Monday, December 15, 2008

Are Narcissists Abusers?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the DSMIV, is categorized by "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy." Narcissists are incredibly self centered and can be very manipulative and controlling. They will do nearly anything to get what they want from someone, and since they lack the ability to feel empathy, (defined as "the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another"), they can be very hurtful to those around them.

When we talk about domestic violence, commonly defined as one person getting and keeping power of control over another, we are normally referring to direct verbal and physical abuse, but there are many ways in which one person manipulates and controls another without using violence.

The popular reality MTV show, The Hills, shows Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt (photo below) who are a great example of how a narcissist can be abusive to someone.

Over the course of The Hills, Spencer meets Heidi and they begin dating. Early on in their relationship she catches him cheating on her, but then he wins her back and so begins their relationship. He convinces her that all her friends are terrible people out to get her, and even blames the cheating behavior on Heidi's best friend Lauren. (Remember that a narcissist never believes he or she is at fault - it is always some one else's problem.) Eventually Spencer causes so much drama between Heidi and her friends that Heidi stops having friends all together and moves in with Spencer, at his insistence. Other problems arise as Spencer pushes Heidi to get engaged and then get married. Over the course of their relationship Heidi becomes more and more isolated from her life and even her job, after Spencer says something offensive to her bosses and has her fired. Although Spencer's behavior on the show can be sweet and loving to Heidi, he is ultimately very manipulative and controlling of her.

To watch full episodes of The Hills you can go to this link:


  1. I was looking through the web to see if there was something written about their relatioship and narcissism. I was a victim once and seeing that show just makes me really mad. It is obvious to me that he is a master of manipulation and really good at making Heidi feel like she has no one but him.

    Thank you for reassuring me that I was not imagining things...

  2. Why doesn't MTV intervene? I too was a victim of abuse, and so was my mother...I have broken that cycle but it is very painful to watch on heart breaks for her family who have their hands tied and can only pray....I worry about this girls life....

  3. Spencer is definitely a malignant narcissist, and it really bothers me that a lot of people blame Heidi for the dark hole they've created in their lives. He's obviously pulled her away from those who care about her and he's made her feel insecure about herself and her looks to the point where she believes she has to look like a barbie. I dated a Spencer-like guy once and it only gets worse over time until you realize you've lost yourself and your sanity to a giant man-sized parasite who will use you for all you've got. Money, fame and drugs make the situation worse too. I'm glad she left him and I hope she can repair the other relationships in her life. Spencer could use some serious psychiatric intervention, but narcissism is incurable. Hopefully he won't just hijack another young woman's life with his bottomless pit of neediness and egocentrism. It baffles me that his family doesn't see his behavior as dangerous and self-destructive - why is no one calling the psych ward to come get him?