Why people lie.

By David Joel Miller.

Why do so many people lie so much of the time?

Truth or lie

Why they lie.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

We talk a lot about the importance of honesty. What it comes right down to it there’s a lot more lying than telling the truth going on. When I see couples, they frequently accuse each other of lying, or they both talk about how important honesty is to them. Commonly there are heated discussions about what the truth is.

Why is it so hard to find the truth? Why can’t people stop lying? The phantom nature of truth is behind a whole lot relationship conflicts and parenting issues. Here are some of the reasons why people can’t agree on what the truth is and who is lying.

They believe what they’re telling you even though it’s untrue.

Have you ever met someone who goes on vehemently insisting that something is true when others are equally certain that it’s not true? One common reason for this inability to agree on truth versus lie is that people insist on the truth of the things they believe to be right, up until they discover they were wrong.

I find it hard to call it lying when someone tells me something and really does believe it. I think we all need to recognize that just because someone tells us something does not mean it’s true. This does not mean there lying; it just means they are mistaken in what they believe. You need to make your own evaluation of things. Especially don’t rely on others to be correct when the consequences to you of their being mistaken could be serious.

Impression management, they want you to think well of them.

Most people want to be liked. They will tell you the truth about things that make them look good while leaving out the parts that make them look bad. You ask your spouse if they paid the water bill and they say yes. What they don’t say is they forgot to mail the check, and the bill got paid two weeks late. It’s common to bend the truth not by saying things that are outright lies, but by leaving out part of the story. Kids will avoid telling you when they got a bad grade on a test.

They want to spare your feelings.

Too much honesty can hurt people’s feelings. When we know that the truth might be painful, we tend to leave parts out or sugar coat what we say. The woman asked you, does this dress make me look fat, rigorous honesty is not the best policy. Friends are often reluctant to deliver bad news. If you can’t handle the truth, people are likely to keep it from you.

To avoid conflict, you won’t like the truth.

You ask your partner if they talked to their ex, today. They tell you no because they know you would be extremely angry if you found out they were having contact with that ex. They work at the same company with that ex, and they know they will see them every day. If when they tell you the truth, you punishment them, yell or give them the silent treatment, they stop telling you the truth.

Because it works.

Lying gets them what they want, and out of doing things they don’t want to do. Little kids learn early on to say what they think you want to hear. You ask if they did their homework and they say yes. The result is they get to watch TV or play video games instead of having to do homework. Lying can do two things, get you something you want, or get you out of having to do something you don’t want to do.

To avoid punishment.

The part they told you was true, they just left some things out. You asked the kids did they do their homework. You told them no TV till after the home was done. They tell you yes, I read three chapters of history. They leave out the part about not having done their math or English homework because right now there is a show on TV, they want to watch.

When you ask someone if they did something they were not supposed to do, the most common reaction is to deny they did it.

You are using a different standard.

Ask most kids if they cleaned up their room and they will say yes. To them cleaning up the room means putting one or two things in the closet, probably they tossed their dirty clothes in there. Out of sight out of mind. To you cleaning up the room means a lot more than hiding the dirty clothes.

Those are some of the reasons people lie. Ask yourself if you have ever been less fully truthful. Why did you do it? Was it one of these reasons? Can you think of other reasons you may have lied?

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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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Psychologists disagree about what psychology is.

By David Joel Miller.

Psychology does not mean the same thing to everyone.

The Psyche

What is Psychology?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

There appears to be a lot of disagreement about what psychology is and what psychologists do. Many people look to psychology for answers to everyday life problems like why are they are anxious or depressed or how can they be happier or more productive. Unfortunately, a lot of the psychological research is completely unhelpful in solving people’s everyday problems.

Looking the word psychology up in the dictionary gives us things like; the study of the human mind, or the science of behavior and mind. Some of the definitions include efforts to classify psychology as a science, a field of study, an academic discipline, an effort to understand either individuals or groups. Every definition I looked at included a great deal of ambiguity.

For example, on the one hand, we say psychology is the study of the human mind, but a great deal of research is conducted on rats or other lab animals. One criticism of psychology is that it is a soft science. It occurs at the intersection of a great many disciplines, including sociology, medical science, anatomy, the humanities, and philosophy. The boundary between psychology and counseling or therapy is hard to define.

