27 thoughts on “How To Deal with the Narcissist in Your Life

  • March 30, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Good points – if somebody is in a relationship with a narcissist and doesn’t stand up for themselves or isn’t solid in the knowledge that they are as important as the narcissist – how is that the narcissist’s fault?

    • March 30, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Being in a relationship with a narcissist is often damaging to assertiveness and self-esteem. And any time one person is intentionally unkind to another, I’d argue it’s their fault. But I agree that standing up for yourself and recognizing your own value is key.

  • April 2, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Not to interlope, but it has been my experience – and I’ve had way too much experience – that narcissists are not “intentionally unkind”. That is to say, the don’t really define “intent” or “kindness” the way non-narcissist do. Being unkind (lacking empathy, egocentric, consumed by sense of entitlement, etc.) is as “normal” as compassion, humility, and generosity (in healthy doses) are for a non-narcissist. And I guess, that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? How does one assert oneself in a world (or relationship) where their partner, spouse, child, parent sees only his/herself (needs, feelings, worldview). It can be a tough nut to crack, as at their core, narcissists can be shape-shifters or chameleons early on; which makes it difficult to identify or establish the terms/values/boundaries of the relationship. When you add to this the fact that healthy people demonstrate a little narcissism now and again – which drives the unhealthy narcissist mad – it really is a challenge. But I agree, in the end, we are each responsible for our individual choices and behaviors, and the best bet is to be true to yourself, be clear to your partner (narcissist or not) in terms of your identity, your needs, your feelings; and either your will manage the relationship, or it will end.

    • April 2, 2014 at 11:38 am

      All good points! What you’re saying is, a narcissist isn’t immoral (as in, intentionally unkind); they’re amoral.

      • April 2, 2014 at 1:18 pm

        I would like they are extremely exhausting!!!!!!

        And I totally agree with Inverted Narcissist when said
        ” It can be a tough nut to crack, as at their core, narcissists can be shape-shifters or chameleons early on; which makes it difficult to identify or establish the terms/values/boundaries of the relationship.”
        I have not found this just “early on” but ever going and NON stop. I describe the Narcissist in my family as…”One who is tootling along in a car, causes a horrendous crash, leaving bodies everywhere, but never looks back. (of course in my case you need to throw in “Borderline Personality” JUST MY OPINON , only expertise I have is from many many years of experience, and piles of bodies. 😉

      • April 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

        Yes, the shape-shifter/chameleon aspect is part of the charm–that’s how they ensnare you, and then it’s hard to get out until you’re part of the wreckage. (Am I mixing my metaphors too much?)

      • April 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm

        “Shape shifting chameleon” describes my sister so well. She is all shiny and new to people who have just met her. Everyone adores her, theywant her to be the center of conversations because she’s interesting and a little wild. Once you get to know her, she is domineering and selfish.

      • April 2, 2014 at 2:58 pm

        Beware the charismatic narcissist!

  • April 2, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Can narcissists be healed, i.e. is there any hope down the road and is it worth waiting for someone to change?

    • April 2, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      With any personality disorder, treatment can be tricky and long-term. Usually, narcissists don’t present for treatment (they don’t think they have a problem, they think others around them are too sensitive or otherwise to blame.) But if a person is truly motivated to change and willing to do all the work that entails, then healing is always possible. I can’t say what the time frame is, though, or whether it’s worth it for you to wait. There are no guarantees in mental health and relationships, unfortunately. But I wish you all the best in making the right decision for you.

      • April 2, 2014 at 8:46 pm

        Thank you!!

      • April 2, 2014 at 8:49 pm

        You’re welcome!

