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Narcissistic Personality Disorder & Family Law

What is narcissistic personality disorder?

The definition of Narcissist in the Oxford English Dictionary is as follows: “a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves”

The NHS Website states: “a person with a personality disorder thinks, feels, behaves and relates to others very differently from the average person.”

Experts estimate that up to 5% of the population have Narcissistic Personality Disorder

What are the common traits of narcissistic personality disorder?

There is an increasing awareness of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The key traits are as follows:

  • Underlying low self-esteem
  • Creating a false persona and having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Seeking validation of the false persona from others– this is known as narcissistic supply (a pathological or excessive need for attention or admiration)
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, beauty or perfection
  • Lack of empathy and only ever being able to offer love which is conditional.

The importance of understanding Narcissism for Family Lawyers

In situations where there is family breakdown and one party is a Narcissist, it is crucial to have an awareness of the disorder and knowledge of what tools are required to protect the party who is not a Narcissist. It is relevant to:

  • The client care required for the individual who has been subject to abuse by a Narcissist
  • The nature of settlement proposals and the manner in which settlement proposals are drafted – Narcissists always need to feel they have ‘won’
  • The detail required in Parenting Plans and Child Arrangements Orders, and the arrangements for Handover. A clear and detailed arrangement offers the best protection to the party who is not a Narcissist and will be in the interests of the Children.
  • The welfare evidence that may be needed in any Children Act proceedings.
  • Options of out-of-court resolution which are likely to work and how they are approached.

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