The Narcissistic Personality
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not a disease. There are no blood tests for this condition and different professionals may diagnose the very same person in different ways. Instead, personality disorders are patterns of behaviour in an individual which are very pervasive. Charming to the outer world, the narcissistic person will be self centred and difficult to live with, throwing tantrums and lying or stealing to get what they want.
Stuck in an immature developmental phase, this person’s judgements about situations, people, values and even reality are formed ‘on the fly’ and coloured purely by what they want and what is going to make them feel good.”
When dealing with this person, the mistake most people make is believing you can appeal to their morality or emotions to persuade them to do what is right. It is a mistake to believe you can get a narcissistic personality to feel for you or anyone else.
Always feeling vulnerable, this person’s ego remains intent on protecting itself. Stuck in ‘survival mode’, false pride has replaced their true sense of self. A narcissistic person may be charming and polite if they want something, but as their personal view on the world is self centered and based only on their own objectives and desires, if they feel you are blocking them from getting what they want (even if it is not fair or good for them or anyone else), their charm will vanish. They will then do whatever they can to make people believe you are wrong and themselves a victim.
These people are convinced life is unfair and because of this, it’s okay for them to break the rules to achieve their goals. Despite the high standards and outward values they pretend to uphold, the narcissistic person’s inward motto says, “If it makes me feel good, it must be good .”
In most cases this person had unrealistic expectations put on them as a child and young adult and were not taught limits (boundaries) on their behaviour.”
Hold Your Ground!
As unfair and damaging as a relationship with this type of personality can be, it is important to remember a narcissistic person is a human being and should not be treated like a monster, or worse, like an ‘it’. It is usually healthier to use straightforward descriptive words about their bad behaviour, rather than relying on labels to describe them. For instance in most situations it would be more useful to say “We need to consider Lucy often lies,” than to say “Lucy is an N or Lucy is a narcissist.”
As understandable as the suggestion might be that you must run or “get away” from this type of person, we believe, if possible, that it is more beneficial for family members to learn to stand up for themselves and hold their ground.
This response can be highly beneficial for everyone in the family, including the person with narcissistic personality traits. However their behaviour will not improve on its own and it is a mistake to try and appeal to their sense of fairness or expect them to be the one responsible for ‘changing’.
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I often get asked if I think there is hope for a person in a narcissistic marriage. That obviously differs from case to case and no one can tell you for sure what the future holds.