The Arduous Work of Treating Narcissism: A Therapist’s Guide

Smiling black mask among white masksNarcissism is difficult to diagnose and treat. As with all personality issues, the narcissistic traits a person possesses exist on a continuum. Not all people with narcissism are the same, and treatment approaches vary from individual to individual. This article is written as a basic guide for treating a person who either self-identifies as narcissistic, or one you identify as having narcissism.

Please note the steps below may need to be repeated over and over again, and not necessarily in order.

Step 1: Understand Narcissism

The therapist must be well versed on what it means to be in a narcissistic relationship. It is one thing to read about narcissism, another altogether to be in a close relationship with someone with narcissistic qualities. Many therapists have no idea how intoxicating, exciting, and heart-wrenching life with a narcissistic person can be.

Understand that the three main traits of narcissism are sense of entitlement, lack of insight, and lack of empathy.

Step 2: Build the Therapeutic Alliance

The therapist must require two things from the therapeutic relationship with a person who has narcissistic tendencies: respect and collaboration. Respect for and collaboration with others is challenging—some might say impossible—for people with narcissism. They will be learning how to practice these interpersonal skills in real time, in vivo, in their relationship with the therapist.

Step 3: Identify the Defenses

The narcissistic person’s defenses come in the form of personality modes or personas (think multiple personalities, but different). The therapist must endeavor to help the person identify some of the protective personality modes they use throughout life. Here are some common examples:

  • The critic
  • The judge
  • The detached persona
  • The addict
  • The womanizer
  • The entitled one
  • The victim
  • The abuser
  • The manipulator
  • The rage-aholic
  • The superior one
  • The bored one

Note: This list is not exhaustive. Therapists should work collaboratively with each person to identify their unique defenses.

All of the above-listed personas are protective personalities that people with narcissism use for emotional protection. The two feelings people with narcissism tend to avoid at all costs are neediness and vulnerability.

Step 4: Identify the Underlying Triggers

The underlying schemas are what cause the need for the protective personas. Think of schemas as triggers or buttons that are pushed when someone causes what is known as a “narcissistic wound.” Here are some common triggers experienced by people identified with narcissism:

  • Feelings of emotional abandonment
  • Feelings of inner defectiveness
  • Feelings of lack of control or security
  • Sense of emotional deprivation
  • Fear of ridicule or shame

Through both role modeling and psychoeducation, you can teach a person with narcissism about the need for re-parenting the early attachment wounds they have experienced.

It is difficult to identify these underlying triggers because you are working with someone who may have low insight and who may be emotionally “split off” or “blocked” from feeling these vulnerable and devastating emotions. You will likely encounter a protective mode before you will identify the underlying “root” of the problem. Understand that the primary emotional experience the person with narcissism is avoiding is a sense of shame. Rather than experience this sense of shame, the person “flips” into a protective mode.

It is important to help the person with narcissism to manage these underlying feelings of shame by teaching self-compassion and offering healthy self-soothing strategies. Also, as you remain in the relationship with the person, being present with them as they dare to “go there,” they will hopefully learn how to experience and process through relational “demons.”

Step 5: Develop an Inner Healthy Adult/Parent

The job of therapy is to help the person with narcissism learn to re-parent their inner hurt child. The inner child is responding to early attachment trauma or some other type of lack of emotional attunement as a child. Without going into a complete analysis of the causes of narcissism, suffice it to say a developmental component exists.

Developmentally, as a child, the person with narcissism was not properly emotionally regulated in the inter-relationship with the parent(s). This may have caused the child to develop “split off” protective personas as defenses to protect their inner sense of shame.

Teaching the person with narcissism to re-parent their inner hurt child, through the process of imagery, is effective and powerful for initiating healthy change in the person’s inner world.

Step 6: Heal the Inner Child

Even before a person with narcissism learns to re-parent themselves, you, as the therapist, can begin the process by trying to meet their inner hurt child and begin bonding with them. You can be a healthy role model, offering a “corrective emotional experience” for the person. Perhaps you are the only person who has ever been able to reach their inner child in a way that represents safety.

Through both role modeling and psychoeducation, you can teach a person with narcissism about the need for re-parenting the early attachment wounds they have experienced. They may deny they have any such hurts, but explain to them that their behavior “tells on them.” Do not argue with the person; rather, simply state and instruct what is happening.

Step 7: Develop a Recovery Plan

Not only is it essential to heal the inner world of the person with narcissism, it is also important to identify all of the person’s “bottom-line behaviors” and begin a “program of recovery.” In essence, treat the narcissistic symptoms as part of an addiction of sorts that needs to be put in remission.

Here is a list of some possible items to go on the abstinent (“no-fly zone”) list of the person with narcissism:

Help the person identify their own “go-to” strategies for self-protection.


As you can see, helping a person with narcissism to heal is a challenging endeavor. While you are working within this relationship, make sure you take care of yourself. I will end by offering these final words of advice for self-care:

  • Require and model respect.
  • Consult often; debrief after each session.
  • Exercise and take care of your physical health.
  • Do not personalize the behaviors of people with narcissism.
  • If you feel defensive, back off, take a deep breath, change something.
  • Do not have a power struggle with the person you’re trying to help.

Remember: While it takes hard work to help a person with narcissistic qualities, there is little to be gained from working harder than they do.

© Copyright 2017 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Sharie Stines, PsyD, Topic Expert

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Cole

    January 12th, 2017 at 6:50 AM

    Lots of steps to understanding and treating as I am sure is the case with any personality disorder

  • Jonathan S

    January 12th, 2017 at 12:14 PM

    I noticed womanizing was mentioned twice. When woman experience narcissistic traits, do they tend not to engage is a usury type relationship with men in their life?

  • Sharie S.

    January 13th, 2017 at 8:27 PM

    Some do. But most of these types of women get the label, “borderline personality.”

  • travis

    January 13th, 2017 at 7:46 AM

    I know my limits
    I don’t think that I could handle the conceit working with them

  • c

    January 13th, 2017 at 6:36 PM

    Anyone that enters into a relationship with a narcissist will be in for a big surprise. Sometimes the “victims” will believe they are within a relationship just to find out that it was all an illusion! Mind games that’s right. The narcissist will play mental games and make you think and believe you are connected just to discard you at will when they want to leave and tell you it was all in your head. If and when they do leave because they will! It’s because they are bored, not stimulated enough, you stop supplying their needs; and if you should happen to leave them first they may become fierce or violent at first just to keep you hanging then dump you. Then they will play nice again to befriend you but this time to set you up and punish you, and they will do that you can bet on it. If you do get away from them for awhile then you may get surprised someday when they come back. When that happens run and don’t look back! You will never recover from their comeback I kid you not. I can’t stress it enough that you should leave with carpet tied to the souls of your shoes so as not to leave any tracks. Then hide and pray for a lifetime.

  • Rissie w. m.

    January 16th, 2017 at 12:43 AM

    Narcissists follow me throughout life. I want to be free from their tactics.

  • Pat

    October 4th, 2017 at 6:02 PM

    The trick seems to be in changing the relationship dynamic. All-good attracts all-bad, to put it simply. Overly caretaking/altruistic sorts tend to attract Narcs, again and again. You need more self-compassion in your life. It is not bad to think of yourself to a reasonable degree. You must; it is your protection against these monsters. Read “Human Magnet Syndrome” by Ross Rosenberg or “Reinventing Your Life” by Jeffrey Young.

  • Margie

    September 12th, 2017 at 6:22 PM


  • Jackie M.

    November 4th, 2017 at 7:26 PM

    You have described my experience exactly. While the article gives hope of some sort of improvement in the behaviors of the narcissist, After 12 years with one, I don’t believe there is anything close to a cure for the disorder. It is so tragic.

  • Engela

    September 5th, 2018 at 7:36 PM

    My husband started an agfair. Last year august, judy told mr his not happy anymore. It was a great shock. After a month i find out about the affair and he blamed me saying. I locked him up in a cage and she sets him free. I eas sp shocked because he came and go as he pleases. He still stayed with me brvause of business and weekends leave with so many lies to where he was going. Later on left wothout any shame on weekends to be with her 500km away. But still assuringe he is sorting himself out. Its a year now and he is back and forth. Now she forced him to divorcee because he likes her money. I came to realise that he was a narcisst all the time. Run and never look back. Only God can cure them. IF THEY WANT TO BUT NARCISSTS DO NOT WANT TO CHANGE. Evil SPIRITS GEZEBEL AND AGAP SPIRITS

  • lynsey M.

