Narcopaths deeply resent happiness, calm, order and other people enjoying healthy relationships. They therefore continually walk a very fine line between causing chaos and drama on the one hand, whilst appearing innocent and angelic on the other. How well they pull this feat off depends on how high-functioning a narc they are.
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.
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. Oh, and about 25% of the prison population.
Look out for the following when you have a fox in sheep’s clothing in and amongst the herd:
- Deep division within teams into us and them camps.
- Whispering rumours circulating.
- A plunge in morale.
- Some switching of loyalties.
- An extension of the same BS and tactics that occurred with playground bullies.
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:
- 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 (see, the abuser has deliberately ensured this), and the victim has been separated from their support group. 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.
- 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.
Cunning and manipulative though they may be, there are still red flags that it is possible to observe or sense:
- Narcopaths struggle to apologise, genuinely, for anything. They will either freeze, change the subject or otherwise dodge, or mumble an apology followed with a “but…. “.
- In normal friendships, your bond should be strong enough to feel confident that you could disagree, or tell them some home truths. With a narcopath, you may sense un unwritten rule, a gut feeling, that you don’t challenge them. Ever.
- For those with a very keen eye and cynical opinion, you should be able to spot that they are personally exploitative of others. Nothing is done out of generosity, although generous deeds may be done for show.
- They adore being the centre of attention and hate being eclipsed. Their favourite topic of conversations is, you’ve guessed it, themselves.
- They will associate themselves with higher-intellectual people – but will resent being eclipsed, and are particularly wary of anyone who may be deemed as more attractive than they.
- They can often be rude to anyone who they deem to be junior to them – specially to waiting staff, shop assistants etc.
- They often have addictions (drink, alcohol, drugs etc) and are risk-takers.
- They cannot feel emotions such as love, empathy, remorse, compassion – although they are expert at feigning it.
- They are extremely manipulative but in the most cunning and covert manner.
- They have a sense of entitlement – to borrow money or things, to preferential treatment, to adoration.
- They must control situations, and particularly their partner and children.
- They are masters of projection – blaming others for exactly those traits they are guilty of themselves.
- Its victims may well be exhibiting the symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome.
- Only those who they can confidently control are allowed into their core circle of friends. Those who demonstrate critical thinking and independent mind are kept at a distance.
Stinson et al, 2008, USA