Narcissism: The darker side of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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PATHOLOGICAL narcissism isn’t just about posting ‘selfies,’ experts say.
While the subject has been highlighted recently in the media, there are still little known facts when it comes to the disorder itself.
Have a scroll through Amazon and you’ll find thousands of books dedicated to the subject of narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths.
But while many people throw terms like these around, victims of narcissists will fail to find the damage they cause amusing.
This week we spoke to Dr Vincent Egan, a clinical psychologist, who explains the darker side of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Having obtained a Phd in Psychology from the University of Edinburgh, Dr Egan was lead psychiatrist on a ward dealing with offenders diagnosed with NPD.
“Narcissists may be big mouths and blow hards but aren’t necessarily always criminals,” Dr Egan says.
“People conflate the features of narcissists with those of psychopathy but there is healthy narcissism and malignant narcissism.
“”Narcissists are full of themselves and might be smug and overconfident – that’s normally because they know they are good at something.
“It’s been suggested that many politicians may be narcissists. Others have suggested Madonna is a narcissist, you might notice her recent behaviour on stage which seems to be a reaction of not getting her own way in the battle for custody of her son.”
According to experts, a narcissist is rarely cured and will stop at nothing to destroy someone if they perceive them to be a threat.
Any threat to their self-esteem or self-worth – also known as the ‘narcissistic injury’ – will often result in what psychologists call a ‘narcissistic rage.’
“In the worst case scenario, a narcissistic rage could be life-threatening,” Dr Egan warned.
In a recent interview with the Sunday Times, Baroness Joan Bakewell made comments that the rise in eating disorders was a sign of “narcissism.”
However research suggests the epidemic, while thought to be part of culture now thanks to social media, is far more complex and can come in many shapes and forms.
Although classic signs include lack of empathy and being self-obsessed, many go on to be leaders and are often highly-successful in their careers.
Charismatic and corrupt leaders such as Donald Trump are often accused of being narcissists, but there are also the every day manipulators who slip under the radar.
Linda Martines-Lewi, Phd and Narcissistic Personality Clinical Expert, has worked with narcissists all over the world, including Scotland, and described Trump as a “bombastic, classic narcissist.”
But she says that charming, charismatic man who lovebombs you and messages you constantly even though you’ve just started dating? He too could be a narcissist.
Or perhaps it’s the colleague who constantly undermines you but everyone else thinks they’re fantastic. They too, could also suffer from NPD.
Authors who have written about the subject say you should be wary of a person who comes on too strong at the start of the relationship – they might be trying to trap you and idealise you, which often comes before a ‘devalue’- followed by a sudden and dramatic discard.
Because of this, narcissists often end up in shallow relationships and will happily move onto the next victim if their partner doesn’t satisfy their constant need for constant attention and adoration.
The narcissist lives in huge expectation of not just themselves but others, giving them a grandiose illusion of what their life should be like.
And if anyone tries to get in the way – a narcissist will never back down because they always have to win.
In the clinical setting up to 16 per cent of people suffer from this disorder – almost 1 in every 6 people.
Research has also shown that internet addiction is strongly linked to narcissism and low self-esteem.
Dr Egan continued: “It’s definitely being highlighted more, compare selfies now to 10 years ago – but people need to be aware that there is a distinction between healthy narcissism and malignant narcissism.
“Malignant narcissists are more psychotic and disagreeable – they involve a lot more rage and vengefulness.”
But Susie Jamieson, a creative therapist based in Glasgow, has a different view on the personality disorder.
She believes 99.9 per cent of cases will be as a result of how the person was treated as a child – but added that some people are “simply cruel.”
“I don’t think social media is increasing narcissism but is a tool for pressing the button when people feel insecure,” she said.
“Putting a label on narcissism is often an excuse, it’s similar to road rage – what’s at the heart of road rage? Being in control.
“Most narcissists don’t care, in extreme cases they will flip into a rage because they feel persecuted.
“I think we have to be careful when it comes to labels because everyone is conditioned to respond to things in different ways.”
10 signs of a narcissist
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1. ME, me, me. The narcissist loves being the centre of attention and is constantly interupting conversations. Anything you can do, they can do better and they always have a more important story to tell, so long as it involves them. Story telling is another sign of narcissism. They will often repeat the same ones over and over again, most of the time it will be about a personal victory or exploit.
2. Grandiose personality. People with NPD have an inflated view of themselves that borders on heroic. Their exaggerated sense of self-importance leads them to believe they deserve the best and more. Look out for flash cars, designer clothing and boasts of accomplishments. Narcissists often pretend to know more about a subject than they actually do and can’t stand when someone else proves them wrong.
