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Stop Narcissists from messing up your life

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Metz and Mulvey Setting the Terms

Importing a Freudian vocabulary, Metz and Mulvey set the terms for the discussion of film spectatorship - identification, mirror stage, displacement, condensation, fetishism, scopophilia, narcissism, and voyeurism - thus laying the groundwork for future applications of psychoanalytic theory. Of course Metz and Mulvey did not originate these terms they borrowed them from Lacan and Freud. Their innovation lies in the application of these existing Freudian and Lacanian concepts to the cinema. Metz and Mulvey do not, however, significantly nuance or enhance the basic concepts that they borrow from Freud. When they discuss voyeurism or fetishism, they use the terms in their Freudian sense. The act of applying these terms to the cinema did not fundamentally alter their meaning. The interchange between Metz and the psychoanalysts Freud and Lacan is one-way Freud enriches our understanding of the cinema without the cinema significantly changing the Freudian system.4 I therefore focus on the...

The logic of the actions macroanalysis

An Aristotelian or Proppian analysis generally does not seek to describe this Oedipal trajectory. When clarifying what drives a narrative forward, what gets the protagonist going and keeps him her going, the neo-formalist model does not problematize, for instance, the relation between the adventure plot and the romance plot. It is satisfied with noting the conflict between the hero wanting something and the world (often embodied in a clearly defined antagonist), putting obstacles in the way of the hero's object of desire. In Propp's morphological model, the motor is a lack, a missing object or person that the protagonist has to restore to its rightful place, like returning the princess to the king (her father) or getting the magic ring back from the evil dragon. In either case, however, positing an Oedipal trajectory does not invalidate or contradict the logic of the actions, and instead supplements and deepens it. For instance, identifying 'lack' with 'castration anxiety' is in one...

Theorists of Instincts and Drives

The seeds of this emphasis on the characters' emotions can be seen in her landmark essay on Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. What gives the scopophilia and narcissism of the cinema their ideological punch is the fact that Hollywood organizes our primary identification with the camera in alliance with particular characters' looks. Historically speaking, we are asked to identify with the active gaze of a man at the passive figure of a woman. Quickly Mulvey shifts the focus from the spectator's look to the onscreen look between characters as the determining factor in a symptomatic reading of Hollywood ideology. The male character models how we should look at the woman, and to reject this look is to refuse to participate in the narrative

The Migrations of Glamour

The concept of glamour, of a particular look or style being the source of envy, aspiration and desire, only entered common usage during the twentieth century. A relatively new addition to the English language, its meaning in the eighteenth century was linked with magic, enchantment, necromancy or a sorcerer's spell. One of the earliest recorded uses was in 1721 in a Scottish verse 'When devils, wizards or jugglers deceive the sight, they are said to cast glamour o'er the eyes of the spectator' (Oxford English Dictionary 1933). The term was linked with the power of the occult, something with such a fascinating and attractive power that it could not be real (Tapert 1998). In Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (1962) the word is categorized with beauty, prestige and '. . . spell, charm, glamour, enchantment, cantrip, hoodoo, curse, evil eye, jinx, influence bewitchment, fascination' (1962 395). Linked primarily with feminine allure, narcissism and the rise of mass...

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The style was equated with feminine narcissism and camp, with gazing idly in mirrors or posing against complementary backdrops. The moderne was also used for the design of buildings for mass entertainment or shopping, and was thus perceived by the critics as a style catering for the despised lower-middle and working-classes. In complete contrast, Modernism was masculine, radical, pure, strong, heterosexual, elite and overtly politicized. Hence a minority of female aristocratic patrons chose to refurbish their traditionally styled new or inherited homes in a glamorous, Hollywood style, but not using Modernism.

Feminism and film theory

Virtue not only of the dominant forms of visual pleasure - voyeurism and fetishism, traditionally analysed as male perversions - but also by the close formal convergence of narrative progress (the desire to see and to know) with the filmic process itself as exemplified in the workings of the cinematic apparatus or 'dispositif (see Rosen 1986). As Mary Ann Doane put it, reviewing the debate some ten years later 'With respect to a narrativization of the woman, the apparatus strains but the transformation of the woman into spectacle is easy. Through her forced affinity with the iconic, imagistic aspects of cinema, the woman is constituted as a resistance or impedance to narrativization' (Doane 1987 5-6). The conditions of female spectatorship in narrative cinema are therefore either submission to the regime of the gaze, the perversion of a perversion so to speak, or involve taking pleasure in the subject effects of a sexual identity not her own 'Confronted with the classical Hollywood...

