Asperger's Syndrome and Narcissistic Personality Disorder



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NeantHumain
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Tue Jun 21, 2005 6:40 pm

I was reading one of Sophist's books about the narcissistic spectrum. I have multiple serious doubts about the scientificy verity of some of what the author proposes in the book, but I think he provides some insight into the narcissistic condition of the individual and of society.

  • Narcissists find their identity in the image they project outward to others rather than the internal bodily feelings and emotions of the self. (This is essentially the psychodynamic consenus.)
  • To the extent that an individual is afflicted by pathological narcissism, that individual can act out an emotion without conscious awareness of feeling that emotion (e.g., displaying angry behavior without recognizing a feeling of anger).
  • Narcissists may consciously be aware of having good intentions without realizing their more insidious nature. The author gave the example of Erich, who proposed to marry his girlfriend and who felt more an abstract obligation to be of service to his girlfriend and be part of a successful partnership. The author speculated that his show of love was a sort of manipulation to obtain a nurturing figure without the deeper thrill of passionate love.
  • Narcissists prefer rational thought to emotional thought. That is, they live their day by a logic largely devoid of feeling. For example, sex may be a tool used to satisfy a spouse and thus keep him or her in the relationship; narcissists may think of it as rendering a service onto their lover or even a grandiose display of their sexuality.
  • Narcissists lack empathy, concern and support for other people.
  • Depression, here defined as a numbness and lack of feeling, may be the result of a narcissistic affliction. The author claims that anxiety, a more conscious fear, may be an aspect of hysteria (i.e., histrionic personality disorder); but some mix of both is possible because many patients have signs of narcissism and hysteria.

There seems to be a fair amount of overlap between pathological narcissism and Asperger's syndrome. Like narcissists, aspies often prefer abstract logic to emotion-driven thinking. Many aspies also report trouble recognizing and distinguishing emotions. From a theorized lack of theory of mind, aspies have trouble empathizing with others and may find it difficult to reciprocate appropriately in social situations.

A key area of difference is that, despite their emotional aloofness, narcissists frequently develop good social skills--in a sense. They may be able to put on a highly sociable façade when trying to impress someone but let that diminish once they have an established commitment from that person. They can also manipulate people to their selfish advantage and feel no anxiety about lying to someone.

The author claims a narcissism spectrum exists with narcissism itself, isolation from the self, grandiosity, loss of behavioral boundaries/impulse restraint, and proclivity to act out impulses increasing with the severity of the condition. On one end is mental health, in which the ego is intact and not split from the self and the project image being a healthy outward manifestation of the sense of self, and on the other end is schizophrenia, where the sense of self is all but abolished, boundaries between the ego and its environment are lost (resulting in psychosis), and grandiosity is at its peak ("I am Jesus Christ" or "I am Napoléon Bonaparte").

  • Phallic Narcissistic Character (Male)/Hysterical Character (Female)
  • Narcissistic Character
  • Borderline Personality (One might suspect the author would place bipolar disorders here as a severe manifestation of the Borderline Personality Disorder.)
  • Psychopathic Personality
  • Paranoid Personality


The author heavily applies his psychodynamic theories to a range of mental illness and psychological disorder, but his theory fails to take into account the genetic and neurodevelopmental underpinnings of schizophrenia, psychopathy, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders. While it is true that a schizophrenic patient may exhibit signs of grandiosity, aggression, and lost depersonalization, the patient's condition is not owed to the environmental factors (e.g., failure in object bonding, or establishing an emotional bond with parents in infancy) and later personality developmental distortion in childhood the author attributes pathological narcissism to.

Does anyone see a similarity between Asperger's syndrome and narcissistic personality disorder?



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Tue Jun 21, 2005 7:57 pm

I told you it was a bad book! ;)


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Tue Jun 21, 2005 8:14 pm

Quote:
Does anyone see a similarity between Asperger's syndrome and narcissistic personality disorder?


Not from my lay person's view.

My son is dx PDD-NOS. My ex- is Narcissistic and there is talk that he might actually be NPD.

Niether connect with the larger world in an NT way but for totally opposite reasons. My son understands himself but not the way the world works or how he fits in it. My ex- understands how the world works and how to fit in very, very well...at least in the short term but is clueless about himself.

