Questions about Narcissists?


By David Joel Miller.

Has a Narcissist caused you pain?

Proud peacock.

Narcissist.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you have experienced a narcissist in your life, you know the pain they can cause. Growing up with a narcissistic parent can affect the rest of your life. Dating a narcissist can undermine your self-esteem. Narcissists make very poor relationship partners. Narcissism was once a very rare diagnosis, over the last couple of decades, the problems of narcissism have been on the rise. Narcissists are often attracted to people with low self-esteem. This increase in the number of narcissists and the way the words narcissist and narcissism are used is creating more questions than it has answered. In this blog post, and some future ones, let’s take a look at the challenge of narcissists.

This increase in the number of narcissists and the way the words narcissist and narcissism are used is creating more questions than it has answered. In this blog post, and some future ones, let’s take a look at the challenge of narcissists.

What’s with all this talk about narcissism?

You may have noticed the word narcissist and discussions of narcissism has been coming up a lot lately. It shows up in news reports, blog posts, comments, and increasingly in the literature about relationships. From the way, the word narcissist is being used; it is clear that various people have very different ideas about narcissists. Because of the things I have read recently about narcissism I’ve been looking at the research into narcissism. The research is very inconsistent, and clearly, the authors are talking about different things.

The word narcissism appears to be the victim of both overused and imprecise use. In future posts, I want to explore what narcissism is and why it looks differently in different circumstances. Our exploration of narcissism will require a series of posts. I will work these posts in as time and space permit.

First the questions about narcissism, with a brief explanation, and then some links to help you find the variety of narcissism you would like information about.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a recognized mental illness with a very specific set of criteria. This diagnosis is one of extreme, pathological levels of narcissistic characteristics. Most therapists rarely use this diagnosis. It is most likely to come up in criminal justice work where the client is also a prisoner, accused of or convicted of a serious crime. Narcissistic Personality Disorder frequently co-occurs with several other diagnosable mental illness. Other kinds of narcissistic behavior are frequently described and sometimes treated by therapists, despite not meeting the criteria Narcissistic Personality Disorder. More on this condition will be in an upcoming blog post.

What is a narcissistic relationship partner?

Some relationship or couple’s therapists use the term narcissistic partner to describe the way one person may act in a relationship. If you been in the relation with the narcissistic person, you know how painful it can be. When relationships break up, many people describe their ex as narcissistic and uncaring. The term narcissist is sometimes used as a synonym for selfish and self-centered behavior. Your partner’s behavior may range anywhere from mild narcissistic thoughts and actions to extremely high levels of narcissism. Both people in the relationship may become more narcissistic with time as they teach each other these thoughts and behaviors.

Why are people with low self-esteem attracted to narcissists?

Therapists see a lot of clients who have been in abusive relationships. Many of these people grew up in homes with a caregiver who was emotionally unavailable or abusive. As adults, these individuals often find themselves attracted to people they later described as narcissists. Many people would describe themselves as having low self-esteem and have been in multiple relationships with partners who they would describe as narcissists.

What is the connection between charisma and narcissism?

Several research studies have described the phenomena of charisma. While not all charismatic people are narcissists, when you first meet them, narcissists are often very charismatic. It can take a long time to see through the charisma and recognize the narcissism.

Why are so many middle and upper managers high in narcissism?

Narcissism in one form or another is common in managers. In the short run, narcissistic managers can produce some amazing result. Some are successful over the long haul. Very narcissistic managers can also create human wreckage, high turnover, and some spectacular failures.

What is trait narcissism?

In the field of psychology, there’s been a lot of research on a thing called trait narcissism. This trait connects to a lot of other personality characteristics. People who are low in self-esteem are low in trait narcissism. When we treat people with low self-esteem, as their self-esteem rises, so does their level of trait narcissism. What the psychology field means by trait narcissism and what mental health means by Narcissistic Personality Disorder are very different concepts.

Can narcissism be a good thing?

People who are high in trait narcissism have more self-esteem and self-confidence. Some of this research suggests that too little narcissism may be causing emotional and mental disorders. If some narcissism is a good thing, we need to know when narcissism is useful and which narcissistic characteristics are good ones.

How can you spot a narcissist?

When you’re initiating a new relationship, you can expect people to put their best foot and best face forward. Before you get into a new romantic relationship, it could be useful to spot the signs that this person is a narcissist. If you’re doing the hiring, you might want to take another look at a narcissistic job candidate before you hire them and they demolished your organization.

Can you think of any other questions about narcissists and narcissism we should ask?

More about Narcissists.

As we move through our series of Narcissism posts, feel free to ask questions and leave comments. To help you find these posts, below are some links to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that all the posts about narcissists appeared in the narcissism category but links to future posts will not be live until future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                          Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology. (coming soon)

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                       Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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