Composed by Shunda Wallace Music Therapist
There are perhaps hundreds if not thousands of articles on Narcissistic Personality Disorder with attempts made by many to define the disorder outside of it’s proper clinical context.
Due to the varying levels in which the disorder can take destructive form I have chosen to do a series of articles on Narcissism that address the full spectrum of the disorder which range from etiology to evolution. Some articles that I have read thus far that have attempted to explain the disorder provide the literal definition without discussing the destructive manner in which the disorder manifests itself. Other articles were not as thorough in making the connection between the DSM criterion and the subsequent pathological manifestations. The most succinct and to-the-point definition of the disorder that I can provide would be that it is a disorder of self-esteem.
As a Music Therapist that has treated individuals in sub-acute and acute psychiatric hospitals diagnosed with every disorder from Schizophrenia to Borderline Personality Disorder, I can say that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is arguably the most under-diagnosed personality disorder to date by clinicians yet overly-discussed personality disorder by the general public. Having said that, I would like to begin this discussion by providing the literal definition of the disorder as described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (The Mental Health Bible).
“Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) criteria.” (DSM V 2017).
The five or more criterion are as follows:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or ideal love
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement) i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
I personally have witnessed individuals that display all of the traits of the disorder as described by the DSM exhibited over the span of decades but those individuals had not been clinically diagnosed by a qualified health care professional.
Due to the fragile ego strength (over-inflated ego under-inflated self esteem) presented by individuals that display five or more traits that meet the criterion of the disorder it is highly unlikely that a person with the disorder will recognize that there is a problem and seek help from a qualified health care professional. For those that are courageous enough to seek professional help you are certainly the exception and not the rule. Subsequent articles will dig in on the following topics (which will include but are not limited to):
—–The Etiology of Narcissism
—–Defining Narcissistic Personality Disorder
—-Collective Narcissist Personality Disorder
—-Narcissism and Social Media
—-The Aftermath of a Relationship with a Narcissist
—-Narcissists as Supervisors
—-Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Entertainment: The Fame Chasing Addict
—-Narcissists as Cheaters and Serial Cheaters
Ms. Wallace joined the faculty at Michigan State University as Guest Lecturer in 2004-2005 while being considered for the Doctorate of Musical Arts in Western Composition Program (later learning there was no Doctoral Program in Jazz Composition). Ms. Wallace holds a Bachelors of Music in Music Management from William Paterson University a Masters Degree in Jazz Arranging and Orchestration from William Paterson University in addition to an Advanced Level Board Certification in Music Therapy from Montclair State University.