Narcissism is beyond the notion that one is “vain”. The personality Narcissism Disorder often develops from childhood experiences that create thought patterns, or schemas, that present in adulthood. Usually an adult struggling with narcissism will embody certain toxic thought patterns that have been ingrained from previous life experiences, which affect how they interact with others later in life. Jeffrey Young, PhD, the founder of schema therapy, identified 18 maladaptive schemas, or thought patterns, that present in adulthood. Here is a look at certain thought patterns relating to narcissism. As you read about these thought patterns, take note of which thought patterns resonate with you, and what you have experienced in yourself, or have seen in others.

(1) Mistrust/Abuse:

The idea that others are will treat a person poorly by lying, cheating, and taking advantage of them. The thought process is that this abuse is done intentionally to harm them. Often times, there is a feeling of victimization and that others do not have their best interests in mind.

(2) Social Alienation:

Social Alienation is the idea that a person is isolated from the rest of the world and different than everyone else. People with this thought process often feel like they don’t belong in any group or community.

(3) Failure:

This thought pattern is the feeling that you have failed, or will fail, and struggling with thoughts that you are inadequate and inferior to others in achievement.

(4) Entitlement/Grandiosity:

This thought pattern is the belief of superiority, with special privileges and entitlements. This is idea that you have exceptions to rules, forcing your viewpoints on others, and challenging and controlling others without empathy for their needs.

(5) Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline:

This is a lack of self-control and the ability to restrain yourself, while avoiding discomfort and pain. This occurs especially when struggling to wait patiently while trying to achieve a goal.

(6) Subjugation:

This toxic thought pattern involves giving up your control to please others, in an effort to avoid arguments and abandonment. This may occur in addition to the idea that your thoughts and needs don’t matter and are invalid. By surrendering your control, you attempt to give to others while also feeling trapped.

(7) Approval-Seeking/Recognition-Seeking:

This belief is when a person relies on getting attention and approval from others. The individual often times connects their self-esteem to how others view them, and may try to over emphasize their status, finances, and power. The idea is to gain approval over just gaining the power itself.

(8) Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness:

This thought pattern is defined by the idea that a person needs to meet high standards in order to avoid criticism. This belief will subsequently create pressure for the individual, presenting as perfectionism, rigidness, and hypercriticalness.

(9) Punitiveness:

Punitiveness is the feeling that others should be judged for their errors. They may have harsh criticism and high standards for themselves and others, accompanied with the struggle to forgive when mistakes are made.

When reflecting on these examples, take a moment to reconnect with your childhood self and see if any of these examples hold true today, and what their connection is to your past. By understanding those thought patterns, you can begin the healing process and move forward. You may also find it beneficial to see if there are any connections to the thought patterns/behaviors listed above and your interactions with others. If you find yourself struggling with these thoughts, or communicating with a loved one suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you don’t need to go through the healing process alone. At The Center for Growth, we have therapists that can help you understand your thought patterns, and how to create healthier ones.