Contributed by Sam Vaknin, Ph.D, author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited".
5 Don'ts on how to avoid the wrath of the narcissist
8 Do's on how to make your narcissist dependent on You - If you INSIST on staying with him
Divorcing a narcissist or psychopath
Share your tips
Bookmark this page
Click for more tips
Free tips newsletter
Tell a friend about this site
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:
- Feels grandiose and self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements & talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
- Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion.
- Firmly convinced that he or she is unique &, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions).
- Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention & affirmation - or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply).
- Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special & favourable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations.
- Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends.
- Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others.
- Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her.
- Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.
[The language in the criteria above is based on or summarized from:
- American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
- Sam Vaknin. (1999). Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited, first edition. Prague and Skopje: Narcissus Publication.]
- Most narcissists (75%) are men.
- NPD is one of a "family" of personality disorders (formerly known as "Cluster B"). Other members: Borderline PD, Antisocial PD and Histrionic PD.
- NPD is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders ("co-morbidity") - or with substance abuse, or impulsive and reckless behaviours ("dual diagnosis").
- NPD is new (1980) mental health category in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM).
- There is only scant research regarding narcissism. But what there is has not demonstrated any ethnic, social, cultural, economic, genetic, or professional predilection (partiality) to NPD.
- It is estimated that 0.7-1% of the general population suffer from NPD.
- Pathological narcissism was first described in detail by Freud. Other major contributors are: Klein, Horney, Kohut, Kernberg, Millon, Roningstam, Gunderson, Hare.
- The onset of narcissism is in infancy, childhood and early adolescence. It is commonly attributed to childhood abuse and trauma inflicted by parents, authority figures, or even peers.
- There is a whole range of narcissistic reactions - from the mild, reactive and transient to the permanent personality disorder.
- Narcissists are either "Cerebral" (derive their narcissistic supply from their intelligence or academic achievements) - or "Somatic" (derive their narcissistic supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess and "conquests").
- Narcissists are either "Classic", or they are "Compensatory", or "Inverted".
- NPD is treated in talk therapy (psychodynamic or cognitive-behavioural). The prognosis for an adult narcissist is poor, though his adaptation to life and to others can improve with treatment. Medication is applied to side-effects and behaviours (such as mood or affect disorders and obsession-compulsion) - usually with some success.
5 Don'ts on How to Avoid the Wrath of the Narcissist
[Co-authored with Alice Ratzlaff - "The Inverted Narcissist"]
- Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him.
- Never offer him any intimacy.
- Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks & so on)
- Never remind him of life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity
- Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self-image, omnipotence, judgement, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence.
Bad sentences start with:
"I think you overlooked ... made a mistake here ... you don't know ... do you now ... you were not here yesterday so ... you cannot ... you should ... (perceived as rude imposition, narcissists react very badly to restrictions placed on their freedom) ... I (never mention the fact that you are a separate, independent entity, narcissists regard others as extensions of their selves, their internalization processes were screwed up and they did not differentiate properly) ..." You get the gist of it.
8 Do's on How to Make your Narcissist Dependent on You - If you INSIST on staying with him
- Listen attentively to everything the narcissist says and agree with it all. Don't believe a word of it but let it slide as if everything is just fine, business as usual.
- Personally offer something absolutely unique to the narcissist which they cannot obtain anywhere else. Also be prepared to line up future sources of primary NS (Narcissistic Supply) for your narcissist because you will not be IT for very long, if at all. If you take over the procuring function for the narcissist, they become that much more dependent on you which makes it a bit tougher for them to pull their haughty stuff - an inevitability, in any case.
- Be endlessly patient and go way out of your way to be accommodating, thus keeping the narcissistic supply flowing liberally, and keeping the peace (relatively speaking).
- Be endlessly giving. This one may not be attractive to you, but it is a take it or leave it proposition.
- Be absolutely emotionally and financially independent of the narcissist. Take what you need: the excitement and engulfment and refuse to get upset or hurt when the narcissist does or says something dumb, rude, or insensitive.
Yelling back works really well but should be reserved for special occasions when you fear your narcissist may be on the verge of leaving you; the silent treatment is better as an ordinary response, but it must be carried out without any emotional content, more with the air of boredom and "I'll talk to you later, when I am good and ready, and when you are behaving in a more reasonable fashion".
- If you are a "fixer", then focus on fixing situations, preferably before they become "situations". Don't for one moment delude yourself that you can FIX the narcissist - it simply will not happen. Not because they are being stubborn - they just simply can't be fixed.
- If there is any fixing that can be done, it is to help your narcissist become aware of their condition, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, with no negative implications or accusations in the process at all.
It is like living with a physically handicapped person and being able to discuss, calmly, unemotionally, what the limitations and benefits of the handicap are and how the two of you can work with these factors, rather than trying to change them.
- FINALLY, and most important of all: KNOW YOURSELF. What are you getting from the relationship? Are you actually a masochist? A codependent perhaps? Why is this relationship attractive and interesting?
Define for yourself what good and beneficial things you believe you are receiving in this relationship. Define the things that you find harmful TO YOU. Develop strategies to minimize the harm to yourself.
Don't expect that you will cognitively be able to reason with the narcissist to change who they are. You may have some limited success in getting your narcissist o tone down on the really harmful behaviours THAT AFFECT YOU which emanate from the unchangeable WHAT the narcissist is. This can only be accomplished in a very trusting, frank and open relationship.
Continue with :
Books & articles
Coping with a paranoid ex-spouse
Coping with stalking and stalkers
According to Webster's New World Dictionary, narcissism means "self-love; specifically, excessive interest in one's own appearance". It has also been referred to as emotional immaturity.
In Greek mythology, Narcissus was the son of the river god Cephissus & the nymph Leiriope.
He was a beautiful young man who refused the love of any woman, including the nymph Echo.
One day, while drinking from the water of a fountain, he saw his own reflection on the water & began to be obsessed with it.
The obsession became very serious that he later became so distraught because he could not touch or embrace his own reflected image that he died.
His body was not found, instead in his place laid a flower that was purple in the inside with surrounding white leaves. The flower was later named after him.
According to another source, Narcissus consoled himself & sat gazing into the water to remind himself of the features of his look-alike twin sister who had died. Yet another claimed that he leaned over too much & fell into the lake where he saw his reflection & drowned.
Today, there are at least 40 species of the narcissus flower.