Narcissist is one of the most effective insults, and in our current, chaotic world it’s seeing a lot of use. As unity becomes more important, what could be more damning than insisting someone only cares about themselves? Even more so, that they only love themselves?
But narcissism is an actual mental disorder recognized by the DSM, and its effects are more than annoyance. People raised by narcissists can experience lasting trauma, and understanding the disorder is critical.
What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
NPD is categorized by a pervasive and damaging self-obsession, lack of empathy, and behavior that seeks to take advantage of others. They see themselves as entitled and deserving of special treatment, and fixate on dreams of power and control. Because of their inflated egos, narcissistic individuals are also extremely sensitive to criticism and may lash out at well-meaning people.
Now, entitlement alone is not a qualifier for NPD. Just because someone is unpleasant or self-centered doesn’t make them a narcissist. Narcissistic behavior is pervasive, damaging, and severely affects the quality of life of the sufferer and those around them.
Causes and Effects
Causes of NPD are not fully understood, but it is generally believed that it comes from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. A lack of attachment to caregivers in childhood is a primary factor, as is overattachment and indulgence by those caregivers.
People with NPD often struggle to form attachments with others. They may also – contrary to popular belief – struggle in workplace settings due to their personalities being so off-putting. Children of narcissists often struggle with depression, anxiety, and a strong desire to please others at their own expense.
The last thing most narcissists will ever do is admit they have a problem. As a result, treatment is difficult, and it typically takes a crisis before a narcissist will seek help. Psychotherapy is effective, and marital therapy is particularly effective when both partners participate.
Treatment for children or relatives of narcissists, however, is well-documented and very effective. Because narcissistic parenting can often lead to depression, anxiety, and other disorders, traditional therapeutic and pharmaceutical approaches work very well!
If you’re the child or loved one of a narcissist, cognitive behavioral therapy can help you take your life back. You can find the agency you’re missing and create the life you want.