Many attorneys suffer from NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).
Narcissism, in human psychology is the pattern of thinking and behaving which involves infatuation and obsession with one's self to the exclusion of others. It may be seen manifest in the chronic pursuit of personal gratification and public attention, in social dominance and personal ambition, braggadocio, insensitivity to others (lack of empathy) and/or excessive dependence on others to meet his/her responsibilities in daily living and thinking.
The narcissist has an unhealthily high self-esteem. For the narcissist, self-worth is the belief that he/she is superior to his/her fellow humans; it is not enough to be "okay" or "pretty good," the narcissist can only feel worthwhile by experiencing him/herself as the "best". From childhood through adulthood, this narcissistic belief may be reinforced by others to the extent that the narcissist is actually competent, intelligent and/or attractive, or is manipulative enough to get others to make him/her seem competent, intelligent or attractive.
The narcissist most often comes to the attention of the mental health profession when, beset by some personal failure or having otherwise become aware of his/her lack of superiority, he/she falls into an acute depressive or anxiety state, or even becomes temporarily psychotic. Unfortunately, the emergence of such states has often been misinterpreted by mental health professionals as a sign that the narcissist fundamentally suffers from low self esteem. As a result, psychotherapy often ends up simply restoring the narcissism rather than helping the patient accept his/her true equality and mortality.
Conversely, narcissists who are repeatedly confronted with their own human limitations - often due to a lack of skills, intelligence, looks or social support necessary to maintain external reinforcement of their ultimate superiority - may become frustrated, angry and even dangerously aggressive. At this point, the narcissistic may evolve into a sociopath.
The term narcissism was first used in relation to human psychology by Sigmund Freud after the figure of Narcissus in Greek mythology (right). Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As a punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.
A narcissistic personality disorder as defined by the DSM (see DSM cautionary statement) is characterized by an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria are considered necessary for the clinical diagnosis to be met:
- Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);
- Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;
- Firmly convinced that they are unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);
- Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation — or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply);
- Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with their unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment.
- Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve their own ends;
- Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;
- Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of their frustration.
- Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions stemming from a belief that others are envious of them and are likely to act similarly;
- Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, "above the law", and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people they consider inferior to themselves and unworthy.
The NPD is very deceiving -- there are many people who suffer in fact from the Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder instead of NPD. CNPD is characterized by 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, 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;
- has disturbances in the capacity for empathy;
- 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;
- has persistent aspirations for glory and status;
- has a tendency to exaggerate and boast;
- is sensitive to how others react to him or her, watches and listens carefully for critical judgment, and feels slighted by disapproval;
- is prone to feel shamed and humiliated and especially hyper-anxious and vulnerable to the judgments of others;
- covers up a sense of inadequacy and deficiency with pseudo-arrogance and pseudo-grandiosity;
- has a tendency to periodic hypochondria;
- alternates between feelings of emptiness and deadness and states of excitement and excess energy;
- entertains fantasies of greatness, constantly striving for perfection, genius, or stardom;
- has a history of searching for an idealized partner and has an intense need for affirmation and confirmation in relationships;
- frequently entertains a wishful, exaggerated, and unrealistic concept of himself or herself which he or she can't possibly measure up to;
- 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;
- 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;
- is self-conscious, due to a dependence on approval from others;
- suffers regularly from repetitive oscillations of self-esteem;
- seeks to undo feelings of inadequacy by forcing everyone's attention and admiration upon himself or herself;
- may react with self-contempt and depression to the lack of fulfillment of his or her grandiose expectations.