What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The more I tell my story, the more I find myself answering A LOT of questions about Narcissism and NPD. I thought it might be helpful to put some of the basic info out here on the blog for better understanding.

I had heard the term narcissism and narcissistic before and always took it lightly as someone who was a bit obsessed with themselves. I never realized that Narcissism can be an actual diagnosed personality disorder until I started doing my research on the things that I was experiencing in my relationship with The Narcissist.

The American Psychiatric Association uses a criteria called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM- 5) to diagnose mental conditions. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is an actually diagnosable personality disorder.

DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) include these features:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied 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
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having 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

NPD is not the same as confidence, it crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you value yourself more than you value others.

NPD translates into abuse in MANY different ways, shapes and forms. Narcissists can use many forms of control over their significant others including (intimidation, emotional abuse, physical abuse, isolation, financial abuse, sexual abuse, coercion, control, etc.) The Blog After Narcissistic Abuse provides a great summary which you can read in full HERE  I have summarized their thoughts below:

Signs that You’ve Been Abused by a Narcissist:

  1. You Doubt Yourself – you are uncertain of yourself and constantly checking that you haven’t made a mistake.
  2. Confusion – your idea of reality, boundaries, and borders are completely blurred and gone.
  3. Feeling Crazy – The Narcissist projects their crazy onto you – making you feel like the crazy person
  4. Not Being Able to Pinpoint Whats Wrong – You know something is off, you know something feels wrong with how you are being treated but you cant explain it or pinpoint it.
  5. Dissociation – Symptoms of dissociation resulting from trauma may include depersonalization, (disconnecting your body awareness from your physical self) psychological numbing, disengaged from life and passions, or amnesia regarding the events of the abuse.
  6. PTSD or C-PTSD – A Cerebral anxiety attack that makes your whole body come alive with palpable fear. The rapid heart beat, the intrusive and spinning thoughts and fears – just like the abuse is currently happening.

Once you have been abused by a Narcissist you can develop a number of side effects which some Psychologists are starting to classify as Narcissistic Victim Syndrome.

Victims can present to a therapist or counselor with some of the following symptoms:

  • Emotions of shock, anger, fear, and guilt. The victim often doesn’t realize that they have been living in a situation of Narcissistic abuse.
  • Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; (C-PTSD).
    • Re-living (flashbacks, hallucinations, nightmares etc)
    • Avoiding (people, places, thoughts, loss of interest etc)
    • Increased Arousal (excessive emotions, problems relating, difficulty in sleeping and concentration, outbursts of anger, anxiousness, panic attacks etc).
  • Disassociation –   They might be compartmentalizing their experience and may seem to be detached from their emotions, body, or immediate surroundings.
  • Stockholm Syndrome or Trauma Bonding – Where they emotionally bond with their abuser over their shared traumatic experiences.

In my story, I went to my therapist because I was struggling with sever depression, intense anger, trouble sleeping, and anxiety/panic attacks. I was definitely also experiencing some PTSD symptoms and disassociation as well.

My journey of healing began when I started researching and understanding these topics. It helped me to be able to come out of the fog that the Narcissist had kept me in and see things from another point of view. It gave me the strength to start speaking up about what I was going through, and eventually helped me to leave.

31 thoughts on “What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

  1. Thank you for this detailed post. I have been through the separation/path to divorce journey and some classify my spouse as narcissistic however my therapists contradicts those who believe he is. I have always fought the label from all of the research I have done. Many are quick to label without enough information. Our journeys are tough and very painful, I am very sorry for what you have a endured and continue to experience. Wishing you happiness. HUGS, m

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Like you, I fought the label and still do, I think. There are so many criteria that my ex Loser fits…but not all of them. I think sometimes, people are just incapable of feeling or acting like what we would like for them to feel and act like. Sigh.