BeeBee



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Tue Jun 21, 2005 8:15 pm

You're onto something. I think that a lot of us aren't narcissistic but there is overlap, meaning that some of the symptoms superficially match. My favourite girlfriend accused me of being narcissistic when she broke up with me - back then I knew there was something wrong with me, didn't know what it was but was pretty sure that wasn't it. Now I know! Too late re: that girl, though. :(

And along with that, I had one close friend for years, a 'gateway' friend (not a very good gateway, I now know, because he sucked at socializing too), whom I'm pretty sure WAS narcissistic.

A lot of you know the drill: people with certain pathologies home in on AS people to take advantage of them. That was part of it with this.

He was one of the only people who gave me a chance and I also mistook him for normal.

The dynamic of that friendship was exactly the things that AS and narcissism have in common! The same anger at the world because of frustration and a sense that you're being wronged (resentment) and everybody is against you. (When you don't understand you have AS you can get pretty arrogant too.)

When we'd talk (a lot of the time it was him monologuing) we'd commiserate, badmouthing everybody who, understandably or not, was excluding one or both of us. (We were both bright, imaginative, somewhat childlike men whom most people wouldn't give a chance.)

He'd alternate between indulging me in my interests and quirks (and sometimes he was very helpful - I had the benefit of the skills and insight of a non-AS person) and being very cruel (worse than normal people!), turning on me and making fun of me because of them.

It was also a power thing with him - when I'd reach out to normal people independently of him he'd get weirdly pissed off.

BTW, it wasn't a gay thing. We're both straight. Funny thing, though - as much as he scapegoated gays, this had a lot in common psychologically with dysfunctional gay relationships.

20/20 hindsight: I'd have been better off writing him off years before he effectively ended the friendship.

OK, I'm done.

P.S. BeeBee, our posts crossed. Yours was really good too!

Quote:
Niether connect with the larger world in an NT way but for totally opposite reasons. My son understands himself but not the way the world works or how he fits in it. My ex- understands how the world works and how to fit in very, very well...at least in the short term but is clueless about himself.


Yes! Similarly stunted socially and professionally in the long run (the narcissist makes a better first impression but this guy would eventually piss people off; he was overbearing and selfish) but for completely different underlying reasons! I agree.

OK, now I'm really done.



Last edited by Young_fogey on Wed Jun 22, 2005 5:54 am, edited 6 times in total.

Feste-Fenris
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Tue Jun 21, 2005 10:48 pm

It could be argued that Asperger's is the opposite of narcisssism...

Narcissism leads to self-love and allows someone to socially interact more efficiently...

Asperger's leads to self-hatred (quite often) and disrupts someone's chances for fitting in with society...



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Tue Jun 21, 2005 11:37 pm

Quote:
It could be argued that Asperger's is the opposite of narcisssism...


Yes, indeed. In many ways.

Quote:
Narcissism leads to self-love and allows someone to socially interact more efficiently...


Hm. Short term yes. Long term I'm not so sure about. As Young_fogey mentioned, my ex- managed to pretty well upset everyone in the long run. Everything had to be about him. He could pretend to be interested in others but only if there was something in it for him. Its only funny in a very perverse way but I still smile thinking about our divorce. He's the only person I know who's Lawyer fired 'em. I mean, he couldn't even pay the guy to listen to him! His therapist discontinued their relationship too. We almost lost a good day care lady...she told me she loved the boys but *I* had to drop them off and pick them up as she couldn't stand ex- anymore. And he has no friends anymore either.


Quote:
Asperger's leads to self-hatred (quite often) and disrupts someone's chances for fitting in with society...

True about the disrupts. The thing is though that social rules can be learned to a degree. And it is possible to find friends who accepts one for what one is as long as you accept them back.

Interesting discussion.



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Tue Jun 21, 2005 11:47 pm

I just registered on your site Sophist!
Hmmmmmm? How do I use it? I like
it's appearance, and feel! But all those
buttons???????? I am confused!

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Wed Jun 22, 2005 3:08 am

my therapist thought i might have NPD, before i showed her the "evidence" that i have AS. interesting combination of characteristics.

by the way, the clincher was that i love music and such stuff done by others, and i've read somewhere that people with NPD don't have a huge interest in art etc., cos it's not either about or by themselves.



Young_fogey
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Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:08 am

When I didn't know about AS I'd try things socially, thinking a lot like a narcissistic person (with a little wishful thinking thrown in), and get smacked down/have it backfire.

