Narcissism and codependancy are behaviors that are characterized by the patient having an unrealistic view of himself or herself and other people. Both narcissism and codependency usually stem from dysfunctional childhood experiences. Narcissists generally form from excessive pampering, neglect or abuse during childhood. Codependency is learned from other family members with the same type of behavior. Narcissists and codependents tend to be attracted to each other.
A personality disorder, narcissism is defined as abnormal self-love with an exaggerated sense of superiority. Narcissists often seek attention and admiration from others, and they believe that they are better than others and are therefore entitled to special treatment. They are willing to take advantage of those whom they consider beneath them to achieve their goals. Narcissists display arrogant behavior and an inability to identify with the feelings of people around them. They are unable to show compassion.
Codependency is a learned behavior in which a person enters a relationship with another person and becomes emotionally dependent on him or her. Codependent people maintain an exaggerated sense of responsibility toward the other people in their relationships. They tend to do more than their share in their relationships and are hurt when they do not get recognition for it. They often are sensitive to criticism, are inflexible to change and blame themselves when problems arise. Codependency is not considered a mental disorder.
Narcissism and codependency seem on the surface to be completely opposite of each other. Narcissists focus on themselves; codependents focus on others. There are some similarities between the two which affects the sufferers’ ability to relate to others. People who have these behavior disorders are easily hurt when they do not get the recognition that they feel they deserve, and they are hypersensitive to criticism or insults. Both disorders cause a person to have an unrealistic self-image, with one causing exaggerated self-esteem and the other causing low self-esteem.