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The term ‘narcissistic’ originated from the story of a man named Narcissus who was obsessed with his own reflection in water. He could not tear himself from the reflection. He ended up dying of languor (Akhtar & Thomson, 1982). This personality disorder is common in the western culture.
About 1per cent of the general population is estimated to be suffering from this condition. However, the clinical diagnosis of people who have exhibited significant narcissistic traits ranges from 2-16 per cent (Sperry, 2003). It is estimated that 75 per cent of narcissistic patients are men.
This condition also goes hand in hand with substance abuse, reckless behavior that are impulsive, and other mental health disorders. It has caused a lot of friction in the society. Pain and distress has also been experienced by the affected individuals and the people around them (Vaknin & Rangelovska, 2003). This paper will discuss the narcissistic personality disorder and how it can be treated. The paper will further discuss the cultural and historical relevance of this subject, and how its knowledge benefits the society.
Narcissistic personality is a psychological disorder whereby individuals have a sense of self worth. The victims want other people to admire and acknowledge them. They disregard the feelings of other people. Also, they are only interested in what makes them superior to those around them.
This affects the rest of the community. It makes people avoid the victims as they are regarded as social misfits. The affected people demand to be acknowledged and respected by others while their capacity to acknowledge others is limited. They exaggerate their achievements and success to ensure that they are recognized as superior.
This gives them a feeling of self importance and achievement. They not only demand this recognition, but also work hard to achieve it. This desire to achieve gives them an obsession to fantasies like fame, fearless power, physical beauty, all-conquering love and even the desire to be everlasting (Vaknin & Rangelovska, 2003).
Diagnostic Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Clinical diagnoses have identified traits and characteristics that are associated with Narcissisms. For these people, their personality is defined by what other people think of them. If other people do not acknowledge of their potentials and capabilities, then they feel that they have to impress to gain admiration.
This is what makes them engage in outrageous activities oblivious of the outcomes. They do not care about what may befall them for their actions or the pain that they may inflict on other people. This attitude earns them social condemnation, and they often have to endure sanctions. This explains the disproportional response that they give to simple situations that do not make them insignificant in the society. These actions are compelled by the desire to fulfill their narcissistic psyche (Vaknin & Rangelovska, 2003).
Secondly, these people live in a world that is full or has nothing. For every discussion that they hold, they either reaffirm their existence or doubt their potential. To them, their daily activities and the way people respond to their arguments measures their position in society. If people do not regard them as superior, they feel inadequate and do everything in their power to warrant recognition. The narcissist will never take chances of self cohesion to take criticism positively.
The victim would rather face the consequences of proving his or her point even if it means risking the lives of others. He or she makes a point of refraining people from criticizing or expressing disapproval by going into threatening fits of temper and rage. Through these reactions, the individual manages to stop other people from provoking him to temper. The individual believes that his or her reaction is justified and the people who dare to criticize the actions should be punished (Roddingstam, 2005).
Thirdly, narcissists are convinced that they are unique and special. Therefore, they belong to the high social class and prefer being associated with high-status individuals. They believe that individuals of high social status can understand them, treat them well, and have the ability to challenge them (although they will never approve of it) (Ronningstam, 2005). The narcissistic supply sought is normally positive, but on other occasions, it can also be negative.
Such negative aspects include installing fear, being notorious, or even infamy. These are used to regulate the sense of self wealth as it is derived from other people (Vatkinin, 2003). They are either cerebral whereby they gain their self worth from their intelligence or academic prowess.
Others are somatic in that their recognition is obtained from their physique, talents such as sports, and their ability to lure others to do what they command them to do. Excelling in their fields of interest is a positive attribute. However, seeking to ensure that all people acknowledge them is not right. This may result to unnecessary conflicts even in cases where families and work is involved (Roddingstam, 2005).
Another characteristic is that of being interpersonally exploitive. They take advantage of other individuals while aspiring to achieve their goals. More often than not, this results to the infliction of pain and lack of empathy. This makes victims unable to recognize other people’s feelings and their needs. They are envious and often feel that others envy them too (Ronningstam, 2005).
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These behaviors define them as people who are full of arrogance, haughty, and have a negative attitude towards life and the community as a whole. This creates unhealthy competition that results to hatred and discrimination. This disturbs the peace that should exist among the society members. The individualistic nature of narcissists does not enable the victims to work in teams. This is because they regard teams with disdain and contempt (Perry, 2003).
Environmental factors have been associated with narcissism. Parents have been identified as a source of this disorder in cases where they pamper their children to make them believe that the world revolves around them. The children grow up while expecting the same treatment from the rest of the society, but this may not be the case.
This forces them to demand and exploit others to give them the special consideration that they expect. Therefore, proper parental guidelines should be provided to ensure that children blend with other society members in future (Perry, 2003).
Narcissistic personality disorder is a psychological problem that is treated through talk therapy. The prognosis of this condition is poor, especially among the adults. It takes quite a long duration before patients can adapt to life and interact with other people normally.
However, the situation improves with treatment. Together with talk therapy, medication can also be used in cases where side effects are experienced. For example, changes in mood and compulsive activities can be stabilized through medication (Perry, 2003). This involves guiding people on the regulation of self esteem from advancing into unrealistic self-inflation (Roddingstam, 2005).
The cognitive therapy treatment is an efficient way of eliminating this condition. It focuses on the modification of behavior. This helps patients enhance the empathy that they extend towards others. Controlling and diverting their attention from themselves to appreciate what others do and other behavioral traits that can easily be adopted.
This promotes the patients compliance with the instructions given by the therapists. It alters the dysfunctional thoughts that dominate the minds of narcissists. When the narcissists realize that their true self is not depicted by what others think of them, the healing process begins; with time, they can change their attitude (Sperry, 2003).
The narcissistic personality disorder has been a major cause of friction in families and work places. It has even resulted to separation of families, tense working environments, or even murder in cases where narcissists cannot control their temper. The desire to be acknowledged and treated as a superior has seen these individuals go to extreme measures of achieving this. Recognizing this disorder during the early stages of life is beneficial because the patient can be treated with talk therapy.
Engaging victims in this therapy help them recognize their weaknesses and control them. Many cases have gone unnoticed until a victim does a disgraceful act such as murder. If this condition is identified and monitored, the well-being of the society will also be addressed. Narcissists are not easily recognizable, but interacting with them eventually brings out who they are.
In corporations, they depict themselves as bullies; however, in politics, they depict conviction. If identified, they should be assisted through treatment to ensure that their condition does not advance to an uncontrollable stage.
Akhtar, S. & Thomson, A. (1982). Overview: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 139(1): 12-20.
Ronningstam, E. F. (2005). Identifying and understanding the narcissistic personality. New York: Oxford University press.
Sperry, L. (2003). Handbook of Diagnosis and Treatment of Dsm-lv-Tr Personality disorders. New York: Routledge.
Vaknin, S. & Rangelovska, L. (2003). Malignant self love: Narcissism revisited. Prague: Narcissus Publications.