What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

What is going on?  What in the world am I dealing with?

That was the question I asked myself two years ago.  My pastor had used the word “narcissist” to describe my husband.  I was taking the kids to camp, I was exhausted from the never-ending conflicts we were having, I knew something was terribly wrong and nothing I was doing was working.   So I decided to stay out of town and away from my husband for that entire week.  (I can assure you that really enraged him!)  I spent the whole week researching “narcissist” and “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” or NPD.   What I found shocked me, made me sick to my stomach, and also helped everything make perfect sense.

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5),  a narcissist has at least 5 of these characteristics:

  • Has an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Exaggerates achievements and talents
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
  • Believes that he or she is “special” or superior and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special people (or institutions).
  • Requires constant or excessive admiration.
  • Has a sense of entitlement, i.e.,  automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
  • Takes advantage of others to get what they want
  • Lacks empathy- has an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

That’s the official definition.  However, the more I dug into the nuances of these definitions, and read the stories and experiences of others, the more I understood the “real-life definition”.  It made the past few years make sense, and I gained some sanity.  I was married to a narcissist, and his anger, rage, manipulation, lying, twisting of facts, implying that I was crazy, saying I didn’t care enough, and fear of being abandoned behaviors were all symptoms of that personality disorder.   I talked to a trusted friend and expressed my findings and concerns.  Her sweet husband, who is a Staff Psychiatrist at a major university, sat down with me and shared with me more information about NPD and what I was dealing with.  I took copious notes: Continue reading