Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by witzend, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I had another one of my endless "please stop, it's not about you" conversations with L today. I had a revelation. She's been horribly uncooperative in therapy throughout her life, and her diagnosis that I list here is old.

    Literally, I had texted her a question about a mutual acquaintance. She texted me back at least 40 times to tell me what a horrible person I was to ask a question (about this person who has been somewhat lazy and it wasn't that big of a deal but has gone on for awhile). In the end, I explained to her that she had to stop because I don't have a texting plan and I couldn't afford this. Bear in mind that her boyfriend let loose with a comment that she had gotten angry with him and sent him 143 texts one day and she thought that was normal and usual. He didn't and I don't.

    After she stopped, and I had some quiet time, it occurred to me how fantastic (and I mean that literally) this was. This was NOT a conversation about her. I told her this a number of times, apologized a number of times, asked her to stop a number of times. This has happened before. Anything and everything that she sees fault in with me is a major transgression against her, even when it has nothing to do with her. So, remembering that way back in the day her dad was diagnosis'd with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I looked it up.

    A person with narcissistic personality disorder:
    • Reacts to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation
    • Takes advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
    • Has feelings of self-importance
    • Exaggerates achievements and talents
    • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love
    • Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
    • Requires constant attention and admiration
    • Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy
    • Has obsessive self-interest
    • Pursues mainly selfish goals.
    How many of our adult kids do you think this fits? I know it fits one I know very well.
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Wow. Witz, I think you've had a new insight into the real issue with L. I those with this personality disorder ever get better? Or can they see past themselves enough that therapy would even work?


  3. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Unfortunately, there is not much out there in terms of actual treatment for people with personality disorders (they are seeing some progress with medications in the treatment of borderlines, but that is about it).

    Narcissists are very hard to deal with. They are born that way in alot of cases (Borderlines can become that way due to childhood neglect/abuse). It's as if some wired-in behaviors just aren't there.
  4. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Actually, there IS specific therapy for borderline personality disorder.

    Narcissistic is harder to treat because the patient often refuses to admit s/he has an issue.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I don't know whether it's comforting or upsetting to think that she might be hard wired this way. I don't know that I think that she's born with it. Conditioned into it? I think so. I don't think she'll ever see that there might be a better way for her. She certainly won't change if she can't see that.

    Is it good to not have hope? It's probably easier. husband and I have had many conversations in the past 8 - 10 years where he has been (only to me) very condescending about her shortcomings. I have always told him that I have hope that I think she can change and given time that she will. Today I don't think so. Not as a "today" thing but as a "wow - this is the way it is" thing. Does this mean that I get to stop worrying about her?

    I keep telling my friend who is facing an eminent divorce after 38 years and four children that she needs to stop allowing her husband to manipulate their grown children. That they are adults and that even if they take sides now, they most certainly will one day resent that he didn't respect his vows enough to not involve them, or respect their adulthood enough to leave them out of it. So, if L is indeed an adult, and this is who she is, do I give it up?
  6. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Because there's nothing wrong with them! They're perfect! It's everyone else that's wrong! (Don't know whether to use the "wink" or "cry" emoticon.)
  7. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    A person with narcissistic personality disorder:
    • Reacts to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation
    • Takes advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
    • Has feelings of self-importance
    • Exaggerates achievements and talents
    • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love
    • Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
    • Requires constant attention and admiration
    • Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy
    • Has obsessive self-interest
    • Pursues mainly selfish goals.
    :surprise: OMG Witz! Throw in alcoholism, drug abuse, and a lot of plain ol' MEAN and you have just perfectly described my ex-husband! And if that's what he is, then no, I don't think these types will ever change much! His whole life is ruined and in shambles but he will never get help because obviously there is nothing wrong with HIM ... it's everybody elses' fault! He's lost his home, his marriage, his children, his job, his health, and now the rest of his family but still doesn't see it! Not HIS fault! Nothing wrong with HIM! It's everybody else! And with that attitude it's very unlikely that he will ever voluntarily get help because he just doesn't see it - absolutely refuses to see that the problem is HIM!
  8. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Wow. I have never researched this. that list was spooky. It defines my brother to a T. I mean, each and every thing listed screams about my brother!!!!
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Witz, Dr. Midwest Mom here :tongue: with my numerous degress in The School of Hard Knocks, has believed, ever since finding out about the symptoms of the disorder, that many of our young kids and most of our older kids who can't get it together have Borderline. I think it fits better. Also, people with personality disorders tend to have a combination. I'm just learning about them since I realize I have one (or several). I'm much better now, but it shocked me when I looked at borderline's symtpoms. I had a lot of them and still have to fight certain ones. There is help for it, but one has to be very committed to working very hard on themselves. The DSM is going to start calling it "Emotional Dysregulation Disorder" and my t-doctor tells me it will go from Axis II to Axis I (or at least many psychiatrists think it should).

