Narcissism in personality trait generally conceived of as excessive self love. In Greek mythology Narcissus was a man who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water.
From Children of the Self Absorbed: A Grownup’s Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents by Nina Brown
- Turns every conversation to him or herself.
- Expects you to meet his or her emotional needs.
- Ignores the impact of his negative comments on you.
- Constantly criticizes or berates you and knows what is best for you.
- Focuses on blaming rather than taking responsibility for his own behavior.
- Expects you to jump at his every need.
- Is overly involved with his own hobbies, interests or addictions and ignores your needs.
- Has a high need for attention.
- Brags, sulks, complains, inappropriately teases and is flamboyant, loud and boisterous.
- Is closed minded about own mistakes. Can’t handle criticism and gets angry to shut it off.
- Becomes angry when his needs are not met and throws tantrums or intimidates.
- Has an attitude of “anything you can do, I can do better.”
- Engages in one-upmanship to seem important.
- Acts in a seductive manner or is overly charming.
- Is vain and fishes for compliments. Expects you to admire him.
- Isn’t satisfied unless he has the “biggest” or “best.”
- Seeks status. Spends money to impress others.
- Forgets what you have done for them yet keeps reminding you that you owe them today.
- Neglects the family to impress others. Does it all: Is a super person to gain admiration.
- Threatens to abandon you if you don’t go along with what he wants.
- Does not obey the law—sees himself above the law.
- Does not expect to be penalized for failure to follow directions or conform to guidelines.
- Ignores your feelings and calls you overly sensitive or touchy if you express feelings.
- Tells you how you should feel or not feel.
- Cannot listen to you and cannot allow your opinions.
- Is more interested in his own concerns and interests than yours.
- Is unable to see things from any point of view other than his own.
- Wants to control what you do and say—tries to micromanage you.
- Attempts to make you feel stupid, helpless and inept when you do things on your own.
- Has poor insight and can not see the impact his selfish behavior has on you.
- Has shallow emotions and interests.
- Exploits others with lies and manipulations.
- Uses emotional blackmail to get what he wants.
- May engage in physical or sexual abuse of children.
(View original source here.)
One thing I “suspect” is that narc dads probably molest their daughters more than other abberant personality types (this is JUST my suspicion so don’t quote me on it.) It would go along with the 2nd list directly above which includes sexual molestation. It also fits right in with that sense of entitlement and envy as in “She’s mine and I don’t want any other man touching her so I’ll introduce her to the wonders of my sexual prowess so that she knows what a true master in bed is like” or something equally creepy.
I remember a woman in a church based recovery group back in 1996 and her father had molested her. She is still, to this day, the most wounded human being I’ve ever met and I remember thinking how awful it must have been to have your own father sexually molest you. And I wondered how a woman could ever trust “Father God” coming from that. She didn’t and she was so broken, fearful and wounded.
That was when I found out the word for God “Abba” does NOT indicate male but instead indicates “one who sustains.” If you have a hard time with the idea of a loving father God due to a horrible relationship with your own father, look to God as “Abba” God who loves you and sustains you. God is both male and female and above humanity in every way. This helped me to trust the Lord when I was struggling with issues about my own fathers (all 4 of ’em!) and my prayer is that this helps you too.
The above lists describe characteristics as opposed to delving into specific behaviors. I highly recommend reading how narc moms act (view here) because I suspect that the behaviors are similar and if you’re trying to figure out if your father is a narcissist, the TYPES of behaviors and words that are probably common for both male narcissists AND female narcissists may help you.
As the son of a narcissistic father you never feel that you can measure up. Dad was so competitive, that he even competed with you. (Or, didn’t pay attention to you one way or the other.) You may have accepted defeat – you’d never outdo your dad. Or, you may have worked hard to beat Dad at his own game just to get his attention and some semblance of fatherly pride. You somehow never feel good enough even when you do succeed, you still feel empty and second rate.
Just like girls need to be adored by their fathers to feel validated, boys also need their dad to believe in them. You may even become a narcissist yourself. This way you get Dad’s attention (after all imitation is the highest form of flattery); and you learn from your old man how to manipulate and use people.
Daughters of narcissistic fathers often describe feeling “unsatiated” when it to comes to getting what they needed from their fathers. They never got enough and would have to compete with siblings for time with Dad. As a young child, Dad would comment on how beautiful you were. But as you grew older, he would rarely miss out on commenting on weight and attitude. You probably carry these concerns into adulthood, even if you found success. With a Dad like this, it’s never enough. With men (or women), you often feel vulnerable and worried you’ll be dumped for someone else. Anxiously avoiding commitment or taking on the narcissitic role are both natural ways to keep relationships safe; it’s understanble and self protective.(But, you lose.)
A daughter needs her dad’s adoration; it validates her and helps her internalize her specialness. Healthy fathers give their girls that gift. You are special and deserve love, for being you.
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm (that they cause) does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves”. ~ T.S. Eliot
You used to think that by the time you were in your twenties and definitely by your thirties you’d have your act together – you’d be establishing a successful career, have your own place, be in a committed and stable relationship, visit the gym enough to have the body you always wanted and your social life would be vibrant.
But, you’re nowhere near where you thought you’d be, and the tiny boxes next to the list of achievements that you’d hoped to accomplish are still unchecked.
As your confidence deflates, you look back on your own upbringing, and think about your father – Mr Self-Assured. He seemed to have it all – charm, success, popularity and he never seemed to be plagued by self-doubt, unlike you. He was the hit of the party, knew everyone and made things happen. You couldn’t get enough of him.
