Dealing with NPD can be exhausting and can negatively impact your energy. What type of interactions exhaust your brain? People to talk nonstop about their problems but respond with ‘that won’t work’ every time you make a helpful suggestion? How is your energy level after spending a relationship encounter with them? Do you feel drained or energized? It’s one thing to voluntarily do a random act of kindness, it’s another to spend your time dancing to someone else’s needy tune. No relationship is 100% functional and affirming all the time. Sometimes you give more, sometimes they do, especially when it ‘rains’ on your parade. There needs to be a balance, however, over time. If you are your friend’s primary resource or they get your attention through bad behavior or unwise choices, rethink the relationship. Relationships that are not healthy and reciprocal are like a mild headache. You grow accustomed to the pain and accept it as ‘normal’ over time, failing to recognize the increasing painful headache, sometimes until it produces a 'brain tumor,' metaphorically. Remember: nutritious food gives you energy; so does a nutritious relationship.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
What can you do when confronted by a person exhibiting symptoms characteristic of Narcissistic Personality Disorder? First, recognize that it involves their self-absorption, inability to manage anger, low self-esteem, low levels of Emotional Intelligence, failure to be empathetic, tendency to blame others, learned styles of coping (or not coping) with the ups and downs of life, low motivation for improvement, and so on. Refuse to accept blame or responsibility when it isn’t yours. When I encounter narcissistic behaviors I ask myself: will this matter in 12 months? If the answer is no, I simply get through that one encounter as soon as possible and find something for which to be grateful. If the answer is yes, then I address the issue functionally. Meaning, I set and implement appropriate boundaries to protect myself. When the narcissist is an adult family member, you can still choose to limit your exposure, set and implement appropriate protective boundaries, and avoid taking their narcissistic behaviors personally. More tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
You can only know what you know, therefore, recognizing patterns of behavior quickly can help you protect yourself and/or get help if you recognize the symptoms in yourself. Self-esteem is compromised in NPD, so in order to feel adequate these brains need to find others as incompetent and put them down (e.g., complain, criticize, gossip, show contempt). There is a lack compassion for others because they don’t recognize their own mistakes. In fact, to be okay they often try to believe they do not make mistakes. Typically they do everything in their power to avoid being held accountable. It is so much easier to blame, trying to displace some of their discomfort onto someone else. More tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
The Brummelman study reportedly identified that greater child-rated parental warmth, predicted higher self-esteem six months later, but not greater narcissism. This was measured by comments such as “I know my parents love me. My mother (or father) tells me she (or he) loves me.” By comparison, parental overvaluation predicted greater narcissism six months later, but not higher self-esteem. This was measured by comments indicating the child felt more special than others and comments by the parent(s) that indicated their child was more special than other children. On the other hand, I’ve heard parents say, “You are very special to me,” and “I am so glad you are my child,” or “I am happy to spend time with you.” This falls in the healthier emotional warmth category in my opinion. At a kids picnic not long ago, I heard a child say to an adult, “I’m special. I hit that ball really good.” The adult response was, “Yes, you did hit the ball well. Remember, every child is special is his or her own way, you included.” That grouped the child with others rather than singling the child out above the others.
Monday, August 14, 2017
A child who may be developing narcissistic characteristics not only may want to be in the spotlight all the time but may care about being admired and thought special more than developing genuine friendships. As they brag and demand attention and admiration, they may seem oblivious to how that may make other children around them feel. And, as with adults, these children often have very fragile self-esteem. At quite a young age they may become aggressive, angry, and lash out at parents or others if anything happens that makes them feel humiliated, criticized, teased, not special, or rejected in any way. Parents need to develop rhetoric that works for them, the idea being to let children know that the parents love and cherish them and enjoy seeing them do well, without overtly comparing the children to others by telling them continually how special they are. I heard one father tell his son not long ago, “I enjoyed watching you play the game. You are gaining skills and improving. I’m glad you are my son.”
Friday, August 11, 2017
It is important to understand that most people do the best they can at the time with what they know. If a parent grew up being told he or she was special, that parent may replicate that style with their own child(ren)—or go 180 degrees opposite. And, as I so often point out, 180 degrees from dysfunctional is simply a different type of dysfunction. It’s cute when a child of three or four tells his parents: “Watch me do this!” As one teacher explained, this likely represents an age-appropriate desire for the child to obtain parental approval for having learned a new skill. By the time a child is around age seven (give or take a year or two), the child is beginning to compare his/her competence and skill levels with that of other children. Acknowledge and rewarding a child’s skill level is one thing; teaching the child he is “more special” than anyone else is quite another thing. Continual pleas to "Watch me, watch me," is no longer cute in a seven-year old who always wants to hold center stage and be in the spotlight. Some counselors point out that a child is not ‘bad’ or ‘good,’ although behaviors can be positive or negative. A child needs to feel loved and accepted by his/her parents, period; and assisted to develop behaviors that give them positive outcomes, but that do not lead them to believe they are ‘more special’ than anyone else.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Eddie Brummelman thinks the study conclusions suggest a practical way of helping parents. Parents can be coached on how to express affection and appreciation toward children without telling them that they are superior to others or entitled to special privileges.
