I’m not talking about your friend who takes a thousand selfies, or your personal trainer who has spent a thousand hours in the gym to achieve those perfectly chiseled abs. Although any of the above might have narcissistic traits, I’m talking about the real deal: Narcissistic Personality Disorder, aka Sociopaths. They look like people, they have skin on, and often hold jobs and hobbies. Here’s the kicker…the lights are on but nobody’s home, “soul-ish” speaking. They could be quite intelligent, but there’s no conscience, no moral compass (for themselves not for you), their soul is gone (and it would take a literal act of God to find it). Think the movie The Terminator. He looks like a person, talks somewhat like a person, but there’s no emotion. A “cyborg” robot with no empathy, no ability to feel anything but anger, jealousy, and sorry for himself. And sure there are female narcissists, I’ve met one. Literally only ONE in my lifetime. Narcissists are usually male. Psychology Today Magazine says Narcissists only make up 1% of the population, but others might argue it could be 6-12% of the population.
The purpose of this entry is to educate you on what a true Narcissist/Sociopath is and to learn about the effects of Narcissistic Victims Syndrome (the PTSD of Narcissist Victims).
DSM-V is the diagnostic bible that shrinks and doctors use to slap a label on someone. It’s important to know that one can have TRAITS of narcissism (or any other personality disorder) but not be a full blown Narcissist. NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is marked by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), the need for admiration, and lack of empathy. The diagnosis requires five of the following:
- 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 he/she is special and unique. i.e. can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high status people.
- Requires excessive admiration.
- Has a sense of entitlement (i.e. unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with expectations. (note this may look so similarly to your addict loved one but more on addiction and narcissism later).
- Is interpersonally exploitative i.e. takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
- Is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings or needs of others.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
- Has arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Again, its important to note someone may have traits of the above, but if they don’t have at least five of them, they’re not a diagnosable Narcissist. However! If someone has three or four of the above traits, they may not be a diagnosable narcissist but I sure wouldn’t want to live with them, marry them, or be their business partner!
Another tool, perhaps one of the most authoritative tools for diagnosing psychopathy, is the Psychopathy Checklist Revised, developed by Dr. Robert Hare. It includes 20 items, and evaluators decide the degree to which each item describes an individual–as a good match, partially, or not at all.
Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised
- Gibness/superficial charm.
- Grandiose sense of self worth
- Need for stimulation/proneness to bordom
- Pathological Lying
- Lack of remorse of guilt
- Shallow affect (emotions)
- Callous/lack of empathy
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Poor behavior controls
- Promiscuous sexual behavior
- Early behavioral problems
- Lack of realistic long term goals
- Failure to accept responsibility of actions
- Many short term marital relationships
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Revocation of conditional release
- Criminal versatility
This brings us to Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). AKA Psychopaths. DSM-V says APD is marked by a pervasive pattern or disregard for or violation of others’ rights and must include at least three of the following:
- Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
- Deceitfulness as indicated by lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.
- Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
- Irritability and aggressiveness as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults.
- Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others
- Consistent irresponsibility , as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work, behavior or honor financial obligations.
- Lack of remorse as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
SO, similarities of a Narcissist and Antisocial Personality Disorder are: feeling justified in hurting others, using others for personal gain, spontaneous or impulsive behaviors, and lack of remorse or empathy. Narcissists are not always violent. Antisocials usually are. Narcissists might not feed your dog if you piss them off. Antisocials will just torture or kill your dog. Both could have a criminal history, for example stealing, however narcissists might be better at charming you so well that you give them your account numbers willingly. Antisocials will just take it by force. Narcissists want to perpetuate the facade that they are powerful, likable, smart, etc. Antisocials don’t care if you like them or not.
Ok back to NPD. How to recognize a Narcissist? All the studying in the world won’t prepare you to deal with a Narcissist. You must experience it for yourself to really even begin to understand the harm they are capable of. What stands out to me in my personal and professional experience are the following:
- Bizzare affect. Expressionless face, they don’t laugh at jokes (unless its one they’ve told), inappropriate emotional responses to stimuli. They either have a smug smile or completely blank face.
- Lacks empathy. This is so difficult to recognize in the beginning because at first their objective is to lure your in and they do that with charm and attention. This is the love bombing stage. Once they’ve got you in their web, you’re overlooked like last seasons hand bags.