How Kids Experience Narcissistic Traits:
Come to think of it, did his confidence border on arrogance? Is it possible that you were raised by someone with narcissistic traits? And if so, why is it important?
We take our families for granted – it’s natural that we do. Each family is a miniature sociological experiment, with its own set of unwritten rules, secrets, and nuanced behavioral patterns. We take our mom and dad for granted; like this must be what it’s like for everyone. Your dad may have been narcissistic, but you just assumed that all fathers were like him.
Here are some signs that your dad had narcissistic tendencies or was an out-rightnarcissist.
- Dad was self-centered and pretty vain. He had an inflated sense of self-importance that led him to believe he was superior and entitled to only the best.
- Dad used people for his own good. He would take advantage of others, to the point of exploiting them when it suited him. Everybody seemed to cater to him, or at least he expected them to.
- Dad was charismatic. Everyone wanted to be around him and he relished admiration from others. He loved being in the spotlight and the positive reinforcement that came from being the center of attention.
- No one had an imagination like Dad. Grandiosity is alluring, and so were hisfantasies of success, prestige, and brilliance. He would often exaggerate his achievements, and his ambitions and goals bordered on unrealistic.
- Dad didn’t take criticism well. Nothing stung him like criticism; he often cut those people out of his life, or tried to hurt them.
- Dad’s rage was truly scary. Some people get mad and yell a lot. Dad could hurt you with his anger. It cut to the bone.
- Dad could be aloof and unsympathetic. Narcissists often have a hard time experiencing empathy; they often disregard and invalidate how others feel. Of course, he was exquisitely sensitive to what he felt, but others were of no mind.
- Dad wasn’t around a lot. He got a lot of gratification outside the family. Other fathers hung out with their families a lot more. Plus, he craved excitement and seemed to be more concerned by what others thought of him, rather then how his own kids felt about him.
- Dad did what he wanted when dealing with you. Narcissists don’t step into someone else’s shoes very often. He did things with you that he enjoyed; maybe you did as well.
- Dad wanted you to look great to his friends and colleagues. You were most important to him when he could brag about you; sad but true.
- You couldn’t really get what you needed from him. Even if Dad provided on a material level, you felt deprived on a more subtle level. For example, you wanted his attention and affection, but would only get it sporadically, and only when it worked for him.
When you go through these traits, some may hit home; while others may not be relevant. Some may ring as very true; while others as less so. This is why narcissitic traits are not synonomous with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Narcissism is not a dirty word, in fact, narcissistic traits are commonly found in most of us. There’s nothing disturbed about that. The other extreme is the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a controversial, but often helpful label. For the record, our diagnostic categories are somewhat arbitrary and lack the veracity of harder medical diagnostic labels like a broken femur or glaucoma. These disorders are easier to document and study.Personality Disorders help us organize our thinking about an individual, but may fall far short of a truthful depiction of a whole complex person.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a person is narcissistic or merely has a healthy self regard. Narcissism isn’t about having high self-confidence; it’s a love for oneself that has morphed into a preoccupation. The term is based on Narcissus, the Greek mythological character who was so infatuated with himself, that it ultimately proved fatal.
Although it’s not actually fatal, narcissism can become so pathological that it satisfies the criteria, however faulty, of a personality disorder. The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR) defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) 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 the following”:
- wanting to be admired
- having a sense of entitlement
- being exploitative
- lacking empathy
- being envious
Another characteristic typical of narcissists is a disregard of personal boundaries. Narcissists don’t always acknowledge the need for boundaries which is coupled with their failure to realize that others do not exist merely to meet their needs. A narcissist will often treat others, especially those that are close to him, as if they are there to fulfill his needs and expectations.
Now that you have a firm grasp on what a narcissistic father may be like, let’s take a look at how he might affect his kids. (We will get to narcissistic mothers another time.)
How a Narcissistic Father Can Hurt his Son or Daughter:
Narcissistic parents often damage their children. For example, they may disregard boundaries, manipulate their children by withholding affection (until they perform), and neglect to meet their children’s needs because their needs come first. Because image is so important to narcissists, they may demand perfection from their children. The child of a narcissist father can, in turn, feel a pressure ramp up their talents, looks, smarts or charisma. It can cost them if they fulfill their Dad’s wishes – and it can cost them if they fail. No winning here.
In general, here‘s how a narcissistic father can affect a daughter or son.
I don’t know if you are familiar with “Schrodinger’s Cat”. To summarize, it is a thought experiment in which an imaginary cat is in a sealed box with some poison and radioactivity (Schrodinger obviously had a very fun and light imagination). Given the experimental design, it is looking at when possibilities are collapsed into one reality. The cat is either alive or dead, not both, and this is determined by opening the box and observing the state of the cat. Some would classify this under the “observer effect”- that is the observer plays a role in determination.
Whenever I interact with narcissists, however, I think of Schrodinger’s cat. Narcissists are magicians at creating a particular perceived reality. There may be no evidence to support this reality, but this does not stop the narcissist. They truly believe the observer (which would be them) clearly determines the state of reality. Their observations…
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Are we more narcissistic than ever before?
There was once a young man named Narcissus who was so vain that he fell in love with his own reflection in the water and died. In some versions of the mythological tale from Ancient Greece, Narcissus was transformed into a flower that today carries the name narcissus, or daffodil. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/are-we-more-narcissistic-than-ever-before-9696775.html Continue reading “Selfies, social media and video challenges”