What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

More than likely, you found this blog because you are looking for resources to help you with an ex who has NPD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There are tons of really amazing resources online and I will be sharing some of my favorites. This is a place for me to talk about what’s going on in my life, attempting to co-parent with my husband’s ex-wife, who I have determined after much reading and research has NPD. It’s possible that she has Borderline Personality Disorder as well but she’s definitely a narcissist. It is helpful to explain what that means though.

Psychology Today explains: Narcissistic Personality Disorder involves arrogant behavior, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration-all of which must be consistently evident at work and in relationships. People who are narcissistic are frequently described as cocky, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. Narcissists may concentrate on unlikely personal outcomes (e.g., fame) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment. …Also, narcissists are usually physically attractive and charming at first glance, so they may have advantages when they first meet people (making a sale, getting a first date, gaining popularity). However, the long-term outcomes for narcissists are usually quite dismal, especially socially (e.g., long-term relationship difficulties). You can read more on their website.

The word “narcissism” is often used to mean people who seem in love with themselves, they take lots of selfies and spend lots of time on their appearance. That can be a symptom of NPD but it goes far beyond that. Symptoms of NPD include:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • 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)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  • via Psych Central

    I probably read everything about psychology I could get my hands on to try to figure out what was wrong with her, let’s call her Cruella, before I found NPD. Everything she says and does fits in almost exactly to the type of thing that is described in countless articles and firsthand experiences with narcissists. Sebastian once described living with her like this: “We would all tense up when it was time for her to be home. We would listen to her car door so that we could be busy when she came inside. You had to be seen working. You could not be sitting and watching tv or reading when she came in, she had to see you doing a chore, but then you had to immediately stop what you were doing and give her all your attention.” Shockingly that’s almost exactly how Psychology Today describes a Narcissistic Mother.

    Everything about the children was a reflection on her. If Bruce had acne she would say “You can’t go out looking like that, people will think you don’t have a mother that loves you.” Harley was expected to do all the activities her mother either couldn’t do as a child or activities that would reflect well on Cruella for having a “perfect” child: gymnastics, dance, every church activity, she was expected to have a lot of friends and be very skinny. Cruella refers to the little girl as her “clone” as though it makes HER more attractive to have a thin, beautiful child even though she is overweight and doesn’t have an especially pretty face. When Harley was just 11 and older high school boys would flirt with her, Cruella bragged about it like it was a compliment to her, even though it was highly inappropriate for 16-17 year old boys to be flirting with an 11 year old girl.

    Those that do not know Cruella very well think that she is almost perfect. She goes out of her way to cultivate that, not just on social media but in all aspects of life. She has many “friends” but few (one actual friend, and her sisters) close people that actually know her and spend time with her. Only a few people know that Bruce has come to live with us, due to her abuse, because even though she laments on social media that she never sees him, she allows people to assume he’s gone away to college. She brags about how great she is at her job, even though she changes jobs once a year due to coworkers and supervisors not liking her, although she characterizes it as though they were jealous and out to get her. Nothing is ever her fault. When she moved away from our home state, she told Sebastian it was his fault she had to move because she had married him and he was such a horrible husband and person, so she felt he should pay for her move. As it was, he “helped her load the U-haul” and when he showed up she hadn’t packed anything so he packed her whole house for her. She wasn’t even there for most of the time! In her mind, that was his fault because if he wasn’t so horrible to her then they’d still be together and she wouldn’t be moving. Literally nothing is ever her fault in her mind. Everything she has done or said that is horrible or abusive was deserved by Sebastian or Bruce, because of something they said or did that was worse and made them “deserve” to be abused. It’s really sad, when you take a step back and look at it, but that is how NPD is. They don’t even have a clue that what they are saying is delusional or not in touch with reality, because they literally don’t believe they are capable of being wrong.

    I’ll talk more about NPD as I blog, but this is a little window into what NPD is.