Why understand NPD?

Understanding your ex’s challenges, as strange as it may seem, are key to finding compassion in dealing with a personality disordered individual.  It is important to understand what the issues are that your ex deals with – which personality disorder to they deal with and how does it feel to them?  From there, I found it was important to understand the personality disorder itself, the traits, the possible causes – so that I could really empathize and consider what was driving his actions.

It was a long road to get here, though.   One of the initial steps I took when leaving my marriage was to come to terms with the fact that it had been abusive.  This was hard for me to believe or understand, as I was an educated, confident individual.  So how did I wind up in an abusive relationship?  Why didn’t I see it in the beginning? I read a number (ok, a lot) of books on abusive relationships.   Along the way, I learned of personality disorders, and felt that moment of “Ah-ha!”, when I was reading a book about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and thought it must have been written by someone else knows my ex!   It was SO refreshing to learn about what causes his behavior and even that every NPD person generally reacts the same way.

It was a turning point for me to realize that most of his behavior is really not about me.  It took a long time, though, to change the way I heard him and reacted.  Initially, when he would throw blaming statements at me which were “projections” – for e.g., he would say that I was bipolar and had an anger issue.  I would immediately react to the statement made about me.  “But I’m not and I don’t!  I’m level headed, gentle and rarely get angry!” I would say as I defended myself.  Over time, I realized that those statements were “made about him” and said by him.  He was projecting his faults and issues with himself onto me, because it was too painful for him to self-reflect.

Understanding his personality disorder issue made it much easier for me to feel empathy for him when he was acting like an unmitigated ass to me.  My understanding him didn’t change him, but it certainly changed the way I viewed situations with him.

Personality disorders tend to co-exist in one individual.  So, in reading about them and applying an arm chair diagnosis, I would say that my ex has strong traits of NPD, and many traits of Borderline and Antisocial.  He may also be bipolar.

One Response to “Why understand NPD?”

  1. Heather says:

    I’m curious. Was your ex ever diagnosed with NPD? Or did you ever let him know that this was what he had and if so, how did he respond?

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