Now I'm definitely at the self-hatred stage. I've known about AS for five years and my life is still stuck in the same rut.

In its mildest form the self-hatred may not be a bad thing - humility. Exactly what BeeBee's ex and my ex-pal don't have.

The ex-friend ended up snagging a self-righteous pill of a girl (not very pretty either) from the personals (he didn't do so well at normal dating), marrying her and moving away - she eventually turned him against me (granted, my AS symptoms set her off). The parallels to BeeBee's ex are there - I don't think he has many if any friends now either. And he also has trouble holding down a job (he does sporadic well-paying high-tech consulting work to stay afloat) even though as a non-AS person he can read people better than I can - the personality disorder undermines him.

Funny, that guy did love art including music, knowing more about it than me. Of course he had personal aspirations in acting and a little in music so that may explain it.



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Wed Jun 22, 2005 7:03 am

Quote:
he also has trouble holding down a job (he does sporadic well-paying high-tech consulting work to stay afloat) even though as a non-AS person he can read people better than I can - the personality disorder undermines him.


Freaky. Same with the ex-. Sporadic well paying consulting jobs.

I'm surprised at the self hatred though. Everyone who has posted in this thread seems like a smart, capable, contributing person. I'm confused as to how people who are contributing so much can not like themself? I'm sorry, I'm just missing it.



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Wed Jun 22, 2005 8:25 am

Although I don't really agree with the classification personality disorders in general, I think narcissism and autism are not the same thing. I used to have a psychologist who would routinely view autistic people as 'narcissistic', but this was only on the most surface level of behavior and he labeled some of the most caring/selfless people I've ever met as 'narcissistic' because they lacked certain NT social skills.


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Wed Jun 22, 2005 9:27 am

I think those disorders are totally different things.



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Wed Jun 22, 2005 9:47 am

I have never met anyone narcissistic, so I am not sure if I have the correct picture. I must admit that I fit to some extent the criteria that NeantHumain listed, except for the first and the last ones. I dislike these traits, because they make me incompatible with others, and cause me to hurt people even when I intend to make them happy. Regarding the 4th item on the list, I purposedly try to live by logic, because my emotions are completely broken, and relying on them would be even worse. Also, I wish that I had some understanding of what a passionate love is... (3rd item).



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Wed Jun 22, 2005 1:41 pm

Quote:
A lot of you know the drill: people with certain pathologies home in on AS people to take advantage of them. That was part of it with this.


That could explain my marriage. 8O And here I thought I was "lucky" to be AS and in a relationship with the same guy for 25 years (since high school).
Seriously though, the first 10 years weren't very good. Heck, the first 20 years weren't good. But it's way better now -- great, actually! Maybe he's improved with age. :lol: Wouldn't trade him now for a million bucks!

Quote:
Everything had to be about him. He could pretend to be interested in others but only if there was something in it for him.


That certainly explains my husband. :roll: Well, as long as he's determined to keep me happy because it in turn keeps him happy. :wink:

Quote:
he also has trouble holding down a job


My husband can't stay with one employer for more than 2-3 years at a stretch, either. Personally, I don't care who he works for, as long as he brings home a good paycheck and provides consistent medical insurance coverage for me and the kids so I don't have to work outside the home. I work hard enough inside the home.



azalynn
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Wed Jun 22, 2005 1:58 pm

I believe AS and NPD to be VERY different entities. My maternal grandfather is SUCH a narcissist (or he was, at least...I haven't seen him in years, nor do I have any desire to). My grandfather had the ability to make excellent initial impressions on people -- he had a very highly-developed understanding of human interaction and certainly had social skills. However, he had no patience for anyone who did not constantly tell him he was wonderful -- he was always quitting jobs because he claimed to be "too smart" for his employers. He was overly concerned with status and kept buying expensive items (fancy automobiles, etc.) and often these items would be repossessed because he decided he didn't need to pay for them. He was an excellent liar and would often end up tricking people out of money, etc.

If anyone tried to argue with my grandfather or even suggest that he wasn't as great as he thought he was he would have severe rage attacks and often become physically violent. THIS, to me, is true pathological narcissism -- anyone who so much as hints that the narcissist's false identity is false becomes a threat. This doesn't sound even remotely like AS.



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