Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Grandiosity Is a Side Issue

I do not understand why authorities generally consider grandiosity to be the chief character trait of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I have never heard a reason for this, and I cannot imagine one. Unless, of course, it is the grandiosity of the narcissist on their couch that irks a psychiatrist most.

But that's no reason to consider it the most important thing about him or her.

Frankly, I view grandiosity as one of the less important aspects of NPD. It seems to me that it is just an irrationale, an excuse to "justify" the narcissist getting what she wants. She says, "I want it and I want it now, and I should have it, no matter how much it hurts you, because I'm infinitely more important." Whack.

In other words, she thinks she's so important ONLY because deluding herself thus is the one way she can irrationalize what she's about to do to you.

Just like a three-year-old, right?

So, the grandiosity is a RESULT of the fundamental problem, not a cause. It would be more appropriate to consider childishness the most important characteristic of NPD.

And most of the narcissists I have known, or know of, did NOT come off as grandiose. Indeed, they hid it well and came off as anything but -- beneath a glib veneer of false modesty and even the "common-man" act to portray themselves as just your "regular guy." Their grandiosity is subtle. Like Mr. Hyde, it only comes roaring out in the dark, behind closed doors, when they're stomping and bullying somebody who can't fight back.

Once you're aware of their grandiosity, you can spot it in the things they say and do that betray an exaggerated sense of entitlement. Once you check up on their tall tales about themselves, you find that they are charlatans and liars who haven't done or achieved what they say they have. But most people don't see what the narcissist does in the dark; they don't notice the little things that betray an exaggerated sense of entitlement; they never check up on the tall tales.

And otherwise, all that grandiosity stays carefully hid behind the mask.

Another thing that mystifies me is why authorities almost never mention the desperate and avaricious need for all available attention. Here's an example from the main site in Getting It All:

An automobile is one place a narcissist can abide those near and dear, because they can't come between him and the only thing he will pay attention to, the road. To keep his passengers from paying attention to each other, he can bust any conversation they try to have by flying into a road rage. He is so compelled to make them stop talking to each other that he can seldom tolerate their talking long enough to find some ostensible excuse. Hence, they usually can't even tell which other driver he is supposed to be mad at, though it probably goes without saying that it's for the usual offense of "cutting him off." To get their attention off each other, he yanks the vehicle around, making reckless moves. Naturally, his passengers fall silent and shift their attention to him and everything he could crash them into.

Sneaky, eh? By the time narcissists are adults, they've learned a million tricks like that to hijack all available attention. This all-consuming need for ALL available attention is most evident in the lengths a narcissist will go to deny others present any regard or attention. And, if narcissists cannot get it all, they sulk off because they literally cannot stand to be in a place where anybody else is getting any attention! Haven't psychiatrists noticed this yet?

This addiction to attention is far more important than grandiosity. It lies at the heart of the disorder. For, the attention of others is the narcissist's mirror. She's glued to it, because she IDENTIFIES with her reflected false image in this profound disorder of the self.

That's what causes all the other ramifications of NPD. The narcissist spends her whole life improving that false image, by association with the high and mighty and by vandalizing the images of all others so that hers looks good by comparison.

In other words, she tears others down to exalt herself. This is the mentality of the rapist.
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At 6:58 AM, Anonymous GH said...

Perhaps you could just meld "grandiosity" and "attention seeking" into the term "entitlement." I guess that's pretty much your point in "Getting it All." They are entitled to every bit of every person's attention. They are entitled to everry luxury their heart desires, and entitled to have those things without working for them. They are entitled to treat you however they please. I think thhe grandiosity part doesn't emerge until someone challenges why they would possibly be so darned entitled.

At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took me awhile to figure out the grandiosity thing in my exbf. I knew he always thought he was smarter, better, faster, etc than anybody. But it was all smoke and mirror and talk.

He actually was not good at much of anything but deluding himself and others. THe sense of entitlement is in there too as they feel so grandiose, everything should come their way with no effort.

It is very sad to see the N's age. That does not go well and their energy is gone to chase each fleeting narcisstic dream.

They often retreat into a hermit like existence where they can spin their fantasies daily with no interruption of reality. This is what happened to my ex.

At 9:08 AM, Blogger Louise said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:18 AM, Anonymous GH said...

Okay, my attempt to implement Kathy's lesson on URLs... I came across this page with a bunch of really good excerpts from "Trapped in the Mirror" by Elan Golomb. Great book for any trying to make sense of how a narcissistic upbringing affected them.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Kathy K said...

That's a great link.

Grandiosity itself isn't necessarily malignant. Indeed, every little child is grandiose. By itself it means nothing, even when it turns us off.

We see it often in "situational narcissism" among the rich and famous. But there's no ill will in that. It is nothing at all like NPD.

At 5:25 PM, Blogger La Diabla said...

Anonymous said: They often retreat into a hermit like existence where they can spin their fantasies daily with no interruption of reality. This is what happened to my ex.

It's funny you mention retreating. The guy I dated recently was extremely grandiose, etc. He did something which I thought wasn't too cool and I commented on it. I didn't beat around the bush. Well, we'd already quit dating and decided to just "be friends" (yeah, I should've known better). When I nailed him down for this incident he cut all ties, disappeared from myspace, then proceeded to disappear from all the other internet areas where he knew I could find him (I actually dated him in person, not over the 'net). Not that I care. I just find it interesting. The only thing he took with him was his groupies - a group of female internet friends who buy off on his song and dance.

My ex husband does the same. He circles like a vulture, coming around work or my neighborhood. When I call the cops (or his mother ROFL) he lays low for a while. But HE always comes back.

But retreating seems to be a recurrent theme. At least in the Ns I know. GH is right, they don't like to be challenged or confronted. So from now on, that's exactly what I'm going to do if I suspect I've come into contact with an N. That will be the litmus test, I guess, and it'll let me know whether to just walk away or run!

At 8:31 AM, Blogger Louise said...

Trying to outsmart or outmanuver an N is tricky, especially when they WILL retreat, regroup, and come at you again and again- you need to "get in their head" and try to think like they do. Makes chess look pretty simple. And when legal issues or the physical well being of yourself or children also come into it, the stakes are even greater.

Then, just try to be your normal self and NOT to "see" an N around every corner! Fighting paranoia caused by life with an N, as well as be aware of Ns, is a helluva balancing act.

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My God! As I read this brilliant post Kathy all I could think about was this ridiculous "singer" I know, rotting teeth and pathetic victim-stance in all matters who definitely did this to me all the time. So much so that I had to write off everyone who knows her, also. Just LOONY.

At 6:58 PM, Blogger La Diabla said...

Eeewww! Rotting teeth? ROFL


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