Voices of NPD spotlights guest posters with Narcissistic Personality Disorder to share their stories of what it is like to live with NPD, becoming self-aware and personal growth.
By Rudy Schmitz
I got my Narcissistic degree in 2012 when I was supposed to be recovering from severe depression. Three months later I was back at the Doc’s worse than I was before. Additional assessments were required and eventually it seemed to be a coin toss between High-Functioning Autism or a Cluster B personality disorder. The institute where I was treated had no autism specialists, so I was tested for autism someplace else. I failed the test. So, Cluster B, it was. Not too long after, I was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Little did I know at that time that this label would have the huge impact it did on my life.
Becoming NPD Diagnosed
Of course I had been diagnosing myself. According to me, I had every Cluster B disorder, traits of some in Cluster A and a bunch of markers from the Cluster C too. And then I had a couple of mental illnesses on the side, or at least, I could have, that were not disorders just illnesses. I made myself into a nut-job basket case, ready to be locked up, put away, put down even. Confirmation bias, squared. And then squared again.
But there it was, with official papers and everything: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. And from what I had read about that, it made sense. From what I would learn about it in the near future, it would make a lot more sense. A lot, a lot. There suddenly were explanations for tons of things I never understood before, but always wondered why they had happened.
NPD on the Internet: Confusing NPD with ASPD
I started reading everything I could get my hands on. I began taking it all in – every word ever written about the subject that I could find. I felt sick to my stomach. I started hating myself. I started hating other narcissists, I started hating people that were victims. The amount of bitter, dark and evil material that is written about Narcissistic Personality Disorder is simply overwhelming.
In my opinion these websites are responsible for a lot of misconceptions about narcissistic personalities. This is the impression that arises when you read those websites:
Narcissists are evil, selfish, malicious and violent. They will go through great lengths to get what they want from you. They will manipulate you, mentally abuse you and some will even use physical violence.
Reading the material online, I thought, this could not be true. That cannot be what Narcissistic Personality Disorder is. I am not that evil of a person. This can’t be correct, this can’t be the truth. People would have told me. I have friends that would have told me. The narc hate sites really affected me in bad ways, and I was becoming what they told me I was. I had to take a few steps back from this and reflect. And that is when I started seeing patterns.
This description depicts the narcissistic personality as an evil predator that consciously uses and abuses its victims to get whatever they want. I do not deny that fact that people displaying this kind of behavior exist. I am not blind to reality. I see these people. I see the results of this behavior every day.
But I am opposed to the idea that these people suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There is an explanation for why these people are called narcissists today. The same reason they were called psychopath 25 years ago. Fashion. Back in those days psychopath was a fashionable word, under the influence of Hollywood movies.
Today, narcissist is the fashionable word. I’m not quite sure why, but it is. People doing this though neither are psychopaths nor are they narcissists. They have an even more complex condition that gathers the worst of a couple of disorders in it, Narcissistic Personality Disorder likely to be one of them. Their disorders are co-morbid.
Narcissistic Abuse “Survivors”
The way narcissistic behavior is generalized, people just copy their material from each other without even validating it. The amount of pseudo-science that is on some websites is baffling. Numbers and percentages given without validation, statements not backed up by any explanation or proof. And of course, almost every one of those websites is run by previous “survivors of narcissistic abuse”.
These people often think they have a right to address and advise the world on the subject of narcissism because they spend a couple of months, maybe years in a relationship. Well, I have driven several cars in my life, but I don’t advise people on which one they should buy, and certainly not on how to drive one. I have crashed a couple, and that does not make me a safety expert either. On the contrary I would say. And yes, I survived the crashed too.
They often do not seem to realize that what they communicate in public is just their perception of the things they experience in their relationship with that partner, who is most of the time not even diagnosed with NPD. Especially in the cases where there is severe abuse at hand, it is unlikely that this is even the case. It is much more likely that that specific partner has a complex disorder of antisocial and narcissistic disorder in comorbidity. Even statistically it is more likely that the man or woman is a sociopath than a narcissist. But what the hell, narcissist is a cool and hip word, so we just call them narcissists.
I am a narcissist yes. But I am not abusive by nature. I am not violent by nature. Exploitative yes, abusive no. I will use you, but won’t abuse you. At least not intentionally. And that it unintentionally at times comes across that way, is unfortunate. But contrary to popular belief, I will feel guilty about that. I do feel guilt. Tons of it.
History of NPD in the public eye
So when did the definition of a narcissist change for what Kohut and Kernberg thought of and published in 1967 and 1968? Since then, Narcissistic Personality Disorder has been a willing subject of discussion among psychiatrists, psychologists and even neurologists and biologists. In the past decade it seem however that the subject has crossed the borders of the professional field of science and made its way into the world of the laymen. And in from where I am standing, it did not do people with NPD much good.
The movies Psycho (original 1960, remake 1998), American Psycho (2000), and the Hannibal Lecter quartet have had a big impact on the use of the term “psychopath” in the late 90’s and first decade of the 21st century. Apparently something has had a same sort of impact on the use of the term “narcissist” in the current era. The remarkable fact is that often the same kind of person is referred to when using the term. I just wonder, what it is that has had this influence on society. I can’t seem to be able to figure it out, but suggestions are welcome.
Even though I realize that there is an external source for the ignorance with which people use the term, unlike a psychopath, as a narcissist, I do care. In fact, I can’t help but care, because the pathology of narcissistic personalities forces us to base our self-worth solely on external sources. The external sources though generally think that we are monsters.
Let me tell you this: Did you know that Mother Theresa, a person declared a saint only 20 years after her death – making her the “youngest” saint ever—is believed to have been a narcissistic personality, to the extent that there’s a sub-species of narcissists name after her? How is that for being a monster? Monsters do not have the habit of becoming saints, you know.
And I struggle with this. I’m not ashamed to admit that. Being a self-aware narcissistic personality opposed to an unaware one redefines the world for you, but it does not necessarily make it better.
Reaching out to others
I talked to the moderator of a forum for narcissistic abuse “survivors” (I consider that a ridiculous term, as if one is likely to die of narcissistic abuse… really?) and I wanted to help. I am convinced that the insight of a self-aware narcissist, speaking to narcissistic behavior – as well as the behavior of the “survivors”— is a valuable tool and source of information for such a group.
She agreed and let me join the forum. I did not pull up a facade, and introduced myself for what I was. Without exchanging one single word with me, half the people already wanted me out and were against me. If you know one narcissist you know them all seemed to be the code of arms. They don’t even give you a chance, you are condemned already. For what you are, and condemned again for being honest. And condemned again for trying to help.
It is these kind of experiences that make rehabilitation a struggle. You want to do good. You do not want to be a secret, because when people find out later, you just know you will get the “why-did-you-not-tell-me-such-an-important-thing-out-front” drama. And before you know it you will be called a gaslighting, manipulative bastard again.
Most of the stigma that stick to the name “narcissist” are rarely applicable to the person that actually is a narcissist. The stigma are often exaggerated, ignorant and even false. And every person is their own person. Just like every narcissist is.
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