The Admiration Junkie: A Description of Pathological Narcissistic Disorder
How to know the difference between ignorant arrogance and narcissism
THE ADMIRATION & ADORATION JUNKIE
By Exposers of the Old, Fat, Washed-up Mouse
Everyone knows someone they believe to be narcissistic. That person is probably boastful, arrogant, and full of himself to the point that he's difficult to be around. It's too bad he's so kind and generous, because that makes it impossible to hate him. And let's remember, everyone has quirks -- that's hardly a reason to deprive yourself of their friendship.
Not everyone, however, knows someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a pathological condition included in the American Psychiatric Association's fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM IV (or realizes that someone he or she knows has it). The DSM IV, considered the bible of psychiatry, lists all recognized mental disorders and the criteria used in their diagnoses, along with recommendations for treatment. Included are mental illnesses of adults and children, including autism, schizophrenia, paranoia, eating disorders, and bipolar and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.
The DSM IV defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as "an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy..." (Code 301.81). The DSM IV does not concern itself with obnoxious personalities and annoying people. It deals only with pathology, or disease. According to the DSM IV, these are the characteristics of pathological narcissists: a grandiose notion of self-importance, of being special; abnormal need for admiration; emotional coldness toward others, including those very close to him; unreasonable sense of entitlement; arrogance; envy; willingness to exploit others to meet his own needs; and fantasies of greatness.
Pathological narcissists are predominantly male. There is no cure, no way to treat its symptoms. One expert claims the only sure cure is suicide, which is the recourse frequently chosen by its sufferers. The irony is that narcissists don't really love themselves. According to one version of the tale, the mythological and handsome Narcissus was doomed to stare at his own reflection because he spurned the love of the beautiful nymph, Echo. He did not realize he was looking at his own image; rather, he thought it belonged to another beautiful creature looking up at him from the water. He desired to have the lovely being in the pond as a lover, but every time he reached for her, she disappeared. This was his torment, that having once shunned love, he would die never having found it.
A narcissist doesn't love himself, because there is no "self" to love. Since he was a child he has known his "self" had no value (his parents made sure of that). To survive, he needs to abandon that worthless self and construct a new identity that is more socially acceptable -- someone who obviously has value to society, someone who is successful, intelligent, respected, and admired. Not all narcissists are loud and overbearing; there are more reticent types who exhibit their narcissistic behaviors only around people whom they trust. Perhaps they know on some level that their pretend selves are too fragile to withstand a challenge by an outsider.
The fake personality the pathological narcissist began creating when he was young is based solely on others' perceptions. His self-image and self-esteem derive from others' feedback: their words, actions, decisions, even facial expressions. He is an admiration junkie, and, like a drug addict, he knows exactly how to get it -- a steady supply of it -- no matter what it takes.
And what better supplier than the new woman in his life. She is a kind, fun, "normal" woman who admires him and finds him exciting, a little bit "dangerous." He's handsome and sexy and sensual and has been waiting all his life for someone like her. He is deeply in love with her, he says every chance he gets, and when they're apart he counts the minutes until they are together again. He's been married twice before -- but, as it turns out, those women were nuts. Real head cases.
This gorgeous woman with the delicate features and perfect skin is different. He knew it the minute he laid eyes on her. She is perfect for him. Not only is she pretty, but she needs him, he can tell. She asks him for advice and follows it. She thinks he smells good. She loves making love to him -- the way it makes her feel is completely out of this world. She laughs at his jokes, and he loves having her "on his arm." She is turned on by his unpredictability; he might come home with tickets to Florida or a new luxury coupe, or maybe he wants her to go look at a beautiful home that just came on the market.
Once again the unsuspecting woman takes the bait, just as he predicted. He reels in a fresh supply of his drug.
