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Narc personality disorder & abusive husbands(64 Posts)
Narcissistic personality disorder at it's worst is untreatable as the person with it is incapable of seeing/accepting their behaviour and won't take part in therapy. This was my husband. I would call this a mental health issue as it affects all areas of his work/life/relationships. In a way it's like living with a disability. Does this then mean that their abusive controlling behaviour is excusable as they're unconscious of what they're doing?
Yes it is a mental health issue. There are more personality disorders than narcissistic, everything is putt down to that on MN.
However, I don't think that people should stay with them, suffering the abuse. It's irrelevant whether it's intentional or not. It's simply futile to be the plaything of an abuser. It serves absolutely no purpose. It's meaningless self sacrifice and suffering and a waste of a life.
There are people with narcissistic traits and people with narcissistic personality disorder. Disordered people don't have insight, don't want insight. Don't understand or care that there's something wrong. It's not quite the same as a disability imo. It's neurological. Just a fact of nature.
It may be an excuse, but that in NO WAY means anyone has to put up with it.
"It" being the emotional abuse rained down on anyone within reach/earshot for any reason at any time. It is also not a straight forward kind of EA-it is subtle, undermining, dismissive, belittling, -anything to erode (in any way) the available people for the narcissistic supply.
I think they are conscious of what they are doing to the end that they gratify themselves. But, no, they have no idea at all of how their behavior affects other people.
What do you mean by excusable?
If you mean do you have to live with them - NO. Just because they can't help it doesn't mean you have to put up with it. And if you have children and his behaviour is threatening their safety, then you must put their safety first.
If you mean they can't be held responsible in law - not sure what the law says on this, but I expect there is something in there.
If you mean can you forgive them even if you don't want to be with them - yes. If you want to and you think it would bring you closure, of course you can. Equally, there's no requirement for forgiveness. You are entitled to be angry and upset about what you have experienced.
What do you mean by excusable? It may be excusable but it might not be sustainable.
Whether he is abusive from illness or just because he is a common or garden arsehole is neither here nor there. There is no moral argument that says you should be subject to abuse by anyone. Or that you should stick around to be abused. If he is ill he needs help from professionals. If he won't get it, then there is not much you can do to help his health. But there is certainly no point in sacrificing your wellbeing as well.
In severe cases is it excusable though?
If a sociopath murdered and tortured a series of victims, would you think it was excusable because "he was a sociopath"? Should he go unpunished and be allowed to carry on unworthy of blame because of his personality disorder?
Narcissistic behaviour is EXPLICABLE because of the personality disorder. It is not EXCUSABLE.
Sometimes I think posters get hung up on diagnosis of abusive spouses and it distracts them from facing their own suffering and getting the hell out of there.
I certainly spent way too much time trying to understand my ex's personality disorder and the reasons for it. I should have got out long before and stopped the damage.
But that's the thing with disordered people. It's all about them and you get hooked into believing that too.
I doubt I'll ever fully recover from 20 years of marriage to a pd spouse.
Does this then mean that their abusive controlling behaviour is excusable as they're unconscious of what they're doing?
In practical terms it doesn't matter. The only solution is to get the fuck out and stay out. If the person with NPD ever decided he wanted to not harm other people, he'd choose never to get into a relationship again.
Other than that, Bertie Botts sums it up beautifully.
NPD is one of the hardest to treat PDs but apparently it's not always impossible. The biggest problem is that the person has to be willing to cooperate with treatment and commit to changing which is very hard for them to do.
scarletforeya it is not entirely neurological. PDs are associated with exceptionally high levels of deprivation or abuse or in some cases strong genetic tendancies. Also at least one PD tends to improve over time (BPD).
I think excusable is a tricky term.
The behaviour isn't excusable. It is not okay to treat someone in an abusive way, for any reason.
If a person has untreatable NPD then you could say there is a cause for the behaviour. It does not mean that anybody has to tolerate the behaviour. It does not make the behaviour okay.
Excusing the behaviour enables the person with NPD to continue making excuses for themselves and blaming other people. It makes the situation worse for the abuser and the person being abused.
