It’s hard to empathize with narcissists, but they didn’t choose to be that way. Their natural development was arrested due to faulty, early parenting, usually by a mother who didn’t provide sufficient nurturing and opportunity for idealization. Some believe the cause lies in extreme closeness with an indulgent mother, while others attribute it to parental harshness or criticalness. Although more research is required, twin studies revealed a 64-percent correlation of narcissistic behaviors, suggesting a genetic component. (Livesley, Jang, Jackson, & Vernon, 1993).
Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut observed that his narcissistic clients suffered from profound alienation, emptiness, powerlessness, and lack of meaning. Beneath a narcissistic façade, they lacked sufficient internal structures to maintain cohesiveness, stability, and a positive self-image to provide a stable identity. Narcissists are uncertain of the boundaries between themselves and others and vacillate between dissociated states of self-inflation and inferiority. The self divided by shame is made up of the superior-acting, grandiose self and the inferior, devalued self. When the devalued self is in the inferior position, shame manifests by idealizing others. When the individual is in superior position, defending against shame, the grandiose self aligns with the inner critic and devalues others through projection. Both devaluation and idealization are commensurate with the severity of shame and the associated depression (Lancer, 2014). Continue reading “Understanding the Mind of a Narcissist”
- Narcissists share certain key behaviors.
- One of the most common traits associated with narcissists is a lack of empathy, as well as an inability to relate to the emotions of others.
- While narcissists may appear to have an inflated sense of self-importance, this often stems from low self-esteem and insecurity.
- Intense feelings of shame can affect people’s personalities.
- Sometimes, if someone feels a lot of shame about their early life, it can turn them into a narcissist.
- This is because it’s easier to have a grandiose, arrogant mask than to face what’s gong on inside.
- By looking down on others, narcissists don’t have to imagine there is anything wrong with themselves.
In 2015, the Court of Appeal in England and Wales considered the case of Re P (a child)  EWCA in which the father was diagnosed by a forensic physiatrist as suffering from an “Histrionic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. The report summarised the father’s behaviour as follows:-
- He reacts to criticism (real or perceived) with feelings of rage;
- He is interpersonally exploitive taking advantage of others to achieve his own ends;
- He has a grandiose sense of self importance, e.g. exaggerating his achievement or talents;
- He expects to be noticed as “special” even without appropriate achievements;
- The corollary of this is his denegation of others without relevant cause;
- He believes his problems are unique and can only be understood by other special people;
- He is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love;
- He has a sense of entitlement and unreasonable expectation of especially favourable treatment; and
- He has a lack of empathy, inability to recognise and experience how others feel.
The result was a finding by an earlier court that the child P is likely to “suffer significant emotional harm arising from the adverse impact of the father’s mental health difficulties”. In part directly but also because of the impact of those difficulties on the relationship between the parents. Continue reading “Divorce – how narcissists are tackled by the Family Courts in England and Dubai”
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition is the guidebook used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders. Continue reading “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5™)”
The reception to the new DSM-5 has been mixed. The British Psychological Society (BPS) published a largely critical response in which it attacked the whole concept of the DSM. It stated that a “top-down” approach to mental health, where patients are made to “fit” a diagnosis is not useful for the people who matter most – the patients.
The BPS said: “We believe that any classification system should begin from the bottom up – starting with specific experiences, problems, symptoms or complaints.
“Since – for example – two people with a diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘personality disorder’ may possess no two symptoms in common, it is difficult to see what communicative benefit is served by using these diagnoses. We believe that a description of a person’s real problems would suffice.”
The UK mental health charity Mind took a more positive approach. The charity’s chief executive, Paul Farmer, said: “Mind knows that for many people affected by a mental health problem, receiving a diagnosis enabled by diagnostic documents like the DSM-5 can be extremely helpful. A diagnosis can provide people with appropriate treatments, and it could give the person access to other support and services, including benefits.” Continue reading “How has the DSM-5 been received in the UK?”