Friday, June 10, 2011

Borderline Narcissism

Narcissism by definition is the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. The narcissist is described as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity.

This, however, is not Borderline Narcissism. Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are both Cluster B grouped Personality Disorders (as relevant as that is) but they’re far from being the same thing. As is common with most Personality Disorders there are some overlapping characteristics between the two. How these characteristics present vary in severity and manifestation.

Let’s refresh yesterday’s point: Entitlement or a 'Sense of Entitlement' is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.

   In clinical psychology and psychiatry, an unrealistic, exaggerated, or rigidly held sense of entitlement may be considered a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder, seen in those who 'because of early frustrations...arrogate to themselves the right to demand lifelong reimbursement from fate'.
Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an "awkward" or "difficult" person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.

Belief in the special, exceptional nature of 'narcissistic entitlement dictates that the patient has a right to life on his own terms...Such narcissistic entitlement plays a central role in borderline pathology, since the borderline sees himself as a special person with special rights and entitlements, such that any frustration of these entitled desires tends to undermine and often shatter the patient's self-esteem'.

In the wake of Kohut's self-psychology, a valorisation of narcissistic entitlement might be said to have taken place, as 'the age of "normal narcissism" and normal narcissistic entitlement had arrived...[a] child's right and entitlement that its parents are obliged to proffer at the least the minimum requisite "self-object" allow the infant/child to develop a sense of self-cohesion'.    

For someone with Borderline Personality Disorder narcissism does not manifest as a belief that we are actually better than anyone else. (At least I don’t generally feel superiority over anyone.) It’s more a sense that our emotions can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult to see past our own scope and sphere of influence long enough to take into consideration the needs of others.

We may not consider ourselves ‘special’ consciously, but we do have an emphasis on our emotional needs that does drives our lives in a way that is of priority or deserving specialized treatment.

Unlike for the narcissist, for the borderline, when this favorable treatment is not met it does not necessarily feel like an attack on our superiority. It feels like an attack on our self-esteem and sense of self-worth.   So while the trigger may be a little different, it’s still a trigger, and can often lead to frustration, depression, upset, and rage.

Hm. Back to yesterday’s post, “Because of the elevated highs and lows in mood that people with personality disorders often experience, it is not uncommon for them to attach elevated sense of importance to their own emotional needs. They may appear at times to care only about their own desires and needs at the expense of other people around them or they may habitually prioritize their own needs above those of others.”

To me, this is what Borderline Narcissism is.

Depending on the Borderline this may be severe and ever present or more situational, as is my case. There’s no denying that I fall to feelings of self-centeredness especially when I’m so emotionally wracked I can barely crawl out of my own head. What other people need simply has no room in my mind when it’s all I can do to claw my way out of my own destructive thoughts. It’s not that I don’t want to think about other people, the torrent of emotion, doubt, anger, frustration is an utterly overwhelming deluge.  I don’t live in a perpetual state of this though.

The sense of entitlement comes from this aspect of narcissism that since we have put such an importance on our own emotional needs, that we may expect that others also hold our needs with the same priority. Especially when we’ve invested so much of ourselves into someone else we would automatically assume that they would give the same exaggerated emotional investment back. Even demand it. And when that demand is not met, the frustration is exceptional.


  1. Once again...thank you for this. It is helping me understand my daughter and husband. Take care.

  2. "Especially when we’ve invested so much of ourselves into someone else we would automatically assume that they would give the same exaggerated emotional investment back. Even demand it. And when that demand is not met, the frustration is exceptional."

    This. Yes. This is what I call my brat mentality. Ive gotten to where I can identify it happening during and check myself. It used to be completely after the fact when I realized I was being unreasonable (if I realized at all). One thing is capping my emotional investment to begin with. I have to remind myself that I dont believe in fairytale romance, because part of me longs for that perfection, but I know its not realistic and its only setting everyone up to fail at meeting that expectation of perfection. Fighting that perfectionism, especially in relationships, is difficult. Weed helps.

    1. Brat mentality, I like that. I usually cap my emotional investment these days. Every now and again though someone manages to slip through and it takes me completely by surprise.

      I only hold myself to standards of perfection. I actually don't believe anyone else will ever meet my needs or put me as a priority, but I crave it. I was brought up with an internalized idea that I will never be good enough. So I push myself to be ever better. I believe this. But I want dearly for someone to tell me that I am worth it. Unfortunately I choose the wrong people to invest in, so when they don't, I end up reinforcing my own issues. Bleh.

      ::laughs:: weed. If only I did drugs, haha.

  3. I used to have all the bpd symptoms then after "fixing" myself I only have a few bpd symptoms and ALL of the Npd symptoms. I score super high. I think the reason i comment is so i can talk about myself lol. I think this happened due to my exceptional beauty. I like this change actually. Atleast this time that Im knocked up, Im wise enough to get an abortion and not care. The old me birthed 3 children and had a terrible time. Not again.


Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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