    February 18th, 2019 at 7:26 AM

    how is she forcing him to divorce, youve said he likes her money, doesnt sound like hes the type that you can make do something he doesnt want to do . Why blame the women, who is problem just another victim

  • Gemma

    June 2nd, 2019 at 1:22 PM

    Been there twice. One I’m still with. You hit the nail on the head. It is.a living hell and you explained it well.its just exhausting and you dont see it for years. The first one cruelly dumped me in a way I have never heard and it caused me ptsd. Evil people. Beware they come across as charming and yes they are but it’s an act that’s oscar worthy. The face in public is not the face at all in private.

  • Mills

    January 14th, 2017 at 12:24 PM

    I have been in a relationship before where the whole thing was always about her and always head to be about her. There was never any compromise to it, that’s just the way that things had to be because in her world, well, life always had to fully revolve around her. It took me quite some time to figure out that hey, I was not going to live like this, and be put down like this all the time. But I was so sucked in by her and her actions that it still took me a while to extricate myself from the tangled web that she had us wrapped up in.

  • Dianne

    January 14th, 2017 at 7:54 PM

    Narcissists can’t be cured with therapy. And it’s dangerous to try to treat them. All it does is give them more understanding of how to abuse their victims. Stay away from narcs. Leave them be in their disturbed sick world. Only a firing squad is adequate treatment for them. Or a labotomy. They are defective in the brain. So unless you can require their brain and give them the grey matter they are missing they are never cured. They all should be in jail. That wreak havoc on society in every way imagineable. mental nut jobs.

  • Cliff

    March 8th, 2018 at 12:18 PM

    Lots of insightful ideas from therapists and lots of bitter words from those who have felt hurt by those with a NPD. The former is helpful while the latter looks to assign blame and fail to address these people’s own issues. It’s easy to assign blame but there are two people in every relationship.
    “And this also, though the word lie heavy upon your hearts:
    The murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder,
    And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed.”
    Kahlil Gibran~The Prophet

  • Brian

    October 19th, 2018 at 6:57 AM

    Could not agree more.
    My experience has shown that those with NPD are drawn to each other. The “victim” is never innocent of their part in the “crime.”
    As a professional, I find the vilification in this article embarassing.

  • Betty

    February 19th, 2019 at 4:15 AM

    I can’t leave comment under Brain who wrote “My experience has shown that those with NPD are drawn to each other. The “victim” is never innocent of their part in the “crime.”As a professional, I find the vilification in this article ambarassing.” so I’m doing it here as this post sparked the reply.
    Brian’s thinking is preposterous, especially considering that he proclaims to be professional! Professional of what? Does anyone remember that women who were raped used to be blamed for it? Or mothers’ of autistic children were told their children were sick because of them! Thank God, these days are over!!! But apparently not when it comes to narcissistic abuse. Blaming the victim is a classical narcissistic ploy. This projection is their top strategy.
    Let’s be clear: the victim is not responsible for narcissistic abuse, especially if they have highly developed conscience, compassion, seeing good in everyone and other traits which make them literally blind towards those with dark harmful intentions. They only attract narcissists because of lack of awareness of power of their own character as well as their own wounding for which they seek comfort with those who appear happy to bring healing while they bring destruction. So it is our wounding which is the top attractor. Are we blamed for our own wounding? That’s a very deep question and the answer depends upon the layer of our existence we are examining.
    To put it simply, what Kahlil Gibran means by “And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed.” is that there must have been an unconscious intention to allow harm to come one’s way, it’s not that the robbed wanted to be harmed but wasn’t aware of his own deficiency so to speak, which allowed him to be robbed. But it goes really much deeper than this and takes a lot of studies of how this reality is created.

  • Astr

    February 2nd, 2020 at 9:39 AM

    Thank you for adding some balance in here!
    Does anyone think that knowing since the start that they have narcissistic tendencies, being open with them that I see through the mind games and that I am clear with them that even though I love them, I couldn’t be in a relationship with them unless they went through professional therapy to learn to heal from their life experience (as it is for sure related to childhood lack and trauma that they did not choose to carry) – do you think it might turn into a different situation? We’ve talked about narcissism before (he’s the vulnerable type) and he a few times expressed wanting to better his mind because he knows somethings off, he lacks the energy and emotionality and he knows it.. I can’t help but think sometimes that he might not be far enough on the spectrum to have a chance to heal from an early age, even though everyone’s writing that I should ‘run for my life and never look back’. Am I being optimistic or have you heard of cases where a person on the narcissistic spectrum (in this case inherited by a narcissistic father and ambiguous mother) have gotten better and engaged on a real healing journey?

  • Astr

    February 2nd, 2020 at 10:13 AM

    ** Also (forgot to mention), I came to understood that I probably attracted or tolerated the narcissistic energy because of my own experience of my mother who is also in the Cluster B personality spectrum. I understand now that I learned since early to put her psychological abuse, manipulation and anger while still loving her unconditionally, which is in the end also a bit of a deficiency/weakness in me – makes of me “the robbed” who is not innocent for having my wide hands open with the contents of my pocket!!

    Yet I have not truly been robbed yet, and my hands lay stronger by my side, but should I completely turn my back and move on?

  • Matthew

    October 15th, 2023 at 7:28 PM

    Firing squad? May I ask what your interest and expertise in therapy is, since this is a website and discussion on this subject? Your comment sounds more redolent of a tabloid newspaper comments section or social media discussion

  • Susan

    January 15th, 2017 at 9:42 AM

    Just started new George Simon book on Disturbed Character. Very applicable here and opposes this article’s tenet of underlying weaknesss. Previous book was Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.

  • Betty

    October 20th, 2018 at 8:00 AM

    What I find embarrassing is the lack of thorough research-based understanding of who is truly drawn to NPD on the part of those who call themselves professionals, like for example Brian. Study Sandra Brown;s excellent research to learn how this game works. Callousness, rampant vilification and equaling the predatory behavior with that of an empath;s is the last thing this love-impoverished world needs. I am not saying the empath is a saint. But general comments equaling empathy with narcissism are sheer insanity. If you want to point out empath;s faults, please be specific, gentle and compassionate. We have endured enough hell form the most brutal people on the planet, and I am certainly not going to accept more callousness form those with less developed conscience.

  • Peggy

    November 6th, 2018 at 7:43 AM

    “What I find embarrassing is the lack of thorough research-based understanding of who is truly drawn to NPD on the part of those who call themselves professionals”

    Interesting words from an empath. I am one, and my own gut tells me I am drawn to anyone whom I once deemed as a loving partner, friend, acquaintance, and even strangers in need. Think: The immigration issue in today’s political arena. I see victims of life, the other, more partisan viewpoint sees their OWN victimization should said immigrants be allowed to enter. Are these less than empathetic viewpoint all NPD sufferers? Isn’t, in fact, the heart of the empath about EMPATHY? Perhaps we all need to take a look at contemporary psychiatric information with a salty eye. Narcissism is a pop psychology term and some professionals are finally speaking out against the danger of using the diagnosis loosely. I love a narcissist low on the NPD spectrum and the sussing out of his past failed relationships had women, empaths, placed in the same position as I. He lost each and every one of them because of the disorder. Then again, I have friends who overeat constantly, have health issues that range from A to Z and I still continue to stand by them. I have a job in this world…I’m one of the lucky empaths of sound mental and emotional stability. If not me….then who? Perhaps your question should have been: Why do sufferers of NPD seek out empaths? You may not like the answer…I didn’t.

  • Tina

    February 20th, 2019 at 3:44 PM

    Only thing is Betty, you are not an empath.

  • T

    January 15th, 2017 at 8:40 PM

    I feel ashamed that I didn’t see the warning signs. I broke up with him 3 times, so I think I must of known deep inside he was wrong. I should’ve have known when, he told me his last three girlfriends were bipolar and when he told me ” I’m pretty famous around here!
    So alluring, I believed everything he said. He had his own rule for his AA program. It was ok to smoke weed, sponsor women and take xanax.
    My eyes are wide open now, strong as ever with absolutely no contact x 6 mos!!!!!!!
    He still continues to fool everyone. Still claims he is sober and continues to be a famous Sponsor😞
    I’m peaceful now, but I just want to be able to trust again.

  • SAmos

    September 5th, 2018 at 2:40 PM

    Wow, I literally could have written that EXACT paragraph. The only difference is he used the term “I’m kind of a big deal”.

  • T

    January 15th, 2017 at 9:00 PM

    Healing and learning to trust again

  • Lori

    January 16th, 2017 at 7:06 AM

    curious how many instances of someone go into therapy stem from this issue?