3. Skilled manipulators. Extremely cunning, they know exactly how to gain control of a person and make them   feel sorry  for questioning the narcissist’s sketchy behaviour. Daring to accuse the narcissist of something will put your head in a spin and result in you apologising profusely for something they’ve done wrong. A gut feeling that something isn’t right or sudden bouts of anxiety could mean you’re involved with a narcissist.
4. History of failed relationships. The narcissist rarely has long or meaningful relationships. And they will often talk about how badly they were treated by all of their ex-girlfriends / boyfriends. They also may appear to have many friends but few of them will be close. This is because narcissists often leave a trail of destruction behind when they end a relationship with another person.
5. Abusive. Beware of criticising the narcissist – this is when the ‘narcissistic rage’ will happen. This can come out in the form of either verbal, physical or emotional abuse. Like living in a war zone, a narcissist’s victim may notice explosive anger coming from their abuser at the slightest irritation. They will either scream, attack or punish their victims using silent treatment or projection. When narcissistic spouses are confronted, they will make the victim feel  it’s their fault.
6. Emotion phobia. Narcissists don’t  feel the same emotions as everyone else. Their deep-rooted sadness comes out in anger instead.  You will rarely see them cry. They lack empathy and loathe other people being upset – mostly because it disgusts them. Malignant  narcissists are sadistic and wouldn’t hesitate to harm an animal or human being.
7. Desire for control. The narcissist has to have everything in the right place. They can’t stand to be out of control and will tarnish another person’s reputation if they dare reveal what the narcissist is really like underneath the mask. If he or she feels they aren’t being admired as much as they should be, they’ll stop at nothing to force themselves back into the limelight.
8. No boundaries. Boundaries don’t exist in the world of the narcissist. They will down stoop to any level to attain something they want or to destroy something they dislike. Many narcissists don’t care about the law and are known to offend or file false reports to police as they find it easy to lie.  Not only this, but they will seek to dominate every person they come across. They do this to so they can get whatever they want, whenever they want. Whether that be sex, money, food, or what other freebies they manage to snare.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D and  author of Freeing the Narcissist in Your Life, said: “I hear stories every day from individuals going through divorces who are put through hell because the narcissistic spouse is out-lawyering them  in court and causing severe financial, psychological and emotional consequences to them and their children.
“Narcissists are brilliant at creating the perfect image that fool most people. Narcissists project their dark volcanic rage on to those closest to them and cause extreme emotional and psychological distress.”
9. Competitive. The narcissist takes competition  to another level. They have a strong desire to win and will punish anyone who appears to prevent this from happening. Donald Trump represents this bullying nature in many of his election campaigns, like telling Carly Fiorina he doesn’t like her looks. Many narcissists make up false allegations about another to try and make themselves look innocent.
10. They never accept blame. Narcissists often know what they are, but will rarely take any steps to change.  They will blame everyone else for their faults and failures. Don’t expect an apology from a narcissist – and if you do get one beware – it’s only another attempt to hoover you back under their control. Linda Martinez Lawi continued: “Narcissists often attract individuals who are emotionally and psychologically vulnerable. I have found that many of their victims are highly empathetic, kind, compassionate human beings.”
Narcissistic celebrities
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Donald Trump
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The egotistical presidential candidate has become the most talked about narcissist inthe media. So much so that some clinical psychologists are using video clips of his behaviour to give examples of the characteristics of a narcissist.
Kim Kardashian
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From naked selfies to sobbing manically over a lost earring – Kim Kardashian is one of reality TV’s most self-obsessed celebs. In a recent episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, she was seen handing a book containing her selfies – all 352 of them – to husband Kanye West.
Kanye West
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According to a new study in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, narcissists are most likely to form a friendship with other narcissists. Perhaps that why Kanye West, ultimate boaster of achievements, gets on so well with selfie-loving wife Kim.
Mariah Carey
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Her diva demands seem to get worse over time, a classic case of the narcissist believing they should have only the best. As well as being materialistic, Mariah is also a classic control freak who has a host of ‘slaves’ at her beck and call.
Madonna
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The singer’s erratic behaviour on stage is the adult equivalent of a temper tantrum as she battles with ex hubby Guy Ritchie for custody of her son, says clinical psychologist Dr Vincent Egan. The narcissist’s worse fear is to lose control – or lose at something full stop. When this happens, there is no such thing as rational sense. They have a tremendous sense of ownership and will always think you are their property.
