Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Personality disorder is a matter of false judgments of value. Listed below are the false value judgments that are at the root of Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
|to have an image of superiority and high worth
||an image of inferiority
||seeks to create an illusion of superiority and to build up an image of high self-worth
|social recognition, status, and prestige
||obscurity, low status, and lack of prestige
||strives for recognition and prestige to compensate for the lack of a feeling of self-worth
||being out-achieved by others
||may acquire a deprecatory attitude in which the achievements of others are ridiculed and degraded
|glory, honors, and fame
||lack of glory, honors, or fame
||has persistent aspirations for glory and status
|praise and approval
||others' critical judgments and disapproval
||is sensitive to how others react to him or her, watches and listens carefully for critical judgment, and feels slighted by disapproval
|to be highly esteemed
||being shamed or humiliated
||is prone to feel shamed and humiliated and especially hyper-anxious and vulnerable to the judgments of others
|greatness, perfection, genius, or stardom
||lack of greatness, perfection, genius, or stardom
||entertains fantasies of greatness, constantly striving for perfection, genius, or stardom
|a highly valued spouse or partner; to be affirmed and confirmed in relationships
||lack of a highly valued spouse; not being affirmed and confirmed
||has a history of searching for an idealized partner and has an intense need for affirmation and confirmation in relationships
|to be their idealized self
||being their actual self
||frequently entertains a wishful, exaggerated, and unrealistic concept of himself or herself which he or she can't possibly measure up to
|success and others' admiration
||lack of success; not being admired
||produces (too quickly) work not up to the level of his or her abilities because of an overwhelmingly strong need for the immediate gratification of success
|to be respected and admired
||being slighted and not receiving constant admiration
||is touchy, quick to take offense at the slightest provocation, continually anticipating attack and danger, reacting with anger and fantasies of revenge when he or she feels frustrated in his or her need for constant admiration
|love and approval from others
||lack of love and approval
||is self-conscious, due to a dependence on approval from others
|the attention and admiration of others
||lack of attention and admiration
||seeks to undo feelings of inadequacy by forcing everyone's attention and admiration upon himself or herself
|fulfillment of their grandiose expectations
||lack of fulfillment of their grandiose expectations
||may react with self-contempt and depression to the lack of fulfillment of his or her grandiose expectations
|to receive praise
||has a tendency to exaggerate and boast
The Disease Perspective
PTypes personality types proposes Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder as a pervasive pattern of unstable, "overtly narcissistic behaviors [that] derive from an underlying sense of insecurity and weakness rather than from genuine feelings of self-confidence and high self-esteem" (Millon), beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by ten (or more) of the following:
- seeks to create an illusion of superiority and to build up an image of high self-worth (Millon);
- has disturbances in the capacity for empathy (Forman);
- strives for recognition and prestige to compensate for the lack of a feeling of self-worth;
- may acquire a deprecatory attitude in which the achievements of others are ridiculed and degraded (Millon);
- has persistent aspirations for glory and status (Millon);
- has a tendency to exaggerate and boast (Millon);
- is sensitive to how others react to him or her, watches and listens carefully for critical judgment, and feels slighted by disapproval (Millon);
- is prone to feel shamed and humiliated and especially hyper-anxious and vulnerable to the judgments of others (Millon);
- covers up a sense of inadequacy and deficiency with pseudo-arrogance and pseudo-grandiosity (Millon);
- has a tendency to periodic hypochondria (Forman);
- alternates between feelings of emptiness and deadness and states of excitement and excess energy (Forman);
- entertains fantasies of greatness, constantly striving for perfection, genius, or stardom (Forman);
- has a history of searching for an idealized partner and has an intense need for affirmation and confirmation in relationships (Forman);
- frequently entertains a wishful, exaggerated, and unrealistic concept of himself or herself which he or she can't possibly measure up to (Reich);
- produces (too quickly) work not up to the level of his or her abilities because of an overwhelmingly strong need for the immediate gratification of success (Reich);
- is touchy, quick to take offense at the slightest provocation, continually anticipating attack and danger, reacting with anger and fantasies of revenge when he or she feels frustrated in his or her need for constant admiration (Reich);
- is self-conscious, due to a dependence on approval from others (Reich);
- suffers regularly from repetitive oscillations of self-esteem (Reich);
- seeks to undo feelings of inadequacy by forcing everyone's attention and admiration upon himself or herself (Reich);
- may react with self-contempt and depression to the lack of fulfillment of his or her grandiose expectations (Riso).