  • Pryor

    January 19th, 2017 at 11:10 AM

    And now here we are
    getting ready to install a classic one into the highest office in the land tomorrow

  • Roxanne

    January 24th, 2017 at 10:45 AM

    Dr. Stines, it would be interesting to know how many individuals with this disorder seek therapy? Or rather, what would prompt someone to seek treatment with these traits? Are there a disproportionate number of people involved in certain crimes or situations where therapy is court ordered or is that ever an option? From a layman’s view of your article, it does not seem like an action they would ever willingly seek out. Indeed, recognition of their effect on the world and lack of self-awareness must make any diagnosis and resulting therapy rare as these individuals do not acknowledge they’re culpability in any way. Thank you for your article and any response.

  • Tim

    July 20th, 2017 at 10:35 AM

    Roxanne, I have NPD and I am seeking therapy. It has taken 29 years of marriage and almost losing it all for me to finally see how devastating NPD is. The best way I can describe it is you feel stuck but don’t even know it. I praise my wife of 29 years for her love and her persistence! She is truly an angel for putting up with this horrible disorder for so long.

    Dr. Stines nailed it for me in step 5! It won’t be the same for every person with NPD, but for me that was spot on! I can recall in vivid detail at the age of 4 being accused of something I never did. My parents took me to our neighbors next door to apologize to their son for hitting him. I begged my parents to believe me that I never did a thing to that kid. My parents spanked me in front of them and forced me to apologize for something I never did. As a child, it devastated me that my parents did not believe me. Yes, as silly as this might sound, it was traumatic. The core or trigger of my NPD has ALWAYS been about accusing me of something I didn’t do OR something I did but refuse to admit it out of shame. Literally EVERY argument with my wife has been about this. It could be as little as turning down the wrong lane while driving. I would blame the driver in front of me and my wife said it was me. I would go off!! I would always accuse her of being like my father – never believing me. He (my father) used to accuse of me of “popping pills” at the age of 16 because I had sinuses (like him) and would take some of his sinus pills – another traumatic event that I can remember and site in detail. Now, I will also mention that my dad has NPD as well, really bad! He went through 3 wives and I see why. He never dealt with it and surely would never admit to it.

    So for me, narcissism is woven in my DNA and a few traumatic events that has lead me to this horrible disorder. To finally realize what I have is a HUGE burden lifted off me and I credit my wife for her struggles with this. I have hurt her dearly with this disorder and it breaks me that I have allowed this to happen!

    Will I be “cured”? I will always struggle with NPD, but at least now I can SEE IT and try to stop it before it gets out of hand! I am writing this a day after my wife and I had one of the worse arguments ever! Again, I refused to think I did anything wrong and showed no empathy towards her. I was stuck again! NPD will always be a work in progress in for me.

    Best advise I can give to a NPD like me, when you get into an argument 1) DO NOT DEFEND YOURSELF and 2) ALWAYS THINK OF THE OTHER PERSONS FEELINGS FIRST!

    I am open to talk with anyone with questions to a person with narcissism…and knows it!

  • Jaye

    July 20th, 2017 at 3:17 PM

    Tim, My husband has the disorder and I don’t know what to do to help him, where to start. I am worn out after 37 years of trying to fix him and us. I don’t want to leave him but it’s hell staying. Any suggestions?

  • bill

    July 27th, 2017 at 5:29 PM

    I’ve recently come to the realization that I have NPD. I’ve put my wife through hell for 23 years and she’s always tried for me. Now I’m at a critical time for my wifes meantal and physical health as well as my own and my kids well being. I know I have terrible problems and want help, need help and feel I can’t wait. Faking my way through life and trying to balance love, family and work are killing me. I can’t stand the pain i’ve cause my wife and feeling like I didnt realize i was hurting her and god knows who else. The problem, among many, is that ive tried to get an appointment with a therapist and nothing is available for months. I’m litterly getting crazier with fear that im going to permantly damage my wife and our relationship and maybe never get better. Everyone is saying run from someone with NPD. I want help, I don’t want to be like this. Please, any suggestions I would gladly take.

  • Heidi

    August 19th, 2017 at 10:09 PM

    I know I am a narcissist too… It’s eviden by my life after 30-40 years of denial. Please, can I heal from this?

  • Ela

    August 23rd, 2017 at 10:51 AM

    Tim, my adult daughter who’s the custodial parent to my 9 year old granddaughter is showing all traits to be NPD. She does not believe to be the one with the problem, but her parenting and actions show clearly that she needs help. Sadly, my granddaughter is feeling the abuse from her moms narcissistic behavior. Unfortunately, my daughter and I have a very toxic relationship, mainly because I try to protect my granddaughter and because I am the only person that knows of her true actions, lies, etc How can one get a person to seek help when they don’t think they have an issue or are the problem? Thank you in advance

  • S.D.M.

    August 28th, 2017 at 3:10 PM

    Keep up the strength and the will power to think of the other person’s feeling firstly before reacting. I am struggling in a relationship with a person who looks for a external source of blame at all times. I can see it is so unhealthy for them because deep down, it does not allow them to deal with the shame they are feeling. It just allows that shame to fester and cause them further depression. Life is so difficult with the daily need to support them emotionally yet not being supported in return especially in times of grave need such as in the death of a loved one. Good for you and your ability to recognize your dilema/condition. Continue your healing for the sake of your wife and loved ones!

  • Swapna

    September 23rd, 2017 at 9:26 PM

    Dear Tim, I need your help. Can you please provide your email address? Thank u.

  • sasha

    November 12th, 2017 at 4:23 PM

    Hello, thank you for sharing your experience. I would like to ask you a few questions if you’re available.

  • D Marie

    February 26th, 2018 at 2:59 PM

    After 27 years we’re starting to turn a corner. My husband is trying, but hasn’t owned the label, won’t go to therapy (which terrifies him.) He’s not a terror, but I can see his eyes change when he slips into that personality. I’m making change by doing the items on the self-care list, and God is helping him by not letting him get away with ANYTHING at work.
    Every day I remind myself to stop picking up his emotional socks! Stop being so damn nice! Be good instead. And pray for him: this protects me from bitterness and resentment. It still may not succeed if he won’t do his work, but I believe it’s possible. And, no, I am not, and will not stay if he goes back to treating me like human garbage.

  • Monica

    July 19th, 2018 at 2:39 PM

    Please tell me if he discarded me for much younger supply and pretty girl got a restraining order on me is there any hope I love I’m do much and want to help him. 15 years together

  • The Team

    July 19th, 2018 at 3:03 PM

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  • Frankie

    July 28th, 2019 at 4:50 PM

    Thank you for sharing. I like your tips at the end. My wife says I have Npd, but my therapist says he can’t sign off on it. But I do identify with some of the symptoms! I was diagnosed with Intermittent Exlposive Disorder/ grieving After losing my best friend of 25 yrs. But I appreciate your words and I admire your story

  • Sharie Stines

    January 25th, 2017 at 6:52 AM

    The only time I see these types of clients is when someone else drags them in to therapy. But once there, they seem to enjoy it and actually make some changes. You know, everyone is different. Some people are willing to change more than others. I have never done or read an official study on the number of people who actually seek treatment. All I know is that all of the clients I see are either victims of abuse or abusers themselves, so I live in this world.

  • bill

    July 27th, 2017 at 5:32 PM

    I’ve recently come to the realization that I have NPD. I’ve put my wife through hell for 23 years and she’s always tried for me. Now I’m at a critical time for my wifes meantal and physical health as well as my own and my kids well being. I know I have terrible problems and want help, need help and feel I can’t wait. Faking my way through life and trying to balance love, family and work are killing me. I can’t stand the pain i’ve cause my wife and feeling like I didnt realize i was hurting her and god knows who else. The problem, among many, is that ive tried to get an appointment with a therapist and nothing is available for months. I’m litterly getting crazier with fear that im going to permantly damage my wife and our relationship and maybe never get better. Everyone is saying run from someone with NPD. I want help, I don’t want to be like this. Please, any suggestions I would gladly take.

  • Betty

    September 24th, 2017 at 6:58 AM

    Bill, this is the beginning of change for you. Many people with NPD are proud and love being the way they are because it gives them free pass on life. They do not care but only appear so. This seems different for you. You have the courage to show your weakness. That is the beginning of vulnerability, the prerequisite for human connection. You show caring for your wife and kids. I wish I could offer you strategies and help. I am sorry but I do not know of any. Personally, when I was at my lowest, very sick and surrounded by many people with NPD and not knowing what was happening I turned inward, I began to seriously practice meditation. That turned my life around. Practicing meditation in order to discover your own truth and not to reach some amazing states is what brings us into greater truth of who we are. There are more narcissists waking up from this nightmare and realizing they are caught in this awful programming and deciding that they actually do care. This is the beginning of true love. If there was any strategy for living in this world it would be love. It doesn’t matter that it’s small at the beginning. The amount of love does not matter in the least. What matters is if it is true caring which means you might and certainly will be hurt. Even if you have a tiny sense of caring it is already a true treasure which has the power to see you through this hell you were born with. I send you blessings of peace on your journey.