- They have absolutely no regard for boundaries. They push all the boundaries. They will move in fast and get you to engage in physical intimacy ASAP. They call, you don’t answer. A ‘normal’ person might leave a message and wait for you to call back. After all a ‘normal’ person doesn’t want to appear desperate or crazy. A Narcissist could care less if they appear desperate or crazy. They will call you 25 times until you answer. And then you think, “wow this person must really like me, all these texts and phone calls, and they want to spend all their time with me!”. But nope, they are love bombing you. This is red flag #1.
- Headline knowledge. You’re trying to have a conversation and they aren’t able to engage with you. They’re spouting off random facts that have absolutely nothing to do with the conversation you are trying to have. e.g. you: “honey I had an awful day at work today.” Narcissist “that building was built in 1975”.
- Odd responses in text messages. Texting is especially difficult for a NPD because remember they don’t know what an appropriate feeling or emotion should be in real life, let alone in a text message. e.g. you “why did you lie to me about sleeping with your ex’s mother? NPD: “you’re hot babe”.
- Speaks about how stupid others are or brags about getting over on people. NPD: “Ok for sure I’ll send the check in the mail right away” (hangs up phone). “What a stupid idiot, he deserves to not get paid for being so gullible and dumb”. Cruel and/or rude to servers, waitstaff, people they feel are “beneath” them.
- History of criminal charges and/or convictions. Usually they will rat themselves out. e.g. “It was a bar fight and I got charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but it was self defense”. “My ex got in my face and she got pushed and I was charged with domestic assault, but she hit me first”. “The company went under and I got charged with fraud, but it wasn’t my fault”. etc. etc.
- History of cheating. Like in every relationship. Remorse? NO.
- Trust fund babies, living off of others, conning others for money. The parasitic lifestyle. Steady work history? LOL their resume has more gaps than a meth addict’s teeth.
- Uses Triangulation. This is a purposeful form of “splitting” in which the narcissist plays one person against another. He’s assassinating the character of each person to the other. This creates an insecurity and a subconscious need to compete with the opposite end of the triangle. For example, he says a woman is “stalking him and crazy” yet you continually catch him interacting with her. He tells the other woman the same thing about you. You are “stalking him and crazy”. He gets to be the victim with each woman, and each of their reactions of jealousy and insecurity is the epitome of what he craves for his insatiable need for narcissistic supply.
The Victims: Who do Narcissists Target?
Yes there are certain “types” that many Narcissists look for. Someone who is very empathetic, perhaps even empathic, someone who is attractive or wealthy, and blondes really do tend to have more “fun” with Narcissists. The NPD targets a victim who they can easily manipulate (naive, wants to believe the best in others, gives people the benefit of the doubt), and someone who likes to help or fix others. The NPD goes after what they need at the moment. If it’s money, they’re going after someone who’s well off. If they just need attention/supply/accolades they’re going after the most attractive naive person they can find. The NPD preys on the vulnerable: single moms, young women, divorcees, ultra empathetic, etc. The Codependent care taker.
What The Target Is Feeling:
Stage 1. Love Bombing. The guy is inendating you with phone calls, texts, flowers, presents, and wants to spend all his time with you. The target feels liked, loved, adored, pursued. After all no one would spend all this time pursuing me if he didn’t REALLY like me, right? Wrong, Warning! You are being lured into a trap.
The NPD has a cycle: love bomb, mirror you (oh you go to X Church and Yoga every sunday? So do I!), extrapolate information, play mind games, smear/slander your reputation, retaliate, and finally discard. But notice the very last stage, its REPEAT! Yes they are like roaches, you can’t get rid of them! They ALWAYS COME BACK to screw with your mind some more! And then stage 1, the Love Bombing starts over.
What About Addiction and Narcissism?
Wow this will make your head spin. Is my husband a true Narcissist or just an Addict? When addicts of alcohol or drugs (especially stimulants like methamphetamines) are in active addiction, they can resemble Narcissists. Why? When someone is using substances the soul is gone, empathy is not possible, entitlement reins, and it’s all about ME ME ME! How can you tell if they are an addict or a Narcissist? When an addict is sober (not for three days, try at least 90 days), they DO have empathy, remorse, guilt and shame. When a Narcissist is sober they still got nothing! They’re still cheating on you, lying, and gas lighting you. This is a tricky one to pin point. The best advice is don’t stick around to try to figure it out.
