What Makes Narcissism So Bad? - Part I

There are 157 disorders in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). There are ten personality disorders in the manual. Personality disorders are considered to be incurable. They are treatable - they can be managed - but no treatment in modern psychology has yet been able to cure one consistently.


Of these personality disorders, four are “Cluster B” disorders, considered to be the most damaging disorders to the people around the diagnosed person. Of these Cluster B disorders, only the diagnosis of Antisocial PD (formerly known as sociopathy) is considered to cause more suffering than narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). But many people, including me, believe that Antisocial PD is just an extreme form of NPD.


What I am trying to say is that NPD, or narcissism, is the most outwardly damaging disorder - causes more suffering in others - of any mental health disorder.


Why is this??


If we look at the Love & Evil Wheel, we see that an extreme lack of Joy results in Borderline Personality Disorder. An extreme lack of peace results in Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. And an extreme lack of power results in Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The distortion, or lack of, each facet of love each result in personality disorders. So why is NPD particularly painful to others?


I’m not sure that it is.


I’m not sure that it is more damaging, or that it causes more suffering over time, than other disorders. But it most certainly causes more suffering quicker than other disorders. NPD causes more suffering “on the front end” of a relationship, so to speak.

This is because narcissism is based on feeling a lack of power. A narcissist's goal is to feel power. He gets this feeling by pursuing power over others.

How does he feel power over others? (I’m not talking about getting himself into a position of authority.)


A narcissist feels power over others by getting them to reflect how smart she is, or how attractive, or how important. But, even better than these positive accolades, she feels power by making others feel negative emotions (H.G. Tudor, Fuel). This can be in the form of making others feel anger. Or sadness. Or fear. It is easy, Tudor says, to make a person feel positive emotions, to make them feel good. It is much more difficult, and therefore proves much more false power, to make a person feel negative emotions, to make them feel something that they don’t want to feel.


Herein lies the true evil nature of the narcissistic coping style.

A narcissist gets what he needs by preying off the negative emotions of others.

In all other disorders, even the other Cluster B disorders, the negative emotions of others are the by-product of childhood coping methods. But in narcissism, these negative emotions are the goal.

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It took me three years to realize that I am a fallen creature. I have been struggling and groping my way back to the Light. Here are a few things that I have learned along the way....

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