The Dimensional Perspective
Here is a hypothetical profile, in terms of the five-factor model of personality, for Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder (speculatively constructed from McCrae, 1994, pg. 306) (Cf. Narcissistic):
- High Neuroticism
- Chronic negative affects, including anxiety, fearfulness, tension, irritability, anger, dejection, hopelessness, guilt, shame; difficulty in inhibiting impulses: for example, to eat, drink, or spend money; irrational beliefs: for example, unrealistic expectations, perfectionistic demands on self, unwarranted pessimism; unfounded somatic concerns; helplessness and dependence on others for emotional support and decision making.
- High Extraversion
- Excessive talking, leading to inappropriate self-disclosure and social friction; inability to spend time alone; attention seeking and overly dramatic expression of emotions; reckless excitement seeking; inappropriate attempts to dominate and control others.
- High Openness
- Preoccupation with fantasy and daydreaming; lack of practicality; eccentric thinking (e.g., belief in ghosts, reincarnation, UFOs); diffuse identity and changing goals: for example, joining religious cult; susceptibility to nightmares and states of altered consciousness; social rebelliousness and nonconformity that can interfere with social or vocational advancement.
- Low Agreeableness
- Cynicism and paranoid thinking; inability to trust even friends or family; quarrelsomeness; too ready to pick fights; exploitive and manipulative; lying; rude and inconsiderate manner alienates friends, limits social support; lack of respect for social conventions can lead to troubles with the law; inflated and grandiose sense of self; arrogance.
- Low Conscientiousness
- Underachievement: not fulfilling intellectual or artistic potential; poor academic performance relative to ability; disregard of rules and responsibilities can lead to trouble with the law; unable to discipline self (e.g., stick to diet, exercise plan) even when required for medical reasons; personal and occupational aimlessness.
The Inventive Type, missing the mark in excess of its strengths and virtues, equals Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
Too hopeful, too idealistic, too ambitious, too assertive, too competitive, too witty, too intellectual, too original (unconventional), too resourceful, too playful, too fanciful, too imaginative, too visionary, too analytical, too analogical (imitative), too ingenious, too contrived, too competent (perfectionistic), too industrious, too enterprising.
Character Weaknesses and Vices
Aloofness, over-ambitiousness, ambivalence, amorality, arrogance, artfulness, attention-seeking, authoritarianism, autocratism, moodiness, calculating, cameleonlikeness, changeableness, combativeness, conceitedness, contentiousness, contradictoriness, craftiness, criticalness, cruelty, cunning, over-curiosity, cynicism, deceitfulness, demandingness, dependency, depressiveness, dictatorial, difficult, disparaging, over-dramatic, drivenness, duplicity, ebullience, egocentricity, egoism, egotism, enviousness, exaggerating, excitableness, exhibitionism, fantasticalness, fastidiousness, fictitiousness, foxiness, frustrating, furiousness, gain-seeking, glory-seeking, guilefulness, guilt-riddenness, head-in-the-clouds, hubristic, iconoclastic, immaturity, impetuousness, impulsiveness, insensitivity, insincerity, irresponsibility, irreverence, jealousy, malevolence, manipulativeness, meanness, megalomania, melancholoy, mendaciousness, meretriciousness, mischievousness, mistrustfulness, mocking, narcissism, non-conformity, omnipotence, ostentation, over-optimism, perfectionism, perverseness, power-mania, pretentiousness, pridefulness, quarrelsomeness, ragefulness, reactiveness, rebelliousness, restlessness, ruthlessness, scheming, seductiveness, self-absorption, self-admiration, self-defeating, self-destructive, self-idolizing, self-important, self-indulgent, self-interested, self-willed, selfishness, shiftiness, show-off, skepticism, slyness, snobbishness, solipsistic, status-conscious, status-seeking, super-sensitiveness, superstitiousness, suspiciousness, tactlessness, treacherousness, trickiness, undisciplined, unpredictability, unprincipled, unscrupulous, vanity, vengefulness, wilfulness, wiliness.
Rage, shame, envy, loneliness (Wurmser, pg. 48).
Pride, grandeur, glory, shame, contempt; admiration, awe, shame, contempt (Wurmser, pg. 165).
Shame (Cf. Bloland), vanity, pride, contempt.
"Defectiveness/Shame: The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects; or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed" (Young).
Identity confusion; insecurity, feeling unwanted; feelings of not belonging; inferiority feelings (Baxter).
Feelings of being slighted, unloved, and unappreciated by others; feelings of awkwardness, embarrassment, and self-consciousness; severe anxiety (Reich, pg. 47).
The Behavior Perspective
Wants to gain the approval of others (Reich, pp. 47, 57-58; Donaldson, pp. x, 190-197).
