Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, August 15, 2016

Narcissist? Me?!

"Persons with narcissistic personality disorder are aggressive and boastful, overrate their performance, and blame others for their setbacks."
Dr. Giancarlo Dimaggio, Center for Metacognitive Interpersonal therapy, Rome

"[Underlying the behaviour of narcissists may be] secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation."
"[They may react with rage or contempt and] try to belittle the other person."
Mayo Clinic report

"Narcissism exists in many shades and degrees of severity along a continuum."
"[Many grandiose narcissists are drawn to politics, professional sports and the entertainment industry [enabling them to] demonstrate their winner status."
"A surprising number of extreme narcissists have experienced some kind of early trauma or loss [such as parental abandonment]. [Backgrounds could include] multiple failed marriages, extreme poverty and an atmosphere of physical and emotional violence."
Joseph Burgo, clinical psychologist, author "The Narcissist You Know"
The ancient Greeks known for philosophy, the plastic arts, admiration of the human form, participatory democracy and finessing sports activities, looked to a panoply of gods and demi-gods, monsters of various kinds and other supernatural beings to pinpoint and explain the origins of human emotions, character and behaviour. Narcissis was a young demi-god, a young man of surpassing beauty.

Narcissus and Echo
Narcissus and Echo

The water nymph Echo loved him, as did many young and beautiful nymphs and even other young men, but he rejected them all. He was completely self-obsessed. When he observed himself in a mirror-still lake he was fascinated with his own image and fell madly in love with himself. Echo, who repeated everything he said, faded away with the misery of unrequited love. And Narcissis himself did the same, since the image he saw in the lake failed to requite his love and join him.

Narcissism is a diagnosable personality disorder, occurring more frequently in males than in females. It is held to develop most often in the teen years or early adulthood, and time and age confers a greater obsession with self. It is entirely possible, however, that people with this personality disorder have an inherited genetic trait that leads them toward this type of obsessive pathology.

There are some figures that come readily to mind whose characters personify narcissism; most obviously the former president of Italy, Sylvio Berlusconi, and infamously the current Republican contender for the U.S. presidency, Donald Trump, both of whose outrageous behaviour shocked and titillated the public. Sport figures such as Lance Armstrong are also pointed to for the same reason as prime examples.

The American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual lists an impaired ability to recognize or identify  with the feelings and needs of others, grandiosity and feelings of entitlement, and excessive attempts to have attention focused on them. These are individuals who are by their very nature sociopathic. According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals bearing the traits of narcissism esteem themselves so highly they consider themselves vastly more important than others.

There is a tendency among such people to belittle others whom they feel are inferior to themselves And if special attention and treatment is denied these exemplars of supersized egoistic entitlements their fury becomes a phenomenon to behold. The disorder affects an estimated 0.5 percent of the population; any population -- and represents 6 percent of those who have mental or emotional disorders leading them to encounters with the law.

A study out of Italy concluded that narcissistic personality traits were present in up to 17 percent of first-year medical students; the self-obsessed cerebrally anointed, evidently. Living with a narcissist can be extremely difficult as they tend to destroy the stoutest of egos they are paired with through marriage, leading to high divorce rates.

This personality disorder is not recognized as one that drugs are capable of ameliorating. The method seen as most successful is 'talk therapy', undertaken over a prolonged period of years, to aid narcissists to understand the underlying emotions that lead to their sociopathic behaviour, and how to relate more appropriately with other people in the hopes of experiencing reasonable relationships.

But of course, the narcissist him/herself must find the motivation within to want to change and to seek help. The very condition which leads an individual to believe they personify perfection, makes it difficult for them to admit perhaps they are not perfect after all.

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