Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The name “Narcissist” comes from Narcissus who was a beautiful hunter in Greek Mythology but also exceptionally proud.  In order to reveal his arrogance, Nemesis drew him to a pool of water.  Upon seeing his reflection and not realizing that it was his own image, Narcissus became so attracted that he refused to leave and died there.  Thus, the name Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) very correctly portrays a person who fixated on themselves.


So what is NPD?  Here is the technical DSM-V definition:


  • Identity:  Exaggerated self-appraisal
  • Self-direction:  Personal standards are unreasonably high,  sees oneself as exceptional
  • Empathy:  Impaired ability to identify with the feelings or needs of others, excessively attuned to reaction of others
  • Intimacy:  Relationship largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation
  • Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, belief that one is better than others, condescending toward others
  • Attention Seeking:  Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of attention of others


The practical definition looks more like this:


  • Believes they better than others
  • Fantasizes about power, success and attractiveness
  • Exaggerates achievements
  • Expects constant praise and admiration
  • Believes they are special
  • No empathy for others
  • Expects others to go along with ideas and plans
  • Takes advantage of others
  • Expresses disdain for those they feel are inferior
  • Believes that others are jealous of them
  • Trouble with relationships
  • Sets unrealistic goals
  • Easily offended




So many movies have portrayed NPD but perhaps the funniest and most exaggerated example is of Will Ferrell’s character Ron from “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”.  Ron’s admiration of his looks and talents despite his obvious flaws is characteristic of NPDs.  But NPD can be seen not just in movies, but also in real life from CEOs of large corporations to political candidates on both sides of the aisle to crime bosses and gang leaders.


So how do you deal with a person who might have NPD?  Here are a few suggestions:


  • Use sandwich method:  compliment, confront, compliment.  Don’t do it too frequently.
  • Agree with them whenever you can, don’t look for ways to disagree.
  • Be straight forward and short in explanations, too long gives too much time for attack.
  • Expect immediate decisions and don’t question their judgment.
  • Find ways to praise them without being patronizing.
  • Look them in the eye when talking and give them all of your attention.
  • Even when they are gloating, find something to admire.
  • Don’t talk too much about yourself or others; focus the conversation on them and then you will get what you want.
  • Find ways to help them feel special.


Once you realize the narcissism, it becomes much easier to manage the excessive admiration that a NPD craves.  But don’t lose yourself to their narcissism by constantly giving them what they need at the expense of what you need.  This is disastrous and will end badly, not for them but for you.  Get some help and learn when to walk away.




Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.


What Type of Narcissistic Husband Do You Have? Part 1

You have finally realized that you are married to a narcissist.  Everyone else around you already knew this and even warned you about him but for some reason you thought it would be different.  Maybe you believed that he would change for you and maybe he did before you got married but as soon as you walked down the aisle everything changed.  Suddenly this incredible dreamy person who swept you off your feet, met and even exceeded your every expectation, became this other alternate ego.  At first he convinced you that you were the problem and then you finally realized that he is.

Now what do you do?  Well there are several obvious destructive options: have an affair, run to another county, develop an addiction, become even more depressed, gossip about him to a few hundred of your girlfriends, or end the marriage in divorce (which seems easy but is often very ugly).  Or instead you could learn to understand what you are dealing with and accept him for what he is rather than expecting him to change, which is not likely happen no matter how many tears you shed.  So take a long look back and begin the process of understanding the type of narcissist he is.

Poker Face.  These are the quiet narcissists who make major decisions without talking to you.  They will buy a house without talking to you or make changes in their occupation without even mentioning a word.  On the outside they look great and appear to be gentle and kind but this is all a front.  Inside they are using this kind appearance to deceive and control others around them.  They have learned that by keeping quiet no one knows what they are thinking and therefore they can better manipulate other’s actions.  It is really an unexpected sneak attack which happens so quickly that you don’t even notice.  The struggle with Poker Faces is that everyone loves them and no one believes just how controlling they really are behind the scenes.

How to handle a Poker Face?  Don’t take their lack of communication about important decisions as a reflection on your abilities.  Learn to make your own decisions and don’t back down from it.  Begin to anticipate the sneak attacks and look for signs that it is coming; there is usually some evidence that in hindsight becomes 20/20 next time.

Bullies.  These are the loud, pushy, and overly aggressive narcissists who will make decisions by bulldozing over you.  They will buy a house by verbally beating up the realtor, seller, mortgage broker, attorney and anyone else who gets in their way.  They want to be noticed and then appreciated for their aggressiveness all while not being afraid of anyone.  In fact, they become even more competitive and verbal when someone tries to mitigate them with a fear tactic.  The struggle with Bullies is that everyone placates to them because it is easier to give in than to take it on the chin.

How to handle a Bully?  Don’t make excuses for them, apologize for their behavior or tolerate the verbal assaults.  Decide on a boundary and stick with it no matter what they do or say.  While the verbal assaults may worsen at first, they will lessen when you don’t back down.  Think of the bully on the play ground and stand your ground.

Girly.  Normally narcissists are void of feeling, but these believe their feelings are king and they literally take up all of the oxygen in a room just expressing themselves.  How they feel is always right, no matter what the circumstances.  They will buy a house by how it makes them feel:  if they feel important, then they will buy it; if not, they won’t.   When you agree with their feelings there is an intense euphoric high but if you don’t, watch out because they will attack you.  The struggle with Girlies is that they appear to be very sensitive but in actuality, they are only sensitive to their feelings and not yours.

How to handle a Girly?  Don’t accept responsibility for their feelings; instead allow them the freedom to feel however they want.  Decide how you feel independently of them and don’t mix the two up.  Most especially, don’t suppress your feelings or they will eventually explode in an enormous mess.

Debaters.  These are the most logical group of the bunch but they can be as deadly as heat seeking missiles that are aimed at you if you dare to disagree.  They will buy a house by obsessing over excessive details, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with the purchase.  They over explain everything again and again and just in case you didn’t get it the third time, one more time again.   Worse, they require you to agree with every small detail and then to agree again with their conclusion.  If you don’t, they will seek to prove you wrong till you do agree.  Literally it seems the only way to stop debating with them is to agree.  The struggle with Debaters is that everyone eventually agrees with them and then does what they want to do behind their back.

How to handle a Debater?  Don’t lie by agreeing with them when you don’t, in the end you will be the one frustrated.  Instead trust your own logic and learn to use logic against them only when necessary.  Be calm and take time out to continue the debate later if you get flustered.

By understanding the type of narcissist you are married to and accepting him for who he is rather than wishing he would change, you can improve the state of your marriage.  Not all people who are married to a narcissist divorce; in fact many stay married and can even be happy in their marriage.  But in order to have a healthy marriage, you need to know your limitations and stand your ground firmly in love.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.