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Is it just me, or is narcissism getting more prevalent?

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Justsomeguy posted 6/21/2019 09:54 AM

I have a friend who is a counsellor and she conditioned me against labeling my STBXWW a covert narc. She said that narcissism is very rare and I looked it up. Seems she is right. But how does that explain the overwhelming number of cheaters who display these traits? Is it under reported? Are people just really douchey? Where do all of the selfish pricks of the world come from? And why are we such douche magnets?

DevastatedDee posted 6/21/2019 09:58 AM

I suspect more of us here are likely to be dealing with people who at least have narcissistic traits than in other groups. This site is about being with someone who did some really fucked up shit to you, so it stands to reason.

DevastatedDee posted 6/21/2019 10:00 AM

Plus, narcissistic traits are not the same as full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. If you've met one of those people, dear lord...

My WH fits a lot of the criteria for being a covert narcissist, but I don't think he's entirely soulless, so I don't think he has the full-blown disorder.

Catwoman posted 6/21/2019 10:01 AM

By definition, all narcissists are assholes, but not every asshole is a narcissist.

Unless you have a diagnosis (and one from a professional, not armchair), I think it's not good to label a person as a narcissist.

Since narcissism exists on a spectrum, it is possible for an individual to have narcissistic traits which interfere with their relationships, but not have the full-blown disorder (which, as you noted, is rare).

Narcissists can be extremely charming and very easy to like and love. The work those of us surviving a narcissistic relationship needs to do is fairly extensive--we need to redefine our sense of self and understand the attraction so as not to duplicate it in a different relationship. It's hard work, and sometimes it is tough to recognize someone who is narcissistic because it is human nature to want to believe what people tell us.

However, a big shift needs to be believing what people SHOW us.

I do think the "everyone-gets-a-trophy-for-showing-up" movement does breed entitlement, which can also cause issues in relationships and not just marriages/partnerships.


Chaos posted 6/21/2019 10:06 AM

I read something recently.

"We are living in a society where the sin that once snuck secretly down the back alley, now struts proudly down Main Street"

It seems that generally speaking no one is ashamed of bad, selfish behaviors and everyone is entitled to it.

Too many feel that the rules do not apply to them - or they should be the exception.

And - if they get this diagnosis it makes it not their fault! Something to blame. Without the diagnosis of Narcissist - they might just have to race the reality that it really is all their fault.

all narcissists are assholes, but not every asshole is a narcissist.


Rideitout posted 6/21/2019 10:20 AM

"We are living in a society where the sin that once snuck secretly down the back alley, now struts proudly down Main Street"

^^This. Our society literally is breeding narcs. We encourage and reward narc behavior. It's not at all surprising that we're getting more of it, it's what we're rewarding for and selecting for.

And, it's not all that rare. Well, narcs are, but cluster B isn't.

PD prevalence in the general population was estimated between 13.4% and 14.8%.3 The prevalence ranges for each cluster B PD are as follows: antisocial, 0.7 to 3.6; borderline, 0.7 to 5.9; histrionic, 2.0; and narcissistic, 0.8 to 6.2.

And anyone in cluster B is "suffers" from a lack of empathy for others. Suffers in quotes because, of course, they don't suffer, it's everyone around them who suffers.

We had this discussion the other day, but when awful behavior becomes the norm, well, you get more awful behavior. And we've "normalized" affairs in a lot of ways. I see billboards for it when I drive around. I see it on TV glamorized. I read about it (not here, elsewhere) non-stop. The behavior has become normalized to the point where people who are even a little tiny bit cluster B can really easily justify it to themselves without major mental hurdles to overcome.

hcsv posted 6/21/2019 10:33 AM

I think narcissism in under-diagnosed because the narcissist refuses to see anyone, such as a therapist, who could get to the truth of who he/she really is.

There are out there, just not putting themselves in the position to be officially diagnosed.

OwningItNow posted 6/21/2019 10:41 AM

13.4% and 14.8%

This is actually a lot of people! I am very careful about calling people narcissists irl, behind their back or otherwise. But here on SI, lots of us are dealing with personality disordered, and they have never and will never see any mental health professional because they are great, "it's YOU that is the problem!"

I have read that it is getting more common with the impact of social media-as-validation and empathy-killing affluence.

Justsomeguy posted 6/21/2019 10:45 AM

Some days I wish I had the ability to look into my STBXWW's noodle. I'm certain there would be some empty rooms, with an echo and a big friggin mirror. And a few locked rooms I'm sure. But definitely cluster B.

lostfather posted 6/21/2019 10:51 AM

I believe narcissism is really rare. Granted a narcissist wouldn't go to a counselor to be diagnosed but that's a different story.

Infidelity brings out narcissistic traits, temporarily in WS. It's part of the deal. It doesn't mean they're a narcissist.

In the same vein, infidelity brings out codependent traits, temporarily in BS.

You have to have an honest opinion prior to the A. Basically, that's who the two of you were but temporary circumstances (infidelity) makes a label like narcissist or codependent easy to apply.