  • anna K

    September 15th, 2017 at 8:52 PM

    My life partner of 40 years isa victim of abuse and an abuser himself. mostly of me. he lies and decieves , denies in front of others the abusive words he said to me. I`m considering separtion , I feel sorry for him knowing his condition, but I don`t want to suffer for the rest of my life either. He doest`n listes to reason like normal people would.

  • Pat

    September 23rd, 2017 at 5:29 PM

    Be terribly careful if planning to leave a pathological Narcissist when there are children involved — even teens and young adults who are still dependent. Narcissistic revenge is absolutely ungodly. These people have no mercy. See the website of Dr. Craig Childress on Attachment-based Parental Alienation. Contrary to popular myth, this is not first and foremost a divorce/custody issue, but an issue of triggered Narcissistic Personality Disorder in one of the parents. You not only lose your children perhaps forever in this terrible issue, but they will serve you buckets of Narcissistic Abuse before they go. Your own children become as cruel as the NPD spouse — even death threats to the targeted parent. You would have to live through this to believe it exists. These are kids who previously had normal loving relationships with the targeted parent. Then poof!, it is all over, and they turn into something you did not even know existed. Pathological Narcissists have the nasty trait of alienating other people in many forms; they exclude or dis-acknowledge or bully them. Silent Treatment is just the beginning. Be glad if you get off that lightly. This is what Parental Alienation is about, writ large. One day a switch flips in your own children, and they begin spewing hatred. Their NPD parent has subtly encouraged this behind the scenes for perhaps years. Again, read Dr. Childress’s books or blog. He nails it. If you try to get out of the NPD marriage, you can lose your kids too. And it is THEY who will insist they hate you and want to live with your spouse. How do you battle that in court? They are hostages as in Stockholm Syndrome, or a cult, but knowing that is worth little when you are going through such horrors. And I do not exaggerate here. This is a true horror. Pathological Narcissists are Sadists. They love to inflict pain on the innocent, and what better way to do it than turning your own children against you? Is your spouse spending a lot of time alone with the kids, even in driving them to extra-curricular activities regularly? Or does he/she whisk them away for “trips” without your knowledge or consent, though you are an intact family? This may be your Narcissist’s indoctrination time. They have the kids as a captive audience, dependent fully on the NPD parent. That parent starts calmly suggesting complaints against the other parent, and it takes off from there. Just little suggestions, you see. Not outright hatred at first. The kids are lulled into a certain mindset. Happens before they realize. So be very, very careful.
    I would also think about the fact that Pathological Narcissists marry Caretaking sorts, as a rule, or even other less powerful Narcissists. Mainly the vulnerable caretakers, though, who are always good, always looking out for others, and always trusting. I suggest Ross Rosenberg’s book, “The Human Magnet Syndrome.” But then again, if you have married one, it was probably Repetition Compulsion; you likely grew up with an NPD parent (or two), without realizing it. They primed you to be NPD fodder in adult life. YOU can change easier than the NPD spouse can or will. See some of the better material on Codependence. See Jeffrey Young’s Schema Therapy (“Reinventing Your Life). Can be done. Stop thinking your mission in life is to caretake others, particularly since they seldom appreciate it. Get away from the extreme poles of life. Life is far better in the center of the spectrum instead of at the end opposite to the NPD spouse. Opposites attract. You are better off being somewhere around the middle, in terms of your own traits. Too much self-sacrifice leaves your own flank exposed. And then the NPD spouse attacks it.

  • Ellie

    September 29th, 2017 at 1:22 AM

    Pat, thank you for this wake up call!

  • Astr

    February 2nd, 2020 at 10:43 AM

    Thank you Pat! Even though the narcissist im trying to figure out stuff with is that child who got snatched out from their mother, being soulwashed into hatred and left at the demise of the NPD father to then not even be taken care of, I needed to be reminded of my tendency to find excitement in extreme poles, overcasting my consciousness of the wellbeing and peace found in middle grounds. I discovered at least through this process that my mother also has Custer B personality disorder (or traits/behaviours) and better able to set boundaries and self-care today. Thank you, and all the best in your struggle. Hope you find your own peace, that you don’t blame neither yourself NOR the others, and I have the conviction that this will attract your child back to love and sharing with you even if a bit later on in life. All the best

  • Betty

    April 27th, 2017 at 8:50 PM

    It is wise to read George Simon Ph.D. rather than follow this article’s old understanding that all narcissists act that way because of their childhood wounds. Such a narrow way of thinking. “Viewing someone who’s in the act of aggressing as being defensive in any sense is a major set up for victimization” George Simon “In Sheep’s Clothing”. I had a therapist who was a narcissist with a few very strong psychopathic traits. He had me trauma bonded to himself for almost two years. I cannot stress how little psychotherapists know about this condition. My therapist was in his own therapy before where he learned to perfect his guise. Then he became a true master of deception through training in one very good school for psychotherapy. It is so easy for them to fool their own psychotherapists and mentors because of their unbelievable ability to perfectly mold to what the other wants to see. Shari Stines above says ” once there, they seem to enjoy it and actually make some changes.” Yes, exactly, she only fails to mention that the reasons for these “desirable” changes are ulterior and will serve a more perfected form of manipulation and are not a form of healing. These people do not submit! They will fake it if they can see a positive outcome. But they do not submit! I have never suffered so much in my life as when my therapist cut me up from inside with his therapeutic interventions which always appeared to be most loving. He could touch my heart so deeply, so lovingly. And when I would experience cognitive dissonance and many other insanely intense emotions which accompany such relationships he’d gently point to my childhood trauma so that it’d look as emotional flashback or old pain resurfacing. He is a masterly slaughter machine. Ruined my health and finances completely and had zero remorse. It took me a long time to recognize the three phases of every such relationship (idealize, devalue, discard) were all part of his game. But he unwittingly opened my eyes to many other predatory people in my life, including my husband. Now I have not one such person in my life left. I am on my way to be free. Do your research before you reach these outdated victim-mentality driven conclusions of everyone acting out of some deep hurt. There are many other reasons for acting as a predator. Check them out.

  • None

    July 27th, 2017 at 12:16 PM

    Are you sure you’re not the one with NPD? Sounds like everyone is to blame but you. You got rid of them all because they weren’t up to your standards. You’re always the victim.
    Perhaps you can’t tell if someone had remorse or not because you can’t empathize?
    I’m not saying this to tease or to be cruel, but honestly… how can anyone be sure? The NPD thing is a bit of a catch-22. It’s like anyone who disagrees is in “denial”.
    Anyway, this is what I wonder about myself, so my questions to you are genuine and not meant to trigger you.

  • Betty

    September 13th, 2017 at 8:49 PM

    To None from July 27:
    Yes, I am sure I am not the one with NPD :-) Do your own homework if someone played with your head so hard that you wonder that about yourself. I can actually empathize so deeply that I tried to understand “the devil himself” so to speak. There is an absolutely excellent research published in “Women who Love Psychopaths” by Sandra Brown. It shows that most of women abused possess extraordinary degrees of what she calls super traits. It is so true for me. Finally I understood why I was drawn and brutally used by these people. These hyper traits include: compassion, empathy, truthfulness, extraversion, relationship investment (very often mislabeled as dependency), helpfulness, integrated conscience, responsibility, acceptance, and many others. The one which shocked me most is cooperativeness. This is bad news for me. I am so extraordinarily cooperative that I literally would try to understand the most vile head games believing the person to be genuine. For them it was a game of pleasure. For me it was hell. Such are the outcomes of these relationships. No, NPD is definitely not catch 22. But the games they play are. Your comment sounds very narcissistic though. And the general sweeping statements you are making about me are completely out of touch with reality.

  • k

    September 30th, 2023 at 8:17 PM

    This article and ” insight” is highly flawed. Clearly the person is not as much of expert as they may believe.
    NPD is severely misunderstood as it is a highly complex disorder. Most Therapist, psychiatrists, & psychologist don’t even know much on it. It’s very difficult to truly detect much less treat unless its overtly/grandiose ( but even then). To think you can approach NPD with such a general understanding as this article- lets just say you are doing more harm than good. This is very frustrating to see- especially given how damaging people with NPD are to the abusers and to themselves in a sense.