"Approval-seeking / Recognition-seeking [Maladaptive Schema]: Excessive emphasis on gaining approval, recognition, or attention from other people, or fitting in, at the expense of developing a secure and true sense of self. One's sense of esteem is dependent primarily on the reactions of others rather than on one's own natural inclinations. Sometimes includes an overemphasis on status, appearance, social acceptance, money, or achievement -- as means of gaining approval, admiration, or attention (not primarily for power or control). Frequently results in major life decisions that are inauthentic or unsatisfying; or in hypersensitivity to rejection" (Young).
"Delophilia: ["exhibitionism"] can be defined as the desire to express oneself and to fascinate others by one's self-exposure, to show and to impress, to merge with the other through communication" (Wurmser, pg. 158). With the delophilic drive "the subject basically wants to overpower the object by the magic force of his expressions, of his looking, talking, and thinking; he wants to fascinate, charm, mesmerize, magnetize, subjugate the other and merge with him" (pg. 165).
"Theatophilia ["idealization"] can be defined as the desire to watch and observe, to admire and to be fascinated, to merge and master through attentive looking"...(pg. 158). With the theatophilic drive "the magical force of the object is incorporated, identified with, submitted to, and merged with, with the help of looking, hearing, and being touched; one is filled with, gripped by the power of the awe-inspiring object and becomes enthusiastically enriched" (pg. 165).
Wishes for massive overvaluation of the self and the pertinent other (Wurmser, pg. 48).
Wants to avoid shame.
Wants to prove superiority and erase feelings of inadequacy through perfectionism (Stavola, 35).
Approval-seeking, inauthentic behavior, perfectionism, avoidance (Westermeyer).
Perfectionism (Stavola, 35).
Self-consciousness (Reich, pp. 47, 57-59; Donaldson, pg. 183).
Withdrawal; self-consciousness and hesitancy; inhibition or compulsive moralism; unwillingness to remain busy and to finish a job, productive activity blocked, inertia; identity confusion: a divided self-image, an inability to establish intimacy, a sense of time urgency, a lack of concentration on desired tasks, a rejection of family or community standards; isolation; self-absorption, stagnation, and rejectivity: self-centeredness, provincialism, and pseudospeciation; despair: disgust, depression, contempt for self and others (Feist, pp. 85-105).
Suspiciousness, trouble with personal relationships; low self-esteem, dependency on substances or other people; passive personality, strong feelings of guilt; unmotivated, unreliable; rebellion, substance abuse; emotional immaturity, may deny need for personal relationships; inability to show concern for anyone but self; has difficulty dealing with issues of aging and death (McShane).
Hypochondria (Reich, pg. 47; Mellow, pp. 14-15, 22, 280, 344, 432, 437, 441-42).
Psychosis, addictions, depression; paranoia, obsessions, compulsions, impulsivity; conversion disorder, phobia, psychosomatic symptoms, inhibition; creative inhibition, inertia; delinquent behavior, gender identity disorders, psychotic episodes; schizoid personality disorder, distantiation, racism; mid-life crisis, premature invalidism; extreme alienation, despair (Newton & Newton, pg. 482).
The Life Story Perspective
Overprotective, insecure, socially ambitious mother; weak, unsuccessful father (Donaldson).
Parental indulgence of pretensions and of unrealistic views of the self and life's possibilities.
The more unrealistic the expectations of the parents, presupposing massive denial of emotional reality, the more likely that a discrepancy will arise between the "ideal child" and the "real child" (Wurmser, pg. 72).
Basic Belief: I must attain a position of distinction or merit. Strategy: Pretension.
The "idealized self is made up of beliefs about how we should feel, think, or act" (Tamney, pg. 32).
The typical beliefs and attitudes rationalize and reinforce the idealized image and the compulsive attachments and aversions. They are analogous to Karen Horney's "shoulds" and "neurotic claims."
- I will accept nothing less than perfection from myself (Stavola, 35).
- In order to be loved and successful, I must be perfect (35).
- I must be loved (36).
- I have so many faults that I must be approved of in other ways (36).
- I need to please others to gain their acceptance (Donaldson, 195).
- I should be able to dominate life (Fitzgerald, 69).
- It is very important to get recognition, praise, and admiration (Beck, Freeman, and associates, 361).
- Other people don't deserve the admiration or riches that they get (362).
- I've got to try hard to be at my best at all times (Donaldson, 192).
- I need to be necessary to people (Stavola, 75).
- I have an immense desire to give people a sense of security (75).
- I must be a personage, one who is never thought of apart from what he's done (75).
- I am constantly in search of the best forms to guide and control life (75).
- I must transform the world around me to confirm my own personality (75).
- I have an all-consuming need for identity (137).
