What’s my problem?

confused

After over a month of being convinced I’m a covert narcissist, now I’m starting to wonder if my assessment of myself could be incorrect. Most people are having trouble believing me (even good friends) and there are so many disorders that appear similar to it. I no longer think my symptoms are due to Aspergers the way I used to, but BPD + Avoidant PD in the same person can look exactly like covert NPD. So can complex PTSD in some cases.

I’ve been told again and again that real narcissists are unlikely to ever admit they are narcissists, and if they do, they won’t be beating themselves up that much over it. I don’t know if that’s always true (I’ve met a few low spectrum covert narcissists on Psychforums who actually have a diagnosis and feel terrible about things they’ve done and want to change, but maybe the diagnosis they got is wrong and they just have more than the normal amount of N traits). Victims of narcissistic abuse are often quick to diagnose narcissism in themselves and others. We’re hypervigilant and tend to see narcissism everywhere, and we don’t even exempt ourselves. The real narcissists are probably more likely to keep insisting that they are not. Abuse victims think too damn much. It’s all very confusing.

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I guess there was a reason why I never added “Covert NPD” to “My Disorders” in the header. Without an official diagnosis for that, I really can’t say that’s what my problem is. It could be, but if so I think it’s at a low level. I know I have a number of narcissistic traits, but most abuse victims do. That doesn’t necessarily mean I have NPD, covert or otherwise. I could just have a really bad case of “fleas,” or just BPD + AvPD, or even complex PTSD.

I’m still glad I started Down The Rabbit Hole because it’s also intended for people with BPD, which I have an actual diagnosis for. I still think my “trip down the rabbit hole” early in August was real but that doesn’t necessarily mean I have NPD. It was still a trip to the walled off parts of my mind, and most abuse victims are at least partly walled off from themselves. We may be partially narcissistic but not enough to qualify for the label.

I care about people with low spectrum NPD and BPD who want to heal or improve, so that’s another reason I’m going to keep DTRH going. It’s getting a good reception. Another one of my missions is to help reduce the negative stigma against people with BPD. I don’t ever expect DTRH to gain the amount of activity this blog has received, but if only one or two people can be helped by my posts, and I can help myself by continuing to do exactly what I’ve been doing, then it’s worth it to keep it going, isn’t it?

Really, at the end of the day, all these labels are just labels and don’t really mean anything at all.

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When the “fleas” of narcissism go too far.

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Narcissists infect people, just like a disease. They have the uncanny ability of turning people into one of them, if you’re around them long enough. That’s why, whenever it’s possible, No Contact is always the best course of action. You cannot change a narcissist or reform them. What will happen instead is you will start to take on narcissistic behaviors yourself.

Narcissists are body-snatchers and will snatch yours and before you know it, you can become one of them. It may be the only personality disorder that’s contagious. Hanging around one too long is very dangerous to your self esteem, your identity, and even your soul. It’s more dangerous than making your escape, even if you don’t have a dollar to your name.

If you were raised by them, you may have a serious problem. Many (though not all) children of narcissists become narcissists or borderlines themselves. Because narcissistic parents can’t form proper bonds with their children and either use them as supply or scapegoats, children of narcissists more likely than not develop severe attachment disorders in childhood, and attachment disorders can easily become NPD, either covert or overt, somatic or cerebral. If the child is a little luckier, she or he can develop BPD, PTSD and many other disorders that make adult life difficult.

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Overt/classic/grandiose narcissism (the type that best fits the criteria in the current DSM) develops most often in golden children who were held on a pedestal and could do no wrong, or were terribly spoiled, or it can develop in child who served as the parent’s flying monkey. It can also develop in a scapegoat who wants to prove their narcissistic parents wrong. Overt narcissists are usually extroverts who are good at playing the role of a confident, aggressive leader and many of them become financially and professionally successful. They are good at maintaining their mask for as long as they need to.

Covert/vulnerable narcissism usually develops in a scapegoated child who cloaks their grandiosity in an outer cloak of deference and humility, usually as a way to avoid punishment for acting too arrogant or aggressive while growing up. It can also develop in a child who is sometimes a scapegoat and sometimes a golden child. In a way, they are worse off than an overt narcissist, because they have a double layer of masks (false selves): the grandiose mask that hides the undeveloped, atrophied true self within, and a meek, shy and deferent outer mask that cloaks their grandiosity and sense of entitlement. That’s why a covert narcissist can be easily pushed around or bullied by others, but underneath their seemingly nice, quiet image there is seething envy and anger that isn’t expressed unless they are pushed to the limit and explode in rage. Their rage and envy is also likely to come out in passive-aggressive ways. Yet a covert narcissist is easier to cure because (a) they are far more likely to want help; and (b) their lives are miserable and their brand of narcissism isn’t adaptive in today’s world.

BPD is more common in women and some female covert narcissists may actually be diagnosed with BPD, because the disorders can seem so much alike and women aren’t diagnosed with NPD as often as men are. BPD probably develops most often when there is ambiguous attachment to the mother during early childhood and the child is inconsistently rewarded and punished. They learn early that people and life are unpredictable and no one can be trusted. They fear abandonment because they were never able to tell if their parent would love them or push them away. BPD also is correlated with early sexual abuse.

Fleas of narcissism are deadly because with prolonged exposure, they can cause permanent infestation. If it’s at all possible, cut off any narcissist in your life or avoid them as much as possible. Watch for red flags so you can escape before it’s too late because escaping once they “have” you is far more difficult and can be dangerous.

If you were raised by narcissists, no matter how damaged you are, if you didn’t become a narcissist yourself, consider yourself extremely lucky. There is hope for you to eventually be able to live a normal, happy life. If you’re a non-malignant narcissist, there may still be hope but the road to becoming a normal and happy person is going to be longer and harder.