ADD/ADHD and Narcissism relating to communication

I did a few searches on forum & blog posts before starting this new topic to see if there was a recent discussion that I should post to, but didn't see anything that was quite fitting. I have commented on threads in the past week or so covering inability to answer a question directly, etc., but this subject is enough different that I wanted to post it separately.

I am the ADD one in the family, and along with numerous other communication battles, my husband has always accused me of being unable to admit mistakes. In trying to find "answers" I think I was Googling things like "inability to admit mistakes" or something like that when I came across this article:

Please note that this link is an archived version of the article from the Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis of New Jersey. I tried to find a better link, but could not, so hopefully this is OK.

I am not stating that ALL ADD/ADHD folks are also narcissistic, just that I read this article and felt like the authors had been secretly watching me for 20 years. Of anything I have read or learned about myself, ADD, etc. this has had one of the most profound effects.

I am interested to hear comments from ADD/Non-ADD folks to see if they see any tendencies described that match their own traits/spouses traits. A word of caution - NON-ADD spouses - PLEASE don't use this as ammunition against your ADD-spouse. My husband has done this on occasion, and maybe it's appropriate, but while I was still trying to get my arms around it and really understand the implications, sometimes it was hard when he used this article as a "weapon" on me :).

Thanks for sharing the link. 

Thanks for sharing the link.  I skimmed the article and so won't comment except about a few things that caught my eye.  I'm the non-ADHD spouse although I think that I have some characteristics that are often associated with ADHD.

1) Taking responsibility for actions:  My husband, who has ADHD, seems to have a really hard time making decisions.  I decided long ago that this derived from his desire to avoid being held responsible for "bad" decisions.  I, on the other hand, can make decisions fairly easily, sometimes to the point of seeming impulsive.  In my head, what it feels like when I make a decision quickly is that it's not that I'm not putting in enough thought; rather, I just like to have decision making be over.  The other day, my husband asked me whether he should do something, and I said that he should decide and also that I didn't think he was asking me because of politeness or deference; rather, he was asking me to decide so that he wouldn't have to. 

2) Problem giving thanks:  A few years ago, our car got stuck in a snowdrift.  A passerby helped us push it out.  My husband said thanks but afterward, in the car, he kept on talking about how he could have gotten the car out himself.  I said, can't you just be grateful that this guy helped us? 

3) Problem acknowledging needs:  My spouse has said to me that he rarely asks for things (true) and that he doesn't have needs (hmm, not so true).  I have responded that when he has a spouse like me, who does the vast majority of the tasks in our relationship, there isn't much that needs to be asked for.  That doesn't mean he doesn't have needs.


Decisions - exactly

The decision-making is huge for me. I had an epiphany last week that EVEN WHEN I WAS DRIVING IN THE CAR BY MYSELF I was all wrapped up in which route to take to get me from point A to point B, and second-guessing myself the whole time and getting frustrated if I hit a stoplight or slow car that hindered the route I chose.

So even by myself, I was CONSUMED with making the "right choice." So multiply that times the factor of having someone ELSE depend on or affected by my decision, even if it's a tiny thing. And do NOT ask me to choose a restaurant, especially when I'm hungry. At least over the years my husband has started to say something like "and it doesn't have to be the ultimate dining experience, we just need food, so don't overthink it."


My wife has ADHD but does not treat it. Your link opened my eyes to NPD. I found that my wife fits all the criteria I can find on the subject. She decided to tell me that she was leaving me 6 months ago because I was depressed. I since got my depression under control through medication, talk therapy, diet and exercise. Now I believe my depression may have been situational due to her treatment of me. Through therapy, I was able to see my own passivity and low self-esteem issues. I am getting healthier every day and my eyes are opening to the truth.

I researched NPD a lot. I found out how to handle a narcissist and gave it a try. Every suggestion worked on my wife. I came to the conclusion that she not only doesn't love me, but that she probably isn't capable of loving me. Last night I told her that I will always love her but that we should separate. She cried. First she told me that she hated me. Next she told me that she is messed up but doesn't know what's wrong with her. Today she wrote me a card and told me that our minds aren't made up yet. It's as if I never said we should separate. 

She took off her wedding ring 2 months ago. She hasn't said ,"I love you" in 6 months, and I am positive she has a severe personality disorder. All of this and I feel hope still. What is wrong with me? I should run away screaming. She is only being nice because she sees her narcissistic supply leaving. If I stay, I am convinced she will eventually cheat on me. I could insist that she get a full psychological evaluation in order for me to stay but I doubt that would work.  I just don't know what to do.

