Narcissism and Co-depency
Narcissism is a personality disorder wherein the individual feels an extremely elevated sense of self-worth compared to normal. A Narcissist thinks that he is like no one else, special and unique in every single way manageable and therefore believes that he is superior to all and seems like the perfect kind of company in the short run but in the long run unfolds, so do their true colors begin to show.
Narcissism is a psychological disorder that is gradually developed overtime by the involvement of biological and environmental factors. According to research, Narcissism has something to do with genetics and can be triggered as early as the preschool years and may develop over the passage of time. Media has a big impact in transmitting narcissism to vast populations. Narcissists have such an elevated sense of self worth that they value themselves as inherently as others. Narcissists believe they are special and unique. Most narcissistic individuals require excessive admiration. Narcissists are incapable of completely empathizing and the narcissist recognizes himself as human and others as 3-dimensional cartoons in the background. The narcissist over values people, uses them and then devalues them and is one track minded – they’re not interested in other people.
“A narcissist is a human roller coaster – fun for a limited time, nauseating in the long run.”
Non-narcissistic individuals get easily attracted to narcissists and their charms at first glance and want to be part of their circle. In the long run however, others will realize that narcissists only care about themselves and are incapable of genuinely caring for other people and eventually want out of their suffocating circles and shadows.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” asks the queen from snow white’s fairytale and always the magic mirror would reply, “You are, you are the fairest in the land.” This cycle went on and on and pleased the queen. One day someone became fairer than her. It displeased her in many ways and disturbed her self- esteem so much that she would do anything to regain that title. More than anything, she wanted to be admired. A mythological Greek youth named Narcissus came across a lake and saw his reflection in the water. As he stared at his image, he slowly felt a great deal of admiration for himself. He began to fall in love with his reflection and found that he could not dare to look away from such beauty. No longer grasping the world around him while neglecting his physical needs, he died there still admiring himself.
What happened to the queen, to Narcissus and to many more who get unconsciously attached to their own images is what people, today, call Narcissism. Have you ever been described as a vain individual? Have you ever tried describing someone as egocentric? Do you even know what those two words mean? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, vain refers to having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements while egocentric is defined as limited outlook or concern to one’s activities or needs. Too much of either or too much of both becomes a disturbing characteristic for any individual in general. These two characteristics are also words suitable for describing a narcissistic individual.
Narcissism is a personality disorder wherein the individual feels an extremely elevated sense of self worth. He may also insist on being first in line to grab opportunities to gain more fame and admiration. A narcissistic individual thinks that he is like no one else, special and unique in every single way imaginable and therefore believes that he is superior to all. This mindset lets the narcissist feel like no one can shine center stage as much as he does. Since he assumes and is convinced that he is unique, he feels that everyone is bound to give parts of their attention to him from time to time. He also believes that he was born to be treated in an extra special manner.
Since these individuals seemingly shine in the spotlight and stand out in a crowd, people would get attracted to them. People would want to shine with them and share the same circle with the beautiful and the famous. Unfortunately, narcissists would seem like the perfect kind of company in the short run but as the long run unfolds; so do their true colors and inner divas begin to show. “Narcissists can’t empathize or love and therefore have no friends (Rachel, 2009).” Narcissism can lead to social isolation because of inability to appreciate anything around them aside from themselves. Social isolation potentially leads to depression, placing narcissists at high risk for developing suicidal ideation’s on the longer run.
What exactly is narcissism?
Narcissism is a psychological disorder that is gradually developed over time by the involvement of biological and environmental factors. According to research, Narcissism has something to do with genetics. It is said that children who have Narcissistic parents are most likely to develop Narcissism hence making it a natural and heritable character trait. Geneticists have also started to relate the existence of particular differences in genes with personality disorders. According to a study featured in the 2007 issue of the “International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology”, a particular gene referred to as tryptophan hydroxylase-2 may be associated in developing certain personality disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder. Tryptophan hydroxylase-2 aids in regulating the production of serotonin, an important brain chemical involved in mood regulation.
Narcissism can be triggered as early as preschool years and may develop over the passage of time. Parent-child relationships including the different styles of parenting are the center of the development of Narcissism. It is believed that narcissism would likely develop as a result of parental rejection. A study attributed narcissism to the inconsistency and lack of empathy of parents to their child. With this, the child seeks attention from others because it presumably is lacking from his parents. The child may behave to the extent of promoting himself through his self-perceived talent to gain positive comments from others which he can’t receive from his parents. Empty Praises causes the child to feel entitled while lacking the true confidence necessary to feel good about them. The child may then believe he can trust nobody but himself. In contrary to that, narcissism may also develop as a result of parental indulgence. A child may develop an inappropriate high self-appraisal if his parents give him inappropriate positive remarks. He or she may view himself as a person with grandeur and power.
