In my books In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome, and in several articles here on the blog, including this most recent series of posts (see also: Personality and Character Disorders: The Continuum Revisited), I make the point that character disturbance exists along continua of quality and severity (see also: Character Disturbance Exists Along A Continuum). I’ve also long made the point that narcissism is a key dimension of several character disturbances, a fact that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has now recognized officially in the dimensional approach it’s taken in conceptualizing all personality and character disturbances. Now, the manner in which the APA’s newest diagnostic manual has chosen to treat this issue has many upset because in eliminating Narcissitic Personality Disorder (NPD) as a specific category the psychiatric profession appears to be suggesting both that narcissists don’t exist and that narcissistic personalities aren’t the problem anyone who’s had to deal with such folks knows all-too-well they really are (i.e. aren’t truly “disordered”). Psychiatry erred, therefore, in the manner in which it chose to address this issue. But it’s definitely on the right track in recognizing that narcissism is indeed an important dimension of personality and a prominent feature of several problematic personality types.
Narcissism is more than just self-centeredness (i.e. egocentricity). And it’s more than just super self-confidence. It’s pathological self-love (see: Narcissism: Pathological Self-Love), and recently, solid research has emerged supporting the notion I’ve long espoused that not all narcissists are compensating for inner feelings of insecurity or low self-esteem. In fact, most narcissists aren’t. They really think they’re all that! And it’s the grandiose and entitled among us that can cause some really big problems for the rest of us (for more information on this topic see the article: Two Types of Narcissism and How to Tell the Difference).
In the coming series of articles, I’ll be showing how narcissism factors in to a wide variety of personality and character disturbances and why it’s perhaps the most essential feature of certain disorders. I’ll also explain how narcissism combines with other personality characteristics to make certain personality types particularly problematic.
As some of you may already know, two new books are in development, one of which draws from some of the best material on the blog. I’ll have more to announce once the books are near release.
Sunday night’s Character Matters program will again be live, so I can take phone calls.