No one theory has arisen which explains all the phenomena psychology attempts to study. Frequently it is difficult to decide what topics are outside of psychology. Parapsychology, hypnotism, and the supernatural are generally excluded from the definition of psychology.

Other accounts of psychology try to define it by specifying what it is that psychology studies. Psychology often studies thinking, referred to as cognition, brain function, motivation, intelligence, and personality. In general, definitions of psychology exclude the topic of emotions or feelings. Occasionally affect, the way emotions are displayed, get investigated.

In recent years, psychology appears to be diverging into two unrelated areas. Many recent inquiries occur in the field of neurobiology, the structure and functioning the brain and nervous system. The other area of study involves metacognition, that is thinking about thinking. Lots of psychological research involves interviews, questionnaires, and global tests in an effort to understand what people think about and how that thinking affects their behavior.

The practical applications of psychology have been disappointing.

Early in psychology’s development as a science, there were high hopes. Some proponents hoped it to be used to cure the diseases of the mind. Businesspeople hoped it would be useful in convincing people to buy a certain product. Politicians and religious groups hope psychology could be used to get people to think correctly and to identify those who might commit crimes or cause problems. Despite advances in psychological thinking, psychology still has limited ability to predict who will become violent or commit a crime.

Efforts continue to apply psychology, the discipline of trying to understand the mind and the process of thinking about a particular endeavor to practical issues. The American Psychological Association, the principal organization for all psychologists in America currently has 54 separate divisions, each with a distinctive focus.

Here are some of the ways that the study of psychology has developed.

Evolutionary psychology.

Evolutionary psychology overlaps, to some extent, other disciplines such as anthropology. It tries to explain how certain patterns thinking may have been useful to the human species and resulted in our survival. Common thinking patterns in humans may be the result of having to solve similar problems repeatedly.

Cognitive psychology.

The primary focus in cognitive psychology is the processes that underlie human and animal mental activity. Most of cognitive psychology is directed towards research. Some of this research has been applied to therapy and counseling using the cognitive behavioral model. Cognitive psychology studies memory, problem-solving, attention, learning, perception, and reasoning. Sometimes feelings and emotions are also included in the topics cognitive psychology studies.

Social Psychology.

Social psychology focuses on the topic of how humans interact with each other. Why do people conform and how are people persuaded to do or think something? Beliefs and attitudes, as well as stereotypes and prejudices, are topics for social psychology. Social psychologists investigate groups, why some people become leaders and some followers. There’s been some effort to apply the findings of social psychology to individual life events. The topics of how self-esteem, social class, nationality, or migration affect people’s thinking.

Educational psychology.

Educational psychology might better be referred to as the psychology teaching. It studies how humans learn in an educational setting. Its focus is on teaching students and meeting their learning objectives. It would look at curriculum and teaching activities and would need to be very depending on student characteristics. Educational psychology could include teaching those with learning disabilities, meeting the needs of advanced gifted students, making school campus safe and supportive and encouraging socially acceptable behaviors on the school campus.

School Psychology.

School psychology is sometimes seen as a part of educational psychology and sometimes as a separate discipline. While educational psychology views things from the teachers and administrator’s perspective, school psychologists look at things from the student’s perspective.  Many school psychologists focus on the problems the student has in being academically successful. What classes should the student take, what personal problems may be interfering with students’ academic successes and what classes client may need to take to graduate on time. School psychologists may use some clinical counseling psychology techniques, but their primary goal is often academic success.

Organizational psychology.

This subfield of psychology has been referred to by many names. Is sometimes called industrial psychology, workplace psychology, personnel psychology or employment psychology. Its primary interests are selecting employees, retaining employees, and maximizing productivity.

Industrial psychologists study the effects work environments, management styles, pay scales and job satisfaction may have on employee’s productivity.

Positive psychology.

The focus of positive psychology is on people who were currently healthy and maintaining that health. The effort is to focus on having a happy life rather than on what is wrong. Some conclusions from positive psychology being applied to the fields of counseling psychology and coaching psychology.

Forensic psychology.