What makes this so difficult is that many Narcissists have co-occuring substance use disorders. And they LOVE to use that excuse! “I had sex with the prostitute because I’m a sex addict and was using drugs. See ? So you can’t really blame me. It wasn’t my fault!”. Another issue is that Narcissists get bored FAST. They need constant new stimuli such as women, sex, porn, drugs and alcohol. They don’t feel so they’re trying desperately to FEEL something, anything! The constant search for stimulus!
What is the world does the narcissist want? One word answer: Supply. The Narcissist must have a constant and abundant supply. What is supply? It is attention in any form, any reaction, NEGATIVE OR POSITIVE. Whether or not you dote on them or curse them out doesn’t really matter to the Narcissist. It’s the fact that you are paying them any mind whatsoever. They are professional button pushers, master manipulates, and will stop at nothing to get a reaction from you. They are above nothing. They will slander you online, smear your good name to friends/family/public, steal your last dollar and pretend to love you all for laughter. All they want to say is “I won, I got over on you, I am smarter than you”. Every single interaction with them is a game. You will NEVER win or beat a Narcissist because they have no soul and you do. You cannot win and more importantly, you will never fully understand the Narcissist because to fully understand is to be one. The only possible way to break free is ABSOLUTELY ZERO CONTACT. That means: no phone calls, no text messages, no emails, no talking to their mistresses/girlfriends/side chicks/family members/friends, no looking at their social media, and for sure not seeing them in any form or fashion. Any form of contact is feeding their Supply. Your ONLY hope is that you stop contact, they don’t get any supply from you, and are forced to look for supply somewhere else.
BUT WHAT IF I HAD CHILDREN WITH A NARCISSIST?
I don’t recommend it, but if you already have children with your narcissist, and If you can’t flee the county and must interact with a NPD there are a few tactics you can use to attempt to get them to leave you be and go elsewhere for their supply:
- No emotion. Absolutely ZERO crying, facial expression, attempts to have conversations, attempts to “show them” how narcissistic they are. You are a brick wall. They could kill your cat and you do not show the least bit of reaction. Don’t let them see you sweat! Any reaction is supply.
- News flash! Not every crisis, text message, or plea for attention needs to be met with response. You can start deciding when, if, or how you do engage with them. As you get stronger in seeking detachment, you might be able to block their number for 4 hours, 12 hours, then days at a time. By deciding to take “breaks” from dealing with their shit, you empower yourself and take a step towards healing. You may or your may not respond to their emails or texts. If you must respond it is a short, void of emotion response that is completely boring. Thus, forcing them to get attention elsewhere.
- The good news is you have been blessed with the most amazing gift, a beautiful child. The bad news is they will use money to make you desperate. They will use your children against you even to the point of psychologically and emotionally abusing them. They will use your “visitation” to engage with you, when really they could case less about seeing their kids. They will insist on being a part of every dental or doctor appointment, and throw a fit when any therapist/mediator/or co facilitator sees whats going on and tries to hold them accountable. That is if they haven’t seduced your therapist/mediator/co facilitator and convinced them that they are wonderful and you are Satan incarnate. NPDs are known to pull the wool over the eyes of trained professionals. Unless your therapist is highly trained in NPD, beware! He’ll have her thinking everything is ALL YOUR FAULT.
Effects of Dealing With A Sociopath: Narcissistic Victims Syndrome:
Narcissistic Victims Syndrome, or NVS for short, which is not a recognized diagnosis in the DSM-V (but should be), is the Post Traumatic Stress response victims have to dealing with someone who is capable of so maliciously mind screwing you to the point that you don’t know what is true and what is false. You don’t know what is real and what is make believe. NPD will have you questioning if the sky is blue. Because he has gas lighted you to the point of making you think you are crazy. Wiki says gas lighting is:
“Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.” Watch the 1944 film Gaslight.
E.g. “No you didn’t see me having sex with the nanny, you are lying and you made that up, it wasn’t me.” You are in identity crisis because they have literally brain washed you into thinking their grandiose delusions could be true. Their goal is to make you believe you are the bad person. You are the one that left them. You are the one that screwed them over, cheated on them, stole from them. Never mind he looked directly into your eyes without blinking and said he wasn’t with anyone when her car was outside his house. If he can make you and everyone else believe that your demise is all YOUR fault, he gets to be the GOOD GUY. See how that works? NVS symptoms: hyper vigilance (because you know he could show up at your home at any moment), panic/anxiety issues, deep depression (because you’ve been conned into thinking this was a real relationship and now you are starting to see it was all smoke and mirrors).
Why It So Hard to Get Out?
