Narcissistic Ghosts of Our Pasts

I spend some time almost every day reveling in the view of the mountains. Their power is so immense you can almost feel the healing properties they possess tingling down the length of your body. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to call the mountains my new home.

When I first announced my move out west I received much praise for my “brave” choice. I felt very much loved for the support I was given by those close by and far away. Yet, at the same I couldn’t help but think that I did not consider this a brave move at all. After all I grew up, and still am, fiercely independent. There is a lot to be said about the allure of adventure. But, there is equally as much to be said about the allure of longing to just run away.

I spent half of my formidable years dreaming of escape and the other half mentally suppressing the situation I was in. My father was a narcissistic…monster. My wonderful mother passed when I was only 13 and unfortunately I was stuck with the bad half. I spent my years with someone who only knew how to form and maintain relationships with control tactics, manipulation, and abuse. I was not only the only one in his life, but also his outlet. I just remember feeling very isolated. I didn’t know how to form good relationships, and what’s worse I didn’t think I deserved them. Humans are social creatures; loneliness has been proven to produce the same negative health effects as obesity. In an article posted on EverydayHealth Dr. Sanjay Gupta states “According to University of Chicago social neuroscientist John Cacioppo, the effects of social isolation or rejection are as real as thirst, hunger, or pain” (August 4, 2015). Wow.

I was recently spending some time on the interwebs when I came across a Facebook post with pictures of my old narcissistic friend and her new fiancé. I didn’t feel anger really, or sadness or any of those other emotions that I thought I was going to feel. I started to sense a sort of discomfort, though, a real uneasiness. This made me curious as to why.

The history that this old friend and I share is a tragic one. We started off as friends due to similar interests and came to realize as we got closer, family backgrounds. She had a very unstable upbringing, as did I. We connected on this commonality. The feeling to be able to share something so deep and painful from your life, and have someone understand, was…unparalleled.  Our bond was incredible.

And so were our fights.

I recall the last straw for me. I was at the point of starting to grow up, build awareness, and take serious action for the emotional instability that I have been feeling my whole life. I had just began to wake up that there was a constant type of personality that reappeared in my life as I was, at this point, surrounded by narcissists from a few very prominent areas in my life. It was also hard to swallow that I might be responsible for magnetizing those people into my life.

We had a terrific fight, one full of the typical narcissistic tactics and harmful words. After a couple of nauseating emails, I was too tired to respond. I let go. My healing began. But it took a long time. Many things changed. I felt the same sort of isolation from our mutual friends, I felt like I was in the wrong. Going through a big change internally also made my question my other relationships, people in general, as well as myself. It was an incredibly lonely time…again.

At the end of day, I hope to thank her. Thank her for being in life so that I could see this personality disorder more clearly and for bringing awareness. And I also let go of what I could not change from that hard time.

I’m proud of how far I come, literally and figuratively. I know better now that it is not my fault nor in my control. That discomfort that I felt after seeing the Facebook post I now know deep inside is fear. Fear. Fear that they succeeded. Fear of that biting isolation. The isolation that I felt merely as a result from the narcissist’s projections, their judgments…my distorted sense of compassion where I thought I was helping by internalizing what others wanted to discard of themselves onto me.

I’ve had my share of adventures so far and know there is much more to come. They never succeeded, no matter what Facebook says, knowing what I know now that a narcissist is still the same and will find any vehicle for them to uphold their grandiose image.

At the same time, I’m trying to cultivate this sense of home. There are many tools that are my disposal to discard the bullshit that I carried from the narcissists that have inhabited my life. The intentionality and practice to heal remains.

I stop typing and listen as the coyotes begin to howl. The crisp mountain air blows their presence in through my window. Their calls are much louder in a pack. They call together as their sense of community is as secure as their sense of place.

Each day I’m cultivating strength through my sense of self and community. A new strength; one that can move mountains.

Written by: Anna (Creator of Echo’s Corner)


Why Was Narcissism Taken out of the DSM? And why that is Scary

If you have met one narcissist, chances are it’s easy to feel as if you have met them all. The range of someone’s narcissistic traits and characteristics ranges on what scale of narcissism they are on yet the qualities stay typically the same. Narcissism has been around in theory since the Greeks and has formally been studied since the beginning of the 20th century. The disorder was inducted into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association in 1968 but, taken out in 2013. This was a very curious move and came across as a surprise to many.

The American Psychiatric Association Workgroup is the party responsible for publishing the DSM which is deemed to be to go-to guide for practitioners in the psychology and psychiatric fields. When the fifth version of the DSM was published in 2013 narcissism PD was removed along with a few other disorders such as schizoid, paranoid, and histrionic. Some big changes were made, to say the least. As far as the Workgroup’s one of the reasons for removing NPD along with the others included an idea that these disorders are already so well-known and documented that they no longer serve a big role in further scientific research and clinical study.

A major reasoning was in regard to over-lap that these disorders cause with other disorders causing “diagnostic co-occurrence.” The translation of co-occurrence means that one person can have multiple PD’s based off of their traits thus leading to confusion in a clear type to which an individual fits into. This particular reason seems to be a disparity between academic researchers, who are claimed to make up a big portion of the Workgroup, and clinicians as many clinicians have spoken out against the elimination of NPD. They claim that these disorders are still deserving of and important in the realms of clinical attention, thus, should be retained.

I am speculating here, but it might also be due to the fact that it does not have a known cure.

There is an element of uneasiness that also comes along with thinking that this is not a recognized personality disorder anymore. Does it no longer validate or diminish the fact that so many people have suffered or are suffering at the hands of a narcissist? As anyone who has a relationship with a narcissist will tell you, it is no easy task. Many survivors have found comfort and understanding in the fact that they are in fact dealing with a personality disorder, an illness in many ways.

Another speculation lies in the idea that narcissism is just becoming so common and normal that it is no longer considered a disease but a common trait among different types of people. If one examines our current society and some of our leading politicians and entertainment figures it almost seems like the trait is not only ridiculed and condemned but at the same time enjoyed and admired by many. Are many people blind to narcissism as they may exhibit the qualities of narcissists themselves? The easiest way to be blind to a trait is to possess the trait yourself. Any kind of conjectures aside, it really overall begs the question of how pervasive and “normal” narcissism is in our society.

I asked a therapist of mine if she think the number of narcissists in this world is growing. I also followed up with if she thinks that one day the continuum might shift into trending towards sociopaths. She offered a stay awake at night and shut your doors kind of response with saying “Yep, one day it might just be you take from another person whatever you might want.”

So, what’s the solution? Where’s the light, the silver lining? Do we lace up our boots and go to battle for the survivors of this disease and continue to better ourselves and society against the waning notions of compassion and empathy? Does this minimize the effects of narcissism in families, relationships, organization, politics and so forth? All we can do really is to be the light. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” If we stand together as a community, we not only create a support system for one another but legitimize the fact that narcissism is, in fact, very real. And in turn we can find solutions for ourselves, the people suffering (which include narcissists, the communities we are a part of, and the society we live in.

Written by: Anna (Creator of Echo’s Corner)

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