Forensic psychology studies psychology as a relates to criminal justice population. It looks at what causes people to commit crimes, which criminals should be granted parole and which need to remain in prison. While we need to rely on this field for making some decisions, its ability to predict future behavior has disappointed a lot of people. Saying that a certain percentage of criminals if discharged from prison will never commit another crime, is not much help when we know that another percentage will re-offend.

Clinical psychology.

Clinical psychology technical is psychology which occurs in the clinic. Generally, this refers to people with a serious and persistent mental illness. Clinical psychologists are licensed professionals with a doctoral degree. Some clinical psychology work in private practice where they may do testing for IQ, ADHD, disability applications, or custody evaluations. Clinical psychologists are specially trained to use batteries of tests and to write reports rendering their evaluation. Some clinical psychologists see ongoing patients for psychotherapy, particularly those with serious mental illnesses that need frequent contact to function outside the psychiatric hospital.

Counseling psychology.

Counseling psychology tries to apply principles learned in psychological research to the treatment of mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders. Some counseling psychologists practice as licensed clinical psychologists, others may be licensed under one of the other mental health specialties.

Coaching psychology.

Coaching psychology is a new specialized part of psychology. Coaches are generally not licensed and may or may not have had formal training. The scope of practice for coaching psychologist includes those people who want to improve their performance and reaching life goals. Treating people with a mental or emotional disorder is outside the scope of practice for coaching psychologist or life coaches unless they are trained and licensed to treat mental illness.

Research psychology.

Most research psychology involves either physical neuroscience or studies of presumably normal people. The majority of research psychology is conducted by faculty members at the larger universities. Occasionally research psychology happens in a mental health setting but even here is usually restricted to a very small group of patients with one specific disorder.

Comparative psychology.

Comparative psychology studies thinking and behavior in species other than humans. There have been some efforts to compare animal behavior to human behavior. What we learned in animals often doesn’t apply to human thinking feeling and behaving.

Community Psychology.

The effects of housing on people’s thinking and behavior.

Health psychology.

Health psychology works in the area of how to keep people healthy and the effects that physical illness may be having on their mental and emotional health.

Abnormal psychology and adjustment psychology.

Abnormal psychology is the realm of those things we call mental illness. Adjustment psychology is about the problems of living life. When most people ask psychology for answers these two disciplines they are thinking of. Abnormal psychology and adjustment psychology are the principal topics of the counselorssoapbox.com blog.

There are probably a great many other “psychologies.”

It seems every time I read another article about psychology, I find another label for a specific subset of psychological research, thinking or practice.

The conclusion.

This is a short list of some of the types of psychology. It does not include all of the 54 divisions of the APA, and this is clearly my opinion. If any of you read this work in the field of psychology, I would welcome your comments and your opinions. When you see how specialized the various types of psychology are, I think you can see why we’ve been expecting results from the study of psychology it hasn’t been able to provide.

In future posts, I want to look at the many ways in which psychology has affected our current thinking and those ways in which psychology has let people down.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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

Narcissist in your life?

By David Joel Miller.

Discovered a narcissist in your life?

Proud peacock.

Narcissist?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Suddenly one day it dawns on you that someone in your life is a narcissist. This person is causing you pain, and you are trying to figure out what to do about them. Maybe this narcissist is a family member, a romantic partner, or maybe it is your boss.

You see all the signs. They have an inflated opinion of themselves, think they’re superior to you and others. Everything is all about them. You notice that they are constantly trying to manipulate you. This narcissist keeps asking your opinion about them. They are hungry for praise but become furious if you criticize them. The more you are around them, the more you feel used. No matter how much you give, it is never enough. They are causing you a lot of pain, and they can’t seem to see why you feel the way you do.

Sure, looks like a narcissist. What are you going to do now?

They shouldn’t act that way, but they do.

The first thing most people do when it dawns on them that they’re dealing with the narcissist is to try to get that narcissist to understand how it makes them feel, and to change their ways. You can spend a lot of time talking to them, trying to get them to understand how they are affecting you. Not only don’t they get it, but they believe they are so special that they have the right to expect everything to be about their needs and wishes. No matter how hard you try, they will not change.

They may be incapable of change.

If this person is really a narcissist, they may be incapable of change. Some people are high in self-esteem, assertive, and confident. The psychologist would say they are high in trait narcissism. Since they are competitive and want to win, they expect everyone else to take care of himself and this person may be slow to recognize how they are impacting you.

