Posts Tagged ‘narcissistic personality disorder’

Yesterday I posted how narcissists seek out people below them on the social ladder while simultaneously trying to mix and mingle with those above them. I was fully expecting readers to message me about suspected narcissists in their lives; but I was completely surprised that the post inspired a Facebook friend to reach out and tell me that the post was a bit of mirror to his/her own behavior.

In this friend’s own words:

“Confession: I have ‘gone slumming’ to boost my self-esteem. I have a friend from middle school who had a nasty drug problem (but traded it in for a less nasty one). I only hear from her when she needs help, and instead of ignoring her, when it “serves to build me up” I help her out. Helping this woman, who has been incarcerated, has prostituted herself, and has Hep-C makes me feel like less of a fuck-up.”

First of all, I commend this person for having the courage and the self-awareness to see him/herself in the post. While it’s easy to learn about the traits of the personality disordered and start pointing one’s finger at others, it’s much harder to take a sobering look at oneself and say, “Wait a minute… I do that.” Further, it took a lot of guts on this person’s part to share this information with me, especially knowing how critical I can be of those who show strong narcissistic traits. Thing is, this person has nothing to worry about from me.

One thing about narcissistic traits: we ALL have them. In fact, in small doses, we actually need them since these behaviors are an adaptation to help ensure our survival as both individuals and as a species. It’s only when these traits become pathological that a problem might occur, particularly if a person displays the characteristically narcissistic trait of having no empathy for others and/or using people as objects.

By his/her own admission, my friend is using” his/her friend – and the friend’s misery and poor choices – to make him/herself feel better about him/herself. Given my friend’s self awareness in this matter and implied regret, I would be remiss to label him/her a narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder, per se. That said, it could be that my friend displays certain “destructive narcissistic patterns” (DNP) that he/she needs to resolve.

Based on the small amount of information I received, it would appear that my friend might possess a certain modicum of low self-esteem. This is evidenced by his/her need to “go slumming,” as they put it. His/her message to me hints that he/she might not be helping his/her friend out of the goodness of his/her own heart but rather to make him/herself feel superior by surrounding his/herself with someone with character flaws.

Though I’m NOT a therapist or life coach, I do know enough about DNP to suggest to my friend that he/she needs to seriously address why they have such low self esteem. Chances are, there’s something deeply embedded in their subconscious that continues to plague him/her, causing this person to seek validation from others.

Happiness and self-esteem has to be organic… it must come from inside ourselves in order for it to be genuine and life-affirming. Seeking outside validation is one of the most fruitless and frustrating of life’s pursuits because few people can read our minds enough to be able to give it to us, while those who know we need it refuse to give it for a myriad of reasons.

I hope this helps both my friend and anyone else who might have read yesterday’s post and saw themselves – even if ever so briefly – reflected within the words.

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder… there are so many fucked up people out there and diagnosing them is typically a matter for the experts. That said, after dealing with one sociopath, a couple narcissists, and former lover with BPD, I’ve noticed certain patterns began to emerge between all of them. They’re what I call the Secondary Traits of the Personality Disordered (or PD for short).

Below you’ll find a list an explanation of what I consider to be the Secondary Traits of the PD. I’ve shared them here in hopes of helping you determine whether that charming yet difficult person in your life is just a garden variety asshole or someone harboring a deeper, much darker secret. If the person you know displays two or more of these traits, chances are you’re dealing with someone with a personality disorder or PD for short. Read on…

Assumption of Authority
PDs by their very nature are authoritarian people and much has already been written on this. What I’ll focus upon is something I call “Assumption of Authority.” Simply put, the personality disordered tend to automatically assume that they are the authority in your friendship/relationship/business arrangement with them. In their minds, the matter has already been decided – if you’re going to have a relationship with them, it’s going to be by their rules because according to them, that’s just the way it is.

Because of the damage done to them in the past, these people are fanatical in their belief that they must remain in control of everyone and everything in their lives; it’s the only way to think they can prevent themselves from being hurt.

