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Illinois Divorce: Divorcing the Narcissist

My divorce and post decree clients that have people with traits of toxic narcissism often struggle with trying to explain or discuss what it can be like living with someone with such toxic traits, especially when the person is able to maintain a facade of normalcy on their work or neighborhood relationships.  Sometimes, I have to coach clients to understand that it can be difficult persuading others as to how emotionally damaging these relationships are, especially when the narcissist is “high functioning,” or otherwise able to disguise their abusive behaviors from the rest of the world.  Living with someone with a toxic narcissistic personality disorder can be brutal, especially when the narcissist uses the relationship to emotionally abuse their partner, and tries to turn children, neighbors, and even family members against the otherwise healthy partner.

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Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
  • Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
  • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others

At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

  • Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
  • Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
  • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
  • Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
  • Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
  • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
  • Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation

 

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