If this person has reached the point of malignant narcissism, technically diagnosed as narcissistic personality disorder, one of the symptoms of their disorder is a lack of ability to empathize with you. They’re not capable of seeing your point of view. Any change in this situation is going to have to come from you.

What other problems do they have?

As you think about how you can cope with the narcissist think about what other problems, particularly mental health challenges, this person may have. Do they have a history of antisocial behavior? This increases the risk for you. Narcissists who are also paranoid, have Histrionic or Borderline Personality Disorders, present challenges even to highly trained professionals. If the narcissist in your life also has depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder professional help, for them and you, will be needed. Especially avoid narcissists with addictive disorders may be a danger to themselves and others.

What choices do you have?

If you have identified a narcissist in your life, think carefully about your choices. If it’s a boss, you can learn techniques to manage your interactions. You may be able to transfer to a different department or find a different job. Keep in mind that high level of narcissism is common in managers and in certain professions. Think carefully about whether this is something you can put up with or would it be emotionally healthier for you to leave.

For people in a relationship with a narcissist, you need to think about the long-term. If you been going together for two years, you may be telling yourself you have a lot of time invested. Ask yourself how you will feel if you have had to live with this person for 30 or 40 years?

If this is a family member, a parent or sibling, decide if you can tolerate them in small doses. Some people find they have to move away and reduce contact.

Is this a recurring pattern?

Have you been in multiple relationships with narcissists? You need to take a look at yourself; possibly you will need therapy. If you were a child of a narcissistic parent, you might be attracted to a narcissistic partner. We become comfortable with what we are used to. If you are low in self-esteem, you will attract narcissists who will believe it would be easy to manipulate you. What is the solution to the recurring problems? Work on changing yourself.

Will it get better with time?

People who are high in trait narcissism, competitive, self-confident people, tend to mellow with age. You may find that by lowering your expectations for those around you and learning to meet your own needs, that high narcissism person can become tolerable. Think about it. How will you cope with the narcissist in your life?

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.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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

Why they think you’re a narcissist.

By David Joel Miller.

Have you been called a narcissist?

Proud peacock.

Narcissist?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Among the reasons that people come to counseling, conflicts with others are high on the list. When a relationship comes apart, whether that relationship is a work one or an intimate one, it’s common to blame the other person. Sometimes both people involved, blame each other. The accusations usually include calling each other selfish, self-centered, and narcissistic.

At first encounter, the narcissist looks full of self-confidence. Closer examination may reveal someone who feels insecure, and needs reassure. Counselors and coaches find people who are high in narcissism difficult to work with. They are prone to think highly of themselves while having low opinions of others. Here are some of the behaviors that may be causing others to label you a narcissist.

You have grand dreams.

Having great dreams is a wonderful thing. Beginning to think that because you are pursuing large goals, you are an important person, is the result of an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Pursue huge dreams but avoid getting a large head. If you want to accomplish great things you need to keep your ego in check.

You think there is no limit to your success.

You can be great at a few things, good at some things, but no one is successful at everything. If you start believing everything you do is better than others, you are leaving reality for delusions. Expecting to win and everything leaves you unprepared for setbacks. Believing you’re the greatest at everything alienates others around you.

You need lots of applause to keep you going.

Recognition feels wonderful, but if you begin to have cravings for admiration, you are headed towards the narcissistic addiction. Expecting everyone to recognize your greatness, and then being hurt when they fail to give you the admiration you expect, reeks of Narcissism.

You expect to be treated in special ways.

Feelings of entitlement are warning signs you are on the road to narcissism. Be careful about believing your own PR. Regardless of the position you occupy treat others the way you would like to be treated. If you start believing that you deserve special treatment, you’ll start looking down at others. Believing your superior drives others away. Your specialness may be pathological narcissism.

You believe it’s okay to get over on others.

The best deals are the ones where both people benefit. If you start believing that it’s okay to take advantage of others, others will not want to be around you. Severely narcissistic people treat others as objects there only to meet their needs. If you treat people like things, you create resentments. If you act narcissistic, people will call you a narcissist.

You can’t feel empathy.

