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‘Empaths’ and narcissists
6 months ago · · Narcissism,
Recently, I was doing some research for a piece of fiction that I’m writing. Mental illness features heavily in this piece, as it contributes massively towards the characters acting the way they do. It’s sympathetic and realistic, though - the main character has things that I personally suffer from, so we’re coming at this topic from a place of depth and understanding.
My characters love interest has ADHD and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is a vital part of his character, just like his sense of humour or the way he walks.
I was trying to find information about what it’s like to live with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, from the perspective of the person who actually has the disorder. Instead, what I got was pages and pages of articles, demonising people that the writers clearly had no idea about. Their perspectives of these real people actually felt more two-dimensional and fictional than my character! The worst part is, those judgemental bullies that write these articles have the nerve to call themselves ‘Empaths’!
There’s a huge misconception when it comes to Narcissistic Personality Disorder, along with this weird current trend of calling every abusive/bigoted/annoying person a Narcissist. There’s this idea that suffering from a disorder, and showing symptoms of this illness, makes a human being inherently ‘bad’ or ‘not worth the effort’.
When I did actually find written accounts from people with this disorder, the main theme they all had in common was self-loathing. They saw themselves as ‘not good enough’, and they were surrounded by people who believed them to be natural abusers because of a condition that they couldn’t help having.
Here’s some actual, helpful information when it comes to understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
It often starts with a child, who gets in trouble often and unfairly, due to something they can’t control (e.g. a different undiagnosed mental illness). They feel like they can’t get anything right, but they desperately want to impress the people around them. Love and understanding is missing somewhere else in their life. They feel like, if they just try hard enough, they can earn the sympathy and love and recognition that every child should deserve, no matter what. Over time, they learn to mask themself and manipulate people, changing their surroundings to try and give themself everything that they couldn’t get when they were younger. The body tries to heal itself in any way it can. The brain wants to survive. When our Narcissist grows up, the resulting adult may have fixations on certain people that they desperately want to please. They will seek validation from other people, and have very little self-worth. Without this external validation, our narcissist falls apart. Even worse, if the object of their fixation goes on to reject or disrespect them, our Narcissist will either explode or break. They don’t have a solid emotional foundation to fall back on, and so they spiral. Many people with this disorder describe an ‘emotional rollercoaster’ where the lows keep getting lower and the highs keep getting less attainable. They have to do increasingly dramatic things in order to feel the slightest bit of happiness. This desperation is what leads to the more extreme, manipulative behaviours (which, yes, can spiral out of control and turn into abuse - BUT, more likely, will just cause other people to turn on them and leave the Narcissist isolated and a thousand times worse than before).
I’m not saying Narcissists are innocent and incapable of wrongdoing. What I am saying is, they are humans suffering from a disorder. They deserve a greater level of understanding than they currently get. They need treatment and help. Nothing is black and white, especially with mental health. There needs to be a greater level of nuance in the way that these topics are discussed.
How is anyone supposed to get better when they’re branded as a villain wherever they look, and they see themself as a bad person too? Where can they turn when there’s hatred on all sides?
When Narcissus looked into the water, what did he see? What was he feeling as he drowned? Was something holding him under?
-signed, a person who actually has empathy and makes a choice to be compassionate, and would never call myself a goddamn Empath because I don’t think I’m better than anyone else