Assertion of Authority
Once authority in their relationships is assumed, it must be asserted, hence the second of the PD’s secondary traits. It’s not enough that they believe they’re in control, it’s of primary importance to them that you know and recognize that they are in control. And the way that they assert their authority typically follows a rather insidious pattern that starts out with small statements and gestures – you need to do this, don’t do that – early in the game. Sadly, many people don’t understand these early warning signs.

All too often, the other person in the relationship often laughs off or explains away the PD’s Assertions of Authority. Ask yourself if this sounds familiar: “Oh, he didn’t mean it that way.” Or this: “You don’t know him/her like I do.” If not put in check, the PD becomes emboldened and quickly escalates his/her assertions of authority until they are too egregious to ignore, such as demanding people change their lifestyles, relationships, and beliefs to suit the PD. Having not put the PD in check during the early stages of assertion, the other person often finds it difficult to reason with the PD or escape the relationships once his/her Assertions are at full blast.

Social/Moral Blind Spot
Most of us operate under the assumption that it’s generally good to be polite to people we meet in our day-to-day lives in hopes being treated in a similar fashion. It’s a basic social contract of sorts that’s meant to prevent our world from becoming a chaotic free-for-all of rape, robbery, violence, and murder. Because of their Social/Moral Blind Spot, the personality-disordered have no concept of this unspoken agreement between people in a polite and civilized society. Instead, the PD believes that he/she is owed civil conduct from others while simultaneously not being constrained by the expectations of society themselves.

The Social/Moral Blind Spot is likely an extension of the PD’s Assumption/Assertion of Authority complexes, as the PD will often treat others harshly and with no regard to the consequences of this behavior. Worse yet, all efforts to discuss this behavior with them will fail due to the PD’s stubborn insistence that he/she is entitled and even obligated to behave this way for their own protection and advancement of their interests, etc.

Singularity of Boundaries
To the personality-disordered, their personal boundaries are sacrosanct and they will guard them with a vehemence that’s downright violent. In layman’s terms, you can’t ask about their lives, touch any of their belongings, accidentally brush up against them, or do anything else that they interpret as an intrusion into their personal space. Even a simple question such as, “Did you go to the gas station today?” could be considered an infringement and cause them to fly into a rage.

The biggest problem with this outlook is that it’s highly singular, meaning that the only boundaries that the PD respects and/or recognizes are their own. And as jealously as he/she will guard against those who trespass against them, they will equally trample over the boundaries, rights, and privacy of anyone unfortunate enough to be in their lives. Reading other people’s mail, listening to their phone calls, and searching through – and using – their personal belongings are all fair game to the PD.

Force Majeure
The French term meaning “superior force,” Force Majeure is the best way to describe how the PD goes about irrationally imposing his/her will onto others. If there’s one thing all these secondary traits have in common, it’s the sense of grandiosity that accompanies and fuels them. Doing onto others while simultaneously expecting them to treat you with kid gloves is absolutely unrealistic and perhaps, deep down inside, the PD realizes this. Sooner or later, friends/loved ones/business associates will begin to question the unrealistically selfish nature of the PD’s expectations and to the PD, this comes across as extremely confrontational.

The only possible way for the PD to maintain the irrational inequalities of their expectations is to enforce them with violence or the threat of violence. In personal relationships/friendships, this can often mean physical violence. i.e. Force Majeure or the greater force. The PD’s basic assertion is that because they believe themselves to be physically superior to their victims, this is enough for their victims to comply with the PD’s demands; right or wrong is of no consequence. In the case of business relationships, the PD’s expectations are often enforced via implied or threatened termination of employment/contract/business relationship, which is still considered Force Majeure.

In Conclusion…
As previously stated, there are several types of personality disorders, each with their own unique set of traits and ways in which these traits manifest themselves. To further complicate matters, many of these traits overlap each other, adding more confusion to exactly what might be afflicting your friend/family member/spouse/partner/etc. Further, while I’ve had experience with people I’ve suspected of having personality disorders, I’m by no means a licensed expert. If the secondary traits I’ve listed above describe someone you’re currently involved with, seek professional help and plan a safe and effective exit strategy.