An earlier study by the same authors reported something I found especially interesting. The researchers asked the parents whether their children knew about “Queen Alberta” and “The Tale of Benson Bunny.” Both of these were concocted by the researchers. Some of the parents in the study claimed their children knew all about “Queen Alberta” and “The Tale of Benson Bunny.” Brummelman, study pointed out that parents who tended to overvalue their child(ren) also tended to claim that their child had knowledge of many different topics, including even these nonexistent ones that had been made up by the researchers.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
The contributors to narcissism are complex. Overvaluing children appears to be one of the causes but there are also genetic and other environmental factors at play that also need to be studied. Some children appear to be are more vulnerable to overvaluing parenting styles. Professor Brad Bushman, one of the study’s authors, indicated that the study had changed his parenting style. Before he began this research in the 1990s, he used to think his children should be treated like they were extra-special. He is careful to avoid doing that now because children believe it when their parents tell them that they are more special than others, which may not be good for them or for society. Rather than overvaluing the child, concentrating on being emotionally warm towards children was linked with better levels of self-esteem, not narcissism. It is important to express emotional warmth to your children because that may promote self-esteem, but overvaluing them may promote higher narcissism.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
The good news about the study is that their findings uncovered early socialization experiences that cultivate narcissism and, therefore, this suggests interventions at an early age that may prevent or curtail narcissistic development. This could be very helpful in assisting parents to provide balanced, effective parenting strategies—because in adulthood, dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorders can be challenging. If NPD is not dealt with appropriately and treated, complications may include: depression, drug or alcohol abuse, and suicidal thoughts or behavior. The brain’s subconscious Reptilian and Mammalian layers seem to be involved with NPD. Individuals with NPD seem surface friendly but no one really knows them—although they primarily talk about self and want the emphasis on themselves. They are often charismatic but very secretive. They aim to be successful at whatever the cost (e.g., may lie, exhibit addictive behaviors, throw you “under the bus”).
Monday, August 7, 2017
In pointing out the significance of the study, the researchers commented that narcissistic individuals tend to feel superior to others, fantasize about personal successes, and believe they deserve special treatment. When they feel humiliated, they often lash out aggressively or even violently. Knowledge about the origins of narcissism is important for designing interventions to curtail narcissistic development. They believe this study demonstrated that narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation as the parents believe their child to be more special and more entitled than others. In contrast, high levels of self-esteem in children is cultivated by parental warmth, as parents express their affection and appreciation toward their child. These findings show that narcissism is partly rooted in early socialization experiences, and suggest that parent-training interventions can help curtail narcissistic development and reduce its costs for society.
Friday, August 4, 2017
Results of the NPD study “Origins of Narcissism in Children” support social learning theory and contradict psychoanalytic theory:
- Narcissism was predicted by parental overvaluation
- Narcissism was not predicted by lack of parental warmth.
The children seemed to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing their parents’ inflated views of them (e.g., “I am superior to others” and “I am entitled to privileges”).
Attesting to the specificity of this finding:
· Self-esteem was predicted by parental warmth
· Self-esteem was not predicted by parental overvaluation.
These findings identified early socialization experiences that cultivate narcissism. More tomorrow.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
The report of a study entitled “Origins of Narcissism in Children,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2015). It was conducted though the Research Institute of Child Development and Education, Department of Educational Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1001 NG, The Netherlands. According to researchers led by Eddie Brummelman, narcissism levels have been increasing among Western youth. This personality disorder contributes to societal problems such as aggression and violence. The origins of narcissism have not been well understood. To their knowledge, this was the first prospective longitudinal study to provide evidence on the origins of narcissism in children. Researchers compared two perspectives:
- Social learning theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by parental overvaluation)
- Psychoanalytic theory (positing that narcissism is cultivated by lack of parental warmth).
Their goal was to discover whether parenting styles could be linked with the development of narcissism in biologically vulnerable children. More tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
- Expecting to receive special favors
- Expecting unquestioning compliance with expectations
- Taking advantage of others to get personal desired met
- Showing an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
- Being envious of others and believing others envy you
- Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner
- Coming across as exceedingly confident or over-confident
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is published by the American Psychiatric Association. Its criteria are used to diagnose mental conditions as well as used by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment. Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder include (somewhat paraphrased):
- An exaggerated sense of self-importance
- An expectation to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant that
- A tendency to exaggerate achievements and talents
- A preoccupation with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
- Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
- Needing constant admiration
- A sense of entitlement
The list continues tomorrow.