Ollie Horsfall is a Narcissist
Last night I received a message from someone who I hadn't spoken to in 4 or so years. Our last conversation was one where I was told my accomplishments meant very little, that accolades I had received meant nothing and that I too was nothing. I was told that I was selfish, that I didn't consider other people when I made decisions. I cried that day and I remember it well.
The person in question seemed to think that I hadn't changed in the past four years, that I still held the same traits I did back then. This, while uneducated and based on a single representation of my thoughts since they had read a previous blog post 'Returning to Where I was and Seeing who I Left Behind...'.
After they failed to get a rise out of me, they said I have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and that I should 'seek help' for it. Naturally this made me laugh, the main trait of a narcissist is their inability to empathise with people, namely ignoring the suffering of others in favour of highlighting their own, something I can easily refute with recent actions, however I do share some narcissistic traits, so I figure why not examine the psychological symptoms of this disorder and see if we match up.
On the one hand this exercise is wholly narcissistic, on the other I'll be completely honest, which, again, isn't an unhealthy narcissistic trait. Yes, you can have HEALTHY Narcissism, and I will explain that in a bit. Let's begin.
Is Ollie Horsfall a Narcissist?
(Traits and descriptors found on the Mental Health website Bridges to Recovery)
Lack of empathy
'People with NPD cannot relate to or understand the suffering of others, especially when they’re the ones responsible for the pain. If confronted with the truth about how their behaviour has caused harm, narcissists will react with denial or confusion, asserting their innocence while demonstrating no real sympathy or compassion.'
This one is easy. I'm not devoid of empathy, sometimes I feel people's suffering before they do. Sometimes I panic because the level of emotion in a room is so high that I can't deal with it. Empathy requires a deep understanding of how a person feels and then sharing those feelings. Sympathy (just to clarify) is feeling pity for another person based on shared experience, without truly understanding how that person feels. This symptom, which is the foundation for a lot of narcissists, simply does not apply to me.
Exaggerated sense of self-importance
'Narcissists believe they’re destined to accomplish great things, and if they haven’t done so already it is only a matter of time (they think) until their talents are acknowledged and success achieved. When great results are slow to come, they will not adjust their expectations, but will instead blame others for holding them back. To receive validation for their illusions, narcissists are not above lying about their histories of achievement. They feel justified in doing so, since they’re convinced they will actually do those things someday.'
I've never had to lie about my achievements, they speak for themselves. I do believe I am destined for great things, but these aren't delusions, these things are tangible based on real evidence. I know what I'm good at, I celebrate what I've achieved, but I make a point of celebrating other's achievements too. I used to suffer a little more from this when I was younger but now, I feel that experience has taught me not to run until I walk. I've been walking a long time, and every attempt to run usually results in someone shooting me in the leg, so now I walk and carve my own path while doing so. It's healthy to take control of your destiny, to have goals and to believe you can achieve them, it's not healthy to assume you're better than everyone else for thinking this way. To clarify: I don't.
Feelings of entitlement
'People with narcissistic traits expect to be pampered, coddled, waited on, or otherwise taken care of by everyone they encounter. When that doesn’t happen, they react with moral outrage, seeing it as a sign of disrespect. Narcissists don’t believe they deserve special treatment because of their accomplishments—they believe it is their birth right, based on their natural status as superior beings.'
Isn't everyone a little guilty of this? Yes, I like to be taken care of, it's true that we all deserve a little TLC sometimes, and as a person who suffers with Depression and Anxiety, I can tell you that a little bit of attention can make a world of difference on a dark day. I have to state now that I have never and will never expect a person to give me special treatment. I spend a lot of my time these days listening to people, helping people make things happen for them and making sure everyone else is happy. Of course, I think my happiness is important too, of course I'm selfish sometimes, but to an unhealthy narcissistic extent? Nope.
Selfishness in relationships
'People with narcissistic personality disorder frequently mistreat, manipulate, or abuse the people close to them to get what they want. They see nothing wrong with doing so, since they always put themselves first and do not consider the needs of others to be as important as their own.
Narcissists don’t exploit others because they have bad feelings about them. In fact, there is nothing personal about their actions. They use others only when they believe it is necessary to help them achieve their goals.'
I have been in two long term adult relationships and a short-term (under a year) one too. There have been times where I've probably demanded things that I shouldn't, where I've had expectations of those I love that are unacceptable, I've also said some horrible things on occasion to people I love when they've upset me. Again, don't we all do this sometimes?
I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who feels I have mistreated them in an unforgivable way since I moved to Prague. It's not in my nature to be Machiavellian. I started a Scratch Night here, not for myself, but for others to celebrate their talents, to give people the opportunity to grow outside of their own expectations, how does this serve me? Well I make a little bit of money, but the satisfaction I get from the happiness of people achieving their goals makes me far happier than money does.
I don't use people. I've been used, but as difficult as I can be sometimes, it has never been in my nature to take advantage of others for my own gain.
