Narcissism & Sex Addiction: Twins of Pain

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Timothy 3:2-5

My ex-husband was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder shortly after I discovered his “first” affair over 9 years ago.  The more I read up on it, the more despondent I became.  I couldn’t see him taking this seriously at all.  It turns out he didn’t. Medication and therapy were short-lived.  He pushed them off as being unnecessary, too expensive, and he was in complete control of himself. Being a narcissist, alone, ensured that he will not believe he had a problem to begin with, or if he could be convinced that he did have a problem, eventually, he would believe he was aweome enough  to overcome it on its own.  Timageshat is exactly what happened.

The reason we divorced is because he would not, could not, admit he had a problem.  I had let it slide the first time, this time I could not.  He would have to admit to his problem or lose me. But like the fabled Narcissus, he would rather be in love with his image of himself than find true love in a real woman.

What is Narcissism?

Many experts use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions. This manual is also used by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
  • Requiring constant admiration
  • Having a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.

This is where the alliance between narcissism and sex addiction become difficult to understand.  Each condition carries so many of the same symptoms and characteristics that it becomes difficult to know which disorder to treat first.  recent studies show that treating the sex addiction piece first greatly reduces the symptoms of NPD.

The Research On Narcissism And Sex Addiction

In a recent study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, a team of researchers set out to uncover whether there is a link between sex addiction and narcissism in both male and female sex addicts.

The research team was able to quantify the level of narcissism using three metrics:

  • The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)
  • Pathological Narcissism Inventory (PNI)
  • Index of Sexual Narcissism (ISN)

The study revealed that subjects who had watched internet pornography at any point in their lives showed higher instances of narcissistic personality traits. But, more importantly, both male and female subjects who watched internet pornography daily were more likely than every other group to have a narcissistic personality. Also, the more porn they watched, the more narcissistic they were likely to be. Read more here.

Narcissism and sex addiction are fellow travelers because they feed on each other. Both draw on the addict’s core beliefs about being unlovable, unworthy and alone. Narcissistic over-entitlement allows the addict to feel justified in his or her sexually addictive behavior and avoid the shame that would otherwise surround the behavior, and sex addiction leads the addict into a progressively more isolated and self-centered life in which his or her narcissism reigns supreme. Sex addicts do not meet their emotional needs in real relationships but rather in the fantasy laden encounters of their addiction. The acting out sex addict is the consummate narcissist who controls the whole show and thus stays safe.” ~ Linda Hatch PhD

Almost everyone on the planet has at least a little bit of self-love. That’s the element that gives people confidence and magnetism, and it’s the sort of personality attribute that can make a person seem attractive or even powerful. But humility is also an important part of the psyche of a healthy adult, as it allows people to respect others and balance the needs of the self against the needs of society as a whole. When that balance is upset and people love themselves more than their neighbors, narcissism could be at play, and that could lead to addiction.

It is not surprise that the narcissist and the sex addict share a lot of the same traits.

Treating The Narcissistic Sex Addict

Narcissistic sex addicts are perhaps the hardest to treat. They use grandiosity and a façade of self-confidence to present as though they are indestructible, but this could not be further from the truth. Narcissism is a defense mechanism of the psyche; it protects what is, in truth, a fragile ego and a very low sense of self-worth. Most narcissists grew up with inadequate caregiving—emotional or physical abuse, or inconsistent care or neglect—and carry these wounds with them into adulthood. Their strong need for validation likely comes from the a lack of a coherent bond with mother or father (or other guardians). A strong sense of entitlement may also exist in individuals who were consistently provided for materially, rather than emotionally. The resultant emotional deficits may manifest as sexual addiction, but as hard as narcissism is to treat, it is not impossible. Those clinicians who have the most success approach their clients with compassion, non-judgment and honesty, and those sex addicts who express narcissistic traits who have the greatest degree of success are those willing to acknowledge their problem and to ask for help. Read More Here.

As is true for every addict, recovery requires that they undertake a fearless inventory of how their behaviors have affected others. Only then does recovery begin and their relationships begin to thrive. It is not an exaggeration that many narcissistic sex addicts need to be admitted to a treatment facility to be able to get a handle on their issues enough to heal.

For those living with the recovering, narcissistic addict, it is important that you recognize the damage the relationship has caused you and establish the you that was lost in the process through your own recovery. It is important that both spouses seek help.  This is too big to overcome alone and if your husband will not seek help, you will especially need the additional support.

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

 

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