Social Question

YCLYHO's avatar

At what point does Narcissism become unhealthy?

Asked by YCLYHO (834points) December 13th, 2009

is a small amount a good thing?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

25 Answers

stormy's avatar

at any point…

holden's avatar

When it comes to the point that you’re gazing so deeply into your own reflection that you fail to see the grizzly bear standing behind you.

gailcalled's avatar

(No need to capitalize “narcissism”.)

It is difficult to be mildly narcissistic.

colliedog's avatar

Everyone is narcissistic. There’s no avoiding it in yourself or others.

YCLYHO's avatar

i think we are all narcisstic – it starts from birth

holden's avatar

narcissism =/= self love.

proXXi's avatar

At the point where it fails to give way to emotional maturity at the normal time.

colliedog's avatar

We’re genetically selfish. Read a book titled, coincidentally, “The Selfish Gene”.

butterflykisses's avatar

When the rest of the world is wrong and you are the only one right.

barbiedoll's avatar

I went out with the ultimate in a Narcissistic. In a very short time, I learned that anything he did that seemed generous or even nice; was to really reflect back to how wonderful/handsome/too good to be true/brilliant, etc., he was. He would actually get jealous that people said how attractive I was, and didn’t say how attractive he was at the same time. He counted first. He even expected mind-reading.

He said that growing up, everyone got attention but him. So now it was his turn. This is an adult over 40. When I questioned it further, he ignored me. I was confused and wondered what was wrong with him. He made a few more comments about how smart and well built HE was, and it was over for me. In reality, he worked out on weights but had a beer belly he ignored. He looked 10 years older than he was. His intelligence would probably be average. He had basic schooling. We were set up and it was fine until I was complimented on my looks.

Looking back, he is really pitiful.

Dog's avatar

Awesome question! Welcome to Fluther.

JessicaisinLove's avatar

@holden…..hahahahaha great answer.

LeopardGecko's avatar

Any point is bad.

thriftymaid's avatar

If love for self comes to the point of being narcissistic it is then unhealthy.

proXXi's avatar

@barbiedoll, It’s a good thing you got out.

People with Narcissisitc Personality Disorder usually come out of it by the time theyre 40 if they are going to recover.

Usually, if the behavior continues past 40 they will never come out of it.

Ghost_in_the_system's avatar

It becomes a problem when you have tried more than once to add yourself to your fluther.

Vintage55's avatar

When a woman makes overtly salacious comments/actions towards her brother-in-law while his father lies dead on the floor yes, I actually witnessed this (father died of sudden stroke); I’m told she is a diagnosed bi-polar with manifestations of narcisstic personality disorder. Mental illness or not….this was one foul move.

barbiedoll's avatar

@proXXi I agree with you. Isn’t that sad? You would think enough people would have been insulted by him acting like an ass. I did not tell him all of the things I said above, but I did ask him if he was offended by some of the things he said to and about others. He even said yes, but it didn’t sink in.

So do you have a normal, wonderful man hidden somewhere?

proXXi's avatar


People often tolerate narcissists because of their powerful charm, they frequently hope the individual will ‘grow out of it’.

Your criticism didn’t sink in because he’s incapable of understanding the concept of his having faults.

I believe you will find yourself one normal wonderful man.

barbiedoll's avatar

@proXXi That is exactly how he was. You’re so right. He did act as if I would grow out of it and see the marvelousness of only him, and that I didn’t matter.

proXXi's avatar

That’s one of the great frustrations with such people. Often they are high functioning, appealing, attractive individuals in every other way. It’s easy to think “If He/She can just get past this flaw they will be perfect for me”.

Unfortunately there’s no way for you to make him understand his problem. He probably sincerely wanted and tried to change but had no idea how.

barbiedoll's avatar

@proXXi He knew how to change. I learned he had been in counseling because of previous relationships, but as a Narcissist, didn’t think anything applied to him. Pro, did you have a similar experience? You seem to know exactly what I am talking about. Like you said above 40, forget it. And what is interesting, is that I don’t miss him, I wish I never knew him, but I do miss the dreams I was drawn into. I still do, but they don’t include him, haha.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

It is possible to have narcissistic personality traits. It is common in highly accomplished individuals who will acknowledge their extraordinary skills and accomplishments instead or the more common “aw shucks, it wasn’t any big deal” that better fits social convention. I find false modesty and inappropriate self-effacing behaviour to be as unattractive as people demanding to be treated like a super-star because they misperceive their abilities to be worthy of constant admiration and who are annoyed when those around them don’t act as if they as in the presence of awe-inspiring talent and accomplishment.

