Pathological Narcissism is startling commonplace, but very few people know about it. Yet. It’s a big problem, and one that a number are working hard on to raise awareness.
Prevalence of NPD
Empirical research indicates that the incidence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is at least 6.2% of the population has Narcissistic Personality Disorder *. That’s about 1 in 15. Of your friends and colleagues. Yes, yours. Do the maths.
Of these, the rate was found to be 7.7% in men, and 4.8% in women.
As depicted in the novel “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, narcopaths tend to be in higher socio-economic groups, and invariably present as the very pillars of society in which they lurk. Work groups, sports teams, church congregations, committees – yes, in all corners of society. And perhaps less surprisingly, about 25% of the prison population.
Why don’t you know about it?
There are a number of reasons why so few people know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and its devastating effects:
- When people here the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder, they think that they know what it is based on popular stereotypes of narcissistic (the boorish jerk, the selfie-obsessed teenager, the fame-hungry celeb, the dodgy politician etc). Few realise that there is a whole different category – the pathological narcissist / narcopath / pwNPD, or rather confusingly, the “narcissist”. This is not somebody who is merely narcissistic, but a person with a very toxic and specific personality disorder.
- NPD abuse tends to be covert. Abusers are terrified of being exposed, and tend to restrict their abuse to behind closed doors where they are confident that they can get away with their abuse (in the home, their partner, their children; in the workplace, the people in their care etc).
- Abusers rely on cognitive dissonance – in exactly the same was as a con-man does. They are so charming, psychologically you cannot bring yourself to believe that they could be so evil and you will not even challenge yourself to consider the possibility;
- Romantic partners, the very victims of the abuse themselves, often take years, if not decades to recognise that their partners are NPD abusers – so why on earth would an innocent bystander?
- Even trained and experienced psychologists are often fooled by narcopaths. It is often said that only healed victims can really spot a narcopath and fully understand the harm caused by the abuse at the hands of one.
- By the time a victim has worked it out, their abuser has been running a smear campaign against the victim, the victim themselves is a totally confused and irrational wreck, and the victim has been separated from their support group. The villain is now masquerading as the victim. NPDs prove time and time again to be expert and breaking even the strongest bond – between parent and child, for example – in this quest.
Why should you educate yourself about it?
- There is a very good chance that NPD will adversely affect you, or at the very least a loved one such as your children, at some stage in your life. Why? If 6 out of every hundred people have NPD, and they have 5 significant romantic partners in their lives, that already 30 people out of a hundred. The same applies in the workplace – although clearly many narcopaths get to have influence over way more than 5 people over their careers.
- Its effects are devastating.
- You may well be an unwitting part in someone’s else abuse campaign.
- A victim may well need your support at some stage – for validation, and assistance in their healing.