      • September 17, 2014 at 4:03 pm

        I belive you are the one that said a narcissistic mother won’t leave her children you are soooo wrong
        my mom did without a glance behind so don’t assume you know all there is to a narcissistic mother and child.
        be careful please they are dangerous deception comes easily to them I should know I’m 61 years old belive me I speak from experience that I would not wish on my worst enemy

    • September 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      No they cannot change I should know I’ve tried and tried to reach my mother to show her how much she is hurting me emotional ( I suffered a nervous break down) due to her total abandonment when I had back surgery I’ve been seeing a shrink ever Sence 2012 I was a mess! Severely depressive disorder why I could not except the fact that my mom would abandoned me after catering to her every wish for 19 years I’m 61 years old now and damaged beyond repair my only wish is to no longer have guilt for cutting the ties, do I feel free no I do not my life with my mom will never be the same,do I cry? Yes all the time, do I have second thoughts about cutting the ties,EVERYDAY did I try to go back ? Of Course I did.only to be treated as nothing, Stop hold your breath dear or you’ll end up like me,belive me I suffer unbelievable lost for a mother that I really had.
      somehow they are able over time to program and ingraine you’re very thoughts and they are dangerous if angered , they will think nothing of calling the Ss office and lie threw thier teeth thus you’re life for month’s are trying to prove you are innocent.
      afterwards and they don’t know you know it was them,
      they than will claim they knew all along you were innocent.
      now is it any wonder how nuts they can drive you
      be smart stay away or the lest watch what you say

  • April 2, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    How does someone become a narcissist? As a result of too much praise from their parents? Are narcissists able to modify their behavior? Under what circumstances? A problem is that many narcissists charm acquaintances, or even an enabling spouse, and thus their feeling that they are special is reinforced. Finally, what can be done when a child is a victim of narcissistic parent(s)? In my experience, these children feel bad about themselves and/or may keep trying to win the parent(s) love. People outside the family are unaware or do not intervene. If the behavior of narcissists is a choice to hurt someone, isn’t that immoral? They are described as people who are wired totally differently from a “normal” person, but isn’t there a continuum?

    • April 3, 2014 at 9:30 am

      There’s definitely a continuum. That’s why some people have narcissistic traits rather than the full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. Generally, it’s thought that narcissism results from trauma (abuse and/or neglect), rather than too much praise. The person develops a false self in order to compensate for their perceived deficits; it’s about the narcissist protecting a fragile ego. In my clinical experience, the narcissist (who is never actually presenting for treatment for narcissism, but often because he feels misunderstood in relationships, or is coming in for couples therapist) doesn’t actually admit to any childhood neglect or abuse. That doesn’t mean it didn’t occur. It could be that the narcissist has blocked it from consciousness, and for some reason needs to believe the best about his/her parents. There could be a lot of shame. In terms of modifying the behavior, it’s about the willingness to become self-aware. And in terms of childhood victims of narcissistic parents–I only work with adolescents and adults, so I can’t really speak much to how to treat them. But with adolescents and adults, I find it’s helpful to validate that their feelings of low self-esteem are a natural outgrowth of having parents who were so internally focused and therefore could not meet the child’s emotional needs.

    • April 3, 2014 at 10:08 am

      I realized a few years ago, that I am married to a narcissist. Daily she NEEDS to put down others, to boost her own ego. – I get caught in the crossfire more times than I’d like to admit.

      Who’s to Blame? From my perspective, her Mother!!

      While it took me nearly twenty years of marriage to figure out, I can see it clear as day:
      Her mother regularly invalidates her daughter’s feelings and emotions. She holds love hostage in return for ‘proper’ behavior AND, she belittles my wife’s important events/milestones, i.e. birthdays, achievements, etc… I can’t imagine growing up in that environment.

      To make matters worse, it’s a VERY sensitive subject. I usually end up on the losing side because “Mom” is always right; always proper; always knows best — it is a VERY thick and difficult layer.

      In answer to your question, I believe it’s a parents LACK of attention and the belittling or invalidation of importance/feelings/emotions that creates a narcissist.

      • April 3, 2014 at 10:42 am

        Thanks for this contribution. Very helpful!

    • September 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Well in my mother’s place she was the only girl and was praised from morning to night how great she was, AND that she was better than anyone else.
      I lost count how many times my mother said ( I’m better than your father)this one day I ask her if there was any thing she didn’t like about herself,well she paused for a second,than said well I’m a little too thin.
      now ask yourself the same question and most likely you can come up with about 10 things you don’t like about yourself right!!!
      not my mom I’m 61 years old.
      and the sad part is that they believe this you will never get threw to them

      • September 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm

        It sounds like you’re still feeling deeply troubled by what’s been done to you. I’m glad that you’ve got a therapist who’s trying to help you sort it out. If you’ve only been working together since 2012, that’s not actually that long, given the length and scope of your trauma. So please continue with your treatment. I wish you all the best.

