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Blog Posted in avatar   Forstine J Carter's Blog

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

By Forstine J Carter
Posted Jan 3, 2012 in Health
For most of us, narcissism is something we associate with someone who is a bit too big for their boots, who thinks highly of themselves and who has a more than healthy dose of self confidence. But for anyone living with a narcissist, the term means something much more serious, and often destructive. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a psychological condition, unfortunately frequently undiagnosed, but with frequently damaging and hurtful results.
To better understand the term we can look to the etymology- Narcissus is a character from Ovid who falls in love with his own reflection. Eventually, unable to reach his reflection he falls into a pool and dies, destroyed by his love of himself. If you're in love with a narcissist, who is in turn in love with themselves, you will realise that the reality of the condition isn't far from the legend.
How to Recognise a Narcissist.
There are healthy forms of narcissism, indeed many of our best leaders and public figures are borderline narcissists, believing in themselves and their abilities. If the person you love has always been confident, a high achiever who enjoys power but doesn't exploit it or others, then they are displaying the signs of healthy narcissism. They are likely to be successful in life, to be able to maintain healthy relationships with others and to generally have a positive effect on those around them. Those suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder don't fall into this category, and can be recognised by the following signs.
1) Self promotion and exaggeration of own qualities and achievements- to the point that the truth becomes distorted or an outright lie.
2) An unrealistic sense of authority over others, and an enjoyment and abuse of that authority and power.
3) An obsession with getting attention, gratification and reward from others, even if it is at the expense of someone else.
4) Fantasies of fame and notoriety.
5) Limited or no sense of guilt or responsibility in terms of actions towards others. Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder is concerned with achieving for themselves only, if someone else is hurt along the way then so be it.
6) A lack of empathy with others.
In a relationship, the person closest to the Narcissist is unfortunately the one who bears the brunt of the behaviours associated with this very real personality disorder. They may:
1) Exhibit excessive signs of possession- you exist to belong to them. This may mean that they try to limit your behaviour, to put controls on who you spend your time with and what you do. What starts seeming like someone who just really loves you can soon turn into a damaging relationship.
2) Be aggressive mentally and or physically.
What to do.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a recognised condition and your loved one can be helped. Try to persuade them to speak to an expert who can start counselling to help manage and control the symptoms of their disorder. From your own point of view it is important not to let the abuse affect your view of yourself- surround yourself with friends and family who make you feel good about yourself and recognise you for the special person you are. Don't forget that your loved one's behaviour is the result of a condition, and it is not your fault or your responsibility. You can help and offer support but the only person who can manage this condition is the sufferer themselves. With professional help they can come to a realisation of this, and that is often the first step to recovery.

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