interfere with functioning, or maintaining healthy relationships.

I was glad to see that the article explicitly mentions introvert narcissists (or "covert", as they're sometimes referred to).

> But the form in which narcissism can present itself also varies, says Malkin. While most people are familiar with what Malkin calls the “extroverted narcissist” — the braggadocious chest-thumpers — there are also introverted narcissists, whose sense of specialness may derive more from a sense of victimhood than superiority. “These are people who … might feel special because of their emotional pain,” says Malkin. “They agree with statements like ‘I feel I’m temperamentally different from most people,’ or ‘I have problems that nobody else seems to understand.’” (Malkin says this form comes up a lot in teenagers.) Because these narcissists aren’t so showy, or grandiose, they often fly under the radar.

I've spent five years in a very difficult relationship, and only when someone pointed me to the direction of narcissism I was able to understand what is going on. The other person check pretty much all of the boxes describing a covert narcissist, and only after understanding what I'm dealing with I was able to look for the right form of therapy (for myself) and finally leave the relationship nearly a year later.

Is there any truth to the fact that in order to be covered by medical insurance in the USA, mental disorders have to have a DSM entry for medical coding practices, and that this has created a plethora of acronyms, or other labels for phenomenon that haven't really been sussed out as actual disorders? I have heard many people over the years reference the DSM as some way validating a phenomenon or label applied to themselves by their therapist or self-diagnosed.

Just like a narcissist to write a post about himself. <grin>

If you read further in, you find out they are offering counselling without a degree or any particular qualifications. Of course they are, as a world-leading very special expert... ;)

Sometimes people just need a self aware person to talk to with the same issues they have, if the guy can make money at it, more power to him.

"Since I’ve been diagnosed with it, I’ve done everything I can to get familiar with the concept of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder. I became somewhat of a specialist myself..."


Also, advertising.

"The fact that I did a lot of research on narcissism provides me with a side job that I make money from. I can help people that have problems related to NPD, or people being victimized by someone with NPD, and help them deal with it."

Dude has a kid but hasn't had a job in 10 years, other than a side gig as a quack. Oh man.

The article is written by a journalist and contains an interview of a man with narcissism; I don't think this qualifies as someone writing a post about themself even independent of narcissism.

There were about 200 instances of "I" in that post.

Is it surprising that you find what you're looking for when you enter into an article with a preset expectation? You all should try having a more open mind. The prospect that someone with NPD might actually be capable of making a positive difference on people outside themselves is promising.

Most of the article is the author asking the person questions about himself; I'm not sure how anyone could give proper answers to those questions without using first person pronouns.

Brewdad could refer to myself in the third person.

> I spoke to one such person, a 46-year-old man who was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder in his mid-30s and was treated for years afterward. [I’ll note here that while his English is pretty much perfect, it is his second language; he is Dutch, and lives in the Netherlands.] That conversation, which has been edited for length, is below.

It seems pretty clear to me that the author is not the person who's answering the questions.

EDIT: I see what you're saying, but it would be more strange to answer questions like that than in the first person. I don't think I've ever read an interview where the interviewee didn't respond to questions in the first person.

I'd be interested to hear, anyone reading this, if you know someone who tends to behave in a narcissistic way, exactly what are they doing that you see as narcissistic?

My mother, I suspect, is some level of narcissistic. She can be generally okay, and even nice to be around on occasion, but if there's a hint of her being in the wrong, she becomes exponentially more defensive.

"Never happened" is one. She'd claim that the the event of her doing wrong – calling others names, sabotaging others' performance, behaving in an immature, passive-aggressive kind of way – never happened. "Yeah, it did" is met with further denial. Maybe she'll admit she did that, but only because it was justified: maybe she felt so bad she could do nothing else, or maybe someone forced her to behave badly.

In general, her negative traits are flung under the rug, and her positive traits are put under the limelight. She would never admit to not knowing things, unless not knowing things puts the responsibility for the failure away from her. She'd also claim how good at <something> she is ("I'm such a good psychologist! I understand people so well!"), and any attempt at countering her positivity assertions are dismissed passively.

I suspect her faking illness – presenting herself as ailing to gain attention and sympathy, which becomes self-fulfilling bullshit – also has something to do with the perpetual-victim mentality that underlies narcissism.

This is usually referred to as gaslighting, which you may know.

A Narcissist's Prayer

That didn't happen.

And if it did, it wasn't that bad.

And if it was, that's not a big deal.

And if it is, that's not my fault.

And if it was, I didn't mean it.

And if I did...

You deserved it.

After learning about the narcissistic prayer and having siblings and my SO tell me that they thought my mom has it she proceeded to pretty much say this exactly after wiping her wet hands off on my shirt in the kitchen when we were visiting. Just remove the 'you deserved it'.

I asked her to not open our private mail when we were moving and had to redirect it to my parents (no other relatives nearby) and after doing so she threw a fit and threatened to kill herself on a main street in the capital rather than to say that she was sorry to my SO for opening all out mail.

She even sent me photos in a fit of rage proving that she knew the mail was fine to open, because it said it was just a bill for the redirecting in one case, something that was only visible from the inside after opening.

Using you as a 'sidekick' so that they can bask in their reflected greatness.

They prop up their self esteem by surrounding themselves with people who provide them with admiration.

Often narcissistic people are exceptionally talented, successful or intelligent, so they are able to get people to become their followers.

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