As I have said, I have, unfortunately, had a lot of experience with narcissistic people, but I found this issue of Psychology Today an interesting and useful read. I would recommend it for anyone that is dealing with users or abusers or the careless in their lives
In fact, it has enlightened me about a few things. For one, I think that I have been calling some people in my life narcissists, who were in fact psychopaths. I will clarify...
There are two articles in this issue that relate to narcissism, "The Real Narcissists" and "The anti-social network." For the purpose of this post, I will only focus on the first, but the second is VERY good. Indeed, I will finish with a quote from it.
In "The Real Narcissists," Rebecca Webber warns against mis-labeling this to be anyone that is withdrawn and focused on their own needs, stating correctly that in times of conflict, everyone gets defensive and focused on themselves. It is not a passing argument or individual issue that defines a narcissist but a personality trait. Further, there are two different kinds of narcissists, and this distinction I can verify, as I can see examples of both among those I have dealt with in the past. Ms. Webber calls these two types "extroverted narcissists" and "vulnerable narcissists" and you have all seen examples of these types of personalities to one degree or another. The extroverted narcissist "see themselves being in the top .1 percent in terms of talent, appearance, success, or all the above," (page 55) while the vulnerable narcissist sees themselves as the victim of all things and are negative about themselves. They believe they are the "most helpful person" or "will be known for the good deeds I have done" or feel a "misunderstood genious in a world that refuses to accept their gifts." (page 57). In other words, they are either exceptionally superior, or they are exceptionally a victim. The point is that they are superior in their view..special..separate. Also, their focus is ONLY upon themselves, and everything has to do with themselves.
Sound familiar? I have dealt with both kinds, and I have said that I believe that this is increasing in our society, an idea that is echoed by this article, as well, saying that "...the ris is a subject of fierce debate in the research community...NPI scores haven risen across generations." (page 60) Further, I have said that I believed that the rise might have something to do with genetics, which is also verified. On page 58 of the issue, Webber says, "One twin study found that narcissism was a highly heritable trait." However, that was not always the case. She says, "parenting styles, the influence of other relationships, and one's social and cultural environments can encourage (or deter) its development." (page 58) Further, as I have theorized, myself, she confirms that narcissistic people often couple up with enablers for their condition, who she calls "echoists." She says, "They fear being a burden, so they can easily end up partnering with their opposite and getting stuck in the relationship." (page 61) She didn't go further than that, but I believe that narcissists would seek out this kind of person as their mate, because they are easily manipulated.
As I said, the second article was VERY informative, and I would suggest that you read that article, as well, but I will quote one paragraph that I feel is the most accurate description of 3 different destructive personality traits that the issue calls, "the Dark Triad." On page 86, the article says, "Psychopathy is characterized by high impulsivity and low empathy; narcisissm is the personality trait of individuals with inflated sense of their own self worth; and Machiavelianism is characterized by manipulative and exploitave behavior."
As you reflect on that, I am sure that you, like myself, can see those 3 groups overlapping and some combination describing those destructive influences around you.
Well, I hope this helps to shine a light on a dark subject. Most don't want to deal with destructive personalities, and they feel it is their "christian" duty to be their sacrificial lamb. As the article warned, don't see the qualities where they exist, but don't ignore them, either. Not everyone is "normal" and just "misunderstood." Some are, actually, self centered assholes or those that see the ability to manipulate you as not the character flaw you see but a quality of their own actions of "success" in their mind. Pay attention to your needs and your own happiness. Those that are afflicted with these conditions will never see that they are "wrong"..it is contrary to their nature. It is going to be up to you to step out from their control...or, you can continue being a holy doormat, who will NEVER be appreciated for the sacrifice. It is up to you.