All publications of AROOJ SHAH . اسلام آباد , Pākistān
NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) first described by psychoanalyst Robert Waelder in 1925, is a disorder characterized by a long term pattern of grandiosity that refers to an unrealistic sense of superiority. NPD is characterized by a long term pattern of a sustained view of one’s self as better than others. A person with NPD craves admiration and struggles with empathy. They have a sense of entitlement. Although the causes of NPD are not well studied, it is most likely to develop due to unstable identity meaning not being satisfied with yourself or often to cope with a sub-par real life.
In a country like Pakistan, there was little to no awareness about mental health issues, but that seems to be changing as time passes. People have started to acknowledge these issues and seek help. I thought I could do my part and help bring light to another disorder called Narcissistic personality disorder, which I have observed in some people I’ve met in my life. Lately narcissism has been on a rise, in real life and on social media. It’s the topic of our time and is absolutely destroying people. Scientifically it occurs in men more than women, especially in early adulthood. So it is common for adolescents to show symptoms of this disorder. Nothing has more influence on a child’s development than his or her family and environment. Being rejected as a child, excessive praise including the belief that the child may have extraordinary abilities, a fragile ego during early childhood, are some of the stimuli for this disorder. Usually a person with narcissistic disorder may show signs of depression, or dysthymia which means mild depression symptoms, but the constant need of admiration would be prominent which differs it from a major depressive disorder. It is most similar to antisocial personality disorder, but with a lack of empathy. The person displays arrogance and a distorted sense of personal superiority; he wants to establish power and control over others regardless of his actual status or achievements. You cannot reason with a person who has NPD. The person cannot tolerate criticism. It is good to be proud of your accomplishments, but there is a certain limit to that too. What made me more interested in doing research about this particular disorder was a person I was familiar with online and in person, the narcissistic blogger as I would call her, focused her content for the upper class people and the expensive places she went to. I knew her through a common friend of ours. She would present herself as some highly educated person who is familiar with many famous and important people, when in reality she could have just met them once in her lifetime, she would lie about being friends with a famous personality, brag about her accomplishments which she thought to be more important than they actually were, and exaggerate her experiences. She could not take criticism at all and was incapable of showing gratitude to other people; these are all basic traits of a narcissistic disorder. Talking to her would drain the life out of me and I would become insecure, so I thought it to be best if I just distanced myself from that kind of person. Some psychotherapists stated that spending time with a person who has NPD is like second hand smoking, the person around the narcissist would be equally if not more, getting affected mentally. But it is a mental disorder; they are not in control of their actions.
Narcissists are manipulative. They think of themselves as above and better than everybody else. You will never hear a narcissist apologize for his/her actions. Another characteristic of a narcissist person is that they always play the victim in any situation. When things aren’t going their way they are quick to blame the world and feel like a victim themselves. They use that victim persona to justify their toxic personality. My personal opinion is that narcissists are basically pathological liars, they consciously withhold truths to maintain upper-hand in situations; they lie as easily and frequently as they breathe. But the pitiful part about this is that they are deeply insecure on the inside, and are actually suffering themselves. Their own inner turmoil is what also leads them to any type of substance abuse, starting from cigarette addiction.
There are two sub types of NPD, grandiose also known as overt narcissism and vulnerable narcissistic personality disorder. People with grandiose narcissism show a heightened mood and more energy when presented by a new idea, whereas vulnerable personality disorder also known as covert narcissism will show signs of slight anhedonia but despite the affective symptoms the need for having power over others and craving admiration would remain. People with covert Narcissism usually bring out the victim role play. Genetics play a role in the diagnosis of NPD in a person. Research states that a person has moderate to high likelihood of the heritability of NPD if said disorder occurs in the medical history of his family. Similarly Environment and other social factors also exert significant influence in the development of NPD in an individual. For example lack of emotional attachment to a parental figure can be a factor, because the child thinks of themselves as unimportant and unconnected to other people. Typically making them believe that they have a defect in their personality that makes them unwanted, which further leads to NPD.
When a person has NPD it is very likely that he/she might have other disorders as well, most likely depression or bipolar disorder, which makes it harder to notice symptoms. If you encounter a narcissist it is better for you to distance yourself from that person. But if it’s someone close to you that you love and cannot leave, seek help for them, suggest therapy and try helping them cope with situations in a healthier manner. Recovery from this disorder is basically dependent on the patients themselves. It is very hard to treat people diagnosed with Narcissistic personality disorder, because they do not consider their own issues as symptoms, when a problem is not acknowledged it cannot be treated. Another difficulty is that the treatments for narcissistic personality disorder have not been studied well. Psychotherapy has proved to be helpful but it is hard to get a person with NPD to get therapy despite their mental distress. These patients are labeled as difficult and their medical needs remain untreated. It is necessary to educate both patients and their providers for the welfare of society.