So, my post about the face tattoo girl generated a good number of comments. More than I usually get. Some were thoughtful, some were reactionary (thinking I hate men because this one example involved a possibly NPD male? My goodness.), some were ad hominem arguments.
From the wide variety of comments, I noticed that people don't really get what narcissistic personality disorder is, nor do they understand what it's like to be abused/controlled by a partner with NPD. Such abuse doesn't necessarily strip people of their agency, nor does it excuse enabling behavior or abuse of others. However, abuse can f*ck with your brain and emotions. That's why I talk about psychological and emotional abuse--to me, the two run together so I tend to use the terms interchangeably, but they are separate types of abuse that tends to happen together. Comorbid abuse?
For example, I kind of understand why, on a clinical level, why my mom stayed with dad and bought into his twisted worldview, even though she has her own "agency." It's common among victims to minimize the abuse, justify staying, etc, because it's too damned painful to acknowledge the truth. After a while, you start actually BELIEVING what the disordered person says is right. You start believing that the abuser is more important than you in many ways, so you keep giving of yourself to satisfy his never-ending need for admiration and servitude.
Anyway. To help clear up some of the NPD stuff, here's the basics. First off, NPD hits both men and women. I don't get why some of the guys were so reactionary to my face tattoo post. Honestly, if it were the other way around, warning bells would still be clanging.
There are plenty of guys out there being emotionally and psychologically battered by these crazy ladies--except they're not "just" emotional. They're abusive. Abuse is abuse, no matter the excuse. I found a pretty good article about abusive women for guys.
A big YES to the fact that borderline personality disorder is so close to narcissistic personality disorder. There's a ton of overlap and comorbidity among the cluster B personality disorders. A big kudos to pointing out that the NPD (and BPD for that matter) person will often paint black people who don't agree with them--including couples' therapists.
I like the list they provide detailing the effects a NPD person has on their non-disordered partner, child, friend, family member. If someone you know does stuff/makes you do stuff from the list below...well, I'd say find a therapist for YOU first of all. Then go from there.
- Censoring your thoughts/feelings (note--often turns to self-censoring thoughts)
- Everything is your fault
- Constant criticism
- Control freak
- Dr Jekyll and Mr/Ms Hyde
- Your feelings don't count
- Questioning your own sanity
- Say what? But I didn't say/do that. You did---in their highly distorted view of reality.
- Isolating yourself from friends and family
- Walking on landmines/eggshells.
- Painting black/white. One minute you're golden and white and good, the next you become evil in your partner's eyes.
- Uneven playing field. They make and break the rules to trap you.
- You're a loser, but don't leave me. Also known as, "I hate you! Don't leave me!"
Melanie Tonia Evans has a good, and longer, list of NPD behavior, including the fun (sarcasm) gaslighting techniques they use. She also has a point that NPD people are basically like perpetual emotional toddlers.
My absolute favorite on the subject of personality disorders is outofthefog.net as it is the most comprehensive, straightforward, and organized of the variety of websites that talk about the subject of NPD and other personality disorders. It has a comprehensive list of the various abusive techniques people with NPD use on others, and links out to explanations of each of the abusive maneuvers. It also explains some terms like FOG, or "Fear, Obligation, Guilt."
Speaking of FOG--that's probably a more succinct way of explaining why, just why, people STAY so long with personality disordered partners, parents, etc, and keep subjecting themselves to abuse. Fear. Obligation. Guilt. Also, "Hoovering," which involves sucking the victim back into the relationship by temporarily being "good." Before switching right back to the abusive behavior, that is.
It doesn't mention flying monkeys, which are people who are either still in the FOG or simply are plain clueless, who try to "repair" the relationship by guilting the victim to go back to the abuser to make everything all hunky-dory again. A couple of people I know are/were flying monkeys. Some realized the gravity of the situation eventually. Others...I'm not sure about yet.
The biggest thing about NPD is that the disordered person can put on such a good face to the public. I have been told by people about how awesome my dad is. I've been told by others that they had no idea that such abuse was going on at home, behind closed doors, because he puts on such a good face. NPDs can twist events, memories, etc around to suit them. That's why they're so insidious. They can be invisible, unless some people heed some of the warning bells, or read between the lines.
That's why I wrote about the face tattoo girl. I was just getting a bad vibe from all the stories I read about their relationship, and suspected that the dude was NPD judging from behaviors passed off as normal.
It's not just bad behavior. It's not just a "choice." I highly suspected abuse. And I wrote about it.
So, to summarize, NPD people:
- can be either male or female (though it tends to be more prevalent in males than females)
- can (and often do) have other personality disorders at the same time
- about 6.2% of the population has/have had NPD
- the severity of NPD varies from the mildly jerkish to the full on nutso
- are emotionally and psychologically abusive in order to make themselves feel better
- are manipulative, which is kinda evident from the abuse designed to control you
- are all about themselves and want you to give of yourself to them
- frequently put on a good face to the public to make sure they look good to the world
- can twist things around to fit their disordered perception of the world. This twisting around of events and details can be so subtle that people may not notice until they're suckered in.
- make you doubt your own sanity and perceptions (which is honestly probably the most dangerous part, because without a realistic view of the relationship, it's darn near impossible to leave)
- can use religion to coerce people to support their own needs (I didn't talk about it, but hey, look at some of those freaky cult leaders. Not everyone are so obvious, though.)
- will paint you either black or white, good or evil, on their side or as the enemy.
- probably doesn't and won't ever realize they have NPD
I realize that I can't cover everything about NPD in a rather longish blog post. There's so many permutations and varieties. People have so many different experiences with NPDs. And I'm kinda sucking at my ability to summarize because, quite frankly, I'm having a hard time figuring out how to get the point across about just how dangerous someone with NPD is, especially the part about how easy it is for people not to notice the NPD traits.
However, I hope you read some of these articles, especially the one from the Out of the FOG website. The more people are able to recognize NPD, the more we can work together to maintain our own grips on reality, and the less damage the NPD person can inflict.
Filed under: Abuse