The Narcissism of ADD & ADHD

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Individuals with ADD and ADHD have a strong tendency towards narcissism. I speak from personal and professional experience. We will often-times look at the world through our eyes and fail to see it from other people’s point of view. This is one of the major reasons why there’s a strong misunderstanding of ADD/ADHD.

I am not suggesting that individuals with ADD/ADHD are intentionally narcissistic, but I am saying that it is common with us ADD/ADHD folk. Here’s a perfect example…I am not a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. It has impacted my relationships over the years. It is not that I am not open to new things; I just live in a certain comfort zone. While some of this may be narcissistic, it has other factors involved as well. The best way for me to manage my ADHD is to regiment myself. I do things a certain way because it helps me function both personally and professionally. Other people don’t always see this, so they assume I am acting selfish.

So how do you tell people that this isn’t being selfish? How do we try to come across as less narcissistic? There’s no real easy answer to this question. I try to tell people about my ADHD and how it impacts my life. If I do something directly related to my ADHD like cutting off someone during a conversation, I try to tell the person that my actions aren’t intentional and I really want to hear what he/she is saying. However, I do not play this card very often. I feel that blaming ADD/ADHD shouldn’t be the automatic response for everything. We have to be accountable for our actions.

With my clients, I always ask them to look at the bigger picture. How does his or her behavior directly impact other people? How much of this can he/she control and how much of this is a product of ADD/ADHD? Once we figure out these factors, we work on ways of compensating for the ADD/ADHD issues as well as understanding how our minds work in certain situations. For example, I know when I’m at dinner I have to have my back to the door of a restaurant. It is too distracting for me and comes across like I do not care about the other person/people. I can avoid this type of misunderstanding by one simple maneuver. See how that works? This is an easy fix to a potentially upsetting situation.

Please enjoy my video on ADD/ADHD and Narcissism. You can find other helpful videos on my YouTube Page (ADHD Guru).

For more helpful tips an suggestions, please check out my ADHD Guru podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio. You can also find me on Twitter (@adhdguru) and Instagram (@adhdguru). Feel free to email me at [email protected] or call 877.398.ADHD (2343) with any additional questions.

26 Comments. Leave new

  • Boy, so true as it relates to a certain relative…

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  • […] The Narcissism of ADD & ADHD […]

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  • […] in the past, people with ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning concerns tend to be narcissistic (The Narcissism of ADD & ADHD). This being the case, it becomes a regular occurrence that we see the world through our eyes only. […]

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  • […] what people are saying and she will miss the bigger picture. Plus, she can be narcissistic (see here) that ties in with her […]

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  • […] ADHD or Executive Deficit concerns is being narcissistic (this was discussed in an earlier piece here). Sometimes we do not see the problem or understand how it impacts our behavior. Instead of […]

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  • no, that is just being withdrawn and uncomfortable with socialising etc.

    Narcissists use people, they are confident, they are social, they give off a bright appearance.

    In fact the neurotypical in this capitalist, greedy world, that adores first impressions, and exploits the working class are narcissists.

    Reply
  • With all due respect I do no think you have accurately described narcissism or its correlation with ADHD. Narcissicm is so much more than selfishness. And what you’ve described as “selfish” sounds like healthy coping behaviors to make your ADHD more manageable and less “impactable” on the others in your life – the total opposite of ADHD, and narcissism.

    ADHDers are narcisisstist (WOW that is hard to spell) in the way they are self absorbed, self centered, and unable to empathize with others. Their constant focus on right now, not the past or present, makes is difficult to form deep emotional attachments with others and their neglect of responsibilty in favor of self stimulation leads them to manipulate persons and situations to their advantage.

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    • Thank you for your feedback.

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    • How can it be a “healthy coping behaviour” if it impacts everyone around them? A “healthy coping behaviour” would be to stop being so self-absorbed and selfish and take your meds & exercise. If the ADHDer behaves like a narc – then he is a narc, especially to the poor people around him dealing with it. I think Jonathan nailed what he was saying. Spot on. (and the word is “narcissistic” not ‘narcisisstist’ =D

      Reply
  • […] of his or her own that have nothing to do with you. In one of my other entries, I discussed Narcissism of ADD and ADHD. It is important to keep in mind that these situations aren’t always about you and your […]

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  • I too had the concern that the definition of the term was “complicated” so I went to wiki to get a clearer definition. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism

    Well, now as usual things are clear as mud. LOL I seem to run into this all the time. My narcissism tends to manifest itself in my know-it-all tone of voice. Apparently people do not like this. Go figure.

    Clarity of definitions is also a problem as I enthusiastically defend one definition when my interlocutor is using a different one only to find out when the discussion has escalated to scaring the little children (and wives) that we were not even talking about the same thing.

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  • You pose the questions “How does his or her behavior directly impact other people? How much of this can he or she control and how much of this is a product of ADD and ADHD? ”

    The narcissist in me answers: who cares to #1 and why should I control it to # 2.
    Reality sets in (wife’s glare) and I know I stuck my foot in it again.

    I guess in the end discretion is the better part of valor.

    Augie
    http://addsherpa.com @addsherpa

    Reply
  • I agree that ADD/ADHD promotes narcissism. I actively have to make sure that I am not focusing too much on myself on a regular basis. This causes me a great deal of stress. In addition, if you make a sincere attempt to channel your symptoms into a positive medium you naturally become more focused on yourself. Luckily, the people who love me accept this struggle and forgive me when I am especially intense about it.