Not being able to put yourself in another’s shoes, results in others not wanting to walk alongside you. Narcissists see things only from their point of view. They can’t understand what others are feeling.

Have you convinced yourself that other envy you?

Riding the envy Express is a fast track to loneliness. Once you convince yourself that others are jealous of you, it’s easy to start being envious of them. Hater’s convince themselves that everyone else hates them.

Your successes have made you arrogant.

Once you convinced yourself that you can do everything better than others, that everyone hates you, and that you are entitled special treatment, your thinking, your behavior, and your speech become arrogant.

People make you angry.

If you come to believe that your anger is caused by other people you have begun to take yourself far too seriously. Take ownership of your feelings. Others have their reasons for what they say and do. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that others behavior has something to do with you.

Your anger quickly turns to rage.

You start excusing your anger outbursts, and now you are going from zero to homicidal rage in seconds’ flat. Living in the land of rage points to your already having crossed the border into narcissism.

Your self-esteem has blown up like a balloon.

Rapidly expanding self-esteem requires lots of input to keep it inflated. Have you experienced complement shortage, and you are constantly fishing for compliments to keep your ego fed. If you believe that others ought to be recognizing your greatness, telling you how wonderful you are, you have left the land of reality.

You do a lot of blaming others?

As you feel more important and more entitled, you may start believing your failures are the results of others letting you down. The more you take the “it’s not my fault” stance, the easier it is to find others to blame. People who become highly narcissistic never accept any blame.

As a highly important person, you expect perfection from others.

The more your ego inflates, the more you expect perfection of others. You said impossibly high standards and those around you feel the strain. Setting impossibly high goals for others, while making excuses for yourself is the narcissistic thing to do.

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.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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

Are you dating a narcissist?

By David Joel Miller.

Can you spot the narcissist in your life?

dating a narcissist

Is he a narcissist?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can result in long-term emotional damage. Much has been written about the consequences of relationships with narcissists. There are books about healing from the damage narcissists can do. Some people report having had multiple relationships with narcissistic others.

How do narcissists manage to appear so wonderful at the beginning of relationships? Do you know the signs to watch for to spot a narcissist? How long does it take for a narcissist to reveal they’re true nature?

People in recovery from relationships with narcissists have reported that in the early stages of dating, the narcissist is a great deal of fun to be with. On average, it took seven dates for the narcissist’s true nature to appear. Unfortunately, many people had begun sexual relations with the narcissist before the troubling aspects appeared. They often did not realize what they have gotten into in time.

It’s important to know that there are several kinds of narcissism. In psychology, sometimes the term narcissism describes people who are high in self-confidence. In mental health, pathological narcissism is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There’s a world of difference between being in a relationship with a strong, assertive person and having a partner who only thinks about themselves.

First date with a narcissist.

People who sought treatment for the consequences of being in a relationship with a narcissist reported that in the beginning, the narcissist appeared agreeable, competent, intelligent, confident and entertaining. The narcissist is often a very good dresser. They’re likely to surround themselves with expensive things, fancy cars, extravagant homes, luxury possessions, rather than practical items.

When the narcissistic problems appear.

By the seventh date, the problems were apparent. The narcissist began acting arrogant, overestimating their abilities, bragging and hostile. Pathological narcissists consider themselves successful with the opposite sex because of having had many serious relationships. Often they were dating and sleeping with, multiple people at the same time.

Highly narcissistic people experience more extreme emotions. While emphasizing how strongly they were attracted sexually, they had high levels of jealousy and obsessed over their partner.

Relationships with narcissists are characterized by being full of turmoil and are high in instability.

Most narcissists are men.

The characteristics that define narcissism are traits that have traditionally been valued in men. The narcissist is all about being important. The have a high need for admiration. Grandiosity and self-centeredness are other defining characteristics of narcissism. Narcissists are competitive, but for them, competition is all about winning. Some high self-esteem is a good thing, but having too high an opinion of yourself results in toxic relationships.

Women who score high narcissistic traits.

Some women score high on personality tests for some narcissistic characteristics. Rather than being important, women tend to emphasize being close. They’re likely to be overly invested in others. As a result, women are more likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or dependent personality disorder.

