I have never claimed to be perfect, and I’m happy to list my issues and flaws to anyone that will listen. I have a go-to list that I can rattle off without even thinking. I’m a narcissist, egotistical, controlling, and condescending, just to list a few. But it wasn’t until someone (okay, not just someone, but a beautiful, intelligent redhead – the only type of person I’d listen to) suggested that I look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) that I considered exactly how true it is. And, of course, my first inclination is to run to my blog, write about it, and make light of what could be a serious situation.
The DSM IV-TR defines narcissistic personality disorder as a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five or more of the following:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement
- Is interpersonally exploitative
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
Okay, let’s take these one by one.
1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance. Have you met me? I’m my biggest fan, and I go out of my way to make sure that people remember me, remember my name, and talk about me. I started my own church, I sold a calendar of 12 months of me, I think women should see me as a catch.
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. Well, I am a hopeless romantic who believes that things happen for a reason. My life goal consists of fame and fortune, and if there was a way to be immortal, I would do it in a heartbeat.
3. Believes that he is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people. While I don’t believe that I should only associate with other special people, I have felt that only certain people get me in the way that I expect.
4. Requires excessive admiration. Ask any friend of mine what I do when I write a post or do a comedy set. I will constantly seek out comments and a detailed analysis from multiple people. It’s never enough for someone to just tell me that they liked something I did – I need more data.
5. Has a sense of entitlement. I have never believed that the rules apply to me. There’s always an exception or a way around an obstacle, and if something good is happening, I deserve to be a part of it.
6. Is interpersonally exploitative. This one is trickier than the first five. I don’t exploit my friends or loved ones, and I don’t use them; however, I’ve been told that I collect friends and that I only become good friends with people who could mutually benefit me. I don’t know what to think about this one.
7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. I wrestle with this. On one hand, I am always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions because I am identifying with the position that they’re in, but there are times when I have a very difficult time seeing where someone’s opinion or feelings come from. I do recognize the needs of others well, though.
8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her. I don’t envy others, and I don’t really give much thought to others being envious of me. Finally – one that doesn’t apply to me!
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes. I’m the king of condescension, and if you have any doubts, ask Faiqa. I even manage to out-condescend her.
Other symptoms of NPD include the following:
- Reacts to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation. YUP.
- Tends to exaggerate their own importance and talents. YUP.
- Requires constant attention and positive reinforcement from others. YUP.
- Is easily hurt and rejected. YUP.
- Sets unrealistic goals. YUP.
- Wants “the best” of everything. YUP.
- Appears as tough-minded or unemotional. YUP.
So, out of the official nine definitions, I meet six of them solidly and two others to some degree. The other additional symptoms describe me completely. While this doesn’t even begin to cover the multitude of other issues I have with regards to control and manipulation, my entirely unofficial, non-clinical and infallible diagnosis of NPD based on nothing other than Wikipedia research at least gives me somewhere to start.
Treatment is apparently difficult, because it’s unusual for people to seek therapy for NPD, due to a disdain for the process. It can’t be treated pharmaceutically in most cases, and it seems like the best strategy is to help the narcissist (that’s me!) work on becoming more empathetic and on identifying how to use any talents and skills to help others rather than for personal gain.
Can’t I just be king of my imaginary kingdom instead?