  • Rs

    July 5th, 2017 at 10:39 PM

    Needs information on narcissist abuse

  • Soulgiah

    September 10th, 2017 at 5:58 PM

    Upon my quest to research the various platforms of information, to gaining and practicing better behavioral patterns. That have affected my own journey in life. In addition to finding alternatives outside of simply giving up on a “defective” human being. I’ve realized, I wouldn’t want someone to give up on me. If the shoes were on the other foot. I also ask myself, how many times have I sinned? How many times have I felt the knife in my heart, from being so highly misunderstood in society, communities, group settings and work environments? It is a deep rooted and truly complexed plane of existence. That leads one to dark and unknown paths when they don’t know, themselves how to even begin to understand what it is. Or where certain emotional and mental behaviors stem from. Yet it continues to grow inside your soul. Until the pattern becomes clear by looking back on your life and through those that have been affected by the Narcs unforeseen mental illness. As a society, I think it’s important for us to also place ourselves in the Narcs position. Remembering, that this is scientifically, a birth defect. Just as there are a number of other birth defects, no one asked to be born with. The key is to not focus so much on blame, but to gain biological, historical & environmental assessments as well. And gauge ways to execute awareness and effective individual treatment plans. I don’t believe in giving up on a human being, who has gone most of their lives, being undiagnosed. Being that they do not have certain brain functions deemed as “normal”. We simply must make it known that they are not alone. Guide, monitor and direct them by not continuing to shut them out. This I’ve seen, only results in making them severely mentally ill, beyond societies standards or social repair.

  • Betty

    September 13th, 2017 at 9:01 PM

    Yes, I truly believe that shutting NPD and psychopaths out is not the solution. But neither is the engagement. People like me have been burnt enough, even scorched to the ground to engage in any contact with people like you. But this is not all lost cause. There is a wonderful platform where we all meet. It is our own consciousness, which is always One and already and always at peace. This is the place where you can be present to yourself and see your own darkness and learn the ways of acceptance. This is the place where I am learning to love and heal myself. This is the space where we all exist beyond our psychology of division. Right now we live in the times of explosion of self-awareness. But self-awareness is not enough. We need to go much deeper into your very won source. This is the platform for meeting ourselves and each other. This is where you are not shut out but always welcome. But it is the place where your own experience directs you, though of course there are many people who help us by giving guidance. I invite you to take responsibility, dive deep within and see where you come from.

  • Diane

    September 29th, 2017 at 8:59 AM

    Difficult to diagnose? Hardly. They all do the same things. Almost perfectly. The same tactics. The same head games. It’s a farce to say it’s hard to diagnose. I’ve met 6 in my life. They are all the same. Born from the devil himself. They are very seriously disturbed creatures. Almost non human. pride is one of the 7 deadly sins for a reason. These creatures have pride over the top. It’s so excessive they kill for it. That’s disturbing. Psychology is failing society as far as handling this situation. These creatures are called sociopaths for a reason. They destroy all that’s good in society. In fact it’s so bad now it’s destroying 1 in 3 children being born to these creatures. They are abusers! Prisoners are better cared for than a parent with npd sociopathic evil demon. They understand only one thing. To destroy. That’s it. Period. Why you find that hard to diagnose it’s absurd. Just sit in on family law courts and divorces. The victims are telling their stories. No one listens. Judges dismiss this abuse because there is no bruises. How absurd. Ignorant.

  • J

    October 2nd, 2017 at 4:51 PM

    I completely agree, Diane. Even EXTREMELY well-qualified therapists can miss what, to a woke victim of N abuse, is really obvious NPD. I believe victims are being failed in HUGE numbers because people constantly apply “human” rules to people that lack almost any semblance of humanity. I am actually not for tossing them out with the trash, but non-victims and therapists alike need to acknowledge the very serious and profound depths of their cruelty, depravity and lack of empathy before healing modalities can start to develop. We are SO far behind the curve on this one. I fear in 100 years the world with be nothing but Narcs.

  • Betty

    October 3rd, 2017 at 1:18 AM

    I agree with Diane and J. Psychology is failing this world in a myriad of unbelievable covert ways, perhaps unconscious but nevertheless very harmful. Psychologists are neck-deep involved in participation in abuse orchestrated by Narcs and psychopaths by turning a blind eye to those who have been manipulated. Over fifteen years ago I was for four years in therapy, dutifully describing all the details of my husband’s covert narcissistic tactics. I was only guided to look at myself!!! Horror, it is horror in broad daylight. And this therapist is an incredibly loving and caring soul, a truly amazing human being. yet he was trained to only look at supposedly imbalanced behavior in me. Never did he go to do his homework and check who was making me so sick. All the red flags were there. It is not better when I do tell psychotherapists what has happened in my life. They are still blinded by their terribly incomplete education and training and refuse to learn! I contacted quite a few after my discovery and not one was willing to really look at the issues which are here. They much more prefer the safe terrain of him/her as an authority versus us the poor lost victims who know nothing. These are very covert ways, very subtle, hard to see if you do not know what to look for. I recommend you google history of psychiatry to see the full extent of torture, currently used by interrogation agencies, perpetrated in the name of treatment. There are many excellent YouTube documentaries on how these early psychiatrists experimented on us to supply them with pleasure and fun. Shocking as it is this field has been founded by sadists. Read their biographies and all the traits of NPD are shining on every page. Do your own research.

  • Pat

    October 4th, 2017 at 5:23 PM

    I agree entirely. Most of grow up being taught to follow the Golden Rule, and that if you treat others well and with respect, they will of course treat you this way in return. However, it absolutely backfires with Narcs. The better a person you are, the more trusting and vulnerable you are, the more giving you are — the more you are going to attract those vicious Narcs who love nothing more than to take all you have to give, then destroy you when they go on to better pickings. To someone who doesn’t understand pathological Narcissism, it is as if you are describing creatures from another Galaxy. No one gets it. “Surely, if they treat you badly, well……you must have had some part in it, right? Takes two to tango and all that?” Your unaware critics give you a knowing look, and try to shame you into admitting that you own at least 50% of the fault. NO!!! You do NOT! How do you explain to the non-Narc-initiated that these creatures LOVE the naïve, giving, really, really GOOD people, whom they can suck dry, and who will rarely fight back? And if they do fight back, the Narc just crushes them, and goes off to find someone else. You can have lived a lifetime with someone like this, in ever-loving dedication on your part, and then tomorrow morning without warning they decide they are tired of you, or you have perhaps criticized them ever so mildly, and… are put out with the trash. You cease to exist for them, even after 20 or 30 years together. And not only do they want you gone IMMEDIATELY, from their lives, their family, their property — though it was all owned jointly by both of you — but they will take delight in hurting you in whatever way is possible. False allegations flow from them. They charge their saintly partners with unspeakable crimes. They learn how to use social authority against you. They conduct smear campaigns, where they are suddenly telling everyone who knows you, even slightly, that you are a criminal, or mentally ill, or whatever can be worse than that. They destroy your life, your reputation, your relationships with others, your finances, you name it. And all the while, they maintain the phony façade of being the good guy, the injured party. Personally, I think that going through a destructive natural disaster is easier than dealing with a vengeful Narc. These people don’t stop until you are barely alive any more. They destroy everything dear to you, and do it with a demonic grin on their faces. You know, in this supposedly secular age, if you have gone through serious Narcissistic Abuse, you will believe in the devil. Even Harry Potter fans know the validity of the fight between good and evil in our world. It is as if this particular mental condition opens some kind of portal for evil to enter a person. They strike a deal with the devil — he gives them the ability to think of themselves as God-like, and they willingly cause human pain to those who love them, with glee. But if you have never dealt with a Narc in cold blood, all of this will seem fantastical to you, and you will mumble all of that tripe about peace/love/tolerance. In other words, you think the Narc-victim must be inviting this behavior somehow. Well, the only way they are inviting it is by being TOO GOOD. So then, the peace/love/tolerance crowd retreats, because they can’t get their minds around this one. Too much good attracts evil? Yes, indeed. You need to move towards the middle yourself to fight this off. More self-compassion, less Narc-compassion.

  • Eliza

    June 2nd, 2019 at 1:37 PM

    You ar eright. I have had 2 boyfriends like this for certain. Spot on!!! Charming lovely amazing people but they are really those people when the relationship progresses. It’s a different mask. Evil is the only word. The feeling is fear, anxiety and regret from me. I do feel I loved them but I am of the empath nature and I know I will attract these charmers who want to have me on there arm I’m a confident happy girl and they turn me inside out literally. I cannot believe the love turned to hate and worse I can’t believe they had no love for me. Its seems odd since they chased etc.. But I do still feel sorry for these characters because they suck me in but theyve destroyed me and made me stronger. But in all honesty I wished Id never met any of them for the anxiety and insecurities theyve left me with. All which I never had before.

