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Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders

Narcissist Personality Disorder - does my (ex) friend have ?

Narcissist Personality Disorder - does my (ex) friend have ?

Postby Picnic » Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:02 pm

I would be grateful if anyone can shed any light on this for me as it has caused me a great deal of trauma over the few years and now am beginning to wonder if this is the reason. Stand by for a long post!

I first met this person through work when we were both training. We were more acquaintances than friends at that point and I always felt slightly intimidated by her as if she would be the sort of person you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of. She wasn't really a part of my life in any meaningful way for several years; but we knew of each other through work.

Several years later, however she came into my life. I was having a bit of a tough time when this happened, and she always seemed to ask the right questions (fairly probing I might add) but as her intentions seemed noble I opened up to her. She seemed kind, sensitive and understanding and not the least bit judgemental. Her husband was also an old friend of my husband.

Over time, we saw more and more of each other to the extent that we would go on holiday once or twice a year as couples for several years. (Always to the destination of her choice - but it generally coincided with what we fancied doing anyway).

We both have what would be referred to as (literally) highflying jobs in a male dominated world with a lot of responsibility. She is averagely good-looking but has made the best of herself and tends to power dress in designer clothes, her hair is always immaculate, eyebrows always done and maintains a stick-thin (almost anorexic looking) body.

When in a crowd she tends to dominate the conversation and doesn't give other people much chance to speak. She is quick to drop in anecdotes which put her in a good light ( and frequently others in a bad one). Image and power are extremely important to her, having top of the range cars/sports cars, immaculate period house, engagement ring like a knuckle duster... surrounds herself with powerful people, intends to send her son to a leading (some might say THE leading) public school for boys. She talks about work as though she is indispensible and practically runs the company although she is really just a small cog in a very big wheel.

As I said before, I always knew that I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of her, but when she shines praise on you it's hard to ignore, and for all her apparent superficiality in other regards she appeared to be kind hearted and compassionate in other ways. For example she would appear the model citizen by using washable nappies, clean our new house for me (even though I didn't really want her to) when I was pregnant and nauseous. She would cook big elaborate roasts for us and other friends and family to perfection (especially notable seeing as she's vegetarian).

Yet at other times she could cut someone dead with a cruel comment (usual someone she would presumably consider beneath her - a waitress in one example) or be exceptionally lacking in compassion. I remember in horror seeing her infant son falling over backward from sitting and bashing his head on their (carpet covered) concrete floor with a sickening thud - you could tell it was really painful and he really screamed. She just said - get up, you're fine, and didn’t n even pick him up. The poor thing pulled himself up and crawled in the opposite direction crying out "dada dada!". :(

I always remember her referring to the sizable inheritance her husband was due to receive on his mother's death. I remember thinking how distasteful this sounded.

We fell pregnant around the same time with our first babies - she was a few months behind me and was through IVF. When my baby arrived she was at our house almost 24/7 for a week - even when my close family were visiting - to the extent that they felt excluded. Once again, although I wasn't 100% comfortable with it, I put it down to her big-heartedness and didn't worry too much.

The trouble came however, when I inadvertently became privy to one of her friend's pregnancies and subsequent miscarriages. When I found out about the pregnancy, it was very early days and she had asked me to keep it confidential. When my friend eventually discovered that I had known about it I was dropped like a cold fish. I was literally sent to Coventry overnight with no explanation. I was distraught! It was especially difficult as I had a very young baby and had just moved into a new house and had been (as seems obvious now) very dependent on this friend for friendship. Over the years she had literally squeezed other people out of my life by the intensity of her attention.

She always denied that there was a problem, that it was in my imagination, and that she was just busy. She would go on to invite me to events and then publicly humiliate me by blanking me in front of others or making derogatory remarks sometimes in earshot of others, and sometimes so only i would hear. I learnt (quite quickly obviously) to keep my distance, but I never lashed out at her and was always at the very least polite to her. I defended her to friends as at the time I thought that maybe she was suffering from Post Natal Depression and wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. I realise now that that probably only enraged her more.

Then, earlier this year I got an unsolicited letter from her accusing me of not supporting her through her most recent IVF cycles, yet I'd had no idea that she was having IVF again. It was as though she was trying to rewrite history to make herself look like the victim! She said she "wanted to put our friendship to one side and move on with our separate lives" and then in the next paragraph that "I still care for you and your family so if life presents any major problems to get back in touch." Freaky or what? I was literally shaking as I read the letter. Even then end of our “friendship” was under her complete control.

Apart from the grief of losing someone who I cared for a great deal I have had to try and work out whether that person actually ever existed and has changed, or if I was hoodwinked for all those years and the real person has only emerged recently. I think it's the latter, but if any of you can shed any light I would be grateful as this has really undermined my confidence greatly. I also worry about her husband and young son and the effect on them if she does indeed have NPD - but what can I realistically do to help?

Sorry this is such a long post but there doesn’t seem to be a quick way of explaining it all, it’s all so insidious - there are so many things that have happened that in isolation would not appear unusual. And there are so many other things I could mention!
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Postby lnewby25 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:03 am

Dear Picnic,

I have (had) a friend who exhibited almost exactly the same actions as you describe. Ironically, this friend is also a psycho-therapist! After she dropped me after a fairly innocuous political discussion at another friend's birthday lunch, I worked and worked to re-establish the friendship. We again became inseparable, traveling together and generally having a wonderful time. Then, as I began to see how insensitive she was to anyone else's needs or problems and she saw that I recognized her insensitivity, she dropped me again, like a hot rock. This time, I decided to forget it and have been just fine.

These types of people are very alluring and literally sweep you into their world which is very glamorous on the surface; but, that's about as far as it goes. Heaven help you if you ever see what they are really like and they know that you know. They can't deal with it. I don't know what their problems are which make them this way, but they must be deep-seated. I really think this may be why my ex-friend became a psycho-therapist, to try to understand her own problem.

My advice. Forget it and get on with your life. Your friend is looking for fresh recruits, which she/he will also eventually drop. Count it as a learning experience.
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Postby Picnic » Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:56 am

Thank u for your reply.

Funny isn't it being a psycho-therapist (or should it just be "psycho"!) what is it they say; "physician heal thyself"!

You're right, they can be very alluring, but feel i have moved on and feel much more rounded as a consequence! interestingly i have mentioned my suspicions about NPD to a mutual friend who recently was concerned that he may have been "dropped" as you put it. He's a fairly cynical guy who wouldn't stand for psychobabble, but he googled NPD and said that it fitted her to a tee.
I'm sorry that you were also taken in by someone, but I guess the plus side is it's much easier to spot narcissistic tendencies once your suffered at the hands of one. Don't suppose either you or I will fall for that again.

Fingers crossed our (ex) friends work it out for themselves eventually as it's a pretty vacuous existence.
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Postby guitarman » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:36 am

Dear Picnic,

My strongest impression is that you are a very nice person and it's not fair for you to suffer like that. My brother has a NPD and he has been very generous to me, helped me graduate with a terminal degree but has also been very verbally abusive. I finally had to cut off contact with him beause he will never change. I don't think your friend will ever change, either.

Why not tell her everthing you wrote?

The best to you and your family.
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Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:32 am


Postby lnewby25 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:56 am

Just read the post from guitarman who suggested you contact your friend, or ex-friend, and tell her everything you wrote in your post. Just want to say that is the last thing I would do as that would only feed his/her narcissistic tendencies and keep them in the spotlight, so to speak. My advice is to just drop the whole thing and get on with YOUR life. These people will only change when and if THEY want to. As long as they can be fed by people making them the center of attention, they are getting exactly what they want: attention.

Just my thoughts.

Take care.
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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:56 am

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