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      1. HUGS, it is so hard! I find that in the struggle he wants to find more to blame. He only fits a few and seldom, he cannot handle confrontation and it changes him in a negative way, childhood scars hunt him 😞

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Childhood scars haunt me…and he used them against me while blaming me for his downfall and the destruction of our so-called marriage. He cited “my sense of injustice” in his affidavit to the judge as justification for his actions and my failure to forgive…which drove him to another tramp. He was a real scumbag.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. That’s a great article/blog post. I am getting divorced. I wrote my memoirs interesting I think at the end in state of cptsd when I desperately did not want to get divorced but after two months I eased back. I was
      Believing her that 100% was my fault and that all would be better off with me dead. Financial calamity and 9&12year olds complicate things

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Jonathan, I am so sorry to hear! The damage that Narcissists do is so overwhelming and it is hard to step away and see the truth of a situation. I hope that things are starting to look better for you and I hope that you can be strong for your kids – kids also deal with a lot of trauma from narcissists. ❤

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    1. Seriously, there needs to be like a mandatory course before dating age that teaches people what kind of warning signs to lookout for for personality disorders and unhealthy relationships! I knew for a long time that things were not right in my marriage but I had no idea what was wrong, how to explain it to others… or even that it wasn’t me that was the problem.

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  2. I like to add to that list. A narcissist — when in pursuit — can be incredibly charming charming and seductive. Their whole purpose to develop a steady stream of narcissistic supply, so in the early stages they love bomb.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think I realized what a narcissist really was either, until I started blogging. I thought there was something wrong with me. Of course, as with all narcissists, there was something wrong with me. It was all my fault.
    I’m glad you are able to come out of the fog. I am yet to find my way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She, glad to be here for you. There is also a lot of good info over at ChumpLady.com I highly recommend that community… and I cannot say enough about the book and online community Psychopath Free.

      The first step in my journey was googling and finding stories that were eerily similar to my experience. ❤

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  4. Pingback: Abuse Survivor
  5. Excellent. Thank you for this. As a survivor of long term narcissistic abuse at the hands of my ex-wife, information like this is like finding water in the desert. As a man, we tend to have a very difficult time seeing and admitting when we’ve been abused, especially when the abuse is mostly emotional. You are helping so many to find their way out of the darkness. I have a blog I use to try and help me deal with the grief of losing my children. It’s not much, but if you care to take a look at it, it’s here: https://waltersingletons.wordpress.com/

    Thanks again, I look forward to more posts and more healing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Walter, thank you for reading and thank you for sharing your blog. I have been so fascinated to find out about all of the Narcissistic Abuse survivors out there and I have heard from several men through the process. The more we all talk about what we have lived through the easier it will be for others to find! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, so much for putting this out here. It brings me to tears to realize that almost every situation you described during your marriage to the Narcissist lines up with my current experience. I am at the point where I still love hime, but I am number and tired of not being happy and feeling free to be me. We have a child together and I don’t want her to have a low opinion of herself or me dealing with him. He recently called me a terrible wife and mother when all I have done is sacrificed my life to make him happy so that he could keep loving me. I too was 23 when he met me and it didn’t take long for us to go from a sweet, hot and fast romance to him calling me a homely where and a party girl when I was and am nothing of the sort. I was lead here by the #hemightnothityou campaign on Twitter, which also rang sad and true in my life. I want to leave, but I’m afraid of starting over and I was thinking maybe it is all my fault. Your blog makes it clear to me that it’s not. Thank you with all my heart for this blog and being the beacon of light to help me see out of the darkness. 😢

    Liked by 1 person

    1. DJ Blue, I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this, and I know all too well how you are feeling. Building up the courage to leave was the scariest part for me. The absolute best things that I did during that time was to do some research, and then talk to my friends and my family. If you have people to reach out to who will support you, guide you and protect you through this process it will be so much easier. Please know that you are certainly not alone, there are so many of us who have suffered at the hands of a Narcissist… and you can make it through! Reach out if you need anything at all. Stay Strong. ❤

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  7. The abuse is horrifying I was left doubting myself and my actions, even acted crazy and was left with no one to talk to…It’s been three years and I’m still healing, you can get through this…once the fog starts to clear things seem so much brighter…wish u all the best in your healing

    Liked by 1 person

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