All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”~Robert Kennedy

We have been exploring challenging people and the effect this can have on our self-esteem. In today’s blog we will look at the Narcissistic Personality, the Obsessive-Compulsive Personality, and the Depressive Personality. In part six we will explore how to deal with challenging people.

Let’s jump on in.

The Narcissistic Personality

American Gigolo, Citizen Kane, and Patton are all movies showing the ultimate narcissist. Boogie Nights is a more contemporary film with a good portrayal of the narcissistic personality. Daniel Day Lewis won an academy award for his portrayal of a narcissistic personality in the film There Will Be Blood.

The DSM-IV-TR defines narcissistic personality disorder as one characterized by grandiosity, a need for admiration, and an overall lack of empathy for others. These people see themselves as larger-than-life and excessively important. They inflate their accomplishments and are often boastful and pretentious. They are often surprised when they do not receive praise. They have fantasies of the ideal love, perfect beauty, brilliance, power, unlimited success, and they feel superior, unique, and special.

Due to their own lack of empathy, they often assume others are overly concerned about them and therefore detail their personal concerns without recognizing that others have feelings and needs. They may be contemptuous and impatient with others who talk about their issues, and they appear oblivious when they have been rude or insensitive to others. People with narcissistic personality are aloof and cold; they can exude considerable charm or may not be charming at all. People with a narcissistic personality are often jealous of others and may behave with arrogance. They can be haughty and disdainful or patronizing in their attitudes.

They are the folks who claim to “know better” than a physician, a lawyer, a therapist, accountant, or astronaut. It goes without saying that they have feelings of entitlement and a need for being admired, while disregarding anyone else’s needs.

The Obsessive-Compulsive Personality

The Aviator, As Good as It Gets, and Sleeping with the Enemy portray this type of personality.

The DSM-IV-TR explains that in this personality disorder, there is a preoccupation with interpersonal control, perfectionism, and orderliness. This occurs at the expense of efficiency, openness, and flexibility. In order to maintain a sense of control this type of personality becomes overly involved in the painful administration of rules, detail, ritual, procedure, schedules, and other ways of structuring life and its moments to the point of losing the point of the activity or moment. It is simply exhausting for someone who is an obsessive-compulsive personality type.

They are unaware of how they are seen by others. Projects seldom get done, as there is no way that the level of requirements necessary for completion could ever be well attended.

Individuals with this personality are often unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects, and they jokingly assert that they are pack rats. Many people who hoard also have obsessive-compulsive personalities or have obsessive-compulsive disorder (the personality disorder and the disorder are different). They are overly rigid and resent others’ ideas or advice. They have trouble delegating tasks to others unless the other entirely submits to their way of doing the task.

The Depressive Personality

This is the second personality disorder listed in the DSM-IV-TR that is under consideration for the next review of the DSM and requiring further study. As of this writing it is not considered a true personality disorder, although this may change in the next edition. It was included in an earlier version of the DSM and then removed. It is considered a controversial diagnosis.

The Hours and Black Swan are two movies that characterize the nature of deep, dark, debilitating depression that does not remit. Both movies show depression as a continuous state rather than an episode, which is a requirement of a personality disorder.

There are many types of depression, including dysthymia, bipolar disorder, and situational depression. With a depressive personality, depression characterizes the entire way a person thinks, behaves, and interacts. People with a depressive personality live in the dark side of depression most of the time. It becomes a feature of their personality, and hence, a personality disorder. It will sustain itself over most of an individual’s lifetime if there is no mental health intervention.

The current DSM-IV-TR notes that depressive personality disorder is “a pervasive pattern of depressive cognitions and behaviors that begins by early adulthood and that occurs in a variety of contexts.” There are persistent and pervasive feelings of dejection, gloom, cheerlessness, lack of joy, and overall unhappiness. People with this disorder judge themselves harshly and are prone to excessive feelings of guilt. They have low self-esteem and focus on their inadequacies. They are usually quiet, passive, unassertive, and introverted.

The next blog will discuss Dealing with Difficult People and Second Chances.

Take care,

Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD

Excerpts for this blog were taken from The Everything Guide to Self-Esteem by Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo