One of the questions that I am asked regularly is “Why did you marry Alex Jones?” The short answer is that I didn’t understand narcissism.
Sadly, Alex has been professionally diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and Alex, like most narcissists is good a pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Narcissists use a variety of verbal and emotional abuse in their relationships including gaslighting and manipulation. Their abuse is constant and it wears you down to the point that you question your things you know to be true and don’t know which way is up.
There is no doubt that you have met people in your life that have given off good vibes and given a good first impression, but then they turn out to be self-centered, concerning people that try to take advantage of you or, worse, ruin your life. In the beginning, they were charming, funny, attentive, and sweet. As you spent more time with this person and really got to know them, you found them to be arrogant, selfish, and short-tempered. Of course, we are all selfish to some point, but there is a difference between becoming occasionally self-centered because of life circumstances and being a full-fledged narcissist. When this kind of obnoxious behavior reaches a certain point, it is pathological and gets diagnosed as NPD. According to a landmark study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2008, 6.2% of the U.S. population has NPD of which 62% were men.
According to the Mayo Clinic, those with NPD may exhibit the following symptoms. Among psychologists and those who study NPD, most agree that the presence of five or more of these symptoms constitutes a diagnosis of NPD:
- Believes he is more important than he actually is
- Feels entitled to everything including constant praise and admiration
- Expects recognition as a superior without deserving it
- Overstates talents, accomplishments & achievements
- Fantasizes about success, power, intelligence, appearance, or the perfect partner
- Only associates with people who they view to be as ‘special’ as they are
- Monopolize conversations and belittle others
- Expect special favors and obedience from others and will exploit others for their own gain
- Unwilling or unable to show empathy
- Envious of others and believes others are jealous of them
- Acts conceited, boastful, and pretentious
- Preoccupied with material things, especially having the best of everything
Another way to recognize a narcissist is by their response to criticism. Those who have NPD have trouble dealing with anything they perceive to be criticism and may exhibit some of the following behaviors:
- Anger and impatience when they don’t receive special treatment
- Are sensitive to the extent that they easily feel slighted by others
- Show rage and contempt, and attempt to belittle others
- Have major issues when dealing with stress or change
Tragically, NPD is very hard to treat and those diagnosed with NPD usually refuse to seek help because they refuse to believe anything could be wrong with them. This requires that you take special care to protect yourself.
If it’s possible, the best course of action is to immediately end contact with the narcissist in your life, whether friend or family. Leaving, however, is not always an option. You can divorce a narcissist, but need to prepare yourself and understand their tactics prior to taking action. Protecting yourself by documenting their bad behavior and other protective measures should be taken. In this case, you should seek therapy from a counselor or psychologist (and when you enter into a divorce with a narcissist if experts are involved do NOT let them force you to change therapists – it is likely their suggested therapist is working an agenda and has repeat referrals from the attorney or “expert” suggesting this change. An ethical therapist will help you heal, not treat you to document your trauma to use against you in family court. Good therapists will give you the tools that you need to protect yourself from the abuse that you are experiencing with the narcissist in your life and help you heal from trauma.