Secret Aspects of Narcissists
Narcissism is Not Just Too Much Self Esteem
Narcissism is going to be eliminated from the new DSM 5 in 2013. However, this controversial decision is in no way going to make a difference to those affected by this personality disorder, who know from bitter experience the psychological and physical trauma it has caused them. DSM 4 Gives the characteristics of NPD as having at least five of the following:
1. Grandiosity. Has an over inflated sense of self importance and achievements. They often believe they are more successful, beautiful, sexy, intelligent than they really are.
2. Belief that they are special. Has fantasies of how this specialness is going to manifest to show their superiority. Only wants to associate with people they deem is worthy or fits this illusion.
3. Needs to be admired/adored
4. Has a sense of entitlement commensurate with their delusion of superiority.
5. Plays mind games. Will take advantage of people to achieve own ends, without regard to anyone's feelings except their own. Does not demonstrate empathy.
6. Jealousy is evidenced as well as the belief others are envious of them.
7. Arrogant behavior
That is the "once" official criteria for diagnosing a narcissist. However, there are some aspects of their disorder that are harder to pinpoint and are potentially devastating if you are not aware of them.
When you are with this person, do you have a very uneasy feeling they are thinking something they are not saying? Do they do little things that plant seeds of doubt as to what their intentions are and leave you feeling "sick" or "creeped out"? You could be experiencing narcissistic shape shifting. The narcissist is an adept at playing roles, being two faced and phoney. Other personality disorders also manifest dis-ingenuousness, but with a narcissist, there is a sense of stage management to their tableaux. Secretiveness to hide their real motives, yet putting on an act to suit a particular audience.
They will adeptly mimic you, to given the allusion you are kindred spirits, impress you, sabotage you, manipulate and control you. It is all about getting narcissistic supply, which is to put it simply - admiration/attention - the narcissist is addicted to it. They must create a persona which constantly elicits receiving it - a false self. They use this false self to regulate the flow of their supply. They are to put it simply, stuck up or full of themselves. If the narcissist is not kept on a pedestal in keeping with their fake persona, they will take action, using any means possible to ensure it. They will assume any form necessary and are experts in hiding the transitions. Most people who encounter them do not immediately see the inconsistencies, but over time it gets more obvious. Those who do not distance themselves become enmeshed in their needs, resulting in codependency or co-narcissism. The rest report feeling emotionally ill around the narcissist.
Childishness and Pettiness
The abusiveness of the narcissist is often observed, when they do not receive the adulation they crave. Another aspect to their complete self-centeredness is petty immaturity. If you refuse to be manipulated, you will be accused of not caring about them, taking advantage, or being ungrateful. A guilt trip may be employed. You will be told you should be ashamed of yourself. If you complain about their behavior, they will counter with something you did. For example, if the child of a narcissist questions their parent on certain toxic behavior, they might bring up something their gown up child did when they were young, while their acts are being done as an adult. The odd truth is that the adult narcissist does not make a distinction between behavior appropriate to a child and that of an adult. You may think their requests are silly, or they can't possibly mean what they are saying in certain situations, but they are completely serious. If they are thwarted, they will find a way to pay you back.
It can be little things, like not letting you have something that would cost them no time or money to help you with. They will go out of their way to make sure you know they are withholding something you want, that is in their power to give. Sabotage holidays, backbite, bicker, wind people up to bully and abuse you. Typical school yard tactics. Quite often these are things they "think" you want or are afraid of, but in reality have no interest in or it is not a personal button for you. Because they have no real connection with anyone, they often get it wrong, and the withholding and or petty/abusive behavior becomes plain. If they are very intimate with you and are used to receiving their supply through your relationship, they may wrongly be perceived as "difficult" or that is "just their way" when the truth is something much more problematic. Friends and family members will able to see it, by the easiness with which they could address your issues or fulfill your requests, and the odd glee with which they blatantly do not. Narcissistic rage (temper tantrums) when their needs are thwarted are common in the home.
One of the signs of a narcissist are inappropriate facial expressions. This is not just the common "phoney smile", but an odd array of disingenuous facial sets, mixed with bursts of their own true emotions, that are truly disturbing in what they reveal of their inner world. One of the things commonly reported by those who live with narcissists is, "the smirk". You are in emotional or physical pain, usually of the narcissists making and they are exuding a weird glee that shines through their eyes. Sometimes they compose their face in line with what the world has taught them to exhibit, then walk in the next room and bask in their joy in private. Other times if you accidentally injure their false self, you can be given "a looks could kill" glare, over something you thought was relatively innocuous.
A quote from Dangerous Liaisons sums it up well:
Marquise de Merteuil: "When I came out into society I was 15. I already knew that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide. I practiced detachment. I learned how to look cheerful while under the table I stuck a fork into the back of my hand. I became a virtuoso of deceit. It wasn't pleasure I was after, it was knowledge. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear, philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists to see what I could get away with, and in the end, I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die." Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Shock and Awe
It comes out of nowhere, people connected with this person say odd things to you, and you have no idea where it is coming from. You feel like you have been a part of an argument that went on somewhere else. You are pretty sure someone has been talking behind your back and the stories they are telling are at best twisted and at worse fiction. Often you get the feeling that they are obsessed with you, and you find you can't stop thinking about them, even when you have already written them off and don't want to pay them a moments notice. What is happening to you is projective identification:
"Projective identification differs from simple projection in that projective identification is a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby a person, believing something false about another, relates to that other person in such a way that the other person alters their behavior to make the belief true. The second person is influenced by the projection and begins to behave as though he or she is in fact actually characterized by the projected thoughts or beliefs. This is a process that generally happens outside the awareness of both parties involved, though this has been debated." Wikipedia
You become drawn into a world you do not want to be. You are telling the narcissists things your instincts immediately tell you not to. You are saying things you do not believe and have the odd feeling you cannot be yourself around this person. At some point you start going along with the play they are directing, hoping they will like you and you are oddly afraid of them emotionally if you don't. You think if you dance to their tune everything will be o.k., but they still subtly or overtly betray you in ways that are completely deniable, making you feel you are going insane and you start doubting your own reality. You can't trust your own truth and you either start becoming unstable yourself or long to be on the other side of the world from them. You are being effectively being gaslighted. The narcissist does this to control/punish and exact narcissistic supply.