What to do

Hi Ljlekan - I think my comment/reply notification is hitting my spam filter, so I didn't realize there was a reply here... We actually had some correspondence on another forum post ... I think I responded to one of your first posts and broached the Narcissistic topic there.

I have been on non-stimulant medication (Strattera/Wellbutrin) for many years. I think it has helped my distractibility, but not a lot of other add/adhd symptoms. Just a few weeks ago after reading this forum, my husband actually read a book on the subject and afterwards asked about my medication and why I wasn't taking stimulants. Long story short, at my last psych visit, my husband went with me (because everything he read said the spouse should attend WITH the add/adhd person since we have an inaccurate self-perception). I was prescribed a low-dose of Concerta and have noticed some effect. Tomorrow we'll go in and probably up the dosage.

I guess I lead with that because I think that if I had NOT been at least on the Strattera/Wellbutrin, it is highly likely that my emotions/self-"centric" behavior/irrational part of the add/adhd would have spiraled into a black hole a long time ago.

I have since Googled add/adhd and narcissism co-morbidity (is that the right word? seems so ominous :), and it looks like it is very common. I.e. if you grow up with add/adhd and it's not treated, your responses and reactions, and the responses and reactions of others TO YOU are skewed. I read a LOT of VERY discouraging information about narcissism after I found that article and made the connection. Everything I read was that there is really no way to "treat" it because it is SO ingrained. But, even after reading those things I felt like "Oh YEAH, well I AM GOING TO BEAT IT."

But again... this is all after many years of SLOWLY coming to the realization that there was WAY more at play than two equally-equipped, intelligent adults having a rational discussion. The truth is I am NOT equipped, but my thinking for a long time was that my husband was being unreasonable in his communication "demands."

I am wracking my brain trying to think of a way to approach your wife to seek a psych evaluation on HER OWN TERMS. Is she happy? Has she been willing to read any of these forums or that article on narcissism? I think I mentioned this in a different post, but what does she care about? If the condition of getting the psych evaluation is something that might finally wakes her up, that may be the way you have to go. In my "worst" moments, my husband has used the tactic of telling me he would fight for custody of our kids if I continued to act the way I was. I hated it, but more than anything else, that tended to scare me into at least a glimpse of rational thought. Besides that, REALLY imagining what my life would be like without my husband/children/home made an impact, but it took a really deep, dark hole and the risk of losing everything before I was willing to "go there."

Maybe read some of the posts in the medication section to see if there are "before" and "after" descriptions where the "before" matches your wife. If there are small things that you can point out or mention that might lead to larger "self-analysis" then maybe that will start chipping away at her armor.

From reading, experience, counseling, etc. I've learned that the capability to love is less "feeling" and more "action." I still experience apathy and have difficulty with my emotions, but when I ACT loving it helps me feel connected. If we all waited until "that loving feeling" hit us before we acted loving, we'd all be in a world of hurt :). So it's possible that if your wife could finally look in the mirror and admit at least some responsibility/accountability in the situation and get some help from a good psychiatrist including medication, the world might look VERY DIFFERENT. What I mean is if she could get on some medication that maybe cleared the fog a bit, her perceptions could change. You guys (she) would still need to work on the "learning to do loving things" part, but at least you'd be on more solid ground.

I was a DIFFERENT PERSON 9 months ago. Starting back at church and counseling has helped immensely, but it is ultimately up to me, and sometimes it is REALLY HARD for me to deal with because it doesn't "feel good" AT ALL! :). It will not be an easy road for her or you even if she does agree to a psych evaluation/treatment.

I wish the circumstances or technology were such that I could mind meld with her so that she would know that I understand her, but that she needs to look at EVERYTHING DIFFERENTLY or she will lose everything.

Take care of yourself! :)





My hope waxes and wanes constantly. Hope comes from the possibility that this is severe ADHD and not NPD. They are so closely related that I can't tell the difference. She said she is getting an eval done (ADHD screen) but can't get in until June. 2 more months. I will just have to keep turning to all of my support people and God to get me through. I am ready to move towards health and happiness. I just don't know how long I can wait for my wife to join me in that quest. I do love her with all that I am. I fell in love with her the night we met. I can wait for her, it just won't be easy. Once again, thank you for taking the time to share your story.