Rideitout posted 6/21/2019 11:09 AM

empathy-killing affluence

I've read a lot about this through the years. It's pretty fascinating stuff, and also rather horrifying. Basically, IMHO only, it comes down to this; when we don't need something from other people, we devalue them. And if your affluent, you don't need anything from anyone, putting everyone lower in the value scale. This probably also applies to affairs, "I've got someone else to blow me" or "Someone else to tell my I'm awesome" and therefore, the value of your BS drops.

Either way, it's a pretty scathing commentary on humanity, and one that I experience in my everyday life all the time (dealing with really wealthy people). Yes, that's the same group that displays much of the awful behavior that I talk about attributed to male cheats. And I think it comes down to one thing, "because they can". They can do it and they will not pay the same (or any) price because of their status and power. So they do it, because they enjoy it, not because of some deep character flaw. Or, perhaps they have that character flaw already which is what let them become wealthy? I really don't know, but I can certainly say, wealth seems to destroy empathy. And I don't mean that in only "dollars". Look at men who have tons of sexual access to women and how they treat them (the rich and famous). Is that because they are all bad people who pursue wealth and fame, or is because, if you have 100 people dying to get in your pants every night, treating them like a Kleenex starts to seem acceptable?

Human nature is an ugly, ugly thing if you look at it too hard/long.

ETA, while I've never seen a study on this, I also think that "too many people" has a shocking negative effect on empathy. Watch a New Yorker (no offense) step over a bleeding homeless person and then think, would that happen in Podunk? No, I can tell you, it wouldn't. And as our culture becomes more are more dense (both through population growth and a migration to cities) this trend also seems to have some impact on it.

[This message edited by Rideitout at 11:16 AM, June 21st (Friday)]

HeHadADoubleLife posted 6/21/2019 11:27 AM

Interesting. Agree with the comments re: social media as validation, and empathy killing affluence.

RIO a lot of what you bring up about the wealthy is spot on.

I read an article a while back (can't remember the source) but it brought up how the typical punishments that are doled out to regular members of society such as fines, are not really punishments for the wealthy, hence the entitlement.

For example, if the average Joe/Jill parks their car in a red zone, they will get a hefty ticket. That ticket could cost as much as a week's worth of groceries, or school supplies for their kid, or whatever, so having to pay that fine is an incredible burden on them. This is what teaches them the lesson.

They obviously didn't care about the fact that they were parking in a red zone when they did it in the first place. They weren't thinking about how if there was a fire, or an emergency, now the FD or the ambulance won't have easy access, potentially causing harm to those caught in the blaze, or someone who is having a medical emergency and can't get the help they need in time. They were thinking about themselves and how their day is easier if they don't have to drive around to find a parking spot. But they don't like having to pay the fine, because it causes some consequences in their life, so, if they're smart, they learn not to do that again.

With the wealthy, they can more than afford to pay that fine. It is not even a blip on their radar. So, they can park wherever they want, and feel no consequences. They just pay the bill and move on with their lives. Hell, some of them probably have a personal assistant whose job it is to pay that bill for them, so it's even less of a consequence in their mind. They don't even have to take the time to go online and pay it or write a check, someone else is there to do it for them.

It goes even further up to much larger issues of morality. How many wealthy people get off on extreme criminal charges because they can afford the knock out lawyer? Even worse, how many more of these crimes are we unaware of because their lawyers have managed to make deals and sweep it all under the rug?

Entitlement and self-absorption have always pissed me off. But watching it play out in the ever-increasing ways that social media and wealth has taken over our world is maddening.

cocoplus5nuts posted 6/21/2019 11:28 AM

Everyone has narc traits. Everyone, even you and me. There is a difference between exhibiting some narc traits and being a pathological narc, iow, having NPD. NPD is very rare, according everything have read and been told. Although, considering that someone with NPD would never seek treatment and, therefore, never get diagnosed, who knows how rare or common it really is.

The only difference between an overt and a covert narc, is that the overt narc is very outspoken and obvious about it, while the covert narc is more subtle and passive aggressive. The core traits are the same.

cocoplus5nuts posted 6/21/2019 11:35 AM

narcissistic traits are not the same as full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. If you've met one of those people, dear lord...
(my bolding)


Hephaestus2 posted 6/21/2019 11:50 AM

As everyone here knows, a partner's infidelity is enormously damaging psychologically, once it is discovered. The emotional damage also has enormous consquences for the betrayed spouse. One of the consequences is that betrayed spouses quickly set about trying to understand the affair. What is the meaning of the affair? Why did it happen? Where did we go wrong? Where did I go wrong? Is there something wrong with my spouse?

Perhaps the most difficult part of being betrayed is dealing with the emotional fallout. However, it is also enormously difficult to make sense of the betrayal (cognitively, intellectually) while simultaneously coping with the trauma. The effort to understand an unfaithful spouse's affair inevitably leads to questions about the mental health of the unfaithful spouse. Common forms of irresponsibility and selfishness can appear magnified. In the emotionally chaotic climate following the discovery of an affair, it is difficult to distinguish ordinary selfishness from a deeper pathology.