The best thing in this situation is solid boundaries (including ending the relationship).
I did end the relationship, I got divorced. But it goes through my mind maybe I should mentally say ' well he couldn't help it because he was damaged'. Am I talking about forgiveness? I guess I'm thinking a bit like a murderer only going down for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He 'couldn't help' abusing me because he was damaged himself?
How would things change for you if he could or couldn't help it?
I do feel compassion for my ex, who (imo) ticks a lot of the NPD boxes. I can see how he was shaped by his childhood. I just try to be careful that my compassion for him doesn't outweigh my compassion for myself and for my dd. He's not my responsibility, but my own wellbeing and that of my dd are my responsibility.
He 'couldn't help' abusing me because he was damaged himself?
I'm not sure it would be particularly helpful to spend a lot of time thinking about this. He treated you badly and you got out. That's what's important. Do you still see him?
Was it diagnosed by a psychiatrist? Or does he appear to fit the 'type' by his actions, but never diagnosed?
Unless a psychiatrist has seen him, and he definitely has the condition, I would put it from your mind. We can maybe see things because we have lived with the person, but that in itself is not a diagnosis
Don't get hung up on it. Use your energy for something positive!
Yes he has a diagnosis, not that he remotely accepts it or even that he's been diagnosed. They're all 'useless interfering bastards'. No I don't ever see him. He collects the dcs from his car outside, never knocks. I guess it's just that I have time to reflect now I'm free. I think you're right biblio to have compassion for him but not to let it outweigh that for myself & our kids. The classic narc response would be 'Ah but what about me?' It annoys a little bit because who was there to say 'Ah but what about me?' No-one. Not until I'd gone waaay too far did I start to think about the impact on myself. I guess I'm still getting accustomed to the freedom & change in thought patterns that are happening now I have liberty to be myself. For so long his thought was my thought, his pain was my pain, his word my rule.
Yes, it takes a while to get your head free. After I left, I found myself browsing in shops, unable to think about what I'd like to buy for me, because I was so well-trained in trying to anticipate his wants.
I even tried to carry his emotional pain (or what I imagined it to be) at the break-up rather than deal with my own.
And all this headfuckery was after a pretty short relationship. He trained me very well in a short space of time. I don't know how women manage to de-programme themselves after decades of it.
are you finding that you've very, very angry at how he's treated you? Just guessing..
not that I've got any wise words how to handle it other than maybe by exercising the fury away but I was left feeling the same with a (diagnosed) severe BPD parent. Did not ever live with her but she was expert at provoking a deep fury in most people around her.
I have a narcissist for a mother. You will never ever get love from them. You will get abuse. A personality disorder explains the behaviour, but doesn't excuse it. Abuse is a choice the abuser makes, having a personality disorder just makes it more likely they will be abusive. Run, run for the hills.
"having a personality disorder just makes it more likely they will be abusive" - that's bollocks actually. Quite the opposite. PDs tend to have developed because of a mixture of predisposition and being abuse victims themselves, often during childhood or preteens.
Separate the issues here. If he has a formal diagnosis of NPD you can educate yourself surrounding it to make it easier to understand, if that helps you process his some of his behaviours. However the abuse he put you through is entirely separate, and they aren't excusable whatever the background. There are reasons people act the way they do, it doesn't mean you have to accept it.
with respect voldy the behaviours associated with NPD -are- generally abusive. More or less by definition.
Other PDs are not necessarily intrinsically associated with abusiveness though
It might help you to understand that its not your fault that he behaved abusively. You didn't cause it, you couldn't have controlled it and you can't cure it.
I don't know enough about NPD to know whether he could have addressed his problems himself. I've been given to understand that therapy doesn't often work.
OP I can relate to the void after the abuser has gone, those tentative steps to finding your self again, the space it leaves to fixate on their behaviour.
Rather than this though, a more appropriate path is to start to examine what exactly it was about you that connected with him in his disregard for your sense of self. This is the real path to recovery. Have you read Melanie Tonia Evans, OP? She craps on in a very roundabout/quasi spiritual way. But actually speaks such a lot of sense.
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