NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER
The term Narcissistic was obtained from the story of a man named Narcissus who was obsessed with his own reflection in water. He could not tear himself from the reflection and later died of languor (Akhtar & Thomson, 1982). This personality disorder is common in the western culture among certain professions such as medicine, politicians, law, sports and entertainment. It is estimated that the prevalence of this disorder is about one percent of the general population. However the clinical diagnosis of the number of people who have exhibited significant narcissistic traits ranges from 2 to 16% (Sperry, 2003). It is estimated that 75% of narcissists are men. This condition also goes hand in hand with substance abuse, reckless behavior that are impulsive as well as other mental health disorders. It has caused a lot of friction in the society. Pain and distress has been inflicted on both the victims and the people around them (Vaknin, 2003). This article will discuss this disorder and how it can be treated. It will further discuss the cultural and historical relevance of this subject and how its knowledge benefits the society.
Narcissistic personality is a psychological disorder in which individuals have a great sense of self worth; they want other people to admire and acknowledge them. They disregard other people’s feelings and are only interested in what makes them superior than those around them. This affects the rest of the community which makes people to avoid them making them become social misfits. These people demand to be acknowledged and respected by others while they capacity to acknowledge others is limited. They exaggerate their achievements and success just to ensure that they are recognized as superior. This gives them a feeling of self importance and achievement. They not only demand this recognition but they also work hard to achieve it. This desire to achieve gives them an obsession to fantasies like fame, fearless power, physical beauty, all-conquering love and even the desire to be everlasting (Vaknin, 2003).
Diagnostic Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Clinical diagnoses have identified traits and characteristics that are associated with Narcissisms. First, for these people, their personality is defined by what other people think of them. If other people do not acknowledge of their potentials and capabilities, then they feel that they have to impress them and gain admiration. This is what makes them engage in outrageous activities oblivious of the outcomes of these actions. They do not care about the price they have to pay for their actions or the pain that they inflict on other people. This attitude earns them social condemnation and they often have to endure sanctions. This explains the disproportional response that they give to simple situations which do not make them any lesser in the society. These actions are compelled by the desire to fulfill their narcissistic psyche (Vaknin, 2003).
Secondly, these people live in a world that is full or has nothing. For every discussion that they hold, they either reaffirm their existence or doubt their potential. To them, their daily activities and the way people respond to their arguments measures their position in their society. If people do not regard them as superior, they feel in adequate and do everythi8ng in their power to build recognition. The narcissist will never take chances of self cohesion to take criticism positively. He would rather face the consequences of proving his point even if it means risking the lives of others. He makes a point of refraining people from criticizing or expressing disapproval by going into threatening fits of temper and rage. Through these reactions, he manages to stop other people from provoking him to temper, he believes that this reaction is justified and the people who dare to criticize him are punished for this (Roddingstam, 2005).
Thirdly, Narcissists are convinced that they are unique and special. They therefore belong to the high social class and prefer being associated with high-status individuals. They believe that such people are the only ones who understand them, treat them well and have the ability to challenge them (although they will never approve of it). They narcissistic supply sought is normally positive but on other cases it can also be negative. Such negative aspects include; installing fear, being notorious or even infamy. These are used to regulate the sense of self wealth as it is derived from other people (Vatkinin, 2003). They are either cerebral whereby they gain their self worth from their intelligence or academic prowess. Others are somatic in that their recognition is obtained from their physique, talents such as sports and their ability to lure others to do what they command them to do among others. Excelling in their fields of interest is a positive attribute, however seeking to ensure that everyone acknowledges them is not right. It results to unnecessary conflicts even in cases where families and work is involved (Roddingstam, 2005).
Another characteristic is that of being exploitive interpersonally. They take advantage of others to achieve their goals and this often results to infliction of pain and lack of empathy. This makes them unable to recognize other people’s feelings and their needs. They are envious and often feel that others envy them too. These behaviors define them as people who are full of arrogance, haughty and have a negative attitude towards life and the community as a whole. It creates unhealthy competition which results to hatred and discrimination. This disturbs the peace that should exist among the society members. The individualistic nature of narcissists makes it impossible for people to work as teams because they regard teams with disdain and contempt (Perry, 2003).
Environmental factors have been associated with narcissism. Parents have been identified as a source of this disorder in cases where they pamper their children to make them believe that the world revolves around them. They grow up while expecting the same treatment from the rest of the society and this may not be the case. This forces them to demand and exploit others to give them the special consideration that they expect. It is therefore important that proper parental guidelines are provided by parents to ensure that children blend with other society members in future (Perry, 2003).
Narcissists’ personal disorder is a psychological problem that is treated through talk therapy. The prognosis of this condition is poor especially among the adults. It takes quite a long duration before these patients can adapt to life and interact with other people normally but it improves with treatment. Together with talk therapy, medication is also included in cases where side effects are felt. For example changes in mood and compulsive activities can be stabilized through medication (Perry, 2003). This involves guiding people on the regulation of self esteem from advancing into unrealistic self inflation (Roddingstam, 2005). The cognitive therapy treatment is an efficient way of eliminating this condition. It focusses on the modification of behavior. This helps patients in increasing the empathy that they extend towards others. Controlling and diverting their attention from themselves to appreciate what others do and other behavior traits that can easily be adopted. This promotes the patients compliance with the instructions given by the therapists. It alters the dysfunctional thoughts that dominate the minds of narcissists. When the narcissists realize that their true self is not depicted by what others think of them, the healing process begins and with time they can change their attitude (Sperry, 2003).
Narcissistic personality disorder has been a major cause of friction in families and work places. It has even resulted to separation of families, tense working environments or even murder in cases where narcissists cannot control their temper. The desire to be acknowledged and treated as a superior has seen these individuals go to extreme measures of achieving this. Recognizing this disorder at the early stages of life is beneficial because the patient can be treated with talk therapy. Engaging a person in this therapy helps them recognize their weaknesses and control them. Many cases have gone unnoticed until a victim does a disgraceful act such as murder. If this condition is identified and monitored, the well being of the society will also taken care of. Narcissists are not easily recognizable, but interacting with them eventually brings out who they are. In corporations they depict themselves as bullies and in politics they depict conviction. If identified they should be assisted through treatment to ensure that their condition does not advance to an uncontrollable stage.
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