Examining narcissistic personality disorder

He has some issues accumulated over the years, far deeper into them than she ever knew. She has been patient, loving, supportive, even when he has said some cruel things to her, then denies that he has been anything but good to her.

Some would suggest he might suffer narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). They might say she is a “self-sacrificing personality type.” Do these issues provide the right mix for “codependency”?

Narcissists don’t love themselves to excess, as many people believe. Actually, the opposite is said to be true. Cleveland Clinic defines NDP as “one of a group of conditions called dramatic personality disorders,” and advises sufferers have intense, unstable emotions and a distorted self-image “characterized by an abnormal love of self, an exaggerated sense of superiority and importance, and a preoccupation with success and power these attitudes and behaviors do not reflect true self-confidence. Instead, the attitudes conceal a deep sense of insecurity and a fragile self-esteem.”

Symptoms of NPD include:

– Self-centered, boastful

-Seek constant attention and admiration

-Consider themselves better than others

-Exaggerate their talents and achievements

-Believe they are entitled to special treatment

-Are easily hurt and might not show it

-Expect that others will go along with whatever they want

-Might take advantage of others to achieve their goals

-Can’t relate to the feelings, needs or views of others

-Hypersensitive to insults, criticism or defeat

-Arrogant behavior and/or attitude

It is thought the disorder develops from extremes in child-rearing, either neglect/abuse or over-indulgence by parents for their “special” children. People with NPD may abuse drugs or alcohol. They may not be able to have healthy relationships. They often end up with “soft-hearted givers” who have trouble walking away from the unhealthy relationship. This soft-hearted giver has been labeled, too, as a “self-sacrificing personality.” What is that, you ask? A self-sacrificing personality:

-Serves others

-Gives to others

-Lets their own needs wait until everyone else is taken care of

-Is selfless and magnanimous

-Is a saint

-Is a good citizen

These self-sacrificing souls are generous, ethical, honest and trustworthy, stick with their loved ones through thick and thin, don’t care to be the center of attention, preferring to be non-competitive. Their strong endurance and innocence put them at a disadvantage because they just don’t think about someone they love and care about exploiting them, disrespecting them. But, it happens.

Codependency is “a psychological condition or relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin); dependence on the needs or control of another. Codependency is when the relationship is more important to you than you are to yourself. It’s a one-sided relationship with one partner trying to make the relationship work with a partner who is not participating in the relationship.

For example, a self-absorbed partner is emotionally uninvolved. The proactive partner tries to take control of the situation and “fix” it. They may stay in the relationship because they don’t feel they have options. Low self-esteem causes negative self-talk that prompts them to stay in the unhealthy relationship. This person needs to take care of the self. There are other options.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues.

For more information about our education, prevention and treatment programs contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Ala-non meetings are held in the area, at Fleming House in Lisbon on Monday evenings and Oxford House in Salem at 6 p.m. on Fridays. These meetings are listed in the Salem News’ Community Calendar.