  • April 8, 2014 at 12:19 am

    I’m a Certified Peer Specialist interning at the Psych. Rehab. program in my area, and I often help facilitate group discussions on the scheduled topic of the group. Two of the people who attend will often want to share about something related to the topic at hand, then continue with difficulties in their lives past and present. To find a balance between getting back to the topic to allow others to share, without invalidating their need to share, is difficult, for me and other facilitators. I’ve offered to meet with them after group to further discuss what’s on their mind; I’ve yet to be taken up on this offer. My supervisor, other facilitators and I have brainstormed ways of handling this situation appropriately, and in a way that benefits the whole group. It’s been pointed out that it’s the attention of the whole group that is wanted by these two individuals. There are self-esteem issues involved, as well as little support of people in their personal lives, and few opportunities to talk out their ‘problems.’ (one individual does see a therapist weekly, and I encourage him to discuss difficult matters with her, as I’m not a therapist.) My one-on-one role is to focus on strengths to use to help recovery. And listen. That balance in group to benefit everyone in the group can be elusive, yet we are trying.

    • April 8, 2014 at 9:10 am

      I’m guessing you think that those group members have narcissistic tendencies (i.e. are unable to take into account the needs of the other group members)? Maybe you’ve already tried having a one-on-one with each of them to discuss the problem and provide psychoeducation about the group process and how it’s supposed to function? You could certainly validate their needs but draw clear boundaries. Sometimes with clients, I actually make a plan for how to interrupt them when they go on tangents so that they don’t feel disrespected when I do it but instead, it maximizes our time together. And if you find that those group members are continuing to hijack the group, then you might want to consider whether they are actually capable of engaging in a group process or need to find their help elsewhere. There are certain people for whom groups are not an effective treatment modality, especially if they’re jeopardizing the treatment of others. Good luck!

    • February 11, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Why dont you set a time limit so that others can speak as well. Then it just part of our new group procedures and not directed at anyone specifically. Just a thought.

  • May 13, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    I liked the article’s suggestions. Just wanted tp react – related to an article I just read on how the notions of narcissism started and how it changed over time.

    A sensible notion -and this was once mentioned by a psychiatrist I’ve seen – is that it definitely is a continuum and we’re all on it somewhere. Some narcissism — not narcissistic personality disorder – but sense of personal strengths — probably is healthy – it goes along with an ability to put our own needs first – not all the time, but when we need to. I would venture a guess that almost all highly successful people have a good amount of narcissism which allows them to hold their own their objectives as important. Probably a lot of us could use a bit more – it’s part of what helps us to be assertive. But a lot of us are also more aware of others’ feelings – or maybe just more willing to let others have their say.

    But I suspect that high levels always can get in the way on private, intimate relationships, where the lack of empathy – and general failure to meet a partner’s need – is exhausting, discouraging and just generally miserable for those who are closest.

    In one relationship I remember feeling like my boyfriend sucked the air out of me — as he would hold court in groups — and talk over what I said – and often what others said as well. But he had an attractive high level of energy and fun — as long as you were willing to be the audience.

    I think the best suggestion is about facing what you yourself feel/think and asserting yourself – repeatedly — so that you do hear yourself and don’t lose your very sense of self…

    • May 13, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      I love your point about the continuum of narcissism, and how it serves an important self-protective function. But everything in moderation, right?

  • August 28, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Does anyone have experience with or a sense of NPD existing with Borderline PD? They seem to have a lot in common.

    • August 28, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      They are similar in that they both involve fragile egos and hypersensitivity to others. But people with borderline personality disorder do not generally display the same failures of empathy that are the hallmark of NPD. Also, people with NPD are much more likely to seem cold, whereas BPD involves excessive emotionality. I imagine there are people who fit both diagnoses but I haven’t actually seen any in my practice.


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