I have seen a disturbing trend among clients reporting behaviors of partners that seem to be consistent with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. While I cannot make a diagnosis, the reporting is frequent enough to warrant discussion on this mental health issue. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a Borderline Personality Disorder that, according to the National Institute of Health, occurs in 7.7% of men and 4.8% of women. (To learn more about statistics and correlates, click HERE.) Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental illness and while treatable, because of the characteristic nature of the disorder, few acknowledge that they are in need of help, let alone, seek it out. Effective treatment and support, however, is available for partners or past partners of those suffering with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as they are often the party who suffers the most in these types of relationships. The following is a poem which describes the experience of being in relationship with a narcissist, along with additional information and resources on identifying narcissism and getting support. (please note that the poem is told from the perspective of a woman with a male narcissist as a partner, please translate to fit your own personal experiences.)
In the Company of a Narcissist
Eyes meeting across a crowded room,
A spark, and then a stir.
Moving mountains to find her, she was sold.
Charismatic, charming, tall, dark and handsome.
How could she be so lucky?
A wallflower, ripe for the picking
And the picking begins….subtle at first
Then increasingly urgent and insistent.
Nothing she does or says or wears is right.
Everything, it seems, is wrong with her.
She “should have known” by the car he drove –
Or the bragging of all who stopped to stare, the list of conquests
and all the women who worshipped him.
Behind the bravado, a deep, impenetrable insecurity and a bottomless pit of need.
Never enough. Never good enough. Always her fault.
All about him, his needs, his wants and desires.
Sulking in the corner when attention directed away from him.
All-out tantrums when things don’t go his way.
Punished if she dares to speak her truth, hold him accountable, point out his lies.
“You’re crazy!” or worse, feigned concern with puppy dog eyes,
“I’m not sure how you will make it without me.”
First charmed, then groomed, then poisoned,
The wallflower plucked by the narcissist and left on the shelf to die.
Narcissism, a borderline personality disorder from which very few recover.
Many absent a conscience,
A master-thespian, playing the role of who he wants you and others to see,
defending the illusion, all for his selfish gain.
But there is hope for the wallflower – when the demon is named for who he is.
And she is not alone. There are others who have walked in her shoes,
who have successfully freed themselves from the tyrant’s grip.
Returning to themselves
Their own truth
Their inherent value
And the truth of their worth.
Stronger and wiser from the pain
And anxious to help another sister’s return.
Narcissistic personality disorder (extracted from mayoclinic.com) is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, which is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders.
Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include:
- Believing that you’re better than others
- Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
- Exaggerating your achievements or talents
- Expecting constant praise and admiration
- Believing that you’re 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
- Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
- Being jealous of others
- Believing that others are jealous of you
- Trouble keeping healthy relationships
- Setting unrealistic goals
- Being easily hurt and rejected
- Having a fragile self-esteem
- Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional
To learn more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, click HERE. If you are in a relationship with someone you suspect may suffer from this disorder, or if you believe you may be suffering from this disorder, please seek help and support. Effective treatment is available for those in relationship with a narcissist, and supportive measures are being discovered to help ease the underlying issues leading to narcissistic behaviors.