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What Is Narcissism?

‘Narcissism’ has become somewhat of a catch-all vogue term casually thrown around, particularly in the realm of family law. In our social-media frenzied culture where we all have degrees in Googling and Wikipedia, it has become a popular adjective to describe an ex, while the actual medical diagnosis of “Narcissist Personality Disorder” (NPD) is overlooked. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, (DSM), an authoritative text on mental health issues, defines NPD as a cluster B personality disorder defined as comprising a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.

How Do You Diagnose Narcissism?

The challenges arise when diagnosing NPD; for instance, no specific laboratory studies are employed to identify it. Instead, trained professionals must administer self-reported personality tests to distinguish NPD from the other forms of type B personality disorders such Antisocial personality disorder; Border personality disorder; and Histrionic personality disorder. Alternatively, an individual can be diagnosed with a degree of several personality disorders.  Herein lies the issue: given the self-reporting component of diagnosis, it is not far fetched to imagine that the individuals subject to the diagnostic tests may be able to manipulate the results to a degree; and ironically, it is in line with their narcissistic tendencies to do just that.

What Are Narcissistic Signs You Can Look Out For?

  1. The God-Complex: An over inflated sense of importance and self-riotousness, yielding to a deep sense of entitlement and conviction in their course of action.
  2. I Am Above the Law: An entitlement so perverse that there is belief they are not subject to societal norms, rules, or laws; or a belief that somehow, they may be able to evade it.
  3. I Am Never Wrong: A lack of accountability in their own behaviour, words, actions, and patterns.
  4. You Made Me Do It: A tendency to gaslight the other spouse into believing that every one else is the problem; and that everyone else’s actions provoked the narcissist to act in a certain way. They are experts in deflecting blame and playing the victim.
  5. What About My Feelings: An inability or refusal to recognize or empathize with the feeling of others, because all situations are centered around their own feelings.
  6. Meet the Jones Syndrome: A habit of exaggerating one’s self-worth, accomplishment, and even net worth. They have a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, and beauty. This often results in feelings of envy, or behaviours of deceit to conceal the realities of their life.
  7. Tell me what I want to hear: A habit of gravitating towards peoples and activities that feed their ego, provide admiration, reaffirm their perspective, and perpetuate their grandiose self-image. They often believe they are unique and can only associate with others that can match their status.
  8. The Puppeteer: An ability to manipulate people, take risks, skirt situations, cheat, conceal, fabricate stories, and capitalize on people’s fear, anger, and feelings to get the desired outcome.

Why Is Narcissism Relevant When Separating or Divorcing?

Rules apply to everyone, except narcissists. Or at least, that is their belief. In the context of a legal proceeding, dealing with a narcissistic ex is particularly unpleasant because they tend to operate with a skewed conviction in their position, no matter how unreasonable or legally inaccurate. Additionally, they have a certain disregard for the consequences of their behaviour, or can purposefully delay matters. This can make the legal process costly, and protracted. Additionally, they have a tendency to conceal documents, finances, and material facts.

Contact Our Toronto Family Law Lawyers for a Consultation

Our family law lawyers are trained to see the signs, calls the signs, and professionally deal with the signs – in the context of your family law matter. Often, managing individuals with characteristics of NPD require a proactive approach; a lawyer pushing to move the file forward, and holding individuals accountable. We are versed in managing difficult opposing parties. Our team comes equipped with an arsenal of tools to ensure that we move offensively to ensure we have explored all dispute resolution and procedural avenues to make our client’s case. We are quickly able to identify if a party is manipulating the matters by concealing documents or issues; and seek immediate legal recourse.

Sometimes it is about speaking their language, and beating them at their own game.


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