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