Narcissistic Personality Disorder

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

The axis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is the motivation to find and prove their existence. This is achieved by a pattern of grandiose attention seeking behaviours that fail to include concern for anyone other than the Narcissist himself as are indicated by five or more of the following from DSM IV:

  1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  4. requires excessive admiration
  5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  6. is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

A Narcissist hides his fear that he has no Self by overcompensating through exaggerations. Don't forget to look at me. If they are able to call attention to themselves, there must be a Self to call attention to. But their fear continues, they must continue to call attention as self-evidence that they exist.

The Narcissist is like a ghost who does not recognize he is dead. Place yourself in his situation; imagine dying without the awareness that you are dead and no longer corporeal. When you go out into the world with the intention of participating, no one notices your presence. Everyone and everything ignores you. You try to gain their attention by waving your hand in front of them, speaking louder and louder, hey I'm right hear, can't you hear me? But no, they can't. So you do something bigger, louder, more disruptive or grandiose and they still ignore you or fail to notice. You continue to physically and emotionally escalate your behaviour. Your fear is rising. There is one of you and hundreds of people who do not notice you; all of those people can't be wrong and thus perhaps you are mistaken; maybe you aren't real; maybe you are dead or worse, you do not exist. You now need the acknowledgement of others to prove to yourself that you exist. Descartes was wrong! Cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am) is not enough; you are thinking, but you do not seem to be.

You realize that you can stand in front of traffic and allow cars to pass through you or jump from sky scrapers. The narcissist gains attention, but there is a malfunction in the recognition of attention; it is not sufficient or is too fleeting to maintain his assurance in his existence. His brain is stuck in a feed-back loop wherein he must continue to create existence by eliciting attention and acknowledgement from external sources. Just as you are not able to survive without a constant supply of air, a narcissist is not able to survive without a constant supply of attention.

Since the narcissist has no personal sense of Self, he borrows. An invisible man can elicit notice by donning a mask and clothing or elaborate make up. The narcissist is an adept mimic, mirroring traits and personalities of people around them so that he can function socially.

Narcissists lack empathy. Of course they lack empathy! He wanders the world as an unseen ghost forcing to elicit attention through grandiose behaviours, and still according to his malfunctioning imagination, you have not noticed, or your notice is insufficient. He has thus far failed to prove his existence to you or to himself. Since you don't know he exists, you are unable to empathize with him--you are uncaring. Empathy and care are learned through reciprocation. A narcissist may have experienced care and empathy in his formative years, but his malfunctioning imagination prevented him from recognizing it and he failed to learn. Many narcissists may have experienced significant trauma in the formative years and may have never experienced care or empathy--giving them nothing to model.

Narcissists are sensate. They are able to mimic what they can observe through their senses--behaviours that are visual, audible...but internal things that are not observable such as feelings are not within their grasp. Never having learned empathy, a narcissist is incapable of empathy. Such internal attributes are learned early in life.

Since the Narcissist must borrow traits and behaviours to create a Self, he must also be void of power and must borrow--steal--it from others. Attention can be negative or positive, what is most important is that it empowers the Narcissist. Narcissists seek admiration and respect, but if they cannot have respect with admiration paring it with fear is also acceptable. A person must relinquish power for it to be usurped--though the act may not be conscious. Giving notice and attention to a Narcissist merely feeds the monster, training him behaviourally that his actions succeeded. Starve the monster and he must find someone else who will feed him.

If a narcissist feels you have tarnished his reputation and good name, he will persecute you without mercy not merely as an attempt to restore your name, but to gain and maintain power over you as a punishment for your insubordination.

I'm Kenda-Ruth and I believe in marriage.
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