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Compensatory Narcissistic and Narcissistic Personality Disorders differentiated
In a chapter of Disorders of Narcissism :
Diagnostic, Clinical, and Empirical Implications, "DSM Narcissistic Personality Disorder: historical reflections and future directions,"
Theodore Millon differentiates Compensatory Narcissistic from Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
The compensatory narcissistic person deviates in a fundamental way from other narcissistic subtypes, as well as from the proto-typical narcissistic person. Overtly narcissistic behaviors originate from an underlying sense of insecurity and weakness rather than from genuine feelings of self-confidence and high self-esteem. Beneath surface pseudoconfidence, this narcissistic person is driven by forces similar to those experienced by people who overtly display characteristics more akin to the negativistic and avoidant personalities.
"The Compensatory Narcissist in Personality Disorders in Modern Life by Theodore Millon et al.
Michael H. Stone neatly contrasts the supposed etiologies of the two narcissistic personality disorders, the Narcissistic and the Compensatory Narcissistic:
Narcissistic traits can develop, curiously, when there are deviations from ideal rearing on either side: pampering or neglecting; expecting too much or too little. Excessive praise of a child (whether the child is unusually talented or not) can give rise to what Tartakoff (1966) called the "Nobel Prize complex." Feelings of superiority, of being destined for greatness, may arise in this situation. But compensatory feelings of a similar kind can arise where there has been parental indifference and neglect, for in this situation a child may develop an exaggerated desire for "greatness" by way of shoring up a sense of self-worth in the absence of the ordinary parental praise. Whereas the overly praised child may regard himself as better than he really is, the neglected child may present a dual picture: an outward sense of (compensatory) specialness covering an inward sense of worthlessness (260).
Stone, Michael H. (1993). Abnormalities of personality: within and beyond the realm of treatment. New York; W. W. Norton.
Karen Horney provides another way to differentiate these two types of narcissistic personality. The Compensatory Narcissist is much more dependent on the approval of others. So, we can say that Horney's self-effacing solution plays a larger role in the Compensatory Narcissist's strategy. Terry D. Cooper (pp. 120-21) explains the part that approval-seeking plays in the self-effacing trend.
This "peace at all costs" interpersonal philosophy is more understandable when we realize that for the self-effacing person, "salvation lies in others." In other words, others are essential to escape their inner world of self-contempt. Constant attempts to please others serve as a temporary fix from the world of feeling inadequate. Self-effacing persons cannot afford to be discriminating about other people. They crave everyone's approval."
Narcissism as an attitude of self-love became part of psychiatric terminology when Freud elaborated on its pathological significance in 1914. His concern was primarily with an early, predifferentiated, self-absorbed stage of development that he postulated characterizes the psychological fixation of psychotics and that offers a regressive retreat from others in the face of loss or failure. More germane to subsequent ideas about narcissistic disorders was his conception of an ego-ideal--a self-image that embodies a person's highest aspirations--and its role in determining self-esteem. [Annie] Reich extended those ideas by making self-esteem regulation central to the concept of narcissism and redefining pathological narcissism as the defensive elaboration of grandiosity in response to low self-esteem (Gunderson & Philips, pg. 1452).
Reich (1986, pg. 46) described a specific pathology:
What we loosely describe as "narcissists" are people whose libido is mainly concentrated on themselves at the expense of object love. I shall not speak here of those who without visible conflict entertain an exceedingly high opinion of themselves [ Millon's "proto-typical narcissists, as above]. Another type of narcissists frequently has exaggerated, unrealistic--i.e., infantile--inner yardsticks. The methods they use to deal with the resulting inner tension depend on the general state of their ego and often are infantile ones.
Heinz Kohut's theory of narcissism became very influential:
Narcissism assumed a central place in psychoanalytic theory and psychodynamic psychiatry in the 1970s because of the influence of Heinz Kohut. His work placed the acquisition of healthy and unhealthy narcissism into a coherent developmental framework, largely removed from phases and drives, and extended its implications into the arena of creativity, humor, and empathy--arenas of personality function that had been largely untouched by prior psychoanalytic theory. Moreover, Kohut's work lent justification and validity to clinicians' recognition of the valuable effects of the noninsightful relational experiences in psychodynamic therapies (Gunderson & Philips, pg. 1452).
Leon Wurmser (pg. 167) has reconceptualized Kohut's theory of narcissism:
This new conceptualization is seen as compatible with Freud's and Fenichel's drive theories. Kohut's theory of narcissism is conceptually reoriented so that it may be more easily connected with conflict theory and thus integrated with defense analysis.
The Sociobiology of Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Sociobiology promises to provide more parsimonious explanations for various clinical phenomena, including personality disorders, than other models of human behavior (Cf. Antisocial personality).
Compensatory narcissism is a complex adaptive system designed to compel constant striving for higher social rank based on achievements of the intellect and imagination. It is adaptive because higher social rank brings greater access to resources and mating opportunities, greater survival and reproductive success.