Narcissism Shapeshifting Camouflage: Conceals Other Disorders (University Lecture)

Listen to Summary: 1:11:13 Sources at the end. 48:27-50:37 by Darlene Lancer, not Len Sperry (apologies). Narcissism is a core feature of the personality: primary narcissism in infancy is critical to the formation of the self, healthy narcissism helps us to regulate our sense of self-worth and guarantees self-efficacy.

Like cancer, narcissism can become malignant and be triggered in its sick form by any trauma and in any mental illness. It acquires the features of the underlying primary core mental health issue and serves as an overlay (veneer, coat of paint). It is a misleading facade presented to the world – and to diagnosticians.

Pathological narcissism is a narrative intended to disguise discontinuities in memory and identity (post-traumatic dissociation). But it has another role: to glamorize dysfunction and elevate it to the level of an ideology of superiority.

Children with impaired and incompetent disorganized personality or with a self-defeating, ornery temperament are shunned, ridiculed, and bullied. To compensate for these painful experiences, they sometimes recast their freakish idiosyncracies as choices, thus restoring an internal locus of control.

Thus, the schizoid or autist boasts grandiosely about his self-sufficiency, emotional imperturbability, resilience, razor-sharp focus, extreme IQ, social selectivity, and asexuality. These render him superhuman in his eyes.

Similarly, the sadist brags about his altruism, rationality, invulnerability, perspicacity, and imperviousness to weakness and to pain.

Drill down to find that compensatory narcissism is merely the fantasy aggrandizing veneer superimposed on other mental health disorders and their harrowing lifelong costs.

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Darlene Lancer

Sperry, Len, “Handbook of Diagnosis and Treatment of DSM-5 Personality Disorders: Assessment, Case Conceptualization, and Treatment”, 3rd Edition, 2016, Routledge

Millon, Theodore et al, “Personality Disorders in Modern Life”, 2nd ed., 2004, Wiley

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