    Reply
  • […] with ADD/ADHD have a tendency towards a Narcissistic way of thinking. For example, my wife doesn’t always understand my moments. I also expect […]

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  • Hi

    […]is extremely helpful information in addition to i hope i might seen this earlier give thanks to[…]

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  • […] Individuals with ADD and ADHD have a strong tendency towards narcissism. I speak from personal and professional experience. We have a tendency of looking at the world through our eyes and failing t…  […]

    Reply
  • Latessa Sherock
    April 21, 2018 1:15 pm

    Studied my heart out to learn & be a good spouse to my adhd husband, only to have him admit that he knew I thought his narcissism was his adhd, to hear him say that he never cared he hurt me, that it didn’t bother him to punish me for months with silent abuse when I was so ill & wracked with pain, that he has no empathy & the ‘good guy’ was all an act. That if people knew what he really thought , they would be scared. Then to find the abuse & lies about our money that he hid from me. Wish I never tried so hard cuz I lost 30 yrs of my life cuz he was that good at lying & switching to the good guy, while also messing with someone who was too physically ill to even know what covert narcissism, passive/ aggressive & abuses were. Then I got better & my mind clear & that telling me things never happened or were said, purposely forgetting , procrastinating, talking in circles & using pretend self hate for adhd & lying were the only things he was good at. He imitated my personality but couldn’t keep it up as well when he knew that now I knew. He even pretended to be a Christian because I was. Going through divorce now & the games continue but that’s on him & not my reality. Praying for all who have been as deceived as I was that we heal & have the peace of Christ.

    Reply
    • Christina Kinney
      June 5, 2018 9:44 am

      Hi I went through almost exactly the same thing, except I only lasted 2 years until I had to end my marriage for my kid’s sake. You’re not alone. I feel God was trying to show you all along but you were not taking the hints, as was I. I tried to excuse the horrible treatment I was given, because my ex had ahdh, supposed dyslexia, and could never hold a job, which he blamed on being in special ed classes and pity stories. Yet he was a fully functioning adult, lazy as hell, unless it was something that interested only himself. I’m sure you can relate.

      Truly disgusting and almost impossible to accept 100% that this behavior is intentional. At the end of the day, everybody is accountable for their own actions. God warns us of wolves in sheeps clothing. I hope you find healing and learn to listen to God, watch for all red flags and don’t let your sweet heart fool you into giving manipulators the benefit of the doubt. Peoples’ true intentions show in their fruits, not their words.

      Funny how I learned this lesson in life multiple times with multiple men, yet here I am still googling and looking into the matter, trying to gain any type of insight from other peoples’ point of view.

      Btw I have ADD myself, my mother does, and my young daughter shows strong signs of ADHD. Even though I can catch myself being super distracted and sometimes not focusing enough on other people rather than myself, there is no excuse for treating others like total crap beneath your shoe, ever. I’ve always been a hard worker with a good heart, empathetic for others. That’s just a tangible example of how we are still accountable for our actions, despite having ADD/ADHD. My daughter can be difficult but she is super sensitive and when she is made aware of how she is acting, she feels intense remorse. My mother after lifelong control issues and narcissism has finally been healed by God, which she truly had to seek on her own, which also meant tough love and cutting contact for a couple of years.

      So if somebody truly wants to, they have the power to change, and they will do it, not just talk about it. I hope you learn to avoid these type of people, which I have learned we can be naturally drawn to without realizing.

      Reply
      • Their ability to turn it on and off is the one aspect that makes me wonder if this is true. A disabled person can’t do this my ADHD partner is lovely at work. It is a choice, hyperfocus is an excuse. Like you I have spent years researching the madness and have come to the unfortunate conclusion that it does not matter, they are toxic, hard work and parasitical.

        Reply
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  • I’ll give you a real example of ADHD looking like narcissism. My soon-to-be ex with ADHD cannot control his reactions to things. He escalates very quickly, into a rage if he feels he has been embarrassed or criticized. Recently, he slammed my head into a wall, giving me a brain injury (which is why we are soon-to-be exes). Does he feel bad for it? It doesn’t appear so. Instead, he has put enormous effort into trying to convince the world that HE is the victim. That’s narcissistic behavior.

    Reply
    • Far out that is bad. A complete narcissist (or ‘narc’) is NEVER at fault, NEVER to blame and certainly NEVER sorry. I know a few. We are not friends anymore. Sorry about your head injury (see “sorry” – not a narc) all the best.

      Reply
  • Some more great stuff here Jonathan. Like you said i think the ADHDer comes as across as narcissistic/selfish because his prime goal is to treat his ADHD at whatever the cost. And this cost can be huge. Friendships, romantic relationships, work etc. If it could be put into words it would be “I know this appears selfish but I HAVE to treat my adhd no matter what.” I have also wondered if being narcissistic/selfish is another way to stimulate the pre-frontal Cortex; i.e.: treat the adhd.

    Reply
  • if your ADHD is properly treated, then the narcissism should subside. With me: no meds = I have to work hard not to be selfish and a know-it-all. With Dex = my brain relaxes and the ‘search/chaos in my head’ is switched off. No need to make it all about me. In fact I can chill-out a bit and let things slide, let you have your way.

    Reply

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