Tuesday, December 06, 2005

NPD? A Male Disease? An Adult Disease?

Another thing that warps our picture of NPD is double standards that are the fruit of stereotypes and sloppy thinking:

  • Women are nicer than men and therefore less likely to be narcissists.
  • What's okay for men to do is wrong for women to do.
  • All old people are nice and deserve a pass to treat young people without repsect.
  • Physically hitting someone is worse than verbally abusing them or destroying their life through slander and calumny.
  • Children are all innocent and, by nature, good.

So, another thing that invalidates current statistics is mental-health-care workers applying double standards of both age and sex.

An example of such a double-standard is this: if we see an action photo of an angry male coach with his mouth wide open and his face contorted, we think nothing of it. He doesn't strik us as ugly. Yet, if we see a photo of a female coach with but an intense look on her face, we find the image off-putting. She strikes us as ugly.

These internal reactions are so conditioned by society, that even if you are aware of the double-standard, you can hardly help but be affected by it. Therefore, we think nothing of this behavior in our male hero, but she strikes us as a bitch.

Again for example, personality traits regarded as distinguishing a man as worthy of admiration as a good, tough businessman are regarded as distinguishing a woman as a bitch. That's just a fact, and mental heath-care workers are taking few (if any) precautions to avoid applying such sexual double-standards in diagnosis.

Which cuts the legs out from under the widespread belief that NPD is far more prevalent in men than women. In my own slice of the world, the ratio is 50-50. And in my own understanding of the disease I see no reason why men should be any more prone to it than women.

But I can think of many reasons why male narcissists are exposed as narcissists more frequently than female narcissists are. Put another way, I see many reasons why female narcissists get away with it more often. Could it be then that women are under-represented in the statistics?

It sure could be! In fact, because of this we must presume that women are greatly under-represented in the statistics. And you can't just chalk this up to the fact that men are more likely to use their fists than their mouths. For, the only narcissist I have observed physical violence in is an extremely violent woman — who had everyone but those who had seen her with her mask off thinking she was a regular Mother Theresa.

And anyone who thinks male narcissists are worse because they're more prone to physical violence is dead wrong. If anything, that makes them less dangerous than female narcissists. The law deals with physical attacks. It does almost nothing to protect us from non-physical attack. Indeed, the non-physical violence the woman I referred to above did was by far more damaging and sadistic than any beating she gave someone.
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At 2:26 AM, Blogger Nevermore said...

From my own experience I would say that men are less likely to admit to feeling the abuse of a woman than women are of men. That may be why the stats are so far off. It is a hard thing to admit that I was brow beaten by a woman and took it without standing up for myself. According to our society men are supposed to be strong and self sufficient, not backing down to a woman, but once the Narc has their claws into you, and you feel as though you love them, there is little you can do except take it. It took me 4 years but I finally made the break and I have offended many friends in the process because they never recognized what was going on and have a hard time believing the severity of it. It seems to me that emotional abuse is worse than physical, only for the fact that one is unable to point to the bruises and make people believe. When common friends are involved the abuse continues because of their disbelief and their acceptance of the Narc’s story. The difficulty is not only in the proving, but in the admitting to others.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Kathy K said...

Yes, what you say is very true. In fact, it's somehwat true when a narcissist abuses a sibling of the same sex. Men are really at a disadvantage in this game, but people don't realize that.

At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I for one have seen more female narcissists in my lifetime than males. As a matter of fact, I have been slandered and suffered so much abuse from my sister who is a narcissist, it is unreal.
I say she is a narcissist but she certainly fits the profile of BPD and HPD. Who knows, wonder if it's possible she's all 3...Is it possible does anyone know if more than one or two personality disorders can be found in a person?

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Kathy K said...

I know that the diagnosis one gets offen differs from psychiatrist to psychiatrist. That doesn't give you much faith in the diagnosis, does it? It's not like these are all different diseases. It might help to think of them as different directions pathology can take, depending on the circumstances. Some even seem to be variants or stages in progression to another (as narcissism and psychosis). Plus, the diagnostic criteria aren't really a definition: they are just red flags likely to stand out in a clinical setting, so they are used to aid diagnosis. But the whole picture is somewhat nebulous.

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I gathered there is a larger proportion of men who are narcissistic and a larger proportion of women who are histrionic ( If I remember well 70 percent ). They abuse both genders but for different gratifications and a larger proportion of them are bisexual.Indeed they can seduce anyone.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

That's conventional wisdom. But studies show an outrageous amount of error (over 50%) in diagnosing these disorders. They also show a tendency to misdiagnose women as histrionic who would be diagnosed as narcissistic if they were but male. So, those statistics are totally unreliable. I think I still have an article on the Main Site about that that provides the sources. As for bizexuality, that I don't know. This is the first time I heard that.

At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, Kathy, in the world of stererotypes, mothers in particular aren't supposed to be mean. Especially to their own kids. Now, since the mother-child relationship offers an N woman more power over another human being than any other, I'd guess a fair number of female Ns are 'hidden' by the Good Mommy archetype.

The idea that the old are automatically worthy of respect and deference from the young is another one that needs scotching. I've come across a fair number of people who are emotionally and sometimes physically abused by elderly N parents, and I suspect it's actually fairly common, but everyone believes that the abuse only ever happens the other way.


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