    Borderline Personality Disorder:

    • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
    • A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
    • Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
    • Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
    • Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
    • Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
    • Chronic feelings of emptiness
    • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
    • Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
    (my own notes)
    Cutting and substance abuse are big red flags. These are the world's drama queens. They can be the sweetest people on earth. When they think they've been crossed or are being abandoned, they can be abusive.
    Some medical professionals think it IS inherited. Adopted kids of problematic parents tend to have a higer criminal tendency than the average person...they are more like their biol. parents than their adoptive parents. I personally think my family of origin should be called The Personality Disorder Family. Father is sort of narcistic. Mom...borderline? Sister defilnitely borderline. Me, borderline and avoidant (better with lots of therapy). Brother is either Aspergers or avoidant. This doesn't include my funky extended relatives!!! No wonder none of us get along!!!
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2009
  10. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I don't suppose it really matters whether personality disorders are hard-wired or acquired, although from experience with family members I tend to think they're hard-wired. My mother fits Narcissistic Personality Disorder to a T, and it's taken years for me to figure that out, come to grips with it, and stop fantasizing that she's going to ever act in a loving way toward anyone else. She can be sweet and apparently thoughtful and loves to take care of people - as long as it serves her agenda and pumps up her view of herself. But not a moment longer. She can respect boundaries and act appropriately toward family members, if there's no other way to get what she wants. But the moment she has what she wants it's back to her usual ways. I hate that I always have to be on guard with her and won't ever have a loving relationship with her, but she just isn't capable of it.

    I have a sister who has borderline personality disorder for sure; she totally fits criteria but has no insight. In her view she's always the victim. She's very very good at 'hoovering' - drawing others into her dramas, and I've been taken in over and over, even when I know better. I think .... think I'm getting better but it means keeping extreme distance.

    And difficult child - his new psychiatrist started asking questions pertaining to borderline personality during the first interview and I thought, hooray! Because I see so many of those traits - but then the guy got off track and I don't know his conclusion. I think difficult child has it and am trying to cope with his difficulties keeping that in mind. It's humiliating sitting there having a psychiatrist ask about early abuse etc., since that seems to be the accepted 'cause' of Borderline (BPD) these days. It's difficult child who has abused us all his life! I feel like mothers of schizophrenics must have, back when schizophrenia was attributed to 'refrigerator mothers'. Bleh.
  11. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I did research on this a couple of years ago in relation to my sister's behavior. Unfortunately, she is the one closest to me geographically, though not emotionally. I love her but can only take her in very small doses. It took some counseling for me to learn how to not only detach from her drama and outburst, but to also preserve my own personal sense of sanity and not feel victimized by her and her actions. She has a family, I work for her H, and am close with her oldest son. It's been difficult to say the least and I've posted about her here several times.

    So, Witz, do you ever stop worrying? I don't know if that's something you can simply turn off. Having a true diagnosis of what L's issue is will help you put some of her behaviors into perspective and with some practice, you could teach yourself how NOT to get sukked into her vortex of insanity and skewed thinking. You should be able to listen (or hang up and not listen) without feeling guilty about it or her or anything. Keep reminding yourself that there really isn't anything you can do to change the way she views things or how she reacts to certain situations, or her sense of overblown self worth (and on the other hand, perhaps her feelings of exremely low self worth).