Enviousness and suspicion of other people’s motivations
'People with narcissistic personality disorder envy the accomplishments and exalted status of others they consider successful. This betrays their inner insecurities, which persist despite their apparent self-assurance. NPD sufferers also believe others are envious of them, dismissing criticism of their behaviour as driven by envy or jealousy. In general, narcissists see bad intentions everywhere, and they are cynical toward those who profess to be motivated by compassion or ethics.'
One thing I am often told by other people is that I am 'too trusting'. I don't expect the worst from people and I am often disheartened when I am proven wrong. The older I get the less of a concern this is, I have a healthy cynicism, but I still get screwed over because I'm forever looking for the best in people, a trait I definitely got from my mum. When I am criticised, I self-examine (case in point), and I try and learn lessons from it, I don't dismiss criticism, but I can react negatively to it to begin with. I'll often feel sad and sometimes angry when my work is questioned for example, but I won't resent a person for telling me when I've done something wrong (at least not long-term). I wouldn't hold a grudge either).
By the way, the person who decided after 4 years to message me simply to criticise has been holding onto this resentment for a long time. It's sad, and entirely an indication of their character, not mine.
Arrogant and judgmental in attitude
NPD sufferers tend to see the world in simplistic, extreme terms. They see themselves as supreme and their rivals or enemies (whoever they might be) as inferior and deserving of rejection or criticism. Their arrogance is a natural reflection of their assumed superiority, and they judge others as a way to elevate themselves. Some who are included in their inner circles are treated better, but narcissists are easily disillusioned by others and frequently reject people they once embraced.
I used to be arrogant. I used to be proud of this. I didn't think arrogance was a particularly negative thing. The truth is arrogance when applied to yourself isn't, however other people certainly see it as a negative trait in a person. A younger me would assume superiority simply because he knew what he was good at. Now? Well, now I'm aware of what that does to others. You can like yourself and be arrogant, but other people certainly won't.
I'm as open minded as they come. People will come to me about almost anything and know I will listen and that I'll be honest with them about how they should proceed or feel. I don't pander to people, I don't think I'm always right, sometimes I don't approve of something someone has done, but it is not my job to judge a person. If a person acts wrongly towards me, I try to see it from their perspective and understand why. I forgive easily, but I don't forget.
Insistence on associating only with other special people
In line with their belief in their own power and importance, narcissists prefer to associate only with those they consider to be nearly equal in stature. Being in the presence of people who are accomplished and respected helps bolster their sense of superiority and worthiness.
Unfortunately for NPD sufferers, the people they admire often don’t share those feelings. When narcissists are rejected by those with status it can cause a crisis of confidence, although the narcissist will try to repress rather than acknowledge those feelings.
Nobody likes rejection, I've had my fair share. I do believe that I have very special people in my life who I connect with on a deeper level than any others. These people are people who I would make every effort to support, help, heal and grow. I'm not exclusive in this, I want everyone to have the opportunities I never had. I want to give everyone (with a passion or a talent) room to make themselves whole, to find their joy and to make something of themselves. I don't believe I'm the making of people, I believe people are the makings of themselves. Everyone is worthy of my time until such a time as they prove otherwise.
Feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and low self-esteem, as well as an extreme need for the approval of others
'It is important to recognize the split nature of narcissistic personality disorder. The narcissist’s apparently sincere belief in their own superiority is actually a coping mechanism that helps shield them from their deep-seated insecurities and poor self-esteem. This is why narcissists are so desperate to be acknowledged and praised by other people. They rely on that reinforcement to silence their inner voices, which seek to undermine their self-confidence and cast doubt on their true worthiness'
God, imagine if I suffered with Depression and Anxiety as well as NPD... I'm not sure I'd be able to cope. The fact is that I have a very high self-esteem, which has likely led to the belief that I am an unhealthy narcissist. Damn straight, I'm insecure sometimes, but never about the things I know I can do. People respect my opinion because they know it comes from a place of good. I believe I have encountered people in my life who have gone out of their way to make me feel inferior, but I don't let that happen anymore, where I can help it. I don't ask for approval as my actions speak for themselves. It's important to make sure others are happy with those actions sometimes, but I believe anyone I've worked with knows that anything I do is for the betterment of everyone, not just myself.
No, I don't suffer with NPD on these terms. I may ask my psychiatrist about it at our next appointment, but she has already stated I show no signs of any personality disorders after a minor miscommunication in a session.
Healthy Narcissism exists folks. On a photo shoot with a couple of friends, one a make-up artist who wants to practice her art and the other a photographer looking to hone her skills and add to her portfolio, I mentioned that I believe I'm a 'conscious narcissist'. I don't love myself when I look in the mirror, but I certainly appreciate myself. I don't have delusions of grandeur but I certainly have grand achievements. I don't put photos of myself online every day because I think people need to see my beauty, but I certainly understand it's a pretty standard way of communicating what I'm doing with my life and how I'm feeling. I create my own art, using myself as a foundation, but I also make art for the betterment of others.
As Mumma Ru says: ‘If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?’ It took me a long time, but I do love myself in a healthy way. I fear that for someone to contact me after so long to attempt to demean me, as I say, is more an indication of their character than mine. I wrote this for myself, as a matter of self-reflection, but I hope it allows those of you who have read this far a little more understanding of me.
Peace and love, y'all, peace and love. <3