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Narcissistic Abuse and the Movies that Counteract and Contradict It

I know, I know. Movies are “just movies.” Make-believe events in a make-believe world. They’re not real.

Or are they?

I believe movies give us a glimpse into a world that could be…if only we could escape the mind-control, iron-grip and false guilt of our narcissists. If we could jump out of the same tired old mental pathway they set us on…that has been carved ever deeper in our psyche as we trudged unhappily along it, day after day, year after year.

Movies bounce us out of our mental rut and give us a water-on-dry-ground glimpse of a new way of thinking. Of living. During the movie, we don’t feel False Guilt! Uff-da! What a relief! You can just feel your cortisol levels dropping. Your face relaxing. Your tensed stomach relaxing and pooching out.

Here are four quirky, whimsical movies that changed my life. Or, at the very least, gave me a glimpse of the good life I wished to live and could live, sans narcissistic abuse. I hope they will change your life (for the better) too.

You Can’t Take It With You: To sum up this movie in one or two trite sentences is to commit a grave disservice. No, you must feel it. Absorb it. This masterpiece by Frank Capra shows the delights of becoming a happy, oblivious eccentric vs being a so-called normal, impressive, greedy, social climber.

This movie changed my life when I was only twenty-two. Because of it, I quit a job I hated to begin my long, slow, interrupted journey toward mental health. You Can’t Take It With You showed how delightful, how free life could be if one stopped worry and amassing filthy lucre and, instead, pursued ones true passions, true joys. Not that I actually embraced the lesson. If fact, the corporate world sucked me back in just two years later. But I’m trying again now!

You take this journey under the skillful acting of James Stewart, Jean Arthur and my darling Lionel Barrymore. Juxtaposed against their lovely way of life is the stuffed shirt, every-hair-in-place, unhappy life of the “perfect people.”

You will love it!

Shooting the Past: This movie is for the wounded whose only desire is to lose themselves in the silence, the peace, the protection of a sepia-colored library. For everyone, like me, who simply wants to “beaver away” because frankly, we are so bruised by narcissists, flying monkeys and life in general, that we can’t take anymore.

Brilliantly acted by that most eccentric of British actors, Timothy Spall, you will fall under the thrall of the quirky, whimsical, eccentric serenity of the library and its fascinating staff. I dare not say more or I’ll have to cry “Spoiler Alert!” (Spoiler Alert: You get to meet the actor who voices Smeagol/Gollum in this movie!)

84 Charing Cross Road: When I say that this movie changed my life, I mean it changed my life! Best of all, it’s 100% true. No flights of fancy here. It actually happened.

Helene Hanff was an unmarried freelance writer who toiled at writing in her one-room New York flat…but dreamt of traveling to England. The England of Shakespeare, Chaucer and Pope. But she couldn’t afford it.

Unexpectedly, she strikes up a long-distance friendship with a gentleman at a London bookshop located at, you guessed it, 84 Charing Cross Road. While they correspond, you watch Miss Hanff living a delightfully full life. Music, friendship, food, Central Park. She showed me how rich and joyful a single, solitary life could be. She inspired me and, when my narcissists finally let me go, she informed the blissful life of single, solitary freedom I finally realized.

Need I add my narcissist were furious I’d discovered that movie and, through it, they’d lost me forever. Oh yes. There was even cussing. 😉

Amélie: Yes, I know it came out years ago. But I only watched it today for the first time, at the insistence of a friend. She was so right! Amélie shows you a different way of living. A wonderful light, happy feeling. A feeling I wish to pursue. A feeling you never have around narcissists.

Set in the beauties of Paris, Amélie lives alone and “walks in beauty like the night.” Literally. Many of the scenes are shot at night, as Amelie seems happiest strolling through solitary, quiet places in beautiful nighttime Paris in her comfortable, black shoes. A friendless, shy, only child of highly-strung parents (like me), she’s actually quite happy walking the streets, subways and bridges of Paris alone. Observing people. Devising ways to make their lives better.

If she sounds lonely, she really isn’t. Watching Amélie will lift your cares from your shoulders. When the credits run, you’ll realize how silly they all are. How silly you’ve been for taking them so seriously. Amelie jogs you out of the mental ruts of To-Do lists, perfectionism and workaholism. It is delightfully quirky, whimsical and imperfect…just like Paris.

Good luck finding this final movie. It isn’t particularly healing, just tremendous fun.

Lost for Words: This movie is eccentricity-on-a-stick. Set in a sad setting of an elderly woman who is getting “past it,” somehow it avoids being sad. Starring the inimitable Dame Thora Hird with Peter Postelthwaite as her son, she is the eccentric who is never hurt by her own eccentricity.

For example, when she leaves home, she leaves the doorkey in a memorable place. “I’ve stuck it in the lock,” she tells her son, “so you can find it.” And when she sells her home, she does so by inviting all the potential buyers to tea together and then regaling them with everything that’s wrong with the house. (Need I add that it sells immediately!?)

Shooting the Past is a breath of fresh air in this uptight, stuffy world in which everything must be done “by the book” and no one seems able to have fun without expensive toys and lashings of alcohol.

Rant over.

The movies I’ve listed above all changed my life. Well, perhaps I didn’t learn their lessons as well as I should have, but they informed my philosophy towards life and the dream life I imagine for myself. Best of all, they are serene. Peaceful. Calming. Mirroring the life we all want, where nothing must be taken so damn seriously…and isn’t that the very opposite of how narcissists want us to think!?

I hope you’ll find these movies, watch them with a popcorn bowl in one hand and a tissue in the other and they help you on your journey of healing as they helped me.

Thanks for reading! Please share your favorite healing movies in the Comments section below. Click here to visit my website and explore how you can subscribe, support and inspire more articles just like this.

Narcissistic Abuse and the Movies that Counteract and Contradict It

Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post freelance writer and food blogger. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael's heroic battle with Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to read her writings about food, please visit Thank you!

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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2018). Narcissistic Abuse and the Movies that Counteract and Contradict It. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Aug 2018
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