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Narcissism: Narcissistic Personality Disorder & Bullying

  • Published: 2013-11-26 (Revised/Updated 2015-03-05) : Author: Disabled World : Contact: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Article looks at Narcissistic Personality Disorder, in particular Bullies, and People with Aspergers Syndrome.

Used to describe the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride. Narcissistic personality disorder affects 1% of the population. Although most individuals have some narcissistic traits, high levels of narcissism can manifest themselves in a pathological form as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), whereby the patient overestimates his or her abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation.

Main Document

"A bully is a type of person who is often the extreme of the other, a person who capitalizes on weaknesses in other people."

Serial bullies display behavior congruent with a number of the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity and self-importance, a need for admiration, as well as a lack of empathy for others. People with narcissistic personality disorder overestimate their abilities and tend to inflate their accomplishments, many times appearing pretentious and boastful while underestimating and devaluing the accomplishments and achievements of others.

Narcissists will often times fraudulently claim to have experience, qualifications, associations, or affiliations they do not actually have or are not entitled to. They believe they are superior and inflate their self-esteem to match that of senior or important people with whom they identify or associate, insisting on having leading professionals or being affiliated with the best institutions, yet criticize the same people who they are disappointed with. Narcissists react with anger to criticism and when they are rejected they often times denounce the profession that has rejected them, usually for lack of competence, but at the same time and paradoxically represent themselves as belonging to the profession they are vilifying.

With a fragile self-esteem and a need for constant attention and admiration, a narcissist fishes for compliments - often times with a great amount of charm. They hold an expectation of superior entitlement and expect other people to defer to them, yet have a lack of sensitivity; particularly when other people do not react in the way the narcissist expects them to. Greed, expecting to receive before and above the needs of others, overworking people around them, and forming romantic or sexual relationships for the purpose of advancing the career or a certain purpose, squandering extra resources and abusing privileges are features of narcissistic personality disorder.

People with narcissistic personality disorder also experience difficulties with recognizing the feelings and needs of others. They are contemptuous, dismissive, and impatient when other people discuss or share their problems or concerns. They are oblivious to the hurtfulness of their remarks or behaviors, showing an emotional coldness and a lack of reciprocal interest. Narcissists exhibit envy, particularly when other people are recognized. They have an arrogant, patronizing and disdainful attitude and are quick to criticize and blame others when their expectations and needs are not met. The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder include the following:

Chart showing symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
About This Image: Chart showing symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, lack of empathy, as indicated by at least five of:

Bullies and People with Asperger's Syndrome

Bullying has become a topic of quite a bit of conversation and with good reason. People with disabilities in America and other nations have found themselves dealing with bullies for seemingly endless years. There are a number of myths surrounding bullying such as:

The facts are less pleasing. Each day more than 160,000 children do not go to school because they are afraid they will be bullied. Moderate to severe psychological and physical symptoms and disorders may occur due to being bullied, or from being a bully. School avoidance, refusal, and eventually withdrawal may result when children are bullied. There is considerable agreement among a number of bullying experts that zero tolerance not only does not prevent bullying, it might in fact cause more issues to include, yet not limited to, an increase in suspensions and expulsions and a lack of change in the attitudes that affect school culture.

The Bully

A bully is a type of person who is often the extreme of the other, a person who capitalizes on weaknesses in other people. A bully has the ability to see weaknesses and use them against the person they are bullying. They almost always attack in groups and like an audience while they are bullying. A bully will always pick on mistakes, faulting whatever they can find that will demean and belittle another person. At times their actions are subtle; at other times their actions are blatantly rude. As the bully's actions continue they tend to become more extreme, to the point of physical abuse.

The majority of people who are bullied have one thing in common - anger. Anger stems from offense or hurt which builds up over time until it turns into physical rage in different forms. The most destructive form is murder. A bully many times feeds on their victim's sense of unease.

Bullying and Children with Asperger's Syndrome

According to Dr. Liza Little, 94% of children with Asperger's syndrome are bullied. In comparison to studies of the general population, children with Asperger's syndrome are 4 times more likely to be bullied than their siblings or peers. Children with Asperger's syndrome are over represented in the population of children who are bullied and excluded if they do not receive support from adults. They experience difficulties with achieving positive progress in school because of bullying and have trouble reaching their potential.

The question of what adults can do when faced with such sobering facts certainly arises. Adults can begin by truly understanding and acknowledging the vulnerability of children with Asperger's syndrome and actively seek information about them and their social experiences. Due to their high-risk status and social deficits, students with Asperger's syndrome should be presented with a bullying survey, followed by an individual interview about their social experiences at school and elsewhere. Attention needs to be provided to whether they are experiencing any physical, verbal, or social bullying, to include shunning by their peers.

Peer shunning is the act of excluding or ignoring someone. Dr. Liza Little identifies a high incidence of peer shunning among people with Asperger's syndrome, something that continues to increase throughout a child's school years, peaking in high school. Where peer shunning exists, so does social isolation. Social isolation increases a child's risk of being bullied while decreasing their likelihood of receiving peer protection when bullying happens.

Men tend to be more narcissistic than women:

With three decades of data from more than 475,000 participants, a new study on narcissism from the University at Buffalo School of Management reveals that men, on average, are more narcissistic than women.

They found the widest gap in entitlement, suggesting that men are more likely than women to exploit others and feel entitled to certain privileges.

The second largest difference was in leadership/authority. "Compared with women, men exhibit more assertiveness and desire for power," Grijalva says. "But there was no difference in the exhibitionism aspect, meaning both genders are equally likely to display vanity or self-absorption."

Research has shown that personality differences, like narcissism, can arise from gender stereotypes and expectations that have been ingrained over time. The authors speculate that the persistent lack of women in senior leadership roles may partially stem from the disparity between stereotypes of femininity and leadership.

Facts: Narcissistic & Leadership

Narcissistic leadership is a common form of leadership. The narcissism may be healthy or destructive although there is a continuum between the two. A study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that when a group is without a leader, you can often count on a narcissist to take charge. Researchers found that people who score high in narcissism tend to emerge as group leader.

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