FOCUS New British Cinema Cultural Forms Montage and Narrative

Performance was widely loved, loathed and dismissed on its late release in 1970, but holds an important place in film history. Whether truly visionary and innovative, or the unmatured promise of a future master, it remains nevertheless unique, provocative and intensely cinematic to the extreme drama that could only be cinema. Additionally, its subversive narrative is powerfully laced with the contemporary ideas, ideals and challenges of narcissistic pop music counter-culture. Despite the glaringly obvious (and undisputed) fact that directing tasks were shared by Cammell and Roeg, speculation about authorship has

Text Interpretation

Finally, a sense of time and place is critical in Harron's text interpretation. There would have been no Valerie Solanas without the sex- and drug-obsessed New York of the 1960s, and there would have been no Patrick Bateman without the greed is good philosophy of 1980s New York, a time when junk bonds and brand names in all things from soap to suits were the epitome of making it. Harron weaves the sense of time and place throughout her films indeed, they transcend individualism and the love-work nexus that Freud placed at the center of his interpretation of happiness. The culture of narcissism that thrived in the 1960s and 1980s is about as far away from the positive goals and attainments of those eras as is possible. And these are the worlds of Valerie Solanas and Patrick Bateman.

Directing the Actor

In Barry Lyndon is always operating out of a shallow narcissism, as is Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut. This narrowness worked well with powerful actors such as James Mason and Peter Sellers in Lolita. The strategy also worked well where the look of the actor had to imply the shallowness of a character. All the more remarkable, then, is the fact that the initial criticism of Barry Lyndon focused in good part on the casting of Ryan O'Neal. Now, 30 years later, Barry Lyndon is considered one of the great Kubrick films and the casting of Ryan O'Neal is no longer a source of criticism.

Spectacles and Spectres

The locus classicus of this position is the work of Guy Debord, who coined the notion of a 'society of the spectacle' (Debord 1983). Here the onlooker, observer, audience or spectator implied or addressed by the mass media is reduced to a passive agent rather than the active agent envisaged by Brecht, Eisenstein and other avant-gardists. Mass media spectacles offer only a unilateral monologue, not a genuine dialogue between spectacle and spectator they are riven with manipulations and undeliverable promises. However, it is important to understand that the 'spectacle' in the sense used by Debord is not just a question of the media. It is rather the convergence between the commodity relations of advanced capitalism and the organisation of the senses, particularly though not exclusively the visual field (Debord 1983 34). This broader critique of our social relations could encompass, for example, sport, politics, corporate identities (Kellner 2003) or our entire built environment. Thus in...

The Dream Work Writ Large Law Culture and Power

Lynch's dream play may be read as prototypical. Let us call it a contemporary allegory of unchecked desire and unregulated power in a narcissistic world of mind and culture where knowledge is understood solely in terms of mastery or control.25 Let us call it a neo-baroque allegory a symbolic world of unadulterated narcissism. Behold the Hollywood kitsch culture of solip-sistic pleasure, embodied in Diane Selwyn's ambitions of stardom. This is Mulholland Drive, a fantasy world fueled by a borderline personality's unbound desire violent when thwarted as that desire inevitably will be. As psychoanalyst Benjamin Kilborne aptly observes, In our contemporary world it is striking how much technology feeds our illusions. People come to believe that an ideal of themselves can be actualized. 26 Hollywood's machinery of dream production, further empowered by its alliance with new digital technology, spawns a Disneyesque ideal that denies pain, suffering, helplessness, and ultimately death itself...

The media looks at itself

By doing so, a reductive view can be confirmed and transcended. It says to its audience, Everything can be criticized and by using this style, even the critics can be criticized. Rather than providing the audience with the restorative power of the classic narrative, the MTV style plays to paranoia and to narcissism. By criticizing the media itself, the MTV style criticizes the power of the media and confirms in its audience the suspicion that there is no trust out there and the last element of the society that is trustworthy is the media itself.

My Sense of Reality

When my self-censors come in, which only occurs minimally, I welcome them. Otherwise, I tend to get too self-indulgent. By the way, my definition of self-indulgence is lack of awareness. What is narcissism A narcissist is someone who doesn't know he's a narcissist. As long as I'm aware (through hearing the tape) of what I'm saying, then I can at least make conscious choices and accept it or not accept it.

And The Late S

None of these films did boffo box office. It was a strange trend for the time when most of the moviegoing public was engrossed in the phenomenon of Star Wars. Nonetheless, Hollywood is narcissistic, and there were a number of filmmakers who came up with the same idea to look at themselves and at the industry's history. Most members of the current generation of filmmakers were just getting their start in the mid-seventies. Their interest in the business led them to create movies about the stories and the stars of cinema history that had influenced their decisions to work in the industry. The second generation of Hollywood-working souls wanted to celebrate their work and bring it to the big screen. Only a fraction of the public appreciated their vision.

Keeping Up the Beat

After the first bus breaks down, a Jewish driver brings the replacement, and the passengers object to having a white driver. The driver is a civil-rights liberal who defends his liberal credentials but under constant needling, the black-Jewish antagonism breaks through the veneer of commonality. He can't take the constant harassment, and at a rest stop he announces that he is quitting. As far as he cares, they can drive their own bus, if that's what they want. On two occasions, black women object to their exclusion from the march, and the men discuss the leadership role women have traditionally assumed in the community. This, they conclude, is something the men have to do themselves. A narcissistic young actor frets more about the results of an audition than the march itself. A film student joins the group with his video camera in order to make a documentary for his thesis at USC. He is the Spike Lee surrogate, filming the dynamics within the black community during its journey into...

