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Toxic or Narcissist; Does It Really Matter?

Have you started to suspect that you may be in a toxic relationship, perhaps with a narcissist? Or have you finally acknowledged and/or come to terms with the fact that you are are indeed in a toxic relationship? Maybe you are are fully aware you're being verbally, emotionally, financially, or physically abused, and you may be asking yourself if the person you are in the relationship with is actually a narcissist.

Let's take a look at the characteristics of someone who is narcissistic in the truest sense; having been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defines a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as someone who has a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and presents in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high status people (or institutions).

4. Requires excessive admiration.

5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.

6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.

7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

(Excerpt from :DSM-IV and DSM-5 Criteria for the Personality Disorders -© 2012 American Psychiatric Association. All Rights Reserved. For additional information click here)

I'm sure as you read through the list above you have already decided for yourself if the person with whom you have a relationship with is indeed a narcissist or not. However, you are probably not a Doctor qualified to diagnose someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Now ask yourself if you think that the person with narcissistic tendencies will ever ask themselves, "I wonder if I am a narcissist? Maybe I should go and get a diagnosis!" Never! It is unlikely that a diagnosis will ever be made, but I would submit to you that it truly does not matter one bit!

If anyone has any combination of the above listed traits, whether they have five or not, they are likely incapable of having a healthy relationship. Whether they are diagnosed or not doesn't affect how they treat you and how they are showing up. Unless the person who is abusing you is capable and willing to self-examine their actions nothing will change.

The only change that you can be assured of will come from you deciding to make changes in the relationship. You are the one with trauma because of the narcissistic abuse. You are the one who can start to educate yourself around a narcissists' behaviors and reasons for behaving that way, and you are the one who can set boundaries and heal yourself from the trauma inflicted upon you. It is up to you.

Once you educate yourself around narcissistic trauma and how to heal from it the diagnosis for the toxic person in your life quite frankly becomes completely irrelevant.

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