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Secrets of a Formerly Miserable Wife

Author Diane England, Ph.D. has the credentials you expect, plus she has 
empathy and speaks from the heart because she has been there, too.

 “Since Narcissists May Lurk Where You Least Expect Them, Here’s How to Recognize Them”

 Narcissism is the culprit for so much pain and suffering in our world. While my book, Secrets of a Formerly Miserable Wife focuses on how the narcissistic man creates misery for his wife and how to deal with this, narcissists (most people exhibiting narcissism are men) certainly claim many other victims. Thus, while in the home, women and children are emotionally wounded by the narcissists’ abusive ways, in the workplace—or even in our country in general--anyone might become a narcissist’s victim and not even realize this has happened. After all, narcissists are good at shifting blame—including to the victim(s)—and making others believe in the reality they’ve painted for their own benefit.

 Because the narcissist is only too happy to use you for his own selfish ends, it is important to recognize this individual. Otherwise, you might be taken in by his carefully crafted image and beguiling smile, and perhaps while he’s secretly orchestrating your demise or assuring others you’re to blame for whatever might have gone haywire—making him look less perfect than he certainly desires.

It’s about Power and their Definition of Success—Measured by Money

 Narcissistic people like positions of power. Thus, they often run major corporations or organizations. Plus, a number of them are in influential and powerful government positions at any given time. Of course, this isn’t to say that all Chief Executive Officers of major corporations, for example, or all people in key government positions from President on down, will suffer from either Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or else display a milder form of narcissism. But you can correctly assume that a number of them will because narcissistic people are especially drawn to these positions. After all, they are into power and success—both diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Furthermore, they measure success through dollars. And of course, more power affords the opportunity to make more money, which affords the opportunity to gain more power, which affords the opportunity to make more money. which affords. . .

Well, I’m sure you’re quickly getting the picture here and so I won’t continue on with that. Let me shift gears slightly.

Let’s make sure you truly understand what I mean when I talk about someone having Narcissistic Personality Disorder versus exhibiting a lesser degree of narcissism.

               How to Understand Narcissism from                 a Mental Health Perspective

My old Random House concise edition dictionary defines narcissism as “inordinate absorption in oneself.”  But if we rely merely on that dictionary definition, we overlook the mental health disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as well as a less extreme manifestation of this mental disorder. I’ll refer to it as narcissism or being narcissistic. Well, I might also say the person is a narcissist.

While the dictionary presents a simple definition of narcissism, it isn’t that easy to define Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). See, for a mental health professional to diagnose someone as having this personality disorder, the individual must meet a certain number of diagnostic criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that the American Psychiatric Association publishes. (The current edition used by mental health professionals is the revised edition of the DSM-IV).  These diagnostic criteria have been designated based on the thinking that each personality disorder, with Narcissistic Personality Disorder being one of these, represents a distinct clinical syndrome.

A mental health professional must rule out that the behaviors or traits the person is exhibiting at the time of diagnosis are not due to something else. For example, the individual might exhibit a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, an indicator of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But if the man abuses alcohol, could the grandiosity be due to his alcoholism instead? If his grandiosity, however, existed prior to the development of the addiction to alcohol, then the mental health professional is more comfortable stating that his grandiosity might suggest a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Still, there are other things to consider as well before this diagnosis of NPD is applied.

According to the DSM, a person can exhibit features indicative of another, or even multiple, personality disorders. If that’s the case, the person would be diagnosed as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder, for example, as well as the other personality disorder for which he matched diagnostic criteria--such as Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. 

The complexity of diagnosis is also impacted by the fact that some personality disorders share common features. Nevertheless, each also has a distinguishing feature. for example, it’s grandiosity for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But with Antisocial Personality Disorder, a personality disorder with which Narcissistic Personality Disorder might be confused, the distinguishing feature is callousness. (Please be aware that the person with Antisocial Personality Disorder would formerly have been called a sociopath. Also, before that term was in vogue, the label psychopath was used). 

The person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder as well as the individual with Antisocial Personality Disorder might share a tendency to be tough-minded, glib, superficial, exploitative, and both will lack empathy. But the person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder will probably not display impulsivity, aggression, and deceit as the individual with Antisocial Personality Disorder likely will. Also, while the person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder has the need for admiration and envy, the man diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder typically does not. Unlike the man with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the man with Antisocial Personality Disorder will probably have a childhood history of conduct disorder and an adult criminal history.

What are some of the other characteristics we’d expect to see in a person who displays either full-blown Narcissist Personality Disorder or a less serious form of this mental health disorder? Well, as we’ve already discussed, the person will exhibit grandiosity in either his behavior or his fantasies, he’ll have an excessive need for admiration, and he’ll lack empathy or be unwilling to recognize and identify with the feelings and needs of others. But other things apt to be present are: a grandiose sense of self-importance; preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited brilliance, power, and success (probably measured through the accumulation of money or net worth); a sense of being special and  thus, the desire to associate only with other high status people or institutions;  a sense of entitlement which includes both the expectation of favorable treatment as well as other’s complying with his expectations; being personally exploitive or taking advantage of others to meet personal needs or ends; envy of others and the belief that others are envious of him; and arrogant or haughty behaviors and attitudes.

Here’s More Reasons Why Narcissists can Make Life Miserable for Others

Read through the list again and really think about what appears there. Can you see why narcissists can easily create nightmares for others? But they become some difficult to deal with because they basically accept no blame for anything that goes wrong. They invariably point the finger at others.

They also are often out of touch with their own behavior. They may think they’re nice guys while their victims are falling around them. That’s why it’s best to stay out of there way when you can. They aren’t open to seeing the error of their ways. Plus they need to always be right, and so they must make you wrong. They also do not hesitate to declare war on anyone who displeases them since they do believe in retribution.

Don’t fall for the carefully crafted image. Narcissists can make your life miserable and so it’s best to keep them out of it if you possibly can. After all, remember, they rarely change.

Disclaimer: This how-to and self-help relationship advice and information for women about narcissism, addictions and abuse should be considered educational or inspirational—a guide or directory to things to consider and inform questions to ask a professional you contact for sound advice. It is not a substitute for marriage counseling, individual therapy, or legal advice. Women coping with domestic violence such as emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and/or sexual abuse—even where no physical abuse is present—are encouraged to seek professional help for treatment of depression, anxiety, self esteem, and other likely associated issues.

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