I know, I know, I know… You’re thinking, “This is a thing? There’s no way this can be a thing!” Oh my friend, it is a thing and I’m going to do my best to explain it you. Why? Believe it or not, it’s very similar to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Since I have done entries in regards to BPD, I might as well do this.
Of course a quick reminder. I am not a doctor, health care specialist, a psychiatrist, a psychologist or kind of mental and emotional health expert. I’m just a blogger who has a few mental illnesses trying to bring awareness of mental health. Hoping it will educate, shed some light, and end the stigma. With this post, just like all my other posts, I want people to learn, grow, be inspired, unafraid, and outspoken about whatever topic I present on the table. So with that being said, take my hand as we dive into this rabbit hole of NPD.
Narcissistic personality disorder… I mean it’s self explanatory in a way. What other details do you really need? Obviously, it’s one of several types of personality disorders and it’s a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But deep inside, they are delicate like a baby. Behind the mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
A person with NPD has so many problems with many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.
They are signs you can tell if someone has NPD. They tend to exaggerated sense of self-importance. Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration. Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it. Exaggerate achievements and talents. Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate. Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people. Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior. Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations. Take advantage of others to get what they want. Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of other. Be envious of others and believe others envy them. Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious. Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office
People with NPD have a hard time handling criticism. They become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment. They have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted. React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior. Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior. Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change. Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection. Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation.
It’s not known what causes narcissistic personality disorder. As with personality development and with other mental health disorders, the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is likely complex. Narcissistic personality disorder may be linked to many things. Such as environment; mismatches in parent-child relationships with either excessive adoration or excessive criticism that is poorly attuned to the child’s experience. Can be genetics or neurobiology (the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking).
Narcissistic personality disorder affects more males than females, and it often begins in the teens or early adulthood. Keep in mind that, although some children may show traits of narcissism, this may simply be typical of their age and doesn’t mean they’ll go on to develop narcissistic personality disorder. Although the cause of narcissistic personality disorder isn’t known, some researchers think that in biologically vulnerable children, parenting styles that are overprotective or neglectful may have an impact. Genetics and neurobiology also may play a role in development of narcissistic personality disorder.
Since the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is unknown, there’s no known way to prevent the condition. However, it may help to get treatment as soon as possible for childhood mental health problems. Participate in family therapy to learn healthy ways to communicate or to cope with conflicts or emotional distress. Attend parenting classes and seek guidance from therapists or social workers if needed.
But how can NPD and BPD appears similar? Well… they are both characterized by a constant need for attention, as well as affective instability and unpredictable behavior. However, the patient with NPD demands admiration whereas the patient with BPD demonstrates more self-destructive behaviors (eg, cutting and self-mutilation) and has a much less stable sense of self.
For example, let’s say Harriet has borderline personality disorder and Susan has narcissistic personality disorder. They have recently been diagnosed with these clinical disorders and are beginning their own unique treatment paths with clinical teams. The way the behavioral health experts might distinguish between the two women’s symptoms, experiences, and motivations is by breaking it down. Harriet is terribly concerned that she is unloveable. She seeks attention because she fears the void where intimacy and validation from others are not present. She cannot be without her close personal connections. Hence, she desperately fears abandonment, and many of her thoughts and reactions are fueled by that fear. Additionally, her very sense of self depends on this volatile attachment to others.
Whereas Susan, with NPD, is convinced that she is special to the point of superiority. However, this belief is built on an unstable foundation. This mentality is a designed to distract from the underlying fear that she is actually worthless. She feels threatened by anything that compromises her self-esteem. But her efforts are dedicated to preserving the illusion of superiority rather than addressing the fears and vulnerabilities below the surface. She may seem confident and well put together, but it is because she truly believes in the exaggerated positive qualities she has ascribed herself and she feels the strong need for others to also believe in how special she is.
The major issue that underlies both disorders is insecurity. There are fears beneath the surface that are so overwhelming. They distort the individual’s perceptions of themselves and others. As a result, people with borderline personality disorder and those with narcissistic personality disorder both tend to experience patterns of unstable or destructive relationships. Abandonment is a common theme in both cases. Someone with borderline personality disorder may act out their intense fears of abandonment to such an extent that they drive someone away. Someone with narcissistic personality disorder, on the other hand, is more likely to be the one abandoning another—perhaps because they’d rather do so before someone has the chance to leave them or to otherwise reinforce their appearance of superiority.
People with BPD and NPD may spend much of their lives in isolation. They may also struggle to hold a job, due to interpersonal challenges and impulsivity or arrogance. It’s possible for people with either disorder to have difficulty regulating their moods. They face high risks of co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, substance use disorders, eating disorders, and PTSD, among others. As with so many other personality disorders, people with borderline or narcissistic personality disorder are highly unlikely to seek treatment for their distress. In fact, they believe in their disordered perspective and are unlikely to see that their beliefs are off-base. Ultimately, both disorders require sufficient time and patience to begin to untangle the deeper insecurities and fears.
That’s why there can be a bit of confusion between the two disorder. But as discussed NPD is more about admiration and feeling a sense of superiority. I hope this blog has enlighten you. If you need more of an explanation, watch the video below. Maybe it can clarify it more than I can. If you feel you or someone has NPD, but not sure, see multiple specialists to get opinions and information. If you have NPD or know someone with NPD, comment below. There are few occasions when individuals have both. If you have both, please don’t be shy and comment below. Or comment below to tell me if you like the entry or not. Until next time, adult one day at a time. xoxo
IF YOU NEED IMMEDIATE HELP, PLEASE USE THE FOLLOWING:
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Live Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/