One of the most prevalent words used in my office is “Narcissist.” It is true that narcissism has become an epidemic in the eyes of many, but another critical factor is codependent. If one is not codependent, it is tough to attract a narcissist. The inherently dysfunctional relationship of a narcissist and a codependent requires two opposite but distinctly balanced partners. Codependents habitually find themselves in attraction to individuals that are of a narcissistic nature. That being said, we can blame the narcissist, or we can look in the mirror and become strong, so that type of relationship does not form.
One becomes a narcissist from extreme childhood trauma or from being raised as a “prince or princess” that can do no wrong. One can become codependent from virtually the same type of childhood traumas. It all depends on how one’s brain processes what they have gone through in life. One is a giver (codependent), and the other is a taker (narcissist). There is a delicate balance that tends to work at the beginning.
As stated at the beginning, the work narcissist is often overused. A little narcissism is healthy in just about everyone. The indiscriminate label of “narcissist” is creating much confusion in society. Many narcissists may not have malignant narcissism or mental health issues; they are only individuals that are high functioning in what they want and need. There is a classification in the DSM(psychological reference manual) Narcissistic Personality Disorder(NPD) is an actual disorder. This disorder is for those high spectrum individuals that meet the criteria to be classified as a narcissist. High scoring on a personality inventory is not necessarily a bad thing.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is codependence. Co-Dependence is another overused diagnosis. A codependent lose oneself to live a life of people pleasing. Is that a bad thing? It is wrong only if it is the effect of severe childhood trauma and distress that leads one to live in the shadows of others pleasingly. If one gets true happiness and fulfillment in helping and pleasing others, it is not a bad thing. It is terrible when one neglects their own needs to spend each day effortlessly trying to please another individual.