  • John

    October 4th, 2017 at 8:19 PM

    People in the comments
    Narcissism: Obsession with feelings of superiority
    Anti-sociality: Lack of concern for the well-being of others
    Sadist: One who takes pleasure in causing others pain

    Psychopaths: All of the above.

  • JV

    December 4th, 2017 at 5:08 PM

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder can’t be treated. Articles like this are dangerous because they imply that improvement is possible. Do your own research — there are no documented cases of full recovery of individuals with NPD. Look at the MRI brain scans of sociopaths — their frontal lobe in the area of empathy and compassion is black. People with NPD often feign getting better or seeking improvement, but in reality, they are only using therapy towards selfish ends in accordance with their disorder.

  • Caren

    May 18th, 2018 at 7:48 AM

    Interesting. That is what I have been looking for. Studies of the brain for differences but I have not seen any. I entered into a relationship with an NPD late in life. I had never been close to one before. It took me years to figure it out, but there were signs from the beginning, I just shrugged it off as He has just gone through a horrible divorce. He also told me his x was a NPD and maybe she was, I have no idea. This persons mother is an obvious NPD and he does a good job of keeping most of his relationships unaware of his problem. If someone strongly disagrees with him about something, he just gets rid of them. I have a personality disorder too I am sure. I am a bit neurotic for certain. I blame myself for everything. I was an easy target. I am also a very slow learner. After 4 years I finally started to see he was a classic NPD with some exceptions. He maintains lots of relationships, is successful in business and likes to be seen as a do-gooder. He spends so much time doing good things for people, making them food mostly. Anyway, it took 6 years before I was certain. He has flying monkeys, has alienated me from my family by moving me far away, often tried to make me feel stupid, makes comments about my weight all the while plying me with food, will not allow me to color my hair and claims he likes my low maintenance style while simultaneously showering the bleach blond fake boob girls with attention. When he is angry with me I get the silent treatment for extended periods, then when he decides to talk to me again i am forced to apologize, which I do. It’s always been easier for me to take the blame for everything. I admit I saw signs in the beginning and ignored them. I so badly wanted him to be the one. I have co dependency issues and have always sought a father figure, someone to tell me what to do. Sorry for the digressing. I can’t seem to get to the point. I was wondering about the brain study. I have seen one that shows gay men have a similar hole where females have a hole in their brain. So NPDs it would seem, since everyone says it’s not curable, have a brain that is different than most?

  • Tina

    April 21st, 2018 at 3:08 PM

    It seems to me that many of the people complaining most loudly about narcissism in their partners, parents, therapists etc, seem good models for the disorder themselves. That makes sense if the disorder is caused by trauma inflicted by others, as who better to create a narcissist than a narcissistic person. The energy expended in long winded rants, could perhaps better be directed at looking at ones own state of being, and questioning, am I showing signs of personality conversion? It seems to me that given a clear sight of ones problems, healing should be possible. Therapy is about giving that insight and allowing the persons own self to perform the needed change or healing. I like the annology of addiction, in many posts above it is only once everything is lost, and the person hits rock bottom, that they seek change. Sounds very familiar to what happens in alcoholism. Perhaps at the heart of both problems is lack of self esteem? If so, that seems like that place to hit with any help. How does one build self esteem? Another article that popped up in the Google search that led me here, talks of practising compassion and giving to others, literally building that ability by practice. If the brain is deficient in its empathy centres, maybe it can be rebuilt, as brain capacity can be rebuilt or rewired after a stroke. There is an idea that the brain, after a certain age, can’t build structures it didn’t build while young. This might be true to a certain extent, as shown by the inability to learn language if missed at a young age by children who grow up not speaking, such as feral children raised by dogs. But this level of absence is not present here, the narcissist will have had access to some good input, from teachers, classmates etc, even if parented badly. So I think there is hope, but I do agree that the self will to change, as in every psychological disorder, is the most important precursor to success. To all those here suffering, I hope you find help and healing.

  • Betty

    April 22nd, 2018 at 1:07 PM

    Hello Tina, you have made some good comments. But you forgot that people who are usually abused most by narcissists have very well developed conscience and were manipulated exactly because they have already been spending a lot of time by looking at the state of their being! This is a big part of the problem, for those with high sensitivity, compassion and conscience, spending too much time looking at themselves. When they need to allow themselves to conceive that actually there are others operating from predatory impulses mostly. What you call ranting is simply finally looking around to see if others who seemed so benign are not the cause of harm. But I agree with you that it does not give us a free mandate to now berate others for their own lack of growth. Eventually we need to come back to be able to see narcissistic manipulation for what it is and our compliance for its terrible lack of understanding of what darkness is. But ultimately, it is the state of our own being which should be our main focus. But it shouldn’t be the only focus.

  • Tina

    April 24th, 2018 at 2:36 AM

    I think an important point here is that the high empath is actually as destructive as the narcissist. In truth, I think both are like two sides of the same coin, in that the empath is covering an empty place inside and low self esteem, just as the narcissist is. When people here speak of being in 22 or 37 year relationships with narcissists, it’s hard not to see those relationships as actually very stable and long lived. This points to both sides getting a payoff from the situation, a codependency in effect. A healthy self relationship is balanced between ones own needs and others needs. Both narcissists and empaths do not have that healthy balance. The focus here seems very tuned into the destruction narcissists cause, and I’m sure that is significant. But perhaps the worst thing, emotional development wise, is for a narcissist is to be pandered to by a empath, with their own needs and reasons for being with someone who cannot be satisfied. Far from being a perfect soul, the empath is a disordered individual who has a need to give that is rooted not in being kind or nice, but in filling that black hole in their own soul. Once the empath/narcissist relationship is seen as a balance, a dysfunctional balance, but a balance none the less, it is much more likely that both the empath and the narcissist will see their own need for help with their own dysfunctional modes of being. As I’ve stated before, too much focus on others problems will not help an individual see their own part in the play, and begin to address their own problems, which ultimately is much more important than anything anyone else does. After all, these relationships have ended right? Time to move on!

  • Deni

    April 27th, 2018 at 3:10 AM

    @Tina – Very well said. I was observing the comments as I myself was in a relationship with a narcissistic person. What I’ve seen here is somewhat of a witch burn scenario. Lot of people here (Betty, JV, Pat etc.) name them ‘sons of the devil’. From my own experience, I know how tough a relationship with a narcissist can be but on the other hand, I also know that I’ve made mistakes not seeing the red flags that were there from the beginning. I understand where their disorder comes from, and my personality too has gone through some changes definitely through the relationship with the mentioned person the thing is that I’m grateful for the ability to recognize the symptoms and do something about it, not just point a finger. When you think about it someone with a NPD will never be able to live a fulfiling life and that’s a pity.

  • Betty

    April 27th, 2018 at 2:12 PM

    Tina, you have made many good points (sounds like AH Almas teachings on holes) but at the same time you are overlooking and misinterpreting many things. You have contrasted a narcissist with an empath and berated both equally. Would you also judge both dysfunctions equally between a psychopath/sociopath versus empath? Thank God, the courts do not follow your thinking. It is anarchy. Is it the same to you to have conscience and have none? I do not call anyone evil. I do not engage with witch hunt, which sometimes indeed appears to surface. But listen to HD Tudor, a diagnosed malignant sociopath, he has excellent insights why he calls himself evil. It is better to hear from the horse’s mouth. My question is: what is your mode of being? How are you filling up your black hole of ego?

  • Tina

    April 28th, 2018 at 2:42 AM

    It seems to me that there is a lot of confusion on here between the various types of personality disorders. Also, I completely stand by my assertion that the worst possible thing for a narcissists emotional development is to be pandered to by an empath. Both are unbalanced personalities trying to fill a wound, just with different ways of going about it. Narcissists need to be challenged and absolutely not given what they think they need. That way lies ruin for them. One final point I’d like to make, is that no true empath will ever demonise others, regardless the provocation. I’d suggest to anyone self identifying their own personality type, that what they come up with is likely to be way off base. Many people who think themselves empaths, it seems to me, sound like they are actually borderline personality types, which is a very different thing. I’d encourage everyone to pony up and get personality testing done, both on themselves and their loved ones where there is a problem. If you are actually dealing with a sociopath or whatever else, you need to know it. If you are actually borderline, not empathic, you need to know it.