Silhouette's avatar

It’s unhealthy right at the starting point. It makes me sick to be around one. I avoid them like the plague that they are. The good news is they don’t need me, so they can go on their merry way, happy as pigs in sh*t. They feel sorry for me for not recognizing perfection when I see it.

SeventhSense's avatar

Narcissism is unhealthy when it is affects the people you love and unfortunately for the sufferer that is not apparent for a long time if ever. I grew up with a mother and a father who had an incessant need to make it all about them. I don’t know the source of my mother’s NPD but in the case of my father it was his hypochondriac mother who controlled her husband from a hospital bed in a nursing home until they day she died. That in itself was pathological. She had no real physical ailment but increasingly gave into her desire to be pampered in bed. After years her muscles were in fact atrophied from lack of use and she couldn’t walk. My grandfather was so whipped by her she convinced him that he didn’t need eyeglasses and his eyes were perfect. Meanwhile he was pouring orange juice on his cereal and falling down the stairs at 80.

My father became her “surrogate spouse” who could do no wrong. When my parents met it was an immediate battle for dominance. Both highly attractive people and sure of their own position. It was doomed from the beginning. Us four children were incidental and accessories to the American Dream. Over time I resented her more and more. I despised the sound of her voice and at the same time felt incredible guilt for not being able to be there for her in some way I couldn’t quite figure out. My father was “displaced” and he was the only source of gentleness I remembered. My mother to her credit though worked hard to support us after their divorce and make sure “everything looked fine” to the neighbors.

My two brothers, sister and I all had issues with substance and alcohol abuse. I became sober. But it wasn’t until I had achieved 22 years of sobriety that I started to truly look at the nature of my incessant, rage, envy, fractured relationships and this injustice I felt. I could never please her no matter what I did. I could get straight A’s, be the perfect child but still the inconsistent affection. “Come closer, go away. Come closer, oh there’s a knife under the pillow.” But in her world she was the epitome of class and compassion with ungrateful children. I slowly adapted a method which could reach her and break through her indifference to me as a human being. I said all manner of shameless things to get to her…to cut her too…to make her feel and acknowledge me. I would hurt myself to hurt her. But nothing filled that space. I searched to define her and in finding a means to understand I found that this was called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In so doing I realized that she and my father had inadvertently created the perfect beast. I also now suffered from this self same malady.

And like a light along a long road all the puzzle pieces feel into place and a thread was clear through my whole life. The fractured relationships. The pushing people away. the pleading with them to stay. The agony of real love that I finally felt but “had to walk away from”. I deeply loved a woman and she loved me. But I had to leave her. I was compelled to “cut off my arm still gripping her hand” through my blinding tears. There were no doubt countless confused and hurt people in my path. Those who pondered how this charming and sensitive man could turn on them with such cold blooded precision. The nature of the condition is that aggression even overrides libido at times because of the developmental age of its onset. There is a gaping hole in the ego from a young age (sometime before 4) never quite settled.

Very few people understand this condition and most would like to dismiss it as the cruel and sadistic behavior of one who lacks empathy and is self absorbed but this is only the surface. It is an all pervasive condition that permeates every cell of the being like alcoholism but even worse. It’s hard to imagine because we seem so high functioning. In some regards we are but it’s a highly developed structure based upon a primitive state of development.

I wonder now if I even was an alcoholic or drug addict or if the lack of control was so unnerving as to create a state of tension unbearable to me. I have come in contact with at least one NPD woman who I only later discovered was like me only more the preying kind. I still have fantasies of revenge but realize she’s just as sick as I am. I now have almost completely withdrawn from many things. I can not work with others. I work for alone for the most part. I try to avoid hurting people except with my sick jokes and somehow I knew intuitively to never have children. As I disenfranchise from the still dysfunctional behavior of my family I believe there’s hope. Maybe I’ll fall apart completely someday but unlike Humpty Dumpty maybe I’ll be able to put myself back together again.
We all do the best we can with the information we have at any given moment and desire is not always enough to foster a change.

I was in therapy for 18 years. Awareness, desire and will are only a small part of it. It’s settled deep in very inaccessible strata of the psyche. But I have hope. Pray for him.

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