Narcissist is a term used so often in our cultural lexicon that it almost has no meaning. It is usually used by laypeople to describe someone they regard as selfish and self-focused. It is highly unlikely that he would be able to determine if you have a narcissistic personality disorder because he’s not a mental health professional. Only mental health professionals are trained to diagnose mental health disorders.
In the clinical world, individuals with narcissistic personality disorders are not that common. Many clinicians will probably never see a true narcissist in their practices. This is because narcissists are not typically amenable or open to counseling. Even in cases where they are open to it, it’s a difficult disorder to treat. Personality disorders are notoriously difficult to treat in general.
In reading the research literature about narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), one learns that it’s one of the least studied disorders. That’s probably because so few individuals with the disorder, come in for evaluation and counseling. At one point, years ago, NPD was omitted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the guidebook mental health professionals use to diagnose psychological conditions. The lack of research about the NPD had made some question whether it is a disorder at all.
Currently, NPD is a disorder that is listed in the DSM-V. Individuals with NPD are grandiose and self-loathing. They tend to have exaggerated personalities, are prone to antisocial activities, taking advantage of others and crime. In addition, they also have strong feelings of inferiority, emptiness and boredom. Some also experience severe depression.
Though I can’t diagnose disorders over the internet, I would say that it is far more likely, based on what you have written in your letter, that you and your husband are having marital issues. The two of you don’t agree on what’s wrong and continue to pick at each other which inflames the situation. The solution is marriage counseling. He wants you to go to counseling and that’s fine if you’re willing to do it but you should also suggest that he join you. If he’s not open to marriage counseling, then you should go to individual counseling. You can work on the problems, you want help with, and learn better ways of interacting with your husband. Hopefully, he’s willing to go to counseling, too. That would be the ideal.
Some of the things you can work on in counseling include (whether he joins you or not): being more cognizant of how your behavior affects your partner, how to properly approach your partner when you’re upset, expressing yourself effectively, how to control your emotions, how not overreact, how to avoid becoming irritable and angry, and so forth. Learning those skills would not only improve your relationship with your husband but would also help you to be a happier and more emotionally stable person.
You described your husband as a great man. You care for him, you love him and you want things to be better. That’s a great place to start. Counseling could help to improve your relationship significantly. Good luck with your efforts. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle