Women Are Narcissists Too

Colleen Sheehy Orme

Men fall in love with narcissists too. They understand the emotional abuse that accompanies this type of relationship. But stories are predominantly told by survivors of male narcissists. Why is less said about women with Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The answer is in the numbers.

According to a Psychology Today article, "Although narcissism is prevalent in men, it is found among women as well. Per the American Psychiatric Association (2013), 50-75% of those diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorders are male."

This article points out a rarely discussed tenant of Narcissism.

"Narcissistic Personality Disorder is incredibly hard to diagnose as it can be easily confused with other personality disorders with similar traits."

It takes a qualified mental health professional to diagnose NPD.

The average therapist may be unable to identify this troubling mental health disorder. If you think you are dealing with a narcissist it is best to seek a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor who is highly, highly specialized in the field of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Because gender is not indicative of this disorder.

A combination of narcissistic qualities and an accompanying lack of empathy is.

The word narcissism is popular and over-used. But it's an extremely complex and misunderstood disorder. People tend to confuse narcissistic characteristics with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It's a dangerous misconception. Anyone who has suffered at the hands of someone with NPD can tell you they are two distinctly different things.

According to another Psychology Today piece, "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) lists nine traits and characteristics that are clinically significant in determining if someone's super-sized ego may be something more than just self-confidence. At least five of the following traits must be exhibited to meet the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Per this article they are:

1. Grandiose sense of self-importance. 2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. 3. Belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions. 4. Need for excessive admiration. 5. Sense of entitlement. 6. Interpersonally exploitive behavior. 7. Lack of empathy. 8. Envy of others or belief that others are envious of him or her. 9. Demonstration of arrogant and haughty attitudes or behaviors.

It's important to qualify not all narcissists are created equal.

A covert narcissist will not appear openly arrogant. They are smug. They don't feel the need to announce their importance, they already know it. Likewise, a covert narcissist isn't obviously controlling they present as easygoing or laidback. They are passive-aggressively controlling.

This is why the first article addressing the difficulty in diagnosis is critical.

And why it takes a qualified professional to do so.

Men and women can suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Why do we hear more about male narcissists? Statistically, the number of male narcissists is higher. And women may be more apt to share their stories.

But whether someone has attached themselves to a man or a woman who's a narcissist, it's much more complex than that. It's a highly confusing and abusive relationship. It can take years to understand who and what you are dealing with.

The narcissist is charismatic and cruel.

Those who unknowingly love them alternate between reality and craziness. Initially, they make excuses for the narcissist. Eventually, they exhaust themselves trying to understand and then escape them. Man or woman, an individual who loves the narcissist is in desperate need of support and help.

Per the first Psychology Today article, "Narcissistic females are as damaging and polarizing to relationships as are their male counterparts."

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a National Relationship Columnist, freelance journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, relationships, and self-restoration. She has spent more than a decade in research and counseling on the topics of divorce, relationships, and Narcissistic personality disorder.

Reston, VA
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