It’s only human to have your own best interests at heart, or else you wouldn’t survive. However, some people take self-interest and egotism to the extreme and are narcissists. Recovering from narcissism isn’t an easy task, but it can be done.
Everybody has their moments of selfishness and putting themselves first. While some might casually call that narcissistic behavior, it isn’t a full-blown case. True narcissism is a mental disorder that must be diagnosed and treated by a mental health provider.
Origins of The Term Narcissism
As with many medical terms, especially in mental health, we have the Greeks to thank for the origin of our word narcissism. The Metamorphosis Project published by Cornell University explains Ovid’s iconic myth of Narcissus and Echo, both a blend of human and divine.
According to the myth, Narcissus was the son of a water nymph and a dazzling, handsome lad. He caught the attention of Echo, who fell madly in love with him. Narcissus rejected her affection, and she died pining away for him.
As fate would have it, the spirit of Echo was doomed to repeat the last words of anyone calling through the woods or caves. This reverberating sound effect still bears the tragedienne’s name. Ovid didn’t leave much good news for Narcissus’ fate, either.
Narcissist knelt to drink water from a pool of water and saw his reflection for the first time. He was so enthralled with his beauty that he fell in love with his reflection. The youth refused to leave the pool and obsessed over his reflection day and night until he finally died.
Narcissism as a Mental Disorder
If you are recovering from narcissism, your diagnosis is nothing new to the mental health scene. An article published by the National Library of Medicine claims that Freud was one of the first psychiatrists to write about the disorder in 1914.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is listed in the DSM-5, a handbook for professional mental health diagnoses. According to an article published by the American Family Physician Journal, narcissistic personality disorder, or NPD, is characterized by having an inflated sense of self-worth, attention-seeking, and a lack of empathy. It’s among the DSM-5 classification of 10 personality disorders in Cluster B.
The article also states that the condition is only present in about one percent of the population.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
People who are recovering from narcissism have a broad range of symptoms to overcome. If you are struggling with NPD, you may have all or some of these traits to a varying degree. The symptoms may include:
•Being obsessed about how people perceive you and basing your self-esteem on their admiration
•A highly inflated sense of self. You may experience low self-esteem if you think people aren’t admiring and praising you enough.
•Being so involved in yourself that you can’t have empathy with other people’s feelings
•You put your needs above others and disregard their needs
•You have a skewed sense of entitlement and believe you “deserve” the best all the time.
•You’re obsessed with power, fame, and material goods.
•You chronically display attention-seeking behavior so that people will admire you more.
•Extreme jealousy of other people’s things and achievements
•You believe that you are uniquely “above” the average person.
•You set unrealistic goals, trying to achieve your sense of grandeur.
•You’ve no problems with exploiting other people to get what you want.
•Since you have these behaviors, maintaining healthy relationships is difficult, if
•You can’t tolerate criticism, even if it’s for your own good.
•Instead of owning up to your mistakes and shortcomings, you pass the blame to others.
If you are recovering from narcissism, you’ve probably experienced some of the backlashes the disorder causes. The broken relationships and other consequences may have a long-lasting effect on your life. Here are some expected outcomes that people with NPD face:
•Estrangement from family and friends
•Few if any healthy relationships left
•Divorce or chronic break-ups with significant others
•Missed opportunities both personally and professionally
•Damaged or ruined reputation both personally and professionally
•Financial and career problems resulting from careless decisions
•A long line of broken relationships that left people feeling manipulated and demeaned by your actions.
With some or all of these consequences, it’s no wonder why people with NPD develop co-existing mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. It can turn into a whirlpool that you can’t control. Just realize that NPD is a mental illness, and these aren’t things you’re experiencing on purpose.
How Does a Doctor Diagnose NPD?
Since the signs and symptoms of NPD may overlap with other mental health disorders, diagnosis may not be straightforward. An article published in the Medical Journal Assessment explains that a professional diagnosis depends on a self-reporting questionnaire (Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire-4) and the clinician’s observations. The sum of all the data can lead to the right NPD diagnosis.
Reaching Beyond Yourself: Recovering from Narcissism
Your first step toward recovery and healing begins with acknowledging you have a problem. Unfortunately, many people with undiagnosed NPD don’t seek help because they refuse to accept that they’re less than perfect. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with NPD, there is hope.