The honeymoon is short, though. She disagrees with him occasionally, offers suggestions, even becomes irritated with him. She obviously doesn't understand how it should work. Someone who criticizes, challenges or even mildly disagrees with him, regardless of whether he is right or wrong, is a serious threat to the narcissist's identity. An innocent comment or a tease becomes a judgment, even a condemnation. He cannot risk losing control. His entire existence depends on maintaining it. She must be punished so she won't soon do this again.
How he punishes depends on his state of mind, his stress level, how often she's committed similar transgressions over the last few weeks, how much he had had to drink, and if anyone else is around. He may be sarcastic; he may insult or humiliate; he may raise his voice, and may even threaten to leave ("I just can't take this anymore."); he may embarrass her, claim to understand why no one likes her, and count the ways that she is dysfunctional. He may blame her for "all their problems," even though she was hardly aware there were any. He may yell and even make her feel certain he will hurt her. He may put his fist through a wall, slam doors and literally kick the dog.
He almost gets high watching her anguished reaction. He knows he has once again nipped a potential rebellion in the bud. He feels so good about his victory that the next day he is remorseful and ashamed. What is there to lose? She is a softie -- she will show him that all is forgiven. After all, he smells so good and his deep kisses are very hard to resist.
She is a quick study. She has no choice, because she doesn't want to rock the boat. She learns to deny her own opinions and beliefs, her psychological needs, desires and pleasures. She has no idea that she is not in love with a real, authentic person, but with an image, someone in a disguise. And his professed love isn't a genuine emotion but a mix of need and fear.
Their interaction is classic pathological narcissism in action. The narcissist first idealizes his prey as the perfect source of his admiration fix. He must then devalue her to keep her in line. He lies to her, exploits her and manipulates her as though she were Gumby. The more she resists, the harsher he must become. He ignores her and flirts with other women in front of her. He maintains control by keeping her off balance all the time, so she never knows what to expect. He is capricious, irrational and impatient with her. She begins to believe that she is, indeed, the unstable one. She begins to give up the independence she had prized in her previous life. Life with the narcissist becomes a continual exercise in walking on eggshells.
Little does she know that he has squeezed out of her all he can and is desperately seeking a new supplier. He is already building a relationship with another -- someone who needs his counsel and who admires him for his superior intellect, financial success and sexual prowess. Because in addition to a continual supply of admiration, even hero-worship, the pathological narcissist needs drama, upheaval and chaos. He is willing to self-destruct if that's what it takes to feed his habit. He risks being fired from his job, doing further damage to his children, and walking out on another marriage. He is incapable of feeling any guilt over his actions. He is not bound by agreements or promises, least of all vows. He needs what he needs, and can tolerate no obstacles in his path. He cannot be concerned about leaving a trail of broken lives or broken hearts any more than a junkie cares about leaving a trail of broken windows or broken bodies. He'll do whatever it takes to get his fix. He is a hopeless and incurable addict.
For more information on surviving a narcissist read my digital reports about my own, ten-year experience of living with a narcissist here, at my narcissist advice website, Breaking Up With Your Narcisist
Breaking up with a histrionic narcissist? Be prepared for the battle of your life! While you are an emotional basketcase, he is as Cold as Ice! While you are left holding down the fort and dealing with the real-life responsibilities, he walks away from everything leaving you to mop off his stage and pay his bills. He will punish you in ways you couldn't possibly have ever imagined...
....and not even acknowledge it to himself! Why? Because he's off charming the socks off of new women as if your years together didn't even exist!
The narcissistic ex continually acts in abusive, bewildering and confusing ways. He is not above committing destructive acts. When the breakup becomes a reality, it is likely that his 'false persona' will completely disappear all together and you will most likely experience the most hurtful of behavior from him. He is completely lacking in empathy, and - since he is not receiving any admiration from you anymore - he will dismiss you and discard you as worthless to him, consequently dropping any fake front that he once fabricated in order to keep you in the relationship. Click here to read our 'Breaking Up & Dealing With a Narcissist' downloadable pdf ebooks brought to you by Tigress Luv.