It’s common to find dependent people, those with low self-esteem, attracted to narcissists. In the early stages of the relationship being with this fabulous other makes them feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, they rarely realize they have begun a relationship with a narcissist until they are so deeply involved they find it impossible to leave.

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.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (F60.81.)

By David Joel Miller.

Pathological Narcissism.

Proud peacock.

Narcissist?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

When certain patterns of behavior, or your inner experience, become continuing, pervasive, and inflexible and deviates from what your culture expects, you may have a personality disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder involves an extreme need for admiration, delusions of grandeur or grandiosity, and a lack of empathy.

This particular disorder is rarely diagnosed because those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder do not believe there is anything wrong with them. Lacking empathy, the narcissist blames their problems on others. What brings the narcissist to therapy is most likely extreme impairment in social relationships or a deteriorating job functioning.

One great paradox of narcissists is that despite their beliefs in their superiority, they often are very vulnerable to challenges to their self-esteem. Narcissists need to feel they are better than others in order to feel okay about themselves. This dichotomy results in a high sensitivity to criticism. They often meet perceived attacks with rage.

Even when forced into counseling, the narcissist likely will continue to insist that the problems are caused by others. The DSM lists nine characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder. Having five or more of the characteristics is required to receive the diagnosis. I have paraphrased these from the APA DSM-5.

1. Excessive self-importance, grandiosity.

They expect that everyone will recognize their superiority to others. The narcissist boasts, brags, and exaggerates their accomplishments and are shocked when other people do not recognize their superiority. There is an exception to this if they actually are superior. As the saying goes, it’s not bragging if you can do it.

2. They live in a fantasy world of power and success.

They are preoccupied with fantasies of limitless excesses, absolute power, unrivaled beauty, and brilliance, or ideal love. Narcissists are prone to compare themselves favorably with famous people.

3. The narcissist has a firm belief that they are better than others.

He believes that he should only associate with other superior beings. They expect to attend the best schools, drive the best car, and live in the best neighborhood. Believing they are better than others, they are quick to find fault with the accomplishments of others.

4. The narcissist can’t live without the worship or admiration of others.

Narcissists are often desperate for recognition from others. They expect to be the center of attention and are shocked when others don’t notice them. Narcissists will fish for compliments and be insulted when they feel underappreciated.

5. The narcissist believes they deserve special treatment.

Because they believe they are superior to others, they expect their needs to receive the highest priority. They have a sense of entitlement and a belief that the rules should not apply to them. They see themselves as too important to have to wait for their turn or to stand in line.

6. Give the narcissist a chance he will use you to meet his needs.

Given his sense of entitlement, it’s not surprising; narcissists have no qualms about using others. Sometimes this is a lack of sensitivity, but it may also be rooted in their belief that they are more important and deserving than others. Don’t expect a narcissist to feel guilty for taking advantage of others.

7. Empathy is foreign to narcissists.

The narcissist is incapable of seeing things from others point of view. He can’t see why the feelings or needs of others should matter and expects others to be fully committed to meeting his needs. While they will talk at great lengths about their concerns, they will have no patience to listen to the problems of lesser beings.

8. Narcissists feel entitled to the most and the best.

The narcissist believes others hate him and are jealous. He believes he is entitled to the biggest and best. If someone else has something of value, the narcissist believes it should belong to them.

9. The narcissist excels at arrogance.

The narcissist criticizes everyone. They are quick to use derogatory labels such as stupid, lazy, fat, and rude.

Having read those nine characteristics, you probably have a pretty good mental picture of a narcissist. While I referred to the narcissist as he, it is possible to encounter a narcissistic she also. Some of the characteristics of this and other personality disorders sound like immaturity. To use the personality disorder label, we require that this disorder first begins in early adulthood.

In adolescents, these characteristics may not be fixed and would be described as narcissistic traits. In the adult population, it is estimated that up to 6% of the population have severe enough narcissistic traits to receive the diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. About 75% of those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are men. One possible explanation for the high rate of narcissism in men is our culture’s emphasis on competition and winning. More on that in an upcoming post.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder overlaps and co-occurs with depression, especially Persistent Depressive Disorder, and hypomania in bipolar disorder. People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder often also have Histrionic, Borderline, Antisocial, and Paranoid Personality Disorders.

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 those future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                          Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology. (coming soon)

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                        Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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

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.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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