    It was a daily practice for me for a while there in dealing with my sister. And in my case, this practice really helped me in terms of dealing with difficult child and even my H on some levels. The amazing thing about my sister is that she is an over achiever. She researched and learns new things all the time; she's constantly reinventing herself and exploring other areas outside of the mundane. She's extremely intelligent and I certainly cannot take that away from her, not would I want to. But what's nuts is that she seems to try and solicit compliments and major kudos for every one of her small or large accomplishments, as if having accomplished them for her own self isn't enough. She says disparaging things about herself but prefices those remarks by listing all the amazing things she's done. My sister is 53 years old. At this stage of the game, I really don't think it's healthy for her to be soliciting congratulations for every little thing she does, especially when she's already resepected and well-regarded in so many circles. It's just wierd. And if you do compliment her in any way, she blows you off and sometimes will even become hypercritical of your compliment, accusing of you of having an ulterior motive for the compliment.

    Anyway, as you already know, it's difficult dealing with someone like this. But thankfully, now that you know what you know, you can turn the focus back on you and how you will react or behave to keep your own sanity. There really isn't anything you can do to change her or make her see this and do something about it. Hugs~
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    My kids don't have this, but at times, I have seen some entitlement issues with- both of them. However, my father does have this and it has been hideous for my mother and I. As time progressed, it only worsened. I do believe it stemmed from a combination of things...stress in childhood, not enough boundaries, a period of time of physical abuse...a combination of many factors. I also believe that if two or three things had occurred relatively early in his life, it may have improved. 1) That his mother, when he was a young adult...put her foot down and spoke up and said 'enough is enough' and set boundaries/put counsequences in for bad behavior and 2) My mother had separated from him when his behavior was out of control and moved forward with her life in a healthy manner 3) He had received good advice/counsel from healthy advisors and similarly had been motivated and received 4) therapy. However, such folks are not likely to ask for therapy and/or do the work.

    I do believe there are good books on the subject. Doesn't Scott Peck have one? His is rather extreme. I'm sure there are others. There's the Walking on Eggshells book (about Borderline (BPD)). My friend's son has NPD and it has been VERY difficult. He has fathered many children and refuses to be productive in life. She is doing her best to force his hand and he is slowly moving forward, but it is like pulling teeth. I think she needs to push a little harder. It gets harder and harder as they get older and they know this and use it to their advantage.

    Absolutely do NOT play her game (s). Do NOT let her treat you poorly. Let everything she says negatively about you go in one ear and out the other. If it gets ugly tell her she is not allowed to speak with- you like this and if necessary, hang up. If she texts you repeatedly, don't answer and if it gets abusive or weird/change your phone or cancel text on your phone for a month and put it back on later with-o telling her. (Just let a few select folks know it is back on and swear them to secrecy). Tell her you took text off your phone and wont be putting it back on.

    Listen, help her when and where you can and only if she is not abusive. Read up on this disorder. She might have it. Arm yourself. You will feed into her mess if you worry about her excessively and give in to her 'demands.' Offer her therapy if she is willing to go for it.

    Explore what you need and enjoy in life. Your daughter is past 18. She has to work this out for herself. If she is unwell and willing to get help, you might help her get professional help if you are willing and able to provide this.

    IN the mean time....... Enjoy life woman.
  13. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I've often wondered if Oldest doesn't have a combination of both narcisstic and borderline. I certainly suspect her father does. It's very frustrating to deal with, I know.
  14. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    I think it isn't exactly giving up hope--it is more accepting that this is the way your difficult child is and may always be. You can then accept her on those terms and not spend energy hoping she will be different or expecting different behaviors, etc. If, some day, she does change, then great. But meanwhile you accept her as she is now and go about your life. I've had to do this with my difficult child and I feel much calmer and less frustrated with her. I don't keep expecting her to be better--I hope she may be some day but I have no real expectations of it and I don't feel guilty because I've done everything I can, now it is up to her. For all I know she likes all the drama and chaos, etc. I don't want to live the way she does but I'm not her--she can live any way she likes.

    Hope you have a better day--that's a heck of a lot of text messages!!