Addiction. When we are in a relationship where we never know what’s coming, we’re walking on egg shells, and we’ve been brain washed. We become stuck. The Narcissist becomes our drug. Every time there is a gas light, a fight, a disorientation, a mind screw, our bodies release adrenaline. This release of adrenaline becomes just as addictive as a drug. Rosenburg, author of The Human Magnet Syndrome, says the only way a Narcissist can do harm is if the person stays in the relationship, and the only person who stays is a Codependent. He says the Narcissist and Codependent are attracted to each other like magnets.
“One is a caregiver, a loving, caring and self sacrificing individual, and one is a care needer, the self centered vain egotistical individual who needs to control relationships. These two fit perfectly.”. Rosenburg.
He says the codependent is in the relationship to try to change the Narcissist in hopes of getting the love they dream of, but they never get it. A healthy person would leave. What we know is that the codependent usually had a Narcissistic parent (or parent with addiction or parent with borderline personality disorder, etc.) and was taught in order to get “love” they had to work for it. It wasn’t good enough just to be a son or daughter, the Narcissist makes you earn it. There is no unconditional love, the child of a Narcissist learns they must care take in order to get love. It makes sense that in adulthood, we don’t seek out happiness, we seek out what is familiar. Adult children of narcissists/addicts unconsciously are attracted to the narcissist like a magnet. They unconsciously believe that if they change or heal the narcissist they will receive in return the love and affection they were deprived of in childhood. What they don’t understand is that Narcissists are incapable of change, and you can’t “fix” people.
After all this psychological torment, we try to meet others and go on dates with “normal” people. But there’s just “no spark” and something is “missing”. No adrenaline spike. No abuse. Boring! This doesn’t feel familiar AT ALL. Mutual love and respect? Feels so foreign. When you meet someone and feel an “instant connection” or “immediate spark”, 99 times out of 100 that is a red flag. Warning! Run away! Because healthy love grows over time. Anything immediate and rushed is concocted and fabricated.
Al Anon is a great program that is for loved ones of addicts. The same principles apply for NPDs victims. Love them from a far, pray for them, but get the hell off the crazy train. Once you learn there is always going to be one crisis after another and you aren’t missing anything important (besides insanity), you can start to heal. GO to Al Anon, find a sponsor, download the Al Anon ‘Today’s Hope’ daily devotional App, and get involved. Exercise, obtain hobbies, and get your mind off of what the Narc is doing. Detachment is the goal, and a licensed therapist or psychologist will be needed to help you meet this goal and process what you have been through. This goes for loved ones of addicts too! You cannot be in a relationship with someone who is in active addiction. The Narc is ALWAYS in active addiction to their need for narcissistic supply.
BUT IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR NARCISSISTS?
“I feel so bad because he had such a bad childhood”. “I feel so bad because he’s struggling with addiction”. I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to victims plead, bargain and beg for a way to keep loving their abusers. Okay, yes, there is hope. God of the Universe can change the hearts of men. Here’s the catch, they have to ALLOW their heart to be changed. And YOU are NOT the Holy Spirit, so don’t kid yourself. You will NOT be the one to change them. Psychologically speaking, there is no pill, no therapy session, no loving spouse that will change the Narcissist. There IS NO CURE. Spiritually speaking, yes God can move the hearts of men. But I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Resources: Want More?
- Sam Vatkin. This guy is pretty interesting because he’s a self proclaimed Narcissist that wrote a book, “Narcissism Revisted”. Because who better to educate you on narcissism than an Narcissist? He’s got a Youtube channel that is very informative. If you can hang in there through the completely lack of emotion and monotone rattling of information. Typical! But wait you say! If he wrote a book and is doing a YouTube channel to help others learn about narcissism, maybe there’s hope for him? NOPE, he readily admits he does it all for narcissistic supply. Wow! Sam also coined the term “Covert Narcissist” which is the Narcissist that you don’t see coming. This is not the typical Narcissist who is the life of the party. He’s the shy guy who sucks you in with his appearance of vulnerability. Don’t cross either one!
- Richard Gannon. This guy is a self proclaimed victim of Narcissists and has a YouTube Channel, Sparton Life Coach. He’s quite humorous and very informative.
- Ross Rosenburg. Author of The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us. Read it!
- Donna Anderson. Founder of www.lovefraud.com. The founder of this website shares her disturbing story of marrying a sociopath/conn man and getting taken for all her money. Go to the website! Read the stories. Take some webinars. Excellent info and resources. 🙂