Friday, September 13, 2013

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

For a few years now, we've really been struggling with Cj, our "normal" child (if that doesn't offend you), our Neuro-Typical child (if it does).  He's securely attached and not RADical like the other two, but holy heck does he have issues.  Dad and I have PTSD from all the RADicals brought to the family, so we GET that it's hard, and we've been very understanding and educating.  But he has an anger that goes way yonder beyond normal sibling rivalry.  I have a brother and Dad has brothers and sisters and we understand bickering.  But this is pure hatred.  It's not mean, hurt, lashing out, it's just hatred, with a level of rage that we just don't understand.
For years now, we've tried so many different things, from giving him special privileges (because he's indeed more responsible) to entirely grounding him from the family (to protect us all from him) and literally a hundred other things in between, but nothing has helped.  It's worse now than ever.  Mr and Em brought crazy to the family, and it was pretty horrible, but this is an ugly that's just ripping our family apart.  As always, we're very open with the kids and they're all aware of his anger/hatred and he just thinks it's justified, but has no good reasons why.
So we've poked, prodded, dug, and researched because we're just not willing to live like this any longer.  Something that kept popping up in my reading always caught my eye, but sounded too simple (aka flaky).  But in researching that more specifically, it doesn't just sound like him, it IS him. 
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, honestly it sounds like a spoiled brat, but in looking at the symptoms, we said whoa, all of those.  And nothing else.  This alone encompasses all of his behavior and explains a whole heckuva lot.  And is slightly encouraging because he doesn't MEAN to be so MEAN. 
  • Believing that you're better than others
  • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  • Exaggerating your achievements or talents
  • Expecting constant praise and admiration
  • Believing that you're special and acting accordingly
  • Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
  • Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
  • Taking advantage of others
  • Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
  • Being jealous of others
  • Believing that others are jealous of you
  • Trouble keeping healthy relationships
  • Setting unrealistic goals
  • Being easily hurt and rejected
  • Having a fragile self-esteem
  • Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional 
The interesting thing is we talked with him and read through this list and said do any of these sound like you?  He said no, to every one.  THAT is telling.  He doesn't believe that he believes he's better than others, he simply thinks he IS better than others.  He has no problem saying he deserves more and sees nothing wrong with it.  If there's one donut left, he thinks he deserves it.  Of course all of us WANT it, but he says he deserves it.  He deserves to choose the TV shows, the games they play, the rules they use, because he's the best.  That simply makes sense to him and he thinks we're just mean and crazy to not understand that.  When we try to make things fair, he is feeling shorted because he doesn't get the most/biggest/best as deserved.  :/ 

Of course the kicker to all of this new understanding is that like reactive attachment disorder, it ALSO stems from trauma and attachment.  Ugh!  We've always thought well, Cj was just more resilient than Em or Mr because he's had no problems attaching.  We just thought he had a healthy self-confidence, but are learning that that is also a response to trauma, an overdose of fake self-confidence to cover for insecurity.  So while the other two kids feared attachment and shrunk into themselves, Mr acting out and Em acting perfect, Cj swung the opposite way, becoming bigger and better than his circumstances and his fears. 

As an only child, we didn't notice this (until we look back, hindsight you know).  When we adopted the other two, we didn't notice (because we were busy going insane, as parents of RAD tend to do).  But now that we've peeled back all of those layers of crazy, and disconnected from the (distracting) rat race, and are left with just each other, we are faced with a bunch of ugly.  He's an amazing person, but an awful brother.  He's super considerate and helpful to others, but horrible to his family. 

So this is good news, mostly.  At least it's not on purpose and I fully believe it's not.  But working with him and trying to do behavioral therapy on our own will be challenging.  That's a nice way to say this will suck.  But we're not willing to not try.