We are now living in an increasingly narcissistic society. Media has a big impact in transmitting narcissism to vast populations. According to Laura Buffadi, online social networking sites like Facebook are common avenues for narcissists since they believe that others are interested in what they’re doing and would want to inform the public of what they are doing. It appears that it might also be possible that this has more to do with the social networks we have at home rather than with those online. Studies have shown that children are left feeling emptier and more prone to insecurities when they are praised for skills or talents that they haven’t mastered. Meanwhile, praising children for real accomplishments help build up a real self-esteem.
Narcissists have such an elevated sense of self-worth that they value themselves as inherently as others. In narcissists, there’s a grandiose sense of self-importance. Narcissists like to stare at the mirror and admire their physique. They assume that everyone else is interested to listen to their stories. They think as if they have the natural talent in influencing people. He needs constant attention. Thus he shows a sense of entitlement of deserving others’ adulation. They tend to use singular pronouns when talking like I, me, my, in a spontaneous speech. Most narcissists require excessive admiration. They may feel as if everyone and everything exists to serve them. They never get satisfied until they get what they think they deserve. They love to take credit of successes and are responsive to opportunities of self enhancement.
The narcissist recognizes himself as human and others as 3-dimensional cartoons in the background. Narcissists care more about themselves than others. They tend to be in a circle of friends where they first overvalue them then use them and eventually devalue them. Intimacy and transparency are important parts of true friendship, in which narcissists are incapable of. They are one track minded.
“If threatened by being told that someone else has outperformed them, they’re more likely to put the other person down.”
They use their so-called friends as instruments to bring them a sense of entitlement or elevate their status. They sufficiently withdraw themselves from others. They love themselves too much that they lack empathy. They express envy when someone gains recognition because they think it should have been rightfully theirs. Narcissists expect special treatment from others and often result to anger if not given what they want. To a narcissist, nothing is ever good enough and it’s always the fault of others.
Since narcissists have a high self-esteem and are charismatic, non narcissistic individuals get easily attracted to them at first glance and want to be part of their circle. A narcissist may have a lot of “friends” at first but eventually they would grow tired of his countless “me, myself, and I” conversations. They soon realize that narcissists only care about themselves and are incapable of genuinely caring for other people and eventually want to walk out from their suffocating shadows. If you’re bound to fall in love with narcissists at hello but when you get to know them better, you slowly realize that they’re actually quite unbearable. Their confidence becomes arrogance; charms turn to senselessness; smarts turn to conceitedness. They will talk endlessly about themselves, and never mind you. They have trouble working with others since they can’t easily accept criticisms and negative feedbacks.
Narcissists tend to have fewer friends in the long run because narcissism makes individuals feel superior, making it hard to treat others fairly. A narcissist believes that he is the “only one” and that he is special and unique, and no one is more superior to him. He feels an extremely elevated sense of self worth. He is grandiose, vain, and egocentric all at the same time. With these traits, narcissists are not capable of empathizing. A narcissist is not interested in other people; all he wants is their attention. He only thinks of what is most beneficial for him, not minding the people surrounding him. Since a narcissist can’t appreciate the things surrounding him, he will find himself in many similar situations in the future. A few episodes of peer rejection such as these can possibly lead to social isolation then to depression and might even be a reason for the development of suicidal ideation.
Children of Narcissists
Narcissistic parents usually run the household and can do severe damage to the self-esteem and motivation of their children. Often they attempt to live vicariously through them. These parents expect excellence and/or obedience, and can be competitive, envious, critical, domineering, or needy. Although their personalities differ, the common factor is that their feelings and needs, particularly emotional needs, come first. As a result, their children learn to adapt, become codependent. They bear the responsibility for meeting the parent’s emotional needs, rather than vice versa.
Whereas their parents feel entitled, they feel un-entitled and self-sacrifice and deny their own feelings and needs (unless they, too, are narcissistic). They don’t learn to trust and value themselves and grow up alienated from their true selves. They may be driven to prove themselves in order to win their parents’ approval, but find little motivation to pursue their wants and goals when not externally imposed (e.g., by a partner, employer, teacher).
Although they may be unaware of what was missing in their childhood, fear of abandonment and intimacy continues to permeate their adult relationships. They’re afraid of making waves or mistakes and being authentic. Used to seeking external validation, many become pleasers, pretending to feel what they don’t and hiding what they do. By reenacting their family drama, they believe their only choice is to be alone or give up themselves in a relationship.
Often adult children of narcissistic parents are depressed, have unacknowledged anger, and feelings of emptiness. They may attract an addict, a narcissist, or other unavailable partner, repeating the pattern of emotional abandonment from childhood. Healing requires recovery from codependency and overcoming the toxic shame acquired growing up in a narcissistic home.
Partners of Narcissists
The inherently dysfunctional “codependency dance” requires two opposite but distinctly balanced partners: the pleaser/fixer (codependent) and the taker/controller (narcissist/addict).
Codependents — who are giving, sacrificing, and consumed with the needs and desires of others — do not know how to emotionally disconnect or avoid romantic relationships with individuals who are narcissistic — individuals who are selfish, self-centered, controlling, and harmful to them. Codependents habitually find themselves on a “dance floor” attracted to partners who are a perfect counter-match to their uniquely passive, submissive and acquiescent dance style.
As natural followers in their relationship dance, codependents are passive and accommodating dance partners. So how can they stop being such natural followers? Codependents find narcissistic dance partners deeply appealing. They are perpetually attracted to their charm, boldness, confidence and domineering personality.
When codependents and narcissists pair up, the dancing experience sizzles with excitement — at least in the beginning. After many “songs,” the enthralling and thrilling dance experience predictably transforms into drama, conflict, feelings of neglect and being trapped. Even with chaos and conflict, neither of the two spellbound dancers dares to end their partnership. Despite the tumultuous and conflict-laden nature of their relationship, neither of these two opposite, but dysfunctional compatible, dance partners feel compelled to sit the dance out.
When a codependent and narcissist come together in their relationship, their dance unfolds flawlessly: The narcissistic partner maintains the lead and the codependent follows. Their roles seem natural to them because they have actually been practicing them their whole lives. The codependent reflexively gives up their power; since the narcissist thrives on control and power, the dance is perfectly coordinated. No one gets their toes stepped on.
Codependents confuse care taking and sacrifice with loyalty and love. Although they are proud of their unwavering dedication to the person they love, they end up feeling unappreciated and used. Codependents yearn to be loved, but because of their choice of dance partner, find their dreams unrealized. With the heartbreak of unfulfilled dreams, codependents silently and bitterly swallow their unhappiness.
Codependents are essentially stuck in a pattern of giving and sacrificing, without the possibility of ever receiving the same from their partner. They pretend to enjoy the dance, but really harbor feelings of anger, bitterness, and sadness for not taking an active role in their dance experience. They are convinced that they will never find a dance partner who will love them for who they are, as opposed to what they can do for them. Their low self-esteem and pessimism manifests itself into a form of learned helplessness that ultimately keeps them on the dance floor with their narcissistic partner.
The narcissist dancer, like the codependent, is attracted to a partner who feels perfect to them: Someone who lets them lead the dance while making them feel powerful, competent and appreciated. In other words, the narcissist feels most comfortable with a dancing companion who matches up with their self-absorbed and boldly selfish dance style. Narcissist dancers are able to maintain the direction of the dance because they always find partners who lack self-worth, confidence and who have low self-esteem — codependents. With such a well-matched companion, they are able to control both the dancer and the dance.
Although all codependent dancers desire harmony and balance, they consistently sabotage themselves by choosing a partner to whom they are initially attracted, but will ultimately resent. When given a chance to stop dancing with their narcissistic partner and comfortably sit the dance out until someone healthy comes along, they typically choose to continue their dysfunctional dance. They dare not leave their narcissistic dance partner because their lack of self-esteem and self-respect makes them feel like they can do no better. Being alone is the equivalent of feeling lonely, and loneliness is too painful to bear.
Without self-esteem or feelings of personal power, the codependent is incapable of choosing mutually giving and unconditionally loving partners. Their choice of a narcissistic dance partner is connected to their unconscious motivation to find a person who is familiar — someone who is reminiscent of their powerless and, perhaps, traumatic childhood. Sadly, codependents are most likely children of parents who also flawlessly danced the dysfunctional codependent/narcissistic dance. Their fear of being alone, their compulsion to control and fix at any cost, and their comfort in their role as the martyr who is endlessly loving, devoted, and patient, is an extension of their yearning to be loved, respected, and cared for as a child.