Narcissism or NPD is a rare (personality) disorder categorized by the DSM V as cluster B. It is said to occur in 1 to 6% of the total (US) population.
People with NPD are often intelligent (in the traditional sense) and can pick up on others’ subconscious motivations quite easily. This is because their main mode of viewing the world is through their own subconscious desires. Non-NPs do this to an extent as well, as every person has a mixture and varying quantity of narcissistic traits. According to the DSM, NPD is a prolonged state of thoughts of extreme grandiosity related to this false, subconscious self. My theory is that the thoughts that would diagnose someone disordered are actually quite normal. These long and elaborate dreams are not concocted by the NPD individual. The common ideation of narcissism is that the narcissist only serves themselves – however, my research will present that this simply isn’t true.
It is important to consider the roots of the stigma against narcissism. By definition, the word ‘stigma’ relates that it is a non-complex cognitive bias against a socially prescribed anathema. Rather, it is just something we don’t like and can’t explain why. Perhaps it began long ago with the original Greek story and/or myth of Echo and Narcissus. In this tale, there are two lovers and a vengeful fairy named Echo. Here, Narcissus is a confident young man that boasts of his appearance. He is not yet the monster railed against by NPD abuse survivors. Quite ironically, he is even more the impossible existence than the mere concept of the narcissist itself. He only becomes the abuser when Echo curses at him to never revel in his reflection. Why is the ‘delusional’ Narcissus at fault and not the jealous fairy? A healthy narcissist properly engages in self-love, just as any other person can and should. I will present the case for self-love as the cure for Narcissistic Personality Disorder despite its inherent and seemingly opposite nature.
If living with NPD is a stigma, then the natural course is to break that stigma. One cannot introduce a cure to society unless it has maximum logical consistency and is tailored to the prevailing societal conventions of the time. Similarly, even if having this disorder came with no strings attached, the current definitions of NPD may very well keep the narcissist from searching for a remedy. ‘Uncurable.’ ‘Too rare.’ ‘Odd.’ These words can and do apply to the disorder, but they remain merely descriptors. This is because there are a variety of forms of narcissism, more than the DSM would have one believe. One denotation of the word is “erotic obsession with the self.” A non-NPD individual can have narcissistic fixations such as extreme vanity, so this therefore cannot apply to a disordered individual. Additionally, an NPD person isn’t obsessed with their “self.” They don’t have one, remember? They’re ‘obsessed’ with what they wish they could be due to a deep, psychotically-felt inadequacy.
Thus, ideally, the treatment for NPD has a few steps and rules:
- A disordered person should try to cure themselves if they are mentally ill, and in an unstable way. The disorder forces the person to know intimately their insecurities – so it’s best to let them try to reconcile those by themselves.
- Furthermore, the narcissist must (by themselves) conclude that they don’t want to be narcissistic and fully and completely consider the value of the cure. This is an advanced step since if the patient has discovered they have behaved poorly, they will likely try to redeem themselves.
- After learning to love themselves, the disordered narcissist must pick up their shattered mirrors and have a heart to heart with the two sides of the self. That’s right; being a narcissist isn’t inherently awful. It is those who continually abuse the person who are truly abhorrent. Indeed, it is equally or more so a question of character than differences in mental reality construction. Just as with culture, no ‘delusion’ or coping mechanism is better than the other. A case to prove the suffering person wrong may have the right intentions, but if not done completely non-narcissistically, then even the attempt is invalid. Remember, narcissists easily abuse others of their kind because the false self is vigorously unshakeable; the presumption is that person – the target – can take it. Not necessarily. Each person is different, and the false self only barely conceals the cracks and bruises of the ‘true one.’
As a final note, your psychosis is only as bad as you make it out to be. Such is life.
Featured image by Quinn Buffing.