  • Betty

    June 3rd, 2019 at 2:50 AM

    Hi Tina, I have responded many times so I will not repeat myself again. It is relatively easy to manipulate a person with a good conscience into thinking that it is they who have a personality disorder. Beware of those. If you do want to study your own personality and have been narcissistically abused, there is not better research than that of Sandra Brown who began her career by working with narcissist and psychopaths, realizing there is virtually zero possibility of improvement for these types, she began long-term (over thirty years) research into the opposite personality. It is much more than an empath. It is about developing the best traits and qualities in the face of harm. If you have been abused in this way, do not follow the thinking how much wrong is with you. You’ve had enough of that! Do not work with therapists who do not understand the trauma really well or they might apply similar harmful conclusions like Tina. She may be well-intentioned but certainly is also severely uninformed. Check Sandra Brown’s research and healing work based ALL ON PERSONALITY. Do not give yourself any more bad labels if you have been severely abused. Though there might come a time when we need to look at ourselves again, it is certainly not at the early stages of recovery!

  • Joy

    June 2nd, 2018 at 5:35 PM

    I want to emphasize and stress something that Tina said, “both are unbalanced personalities trying to fill a wound, just with different ways of going about it.” Narcissists and narcissist victims get stuck in an unhealthy pattern in their relationships that is detrimental to both parties. For the narcissist victims emotional, financial, cognitive, and even physical distress can be devastating. For the Narcissists the inability to feel shame and learn decent coping mechanisms for stress is also devastating as they fall deeper and deeper into their narcissist behavior. I think what we are misunderstanding is the idea of morality with personality disorder. Being completely and totally selfless is NOT the most mentally healthy state of mind, just as being completely selfish and devoid of empathy is not mentally healthy either. Let’s look at it this way. One trait that narcissist tend to have is extreme black and white thinking. Everyone is either all good or all bad. One minute the narcissist loves you, the next they treat you horribly and hate your guts. I think narcissist victims can fall into this type of thinking as well. When the relationship is “good” with the narcissist all red flags and telling behavior is forgiven. This is just not mentally balanced. Now, forgiving and supporting a narcissist despite the abuse is morally a good thing. Selflessness, self sacrifice, kindness, understanding are all qualities that are important in healthy relationships. But to continue to be selfless without reciprocation is NOT healthy and NOT productive at all. If a stranger were to push you down on the street you would fight back or get away or call out for help. You would not just take it and allow that stranger to continue hurting you, hoping it gets better, year after year. So there has to be some kind of unhealthy behavior pattern in the narcissist victims from the start. I do think that all the anger toward narcissists have a purpose. It takes time for the narcissist victim to understand and wake up and make changes. Often then the idea of who the narcissist is will flip in the victim’s mind from being all good to all bad. Now the narcissist is evil, soulless, inhuman. Often the only way in which to see another person in order to find the motivation to get out or fight back, especially against the gaslighting. And yes the narcissist’s behavior is absolutely morally wrong. But a narcissist is still a human being (albeit an emotionally disturbed, morally reprehension one). It is very telling that the only sure fire way to deal with a narcissist to go grey rock (show no emotion, don’t let them get a rise out of you), because that vulnerability and emotionality had to be there for the relationship in the first place. So don’t take offense if you are a narcissist victim, you are still morally right (for being loving and forgiving) even if you and narcissist are more similar in behavior (unbalanced emotional development) than you’d like.

  • Tina

    October 11th, 2018 at 10:25 AM

    hi there, apologies for the delay replying. but I do need to clarify a few points it seems. Joy, I appreciate your comments, but I must say that no, I don’t think the empath is at all “morally superior” for the simple reason that their behaviour can be extremely destructive to those arround them. I’m even leaning to the idea that the empath can actually create narcissism traits in others in much the same way that a parent ‘spoiling’ a child can create a ‘selfish little monster’. I mean, look, we all know as parents that if you pander to a child’s every whim, give them everthing they ever ask for, never ask them to do any work arround the house, never expect them to consider others etc etc, then you are not a good and moral parent, are you! so if in a relationship you do essentially the same thing, how does that make you morally good. a relationship needs to be a functional contract of mutual caring between two people (or more) not an unbalanced disaster. by playing into the empaths fantasy of themselves as the morally superior ‘angelic’ figure, you don’t help them to heal or see their contribution to the problem. I think that the empath is carrying a wound that is probably exactly the same wound as the narcissist, they lack inside some vital sense of self worth, and the only difference is the strategy they use to make the situation liveable. so, to be clear, I think an empath is not morally good, or better than others, they are likely to be a destructive force in the relationships they are in, and are likely to have destructive effects on the emotional states and personalities of those they engage with. like the narcissist, when challenged, the empath becomes mean, see examples above, and they are extremely resistant to change. the empath will not give up their ‘halo’ as it is vital to their coping with their inner void, so they find it extremely hard to change. if the empath can be helped to see they aren’t doing right by themselves or others, then they could fix the problem and heal. but honestly, don’t hold your breath waiting, lol. I hope that I have made my ideas clearer now.

  • Christian

    June 6th, 2018 at 11:57 PM

    Since you may see, helping an individual with narcissism to heal is a challenging endeavor. Even in front of a person who has narcissism learns to re-parent themselves, you, since the therapist, can start the process by attempting to satisfy their inner hurt child and start bonding with them. Understand that the major emotional experience the individual with narcissism is avoiding is a feeling of shame. As a child, he was not properly taken care of by his parents. Even before he learns to re-parent themselves, you, can begin the process by trying to meet their inner hurt child and begin bonding with them. Know that he needs to learn to re-parent their inner hurt child.

    Just like all personality problems, the narcissistic traits an individual possesses exist on a continuum. It’s OK if the person doesn’t wish to look for assist. Perhaps you’re the only person that has ever been in a position to achieve their inner child in a manner that represents safety.

    Make certain you communicate with the kids and help them understand that the other parent’s behavior isn’t their fault. The inner child is responding to early attachment trauma or another sort of absence of emotional attunement for a kid. If you have children, you know what they’re experiencing with the narcissistic parent.

  • Lucy

    April 3rd, 2019 at 6:32 AM

    I think gut instincts is a pretty good basis to go on when it comes to people. Your head may be drawn to one thing ( i.e how nice they are, what they do for others), but your body will never get it wrong when it picks up a completely different signal as to what your brain is saying.

  • David

    June 18th, 2019 at 1:48 PM

    As a man who has just escaped from, and is now trying to gain some insight into, a narcissistic ex-wife, I find it distinctly off-putting that in the considerable majority of putatively helpful posts and professional articles on the subject, by apparently qualified therapists and other experts, the narcissist in examples is a ‘him’, with ‘his’ behaviours and ‘his’ lack of empathy, ‘his’ manipulation and so on. Even in this otherwise helpful article, we read a list saying that there are narcissistic womanizers, but evidently not similarly promiscuous women.

  • Betty

    June 19th, 2019 at 2:32 AM

    Hi David, I am sorry that you have been experiencing this terrible imbalance. It is true that most of the times narcissist is cast as a male. From the statistics, it turns out that there is more male narcissists and psychopaths than female. But, of course, it doesn’t mean that there are no females who show such predatory behavior. I am sorry that you have to suffer this bias because it must be quite hurtful not to find much on women abusers. I am a woman and I have had three such girlfriends in my life and they are as destructive as men. There are narcissistic mothers who destroy their families as much as men can do. It is definitely not a one-sex problem. It is just that women began waking up to harmful relationships first. Most pioneer psychologists in the field of healing from psychopathic and narcissistic relationships are women, just like in the field of healing from RAMC (Ritual Abuse Mind Control), which is satanic programming. For some reason, it is the women who began stepping into these extremely dangerous fields. I think this could also be the main reason why you encounter mostly men cast in this negative light. But of course, it is not true! Also, psychology which is unaware of manipulation, which is most of the field, has actually and strangely, or perhaps not, been created by manipulative characters themselves, who were all men. It is enough to read the history of psychotherapy to see how many of the founders were manipulative. It makes for a very enlightening read, though I think there is no translation. “Naissance du psychanalyste de Mesner à Freud” by Chertok, L. Saussure, R.
    If you need man’s perspective in this field, please check George Simon, PhD.
    Wishing you all the best in healing. May such woman never cross your path again.

