Narcissistic characters of various types are everywhere these days. But not all people with narcissistic characteristics are “disordered.” Now, this might seem a curious assertion to some. But not everyone possessing some narcissism is a narcissist. Further, not all narcissists are alike. Some narcissitically-inclined individuals are actually less harmful than others. And for many reasons it’s become harder than ever to define when someone’s degree of narcissism reaches the level of a true “disorder.” (See: Personality Disorders Are Increasingly Difficult to Define.)
Narcissism is a quality of character present in several personality types. And everyone has a personality. Fortunately, few folks have a personality so dyfunctional that they can’t function. But these days, too many folks have a personality that makes relating healthily to others a real challenge. And when the narcissism in someone’s character is of a certain type and/or degree, it can lead to a lot of relationship distress.
Narcissistic characters run the gamut, from relatively benign “amorous,” “charming,” types to heartless and predatory types. Each is different in the kinds of relationships they form and damage they can do. That said, it’s also always a matter of degree. Even some seemingly benign “charmers” can have more nefarious aspects to their character.
“Disordered” Narcissistic Characters
While traditional definitions don’t serve us well these days, some narcissistic characters are rightfully considered disordered. And making this distinction has definite implications. Folks with true personality disorders are notoriously resistant to change and difficult if not impossible to treat. But the spectrum of narcissism has become so vast and varied it’s hard to tease these matters out reliably. So, one’s safest bet is to be wary of narcissism in whatever fashion or degree you see it.
The most disordered narcissists can’t help but leaving a telltale trail behind them. While they might offer a litany of excuses, their troubled and failed past relationships often speak for themselves. Narcissists will blame others. But actions speak louder than words. And if you bother to properly scruitinze past happenstances without accepting excuses for them – especially those excuses that only point the finger at others – you’re much more likely to uncover a pattern of use and abuse. And that’s how you know it’s best to move on!
I’ll have more to about the vast spectrum of narcissistic characters on upcoming podcasts of the New Character Matters program. And I’ll have an announcement soon on the first live when I can take calls in real time. In the meantime, feel free to forward questions you want given some detailed attention on the program by using the Contact feature. And you can find information about the vast spectrum of character dysfunction in my book Character Disturbance. You can access Episode 3 – All About Narcissism Pt. 1 here.