One thing I can tell you – and this will be backed up by professionals in the field – the personality disordered person in your life WILL NOT change and WILL NOT get better. In fact, things will continue to get worse. I urge anyone currently enmeshed with a PD to seek the help they need as soon as possible.

Stay safe, good people.

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

It was like a scene out of Office Space with a more twisted logic. The new employee sauntered over to my cubicle to inform me that I would be responsible for five sales per week in another department. The conniving little prick didn’t care that I already was juggling my department and another one that was handed to me after the former manager quit. He also didn’t give two shits that I hadn’t had a raise in two years. Nope! All he cared about was being a hero in front of the boss at my expense. To add insult to injury, he condescendingly told me that the boss “already gave me his approval for this.” The message was clear: resistance is futile and “Reverse Seniority” was in full effect …

My friends told me not the take the job. They said the boss, aka “Big Man,” was a demanding prick who expected everything but gave nothing in return. As proof, they said he would brag about his vacation to vacation to Cabo San Lucas to employees who hadn’t had a raise in years. Since I was dead broke college student, I was forced to ignore their warnings and work for “The Company.” (Cue “Imperial March” theme music.)

During my first few months on the job, Big Man was somewhat as my friends described. He drove his Porsche to the office every day, had a different Rolex for every day of the week, and loved to regale us with tales of vacations in faraway lands such as Jamaica, Mexico, and the French Riviera. All that said, he did manage to be nice to me during my first six months; he even regularly complimented me on my columns that appeared in the college newspaper.

About a year in, I noticed that I went from being the star employee to “just another lazy-ass college kid livin’ off his parents’ money.” (It never occurred to him that I took out loans and was working for him to pay my way through school.) According to him, my sales numbers weren’t high enough, my attitude wasn’t positive enough, and I simply couldn’t do enough for The Company. (Cue “The Imperial March” theme.) It bothered me until some of the old timers said not to take it personally, the same thing happened to them. So I soldiered on.

Things completely went to shit during my third year on the job. By then, a new crop of freshmen meant a new crop of employees who soon became the apple of Big Man’s eye. Three of them in particular – Overbite, Double Chin, and Mop Top – were particularly adept at lying, flattering, and sucking the boss’s balls enough to allow them to fly up the company ladder three rungs at a time. Soon, these rookies became the de facto managers and directors of we who’d been there for years. Everything came to a head the day Mop Top sauntered over to my cubicle and saddled me with the additional responsibilities.

As angry as I was, I knew there was no use arguing about it. Mop Top was Big Man’s new pet and the two of them had already made up their minds. Plus, I already knew Big Man’s take on human resources management: “If you don’t like it, there’s the door.” And even if I did complain about being overworked and underpaid, I already know what he would’ve said: “A company has only two priorities: to its profits and its stockholders.” It was a nice way of saying, “Fuck off! You don’t deserve anything.”

Needless to say, Big Man went through the roof when I quit. In a matter of seconds, he was reminded about how much he and The Company (Cue “Imperial March” theme.) actually needed me. But instead of conducting an exit interview to learn about his shortcomings as a leader, he chose to yell and scream at me. “How can you do this to me after all I’ve done for you?” he said. I had to point out to him that a company’s only priorities are to its profits and stockholders. As CEO of J.P. Ribner, LLC, I owed it to my stockholders – my wife and child – to earn more money with a company would pay me more and I my work would be appreciated. I’m sure the lesson was lost on him.

Sadly, reverse seniority is common amongst narcissistic bosses. Their attention spans are notoriously short and since they believe they’re entitled to everything, they’re unable to appreciate what any one employee has done. Also, quiet, steady, hardworking employees don’t create the kind of excitement that silver-tongued false flatterers do, so it’s easy for the slow-and-steady types to fade into the darkness while the spotlight is trained on the boss and his pets. If you have a narcissistic boss, my advice is simple: Fire them before they fire you. My only regret is that it took my three years to do it.

Cue “Imperial March” theme.