That is not to say that a particular unfaithful spouse does not suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Narcissists have affairs too. So it is entirely possible (even probable) that a betrayed spouse posting on is married to a narcissist. However, that doesn't explain the large numbers of betrayed spouses who claim that their spouse is "narcissistic".

Also, "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" is the mental illness du jour. With the possible exceptions of "addiction", "codependency", and "post traumatic stress disorder", narcissism is just the most fashionable mental illness at the moment.

OwningItNow posted 6/21/2019 13:42 PM

I do not know, nor do psychologists or mental health professionals know, exactly how narcissistic you have to be before they deem you personality disordered. It's a scale, and if you are dealing with a very narcissistic person, during their bad times they are probably disordered. That being said, as long as you are just venting and trying to get away from these selfish, dysfunctional people, label them whatever you want. Just so long as you get the heck away from them! Since this group here on SI tends to be long on empathy and understanding and short on boundaries, it seems a lot more common around here to make excuses for the narcissists in our lives, avoiding unfairly labeling them. Poor babies. (Geeze, they're selfish freaking cheaters. How is calling them npd offensive?) Whatever moves you away from them, go for it. They are what you witness them as being!

Latest 2017 stat is about 14% of population is cluster b personality disordered. There were 327,000,000 people in the U.S. in 2018, so 45,500,000 were cluster b, to just use the U.S. data. All of the cluster b's are selfish and lack empathy, and they will be very narcissistic and struggle interpersonally because of their dysfunction. If you are acquainted with 100 people in your life, then you've known 14. If you've met 300 people over the course of your life, you've encountered 42! Did you marry one? Quite possibly. After all, your being here because of their selfishness checks that initial box. These people are very difficult to know over the long-term. They cause a lot of problems in society.

As an outside observer of many marriages, of all the divorces I have witnessed, the person I personally see as the cause is frequently narcissistic in lots of obvious ways. I don't call them npd because it's not my place, but if their ex did, it would make perfect sense to me! I can see such disrespectful and selfish behavior.

Lots of people are narcissistically short on empathy, but who can say where/when they cross over to being npd? Who really cares? No, do not give them the benefit of the doubt. We do too much of that! 45,500,000 in the U.S. are cluster b dysfunctional! You are probably right in your npd assessment, so just get away from them! They cannot be fixed.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 1:45 PM, June 21st (Friday)]

Lemondrop10 posted 6/21/2019 13:43 PM

The marital counselor who believes my XWH suffers NPD told me the full blown personality disorder is rare but many people exhibit traits. He said he’s only encountered a handful of them in his career. Some of the differences are total lack of empathy and insight. True narcissists have zero of either whereas someone with narcissistic tendencies can understand on some level that their behavior isn’t ok after the fact or it doesn’t effect ever aspect or relationship in their life. For instance, they could have “normal” relationships with their kids or parents but act completely different with their wife or employer.

Mine is dead inside when it comes to feeling for anyone else. The only feelings he has are for himself and how things effect him. He is extremely vain and concerned with how he looks and how anyone around him effects how he looks. If the kids are getting good grades or doing well in sports, life is good, but if they’re not perfect, he is horrible to them. You are either gold or shit to him and it changes on a dime. He is obsessed with going to church and volunteering, not because it’s a positive thing to do but because it makes him look good. Nothing is ever his fault. He is materialistic. He makes all decisions based only on himself and what he wants. His personality is chameleon-like, he changes based on who he’s with. He can be cruel beyond belief and show no remorse when he sees you cry. Every bad thing he’s ever done is either your fault or because he was trying to prevent doing a worse thing, so really it was a GOOD thing. He’s extremely charming until you know him well. There is no exception to this type of behavior for him. I think that’s the difference between NPD and narcissistic tendencies.

OwningItNow posted 6/21/2019 13:46 PM

The marital counselor who believes my XWH suffers NPD told me the full blown personality disorder is rare but many people exhibit traits. He said he’s only encountered a handful of them in his career.

Why would he? They don't go to therapy.
What exactly is the benefit of telling people on SI not to call people npd? How is it helpful?

OwningItNow posted 6/21/2019 13:52 PM

I have known many npds. Full blown, can't keep a job (get fired for breaking rules), cheat, lie, brag about themselves, abusive, raging, lonely, broken npd. No question in my mind. They check every box.

They are out there, living among us. People are not overreacting or judging. It's a reality. We're not talking ufos or Big Foot or haunted houses here. Cluster B personality disordered people are all over in society, and here on a cheating website, we need to NOT deny that reality.

We are married to these people and they are hurting us.

OwningItNow posted 6/21/2019 13:59 PM

Just as an fyi, the percentage deemed npd is not done through therapy or self-reporting. They build questions into questionnaires that they give to college students, military, or other groups every year, etc. They build in selfish, inflated sense of self questions ("I often know what is right" or "I am good at just about everything") with lack of empathy questions ("When people are ill, I wonder if they deserve it" or "People make a lot of foolish mistakes") and correlate those to judge levels of narcissism.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 2:01 PM, June 21st (Friday)]

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