Thursday, March 8, 2012

We are all narcissistic. We are not all disordered.

I recently read that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is slated to be removed from the newest edition of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders", or DSM, coming out next year.  I guess the more we just accept that we're all just a bunch of jerks, the less need there is to try and change that?  If that is truly the case, that doesn't bode very well for who we are as a society.  That idea is rather frightening, so instead I would like to speculate that mental health professionals have finally realized that ignoring narcissistic people all together would be the most effective "treatment"?

Such a concept certainly has me intrigued. Especially since I am now both realizing and accepting that in order to start over wonderful, I really need to master disengaging from the STBX whenever possible.  If I want to not only survive, but thrive, this is fundamental for both my own sake, and our son's.

The STBX has never been officially diagnosed, as far as I know, as actually being narcissistic, sociopathic, etc. And I am not claiming to be a mental health professional. However, after years of putting up with his bullshit (read, lies and manipulation), combined with what I've learned with the guidance of our marriage counselor, I would confidently bet everything I have left that he is, at a bare minimum, personality disordered. Troubled. Messed up. Not right in the head. The exact problem that lies therein remains unclear; again, because I'm not a mental health professional.

Whatever he is, it isn't healthy.

To be frank, everyone is narcissistic at various times of their life.  I'll even admit that I, myself, can be a little too self-involved more often than I should be.  Hell, blogging? ... well that's narcissistic in of itself. The overly broad characterization of narcissism being synonymous with plain old self-centeredness, however, is where unfortunate misunderstanding comes into play.  Everyone may be narcissistic, but that does not mean we are all narcissistic personality disordered.

I can't help but be reminded of all the times I've had someone invalidate my lifelong struggles with ADHD by saying things like, "Oh I'm distracted all the time too!" or "I'm forgetful too!".  Not being able to concentrate and forgetting things from time to time throughout the course of one's life does not equate to being attention deficit disordered.

There is a very vast and complex difference.  Being forgetful versus struggling with ADHD.  Being self-centered versus conflicted with NPD. Being a regular douche or douche bag versus being a douche canoe.

Are you with me?

In my nonprofessional opinion, when someone's behavior (intentional or not) negatively impacts many different life areas including social, family and work relationships, that is characteristic of a disorder. If you don't like that word, can we at least agree that if one's behavior is consistently problematic in very significant ways than there is a very big problem?

Through everything, I'm currently doing all I can to learn how to escape from the STBX, as much as possible anyway considering we have a child to raise together.  I'm learning that just because he is a douche canoe that perceives me openly asserting my needs, and those of our son, as threats and insults does not mean that those needs are not valid.

I'm also learning that just because I have flaws of my own, that does not make me flawed to the point where I am deserving of any of the bullshit the STBX has put me through and continues to put me through.  As much as the STBX tries to project his douchery, which is what personality disordered people often do, I'm busy coating myself in a sort of emotional Teflon so that his projections just won't stick.

Knowlege is power. Knowledge will set me free. Knowledge is wonderful. 


  1. is that canoe floating in doeche?

    1. Why, yes I believe it is! A bottomless sewer of it.

      (BTW, thank you for making me literally LOL hysterically. It is the first time I've had a good laugh like that in awhile. I needed it. You rock!)

  2. I'm surprised to read that NPD is being taken out of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" and honestly, I find that a shame. The diagnosis of NPD doesn't do the person with the disorder much good, since, being a true clinical narcissist means that they couldn't possibly believe there is anything wrong with themselves - it is ALWAYS someone else's fault. But, the diagnosis does help those connected to the person with the disorder to have, at least a chance at understanding what in the hell is wrong with them.

    First, at least according to my therapist and a host of resources, I've learned that all clinical narcissist's are abusive. Not all abusers are narcissists. BUT, if you are dealing with a narcissistic abuser, you are dealing with an entirely different animal (not to say any more or less hurtful than a non-narcissistic abuser - just DIFFERENT in their patterns of abuse). The knowledge of understanding the patterns of narcissism and the patterns of abuse that are rooted within a narcissist gives the person on the other end of the chaos a fighting chance at making heads or tails out of a person and his/her behavior that makes NO SENSE. That has been one of the most difficult things for me to realize in my own experience - no matter how hard I try to rationalize my ex's behaviors, you can not make reason out of that which is fundamentally unreasonable. If I didn't know that, hadn't had the opportunity to learn about my ex's disorder and not only his current behaviors at the time, but also the anticipated future behaviors (which have all come true, including stalking, etc.) I would have been rendered completely helpless.

    This is what concerns me about revoking NPD from the psychological community. It will ultimately render victims of people harboring this disorder as helpless because they will be denied the appropriate knowledge needed to survive a relationship with a clinical narcissist.

    In addition, Phenom is correct - we all have moments of narcissistic BEHAVIOR. We are NOT, however, all narcissists in a clinical sense (meaning NPD). It's important to know and understand this - and to also know and understand if you are, in fact, dealing with someone who IS suffering from clinical NPD.

    Phenom, whether it's NPD or something else, I think it's a pretty fair conclusion that SOMETHING is WRONG in your STBX's head, both based on your STBX's behaviors and your experiences/feedback in therapy. What that "something" is could be vast or multiples of "somethings". It's not your problem anymore, but because you have to interact with him, it is in your best interest to at least have an idea of what his issues are and yes, it is HARD to disengage. I think of it this way - when my ex says/does things that are highly abusive he is LOOKING for a REACTION from me. If I disengage, I deny him that power over me. Just be prepared, because this pisses them off in a big way. Keep disengaging. He will get more and more pissed, but eventually he will learn that your boundaries are concrete for him and that you will not engage with him under any circumstance. Then, and only then, will things get better.

    1. "The knowledge of understanding the patterns of narcissism and the patterns of abuse that are rooted within a narcissist gives the person on the other end of the chaos a fighting chance at making heads or tails out of a person and his/her behavior that makes NO SENSE."

      True Story!

      From what I've read, I guess the new thing will be to diagnose someone as being personality disordered with one or more subtypes. Like personalit disordered with narcissistic tendancies.

      Kind of like how they changed the ADHD diagnosis into three subtypes. I'm ADHD, combined type (both hyperactive and inattentive), for the record. Someone who is ADHD, primarily inattentive is much different in the way their symptoms manifest. Anyway ... random. Off topic.

      By the way, researching how to disengage and deal with an uncooperative person like the douche canoe is my new project. I will learn how to not react no matter how much I'm provoked. I will. I must.

      Thanks for your insight, Katie. Always appreciated. :)


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