From fascination with vampires and psychopaths to our current cultural obsession with narcissism, somewhere along the way monstrous predatory behavior became sensationalized into something mysterious, darkly alluring, even sexy. As our frenzy for likes and links normalizes social media self-puffery, a far fiercer form of narcissism has risen to the surface of our collective mirror like an oil rainbow on a dirty puddle.

For those who think it might be an ego trip to date narcissists, “cure” them, play head games with them, or dabble in their “dark arts,” breaking news: The narcissism mystique is the dumbest thing to come along since fake butter.

The Narcissism Mystique: Fictions

Here are some misconceptions about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) that are not just ignorant but also dangerously false:

  1. False: The person with NPD loves himself.
  2. False: Having NPD means you’re smart, good-looking, and/or successful.
  3. False: Having NPD makes your life a series of intoxicating head games.
  4. False: The narcissist can be cured by the right “empath” lover.
  5. False: Narcissists are great lovers.
  6. False: My narcissist BF/GF will change for me.
  7. False: People with NPD have superior powers.
  8. False: The narcissist can change if she wants to.
  9. False: Most therapists/psychologists understand narcissism.
  10. False: Underneath it all narcissists really do love their children.
  11. False: Narcissists are obvious to spot.
  12. False: If I leave my narcissist spouse, the legal system will protect my kids and me.
  13. False: Narcissists are monsters.
  14. False: If I make myself vulnerable, my narcissist partner/parent/friend will trust me and open up.
  15. False: Narcissists will respond to “reason.”

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Facts

Here are some stark facts about NPD that everyone should know:

  1. Fact: The serious narcissist has a pathological personality disorder.
  2. Fact: NPD is a devastating mental condition present in about 6 percent of Americans.
  3. Fact: The narcissist is ruled by self-hatred, self-doubt, and self-shame but hides those feelings from himself and others at all cost.
  4. Fact: People with NPD have little to no empathy for anyone at all, including their kids, partner/spouse, and “friends.”
  5. Fact: The narcissist will do whatever it takes to manipulate her environment to convince herself that she is the omnipotent master, superior to others and entitled to more.
  6. Fact: The narcissist continuously attempts to bolster himself at the ruthless expense of others.
  7. Fact: The narcissist experienced formative invalidation when young.
  8. Fact: People with NPD are terrified of rejection.
  9. Fact: Sadistic narcissists enjoy causing suffering and have zero remorse.
  10. Fact: Covert narcissists are less obvious than extroverted ones and can be extremely cunning about hiding their true nature.
  11. Fact: Most therapists/psychologists do not understand NPD and its toxic effects within relationships and families.
  12. Fact: The person with NPD will study you and exploit your needs/desires/weaknesses.
  13. Fact: It is always a mistake to make yourself vulnerable to a narcissist.
  14. Fact: Narcissists behave monstrously but are disturbed people, not monsters.
  15. Fact: Getting in deep with a narcissist and, worse, having children with one, will be your biggest regret.

Julie L. Hall’s articles on narcissism regularly appear in The Huffington PostPsychCentral, NYMedTimes, SmartNews, and YourTango. She is the author of a forthcoming memoir about life, and a few near deaths, in a narcissistic family (read excerpts). 

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