  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I think this fits many of our children, and have considered it for L, but there are too many big ones here that don't apply. No suicidal ideation, no self harm, an unstable and intense personal relationship, to be sure, but no "a pattern of them". She's been with this guy too long for that, and she will hold on to a man forever if allowed. No problems with self-image - she's certain that she's the most beautiful girl in the room.

    Narcissism seems to fit her much better. The inability for anything to be about anyone other than her is just creepy.
  16. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Witz - first of all - HUGS. And lots of 'em.

    After we're done there... Borderline fits many difficult children to a tee, especially Onyxx. But NPD - wow, I do know a few people like this. And have you ever heard the phrase "help yourself first"? Well... NPD's don't think they have any problems... It's everyone else.

    Has L ever show you that she believes anything is her fault? See... I can't diagnosis her of course. But from what I have read over time - maybe... Maybe not.

    More hugs 'cause I know it's not easy. Even if I don't know everything.
  17. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    There are absolutely no problems that L can see. She's so goal oriented, and the goal is always herself. There is no question in her mind that if someone doesn't have her as their goal, the only solution is to force that person into valuing and achieving her goal. Lie, cheat, steal, cry, beg, break things, coerce, bribe - or should I say promise and tantalize because she has nothing of her own - nothing is too low for her to sink to.

    Back in the day there was a song by The Spin Doctors called "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" that so suited her to a T. It used to totally blow her out of the water when we'd reply with "Little Miss, little Miss, little Miss Can't Be Wrong."
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Here is a link to a message forum that deals specifically with various personality disorders. They have one for antisocial, one for narcissism, one for borderline, one for histrionic and one for avoidant. Each board's disorder is explained in detail on the sticky posts on the top. They're interesting. People with the disorders and those who deal with them both post. The antisocials are downright scary. The Narcissistic kind of are too.
  19. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Witz, I don't think it's actually giving up. It's acceptance as this is the person she is and there is probably nothing that is going to change that fact. It lets you move past the point of attempting to change her/hope she can change....and get on with life.

    I've went thru this with Travis many times with his various dxes. First was with the vision loss. Years of trying to find the cause with utter frustration, years of attempting to prevent more loss from this unknown cause.....and failing. Then we had a computorized test that measured the function of his optic nerves......which when the results came back explained nearly all of it. With damage to the optic nerves, there is no recovery, no treatment except to use glasses to attempt to give him as much vision as possible....other help aides to that affect.

    It was devistating. I felt like someone had ripped a rug out from under me.

    Then with the whole Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), CP, and autism thing.........He's come so amazingly far. No doubt. But reached his limits for the most part. Travis will always be autistic. However he is not severely so. He will always have all the disabilities created by the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that go along with his CP. His brain recovered as much as it could, there's not where else to go.

    That was tough. I spent a life time (his) striving for him to acheive not "normal" but all the things he wanted to acheive.......and oh, I think around age 18 or so it hit me like a 2 ton truck that he most likely may remain a much lower level of disability than any of us (him included) wanted/expected.

    I grieved terribly, bawled, got mad all over again......the whole spectrum. Then the acceptance came. Travis is Travis. That's it. The good and the bad. It is who he is.

    The tough part for me, at least, was turning off that warrior Mom trying to fix it mode I'd been stuck in since he was born. That took some time. And some effort, cuz I'd catch myself doing it and would have to make myself stop, literally.

    I dunno. Maybe it would work better if I used my Mom as an example. Although I've never attempted to actually help her to any real degree. Mom is schizophrenic......and not pleasantly so. She will not get treatment. The couple of times I tried.....she made it to maybe 3 appointments, the medications went into the toilet. I can't change who she is. And honestly, she's just my Mom. When she's in an episode.....the diagnosis is foremost in my mind, I don't take anything out of her mouth with a grain of salt.......otherwise, we get along fine these days. We've gotten quite close actually.

    I've not delt with NP.......but it may be with acceptance, regardless of her actual diagnosis, may help you just roll with behavior you know is related to that, not take it as anything really but the disorder, and get past it much easier than you did before.

    Heck.......I don't know if I'm expressing it right.

  20. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    I think you explained very well--it was the same thing I was trying to say only you expressed it much better!:) It does make life so much easier when you come to an acceptance place, quit fighting a losing battle, accept things as they are.