Everyone has a distinctive way of seeing things and doing things. And we develop unique “styles” of relating to others. That’s what defines our personality. But sometimes a person’s style of relating is in itself problematic. Character disorders always present problems for relationships.
Sometimes reality challenges the grandiose self-image narcissists have. And when a narcissitic wound is deep and the reality behind it too self-evident to deny, the consequences to those made to take the blame for failure can be profound.
Narcissists come in two main varieties: vulnerable (neurotic) and grandiose (character disturbed or disordered. Of the two types, grandiose narcissists are the more problematic. Unfortunately, because of the nature of our times, they’re also the more prevalent. The disdain they have for those they view as inferior often engenders a dismissive attitude that can really get under the skin of a relationship partner.
There’s a continuum of severity to character impairments, ranging from mild character immaturity to severe character dysfunction. Not all the difficult people in your life will meet the criteria established for a true character “disorder.” But that doesn’t mean that some of these folks aren’t significantly disturbed characters capable of making your life miserable. The degree of character impairment a person has, however, does have a lot to do with how likely it is they might change (with the right type of intervention).
Because neurotic individuals tend to have fairly well-developed and sometimes even “overactive” consciences, they’re often all-too-ready to accept the blame for things when a disturbed character uses the manipulation tactic of blaming.
There is an inextricable relationship between the symptoms of psychological ill health a person is likely to display and their basic character structure. Correctly assessing someone’s character is not only crucial for professionals trying to make sound judgments about prognosis and the most appropriate intervention, but also important for individuals evaluating the prospects for a relationship.
Malignant narcissists don’t really need anyone nor do they particularly care about anyone other than themselves.
It can be particularly difficult to tell just where someone lies on the character disturbance spectrum. All too often in troubled relationships the extent of a person’s character disturbance only becomes evident long after much damage has already been done.
Knowing where someone truly lies on the character disturbance spectrum is not only important for professionals engaged in assessment and treatment but also for individuals trying to make sound judgments about a potential relationship partner. Without a good sense of what to look for and how to evaluate what you find, you run the risk of learning far too late and after much unnecessary heartache how character impaired a partner might be.
Research evidence has been mounting for some time that the concept of “personality” is not as well-defined as we have long tended to think. And the evidences also suggests that the patterns of behavior that define our personality are not nearly as stable or as immutable as many still believe.