Saturday, December 15, 2007

Is NPD a character disorder? Or a personality disorder?

Is NPD a character disorder? Or a personality disorder? There is quite a debate going on about this.

It's obviously a character disorder. The law here classifies it as such, and I have explained why. There can be no doubt about this, because narcissists are devious, diabolical, and predatory. They sneak around to do wicked things on the sly and cover their tracks with dissimulation. They take great care to pass for normal, to camouflage themselves.

But is it a mental illness too? People as respectable as Dr. Robert Hare are not sure whether narcissists and psychopaths are truly mentally ill.

And the going "definition" of mental illness as "coming to the attention of a mental healthcare professional" (I love unintended humor!) is so ridiculous that it prevents any definite answer.

Homosexuality used to be classed as a mental illness, but the winds of political correctness shifted and guess what? So so did the belief of academia and the mental healthcare establishment - all in lockstep. Now, cigarette smoking is deemed by them a mental illness. And so is drug or alcohol use.

Those facts disallow attributing any credibility to their judgement. They are just weathervanes.

As long as they refuse to define things properly, this question about NPD and psychopathy will remain in the air.

I don't argue against NPD being called mental illness though. It may not be, but my gut instinct is that adult narcissists really do experience things in such a perverted way that it is no stretch to say that they are mentally ill. For example, they experience your pleading for their affection or comfort as an attack (on their grandiose false image of being above even noticing a bug like you). They experience an attempt to appease them as a stimulus to increase the violence of their attack. This is so bizarre that I lean toward calling it a mental illness.

I do think though that the establishment gets the cart before the horse. They seem to think that the mental illness cause the narcissistic behavior, and I suspect that it is the other way around. If you think and behave the way a narcissist does does from early childhood, never growing up and attaining the Age of Reason, if you have a long, long, long list of unforgivable things you've done and had to twist your mind to rationalize, you WILL warp your mind.

Though I am not a religious person, I do think religion has it right here. Spiritual illness is the after-effect of wrongdoing. (Repressed) shame and guilt are the demon at the door, collecting the toll you will have to pay to turn your life around. That's the old "captivity to sin" concept. Shame and guilt goad you on further and further down that wrong path.

This is because people think they have to do it again tomorrow to prove it wasn't wrong and stupid when they did it yesterday. 'Well, did that prove it? Maybe not. Maybe I should do it again WORSE tomorrow and see what happens.'

And so, like serial killers, they keep pushing the envelope. They get worse and worse, giddy with what they discover they can get away with. If you get on that runaway freight-train ride, you DO become ill, in every sense of the word, including ill-willed.

And if you relentlessly twist your thinking, you WILL warp your mind. The mind needs to be taken care of like the body. If you abuse it to make it believe absurdities, it won't work right.

I suspect that this is what happens to narcissists after they have done unspeakable things at an early age. It's downhill for the rest of their life. Only getting nailed and punished will have any restraining effect on them whatsoever. This, religion's explanation, makes sense whether you interpret it in a secular or religious context.

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At 10:23 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

Not only does religion have it right, Kathy - science is starting to also.

They have proved that long term abuse causes chemical & even structural brain changes resulting in depression, ptsd (I know I am one of those)

So it would make PERFECT sense that long term narcissistic abusive behavior would change your brain too. Thus, do it long enough, you change everything into what you have become - an N. And Ns get "rewards" for their behavior... so why change, right?

At 5:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy, This question has been weighing on me, as I wonder how much worse the N might get with time. After the things he has done, and what he has to hide from himself, I keep thinking the "monkey on his back" must be rabid by now. I saw his eyes look absolutely hunted, a kind of frantic trapped look, and I sat very still as he walked past me like I didn't exist. I didn't want to trigger something. Does the "mental illness" that must come with the NPD character disorder start to show through to others? In a strange way, I hope so, just because he has worked so hard to smear and blame me for everything. Thank you for your clear voice - you keep talking about the important matters (moral, etc.) that relate to surviving the toxic relationship with an N. I think my challenge will include finding a way to avoid becoming bitter. "jewel"

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

I have seen that look you mention. Nothing came of it, though I'll never forget it. I just don't know.

It makes you bitter. But when you fully realize that the person you were relating to never existed, you are left not caring. Who can care about about mere smoke and mirrors? That's when the anger passes, because there's nothing to be angry at. One has no anger against anyone of absolutely no importance to him or her.

At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Dan said...


I just finished your book today. Thank you for writing it. One of my thoughts as I read through it was : Is it a personality disorder or a character disorder ? My final thought is that it starts out as a character disorder. But as one makes choices in life it will lead them down a path of those choices: The choices of one's own self and control, or the choice of giving up one's own self. I have witnessed this first hand for many years. Life is a process of choices,everyday choices. It is spiritual,our lives are of spirit in a material world. It starts out as a character flaw but becomes so over powering in that individual that it changes one's personality. It really is a matter of choice,or many choices.

At 8:24 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

That's a good way of putting it, I think. I have often felt that we are the sum total of the choices we have made to date.


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