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Narcissism

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I should note that I'm not a psychologist, nor am I any sort of expert on Narcissistic Personality Disorder. However I have a lot of first-hand experience with it, because two of the people who were most important to the course of my life very likely had this disorder. In the process of overcoming the effects of dealing with them, I have studied the condition to some extent. Anything I post about the condition is subject to correction by someone more knowledgeable.

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Could you add some more examples to this. I find it hard to connect the theory in your post to real life examples. By the way I find this subject very fascinating and relevent.

Specificaly regarding gifts: gifts from a narcissist (N) come with strings attached. (Others besides Ns do this sometimes, but in my experience Ns always do.) One N in my own life constantly checks on gifts she gave me, making comments like "Is that the shirt I gave you?" or, when visiting, "Didn't you like that knickknack I gave you?" or "Aren't you using the vase I gave you?" (I gave you is a recurring clause in these instances.) She also likes to remind me of how much she's done for me, all the "favors" she's done me (see the section of my essay about Ns equivocating on gifts and favors), towards an end of inculating in me a sense of debt to her.

Here's a non-gift example: at a recent holiday dinner, I was engaged in conversation with someone in one room while this same N was doing something else in another. From the other room kept coming "What?" and "Hmm?" and other interjections that indicated that she was listening in on our conversation, even though she hadn't been part of it up to that point and it was about a topic that doesn't interest her at all. She acted like we were talking to her, with an attitude that presumed we couldn't possibly be talking to anyone else.

I recently became interested in N's because I was trying to figure out if somebody I knew was one. It was a painful relationship and I forget how I ended up choosing to  investigate the person as a 'narcissist'. I had heard the term before but had a very poor understanding what it really means to be one.

From my reading, to be a nascissist is a serious flaw and I cannot see how the person I was trying to analyse could be that way. For a few weeks I was seeing narcissism in everybody (myself included). If you look hard enough you can find such traits in all of us.

Generally, Narcissitic Personality Disorder (NPD) is extremely difficult to "cure," because Ns simply cannot see that there's anything wrong with them, so they either never begin therapy or they quit very quickly. If confronted, they deflect every attempt to get them to take responsibility for their actions and attitudes, finding fault with anyone and everyone else. The two Ns in my life never, not once ever admitted that they might have been at fault for anything important (even seeming admissions were always followed by "but..." and some conditional that destroyed the sincerity of the supposed admission). And one of them never, not once ever apologized to me for anything more serious than, say, accidentally bumping my arm while walking by (it was as though the phrase "I'm sorry" was not possible to her). Until I began consciously taking steps to prevent it, every argument that began with me raising an issue that might have been some fault of theirs ended as a discussion of what was wrong with me.

It's not difficult to see narcissistic traits in oneself, because such traits are, when not distorted as they are in an actual N, beneficial. Healthy egoism, as we here all know, requires concern for yourself. It becomes irrational, though, when you expect everyone to be concerned with you first. One of the forms this takes is NPD.

In my case, the person in question never gave gifts. His wife did. His wife did all the shoping, letter writting, wrapping, mailing. With any card or letter he would add a short one sentence "PS." to the end of what his wife wrote and sign next to her name.

Does your theory mean that you can use somebodys gift giving behavior to diagnose narcissism?

No - actual diagnosis would be for a professional.* Rather, I'm suggesting that once you know you're dealing with an N, you can avoid being further victimized by being aware of the misuse of gifts. Also, the defenses I suggest can be applied to anyone who misuses gifts, N or not.
Also, the narcissist, should have importance to Objectivists (something I did not appreciate until I did my amature psycho-analaysis of this person). I can now appreciate how people incorrectly call Howard Roark a narcissist. Thus, Objectivists should be interested in this personality type and have good arguments why it does not apply to the person with a  self-sufficient ego.

The difference is actually quite clear. The N is, deep down, very insecure and not at all psychologically self-sufficient. It's the lack of self-sufficiency that drives the N to overcome the resultant insecurity by constantly seeking some sort of affirmation from others that the N is worthy. They try to fill their inner void by manipulating others to say and do the things that they should say and do for themselves but cannot. It's a severe form of second-handedness.