VICTIMS often have their lives torn apart by narcissist.
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Here Laura, 42, from Renfrewshire, shares her story of being a victim of narcissistic abuse.
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WHEN Laura’s husband suddenly vanished from her family home, her first reaction was that he’d come to harm.
But weeks after reporting him missing to police, the worried wife had learned of something sinister – the father of her two children had started a new life with another woman in America.
Laura’s husband of 20 years had unleashed ‘discard’ phase – the narcissist’s final and most devastating blow to a loved one.
Experts say the narcissist uses the ‘devalue’ and ‘discard’ phase as part of a cycle of abuse throughout a relationship.
“My loving, devoted husband disappeared and I genuinely thought he was missing,” Laura recalled. “I was worried sick.
“My son who suffers from autism, thought he was dead. We reported him missing to the police but it turned out he was living with another woman in America.
“Our lives were turned upside down and we still haven’t heard from him – that was more than two years ago.”
Laura later discovered her estranged husband had met a woman through a virtual game online and had started a new life in America.
Narcissists are notorious for disappearing without a trace and will be totally indifferent to the victim’s agony.
Victims are often left confused, with low self-esteem and may even suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
One victim, who runs a blog on narcissism, explained: “There is no way to have an amicable split from a narcissist.
“When a narcissist is done with you he is not happy to just walk away, he wants to destroy you and your reputation.
“He will turn your friends and your own family against you. If you have children he will turn them against you, he will even go so far as to try to get you fired, arrested on trumped-up charges, victims have even been committed to mental institutions because of the vicious actions of a narcissist.”
Laura is finally moving on from her narcisstic relationship and only wishes for her ex-husband to contact her for ther sake of a relationship with her children.
She said: “I know the kids are really keen to be in touch with him especially as they don’t know if he even receives the cards they send him.
“Part of me thinks it is important for the truth to be out there, for people to know the kids have left the door open and actively want contact with him.”
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Sarah*, 28, from Glasgow, told of how her narcissistic ex started off perfect but eventually almost destroyed her life…
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HE started off as my Prince Charming, a wonderful, loving man who worshipped the ground I walked on.
No-one had ever showed me as much attention as he did – he would message me day and night and within just three months, we’d already discussed marriage. It was a dream come true.
But as always, when you are involved with a narcissist, the cracks will begin to appear. His ‘narcissistic rage’ would emerge whenever I questioned him over sketchy behaviour.
If he wasn’t punching walls he was screaming abuse at sales reps on the telephone. I told myself he had a slight anger problem. But I soon found myself a nervous wreck who was doped up on anxiety pills.
I couldn’t understand why my attentive, adoring boyfriend had suddenly pulled away from me and had changed. When I questioned him, I’d always end up apologising. I seemed to always be messing things up.
Within just five months of our relationship, I decided to seek help from a counsellor for my ‘issues,’ he’d told me was the cause of destroying our relationship.
I was constantly walking on eggshells and desperately wanted his approval – or at least for him to go back to being the same man he was when I’d met him.
But the more I did for him and the better a girlfriend I became, the more cruel and nasty he would be towards me.
It came to a head after I found messages from exes on his phone and when I questioned him, he vanished off the face of the earth. No phone, no Facebook account, nothing. Every single means of contact erased.
But that didn’t stop him trying to wreck my career after spreading lies about me. He even told his friends I’d cheated on him and that was the reason we broke up.
A few months later, he emerged on social media, looking positively radiant in photographs with his new ‘amazing’ girlfriend.
I have finally moved on from my narcissist and no longer suffer from anxiety. But I’d warn anyone who comes across one to stay clear – the dirty tricks they play have no bounds.

Styletto Mag is a Scottish online magazine which publishes the latest articles on fashion, beauty, shopping and life. The site was founded by journalist Lisa Boyle in August 2011. Styletto Mag is a sleek, easy to access online magazine which features shopping trends, beauty reviews, funny features and women's lifestyle articles. COMING SOON : STYLETTO SHOP - Stay tuned for the Styletto store where you can purchase some amazing one-off vintage pieces, modern, on-trend clothing and accessories to ensure you're always sporting the most coveted items. STYLETTO PRINT EDITION - Soon to be Scotland's best selling magazine, Styletto will be your most glamorous new glossy for women's lifestyle, fashion updates, beauty lust haves and much more. To contribute or submit articles, send them to Lisa Boyle at editor.styletto@gmail.com.

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