Staying Focused

I see so many people do this because they want to get rich and become celebrities. That's not a good reason. You should do this because you love it and the financial rewards in the long term will hopefully show up. Jumping into filmmaking with the intention of becoming famous is so narcissistic and rarely happens overnight. You can't come out to Hollywood and say I'm going to give myself a year and if it doesn't work I'm leaving. I've been out here since '96 and am constantly asked by my Mom, 'How long before you decide you've given it enough time and you're going to look for something else ' I say never, because I wouldn't be happy doing anything else and I've already invested too much time to give myself a deadline to say if it doesn't happen by the end of this year, I have to find something else. Many people who have become successful may have been trying for ten or fifteen years. But they kept their goal in mind. You've got to be in it for the long haul and see it through.

Feminist Critique

Feminism's historical project is joined most decisively to Lacan's psychoanalytic theory in Laura Mulvey's influential Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975). Asking how viewers can derive pleasure from potentially castrating images of women, Mulvey theorizes that movies address the fears of castration that images of women, who lack phalluses, arouse in (presumably male) viewers by allowing audiences the scopophilic pleasures of voyeurism and the narcissistic pleasures of identification with the human figures shown onscreen. Traditional narrative cinema, Mulvey argues, resolves the paradox between these two kinds of pleasure (looking at an image as object, looking at an image as representing a potentially engaging subjectivity) by casting woman as the object of a gaze that is pleasurable in form but threatening in content. Patriarchal cinema neutralizes the potentially castrating power of women's images by fetishizing them, displacing

Lacanian analysis

According to Lacan, we mis-cognize ourselves as autonomous beings across a set of imaginary identifications and representations. The confirmation in the mother's look and in our reflected body image anticipates successful motor coordination and forms a (narcissistic) ideal ego, whose slave we will be for the rest of our lives. Back to the Future shows its anxious 'knowingness' even with regard to the mirror phase in its use of the photograph that Marty carries with him into the past, where he and his siblings can be seen to 'fade' in direct proportion to the unlikeliness of George McFly meeting mating with Lorraine. But in true Freudian fashion, Marty's frantic self-scrutiny is double-edged might his look not express the repressed wish of the narcissistic child that his brother and sister had never been born insufficient looks, where Marty's desire to assure his own procreation is a transformation of the Freudian primal scene into the register of spectacle and the look. What makes...

The Village Church

After little more than a year at Cathedral Prep, Scorsese had second thoughts about his priestly vocation, prompted in part by poor academic performance, and withdrew from the prep seminary. He continued his studies at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, which involved an even longer ride on the subway underneath the length of Manhattan. The schools changed, but the grades did not. Finishing in the bottom quarter of his graduating class, he failed to gain admission to Fordham University, also in the Bronx. Thus ended his ten-year involvement with Catholic schools. It would be misleading to conclude that this early education was parochial in the pejorative sense of the word, and therefore an obstacle to his development as a mature artist. Clearly, his later productivity demonstrates that he was scarcely hobbled by his early education. The schooling, coupled with his quasi-confinement to his immediate geographical surroundings, provides a point of entry for understanding Scorsese's...

To Be or Not To Be

The focus of To Be or Not To Be is slightly different. The romantic couple is a narcissistic wife and a would-be young lover. The scene opens in the theater where Hamlet is being performed. Joseph Tura, who is playing Hamlet, is backstage ordering a sandwich from a nearby delicatessen. His wife, Maria Tura, who is playing Ophelia, exits the stage and solicits opinions about her performance. She also offers support to her obviously insecure husband and assures him that he has never been better. What Joseph is

Eyes Wide Shut

The final excerpt I will use is the opening sequence of Eyes Wide Shut (2000). Screenwriter Frederic Raphael wrote an intriguing memoir on his work with Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Open, Ballantine Books, New York, 1999). It offers insights into the Kubrick process and is especially meaningful as Kubrick died just as the film was released in North America in 2000. The film, provocative as any of Kubrick's works, is a cautionary fable about the limits of narcissism. William Harford (Tom Cruise) is a New York physician with a beautiful apartment and a beautiful wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman). His problem is a gnawing dissatisfaction with his life. Is his wife bored and keen on an extramarital affair Why do his rich

Barry Lyndon

Kubrick visualizes the late eighteenth century as a death-haunted realm of perpetual summer. The verdant landscapes recall Constable and Watteau, but the idyll is haunted by inane military pageants the architecture is majestic, but the grand empty spaces are inhabited by the narcissistic zombie likes of Ryan O'Neal and Marisa Berenson, mouthing elaborate formalities over delicately heaving bosoms.


A closing speculation the public at large seems to perceive the star and the fan as sharing common existential burdens. Don't we all need to 'get our act together' This bond of self-regard encourages the perception that the self is always on display and in need of diligence with regard to its image before others - an orientation that is fundamentally narcissistic (Abercrombie and Longhurst, 2000). In extreme cases, such as stalking and erotomania, the concept of a shared fate transmutes into the subordination of the star to the identity project of the fan (King, 1992).