*Note that, while I refer to the two certain people in my life as Ns, their "diagnosis" comes from inferences a professional made based on my descriptions of the relationships. I've always done my best to be accurate, detailed, and dispassionate in my descriptions, but I can't be certain there's no bias or inaccuracy, so it's possible that they're not Ns at all. IMHO, though, the characterization is quite accurate.

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It sounds like you are discussing, not someone who is excessively concerned with herself, but someone who is obsessed with what others think of her.

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It sounds like you are discussing, not someone who is excessively concerned with herself, but someone who is obsessed with what others think of her.

Ns can have both those traits, but their essence isn't quite either one. Ns want people to "reflect" them. They try to manipulate others to agree with them, to give in to them, to feel obligated to them, to trust them and not themselves, and to subordinate their very self to them. The ideal for an N would be to achieve in another person a state where, so to speak, that other person feels no separate identity apart from the N, that they literally don't quite know how to function without the N.

I happen to know a couple where the N partner has effectively "absorbed" the other partner to the point where this person has no personal opinions, does nothing, no matter how small, without including the N or getting the Ns permission, immediately stops talking whenever the N begins to speak, has cut off all family because the N disapproves of them, rewrites history to take the blame for things I witnessed the N doing, and so on. It's tragic: the confident, dynamic person I knew many years ago is gone.

Another example: one of my Ns, when she wants to deal with my grown son who lives on his own now, calls me. She views him as merely an extension of me and not as his own person. When, for example, he doesn't return a phone call quickly enough for her liking, she will call me and ask why he didn't call. When she wants to make dinner plans with both of us, she takes my answer about scheduling to be the answer for both of us - I constantly have to remind her that she has to get his answer from him. This comes from her lifelong view of me as an extension of her and not as a separate person - she assumes I see him the same way. She's literally confused by my insistence that she deal with him directly - when I do insist, she'll often respond with something like, "OK, then, just call him and tell him to call me."

One of the two major variations of NPD is the somatic N, those who "derive their narcissistic supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess and 'conquests'" [Wikipedia]. I liken this type of N to a mythological creature, the succubus, a demon which drains the souls of its victims by having sex with them. It's this "soul-draining" that is the essence of the N, whether somatic or cerebral (the other major variation). They "feed" on their victims, psychologically, to obtain their "narcissistic supply" of "excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation" [Wikipedia].

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This link concerns Michael Moore, and how he may have Nacissistic Personality Disorder

http://www.mooreexposed.com/mental.html

It made sense to me. When I was reading up on N's the one thing that struck me as a very useful diagnostic trait is that N's are happy with bad attention just as well as good attention. This differentiates them from most people (who to some extent want attention too) because most people avoid the bad kind of attention.

An example of bad attention comes from the world of crime. A serial killer, when caught, will enjoy tremendously the court appearances, the angry crowds.

This relates to Micheal Moore specifically, because he seems to not care about the kind of attention he is getting.

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This link concerns Michael Moore, and how he may have Nacissistic Personality Disorder

http://www.mooreexposed.com/mental.html

It made sense to me. When I was reading up on N's the one thing that struck me as a very useful diagnostic trait is that N's are happy with bad attention just as well as good attention. This differentiates them from most people (who to some extent want attention too) because most people avoid the bad kind of attention.

An example of bad attention comes from the world of crime. A serial killer, when caught, will enjoy tremendously the court appearances, the angry crowds.

This relates to Micheal Moore specifically, because he seems to not care about the kind of attention he is getting.

There's a very important line in that article: "there are some who Freud was off." While it's true that Freud first defined NPD, don't go by Freudian descriptions of the disorder. The description in the article is generally correct about the "time line" of NPD deveolpment, but the Freudian terminology is, well, bad. The best thing to take out of that time line is the paragraph beginning "Thus the objective/social measures of truth and the external world can never enter the narcissist's personality," with the word "social" removed. And the sentence following that paragraph is correct. As for diagnosing Moore with NPD, again, that would be for a professional. Besides, there's so much wrong with Moore I imagine it would be tough to settle on any one problem. :)

It's not attention per se that Ns want, it's the kind of attention that provides them with N-supply. When I have refused to reflect my Ns the way they wanted me to, even though I was giving them "attention" (usually by arguing with them), their reaction is to flee the conversation.

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