  • Mel

    March 20th, 2020 at 10:16 PM

    This article is written for therapists, but I am wondering how a friend should react to someone with narcissistic tendencies or NPD. Some background: I have a narcissistic mother and see many narcissistic traits in myself. Through therapy I have learned what narcissism really is and am working on building my own true self esteem. My therapist tells me she does not think I have NPD because of my willingness to work on myself and my empathy for my mother and others. I agree with her. However, because I see so many traits in myself, it leads me to believe that people with NPD could heal if they learn to love themselves in a healthy way. My question is: is it worth it to try to show a friend the healing work that needs to be done? Obviously I am not equipped to help him myself, but is cutting him out of my life the right approach? What finally led me to get help was friends telling me that they care about me but that they can not help me with my issues. It hurt at the time but was a big wake up call. How can I suggest that he see a therapist?

  • woshicsn

    September 17th, 2020 at 12:10 AM

    How to open narcissist’s heart from the very beginning remains a big problem. Despite sufficient acceptance, validation, empathy and care, a considerable amount of time is still needed. Can’t be anxious to fix.

  • Jennifer

    October 4th, 2020 at 12:10 PM

    The number of people struggling with narcissism who are commenting on this shows that they need hope and are encouraged to find a helpful oasis in an internet chock full of anti-narcissist content. I understand the damage that narcissism causes, and know that those victimized by it need to be supported and to tell their story. But I also believe that people like me who are not on the hopeless end of the narcissism spectrum would love to have more hopeful and useful resources.

  • Traci

    February 15th, 2021 at 10:42 AM

    Hello. This is an extremely interesting article and discussion. I was raised by a narcissist father and a mother who has a good moral compass but taught that it was best for all to adore him constantly. I have been through two major life traumas having nothing to do with interpersonal relationships. Cases of when something really bad just happens. I do know that I have a very established moral compass and fit the description for a naturally born Highly Sensitive Person at all levels. I also developed PTSD, dysthymia, and have some Borderline Personality tendencies. I am a Counselor. I am introverted, have a great deal of compassion, and enjoy learning about others and encouraging them. I was moved to a very different part of the U.S. from where I grew up at 16. That was a major trauma. And at 60, I accept I won’t get past that. I have a few friends I was able to find who share my philosophies and don’t have to be around the many here who share strong beliefs I don’t share who believe I should be ostracised for not being of their culture. I have studied books about the psychology of family and becoming your best person inside yourself since 18. I don’t look for partners. But they have always found me where I am. NPDs are NOT open. Their prey is always VERY open with them. This causes an imbalance of truth from the very beginning. It is painful to be tricked like that. I have had decades of personal counseling in my life. I know who I am. So do most targets of all abusive personality types. WE attract them. I never chased one in my life. I am 60. When I was moved to a flipped side of American culture that was emotionally unsafe for me, I enjoyed platonic friendships until age 25. A lot of alone time between relationships. I knew it was best to enjoy my alone time, sisters, work and friends. My sisters developed more serious BPD and mental health issues. They had kids with NPDs. I am retired. A lot of alone time I fill with reading, watching old movies, and other interests. I have been married twice and been in two important non-platonic relations. Right now with a Covert Narcissist. In the past with men on various parts of the Overt Narcissistic spectrum. I am very good friends with one of the Overt ex husbands. I do not have children and I recommend not having children with these personalities. I have found that after much trial and error and the deadly emotional pain, it is best for me to stay in a Counselling role as I choose to stay with this Covert. I stay for companionship, intimacy on my terms and help with household finances. It is often overlooked how much less money women make than men overall and women need two income households to survive more than do . If that is part of why you stay with one, be honest with yourself. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to be homeless! Also admit you are making the choice to be with someone unpredictable one day at a time. Your choice. That puts you in charge of yourself no matter how the other person acts. I was in ALAnon for many years and this is a great way of owning your power. Get rid of all soul mate nonsense. Being a very loving person is great. But get rid of fairy tales. Read every book that appeals to you about yourself. Your personality type. Your abilty to find peace. Also read every book about the type of personality you think you are with. Create consequences for unacceptable behavior without telling them. Be busy. Finally, if you stay, YOU have to gradually become the best counselor for them as someone here has posted. You are the only one who can. It is a little more helpful if you get them to admit they may have some personality differences that keep them from getting what THEY want. Buy books for therapists and try to become their therapust. The covert narc has been the most challenging thus far. But, after four years of his ridiculousness and my slowly breaking him down, I am more of a counselor friend. He is 68 and impotent! Chasing women! Ridiculous. They lie to counselors worse than they lie to you. Get yourself mentally prepared to be their confidante. This may not be possible if they truly are as handsome and successful as they believe. If you are young, move on if you can. But these 20 and 30 year old relationships, or a new relationship with an old one have been your choice. You are choosing them every day. For your needs. Think of it as your choice and notice your shift in thinking. I went through the pain, the fighting, with this covert. And I have been asking questions, and discussing confusing parenting, etc. I have found asking questions gives him the narc attention he needs while making him bring down his defenses. I am lovingly asking him questions about him and his life. Then I use techniques from the books to make him feel aligned to me like when your therapist makes you feel good for your small advances in life/true self care. He then feels he has goals that will make him look good to others and unconsciously wants to please YOU. To prove he is what he thinks ge is. But he is really changing after a while. Towards a partner who is somehow making him feel like he got the mommy he wanted. A big boost was when we were looking through a file of his and I showed him something odd he had done to hide the truth about something. He was terrified. He did not remember doing it. This time he was not lying. He was horrified. Many of them do things and hide it in their messed up brains. We are all capable of denial/protretion of self unconsciously. He got scared to find that out. Make a big choice to not care any more about their chasing women around. Many of them can’t get one. Especially thevold ones.
    They crave attention frim every female. How often do they get it that has been a real threat? They just want us to go insane so they REALLY feel wanted. This is not easy at all. But if you stay, it is a choice. Get an education in personality disorders by reading everything you can. Be hurt. But also know you are with someone who will hurt you. You unwittingly taught them how at the very beginning when they were grooming you. Now, you find out about their shame and narcissistic wounds and take your time showing them by asking questions. You will be casually becoming a counselor they need to keep around. You can empathize with them and use your books/aricles for counseling narcs to guide them to grow and feel as close to feelings as they can get. Baby steps as they truly are neglected babies who never grew up.

  • Mialissa

    November 1st, 2022 at 4:59 PM

    I’m on the verge of crying right now for so many different reasons.. I read this article in hopes I would learn how to help my ex so we could fix things and be together even though I know it’s the closest thing to impossible that exists.. I started reading the comments and have learned quite a bit bout myself and my ex … that being said I don’t know if I’m strong enough to let him but I don’t have much of a choice since he is the most evil person I think I’ve ever met and one of the most confusing… very quick to flip the switch and make me genuinely believe I’m the sole problem although I know I’m not innocent I also know that he isn’t either. I’m just tired at this point and don’t want to play his game anymore.. anyway I can’t afford a decent therapist let alone a good one but I’ve needed one for a long time… Betty I assume you’re a therapist if you ever see this I’d really like to meet you… if that’s even possible I’ve been reading your comments not only have I learned a lot from you but you’ve helped me learn some things about myself and in ways that I can actually understand and ally rather than just hear it go through one ear and out the other… that’s pretty rare for me because I usually have to read something multiple times to understand what’s being said… anyway I’m 21 and we’ll I’m not really sure what’s wrong with me but I know there is I just need to know what so I can start somewhere.. if that makes sense.. I hope you see this

  • Steve

    January 3rd, 2023 at 7:38 AM

    I am someone who knows I have thoughts and behaviours classified as Narcissistic. I am keen to free myself from the pain these things I don’t have what can be called a peaceful mind. It is constantly judging, fantasizing and looking for ways to gain approval. I am impatient when others speak and often (not always) unaware they have feelings and thoughts which should be acknowledged. Let me tell you folks it’s tiring and frankly, really boring. I have been through three personal development programs all of which identified a very low level of emotional intelligence. I am despite this stuff pretty popular and liked by people until I do or more likely say something they cant put up with. I have an explosive temper almost always directed at myself. No one hates a Narcissist more than them selves. So its reassuring professionals are interested in helping people like me but getting a long term therapy option is tough as others have said here. In the mean time I am self medicating with a Mantra I repeat to myself as much as I can it’s “FREE I AM FREE” and it helps a lot. So, that’s my story and I share it for selfish and unselfish reasons. Peace to everyone

  • MOHD

    March 9th, 2023 at 9:10 PM

    I am a narcissist and I hurt so many women. I never felt sorry. I even drove one of them to suicide. I borrowed her money but never paid back. I know she is nice. I know she loves me but I cannot help myself to downgrade myself to find someone easier. I always want more. One is not enough. I am a sex addict too. I have impregnated many women before and asked them to abort.

  • Paulina

    May 21st, 2023 at 3:26 AM

    I have a problem with admitting when I am in the wrong.

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