SOAPBOX •ÊWard Weaver's problem is far from unique

The awful story began in January when Ashley Pond disappeared on her way to school. It grew to national attention by the time her friend Miranda Gaddis disappeared in the same fashion. And as we all know, both of them were ultimately found on the property of Ward Weaver III.

Ashley's body was stuffed in a barrel buried beneath the concrete slab that Weaver poured behind his house five months ago Ñ just like his dad did before him.

As the details concerning Weaver have unfolded, they scream out to those of us in the know, 'N, N, N!' N is the term used to describe one who falls within the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD as it is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Ñ Fourth Edition (or DSM-IV), the manual for mental health professionals.

NPD is an insidious disorder, little known to the general public, that some experts think is at the core of several other disorders and mental illnesses. For many, the definition of narcissism involves terms such as 'self-centered' or 'in love with themselves.'

But it stretches far beyond that. They are, as Dr. Sam Vaknin would say, infatuated with their image as it would be reflected in a pool of water. They are incapable of love as we know it. Theirs is a murky world. They share a long list of comparable traits, and they are all but impossible to cure or even manage. It's amazing how similar they are all across the world. Mental health professionals come away from contact with them absolutely enraged.

Our prisons are full of diagnosed NPDs. We are seeing more and more of them in the news recently: CEOs being led off in handcuffs, politicians, religious leaders, sports stars and murderers.

Those of us who have been victimized by Ns and found our way to sites such as Suite continue to be amazed by the similarities. Close contact with an N can be very traumatic, with many victims suffering from a form of post traumatic stress disorder.

Ns are very sharp, most being of above-average intelligence. They have spent their whole lives developing their deceptive personas. However, their emotional development is no better than that of a bright child. Sadly, most of them are but vaguely aware of their conditions.

Now the FBI is coming under intense heat for dragging its feet. If the authorities had been trained in methods of spotting and dealing with Ns, perhaps this case could have been broken long ago.

Chuck Fasst is a Portland area writer who makes his living restoring automobiles. He lives in Southeast Portland.

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