Another narcissist* who wants help.

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Occasionally I receive emails from people with NPD who have come across this blog and want to be cured. I posted about one of them in this post; yesterday I received another from a man who is considering reparenting therapy for his NPD.* He also plans to administer this therapy to himself due to the fact there are so few therapists willing or able to reparent a narcissist and because the few who do are extremely expensive. I’m not sure it’s possible to cure yourself of NPD, but if it is, I would love to find out more!

I have written about various healing methods in this article, but reparenting seems to be the most promising deep insight therapy that could work on someone with NPD, but only if the patient is both self-aware AND willing, as this man appears to be in his email. (I do not believe most malignant narcissists and psychopaths/sociopaths have any hope of being cured).

It always warms my heart to see a letter like his; I may just be one of those people Sam Vaknin calls a malignant optimist, but because I think NPD is really an elaborate defense mechanism adopted at a young age to protect a too-sensitive true self and may actually be a form of severe dissociation, I don’t think people like this man are beyond hope.

Here is the letter he sent. I love his analogy of curing NPD being akin to having a full skeleton transplant. πŸ™‚

I’ve been reading your blogs on narcissistic personality. I first identified I have a problem with narcissism about six months ago and reading about it has been depressing, and very bleak. I’ve always known I’m self-centred and as a teen used to wonder why my empathy could more or less just switch on and off, often without my conscious control. But it is only since reading about NPD that I’ve realised what my issues actually are: I am convinced I have narcissistic personality disorder – I meet SO many of the criteria and as a method of getting by (or even ahead) in life I have trusted and enjoyed this system of habits and rules.

Narcissistic rage, while resulting in feelings of shame once an outburst had subsided, made me feel I was at least strong and able to defend myself from harm. It made me feel protected from being crushed or wounded, though in recent months I’ve realised it is simply an expression of me feeling crushed and wounded. One particular outburst directed at my lover left me reeling when I realised that if I stepped outside of my body and watched the argument happening, I’d have looked on myself with pity not fear. I’ve seen myself explode in senseless and bitter rage before and so it isn’t frightening to me anymore, it’s pathetic. There’s a line in the Annie Lennox song ‘Miracle of Love’ which I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately:
‘cool is the night that covers up your fears,
tender is the one that wipes away your tears,
there must be a bitter breeze to make you sting so viciously,
they say the greatest coward can hurt the most ferociously…’

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I realised then, and especially when I was listening to this song lately that I am a coward, and that underneath my mask there is a scared little child who felt it must have done something wrong to deserve the feelings of being unloved I experienced in my infancy.

I have found your writing so interesting because if there was one idea I prescribed to growing up it was that we are here on earth to love, and as a huge fan of all things Celine Dion (for whom every ballad is a song of true, deep, sincere and selfless love) even the very music of my life was about loving deeply and experiencing life through love to the fullest. Something strange has been going on in the last year, I think my narcissism has reached a dangerous peak (I’m a performer so being the centre of peoples’ attention and lauded by an audience has, I think exacerbated my own self-involvement). I’ve realised through my reading that if I continue using the mechanisms of narcissism to cover up my fear and feelings of smallness, I will never be able to fully receive or give the love I grew up believing in so much. I actually think if it weren’t for all that Celine crazy love song schtick and the benefit of feeling loved unconditionally by my sister that narcissism would have swallowed me completely by now. I desperately want to avoid getting worse and so much of the online data about NPD is written from a victim point of view. The outlook is so bleak, and the process of realising that I am living this way has been almost traumatic.

Particularly difficult is the frequent assertion that because I am a narcissist, I simply cannot feel empathy for others. I will agree my empathy is not allowed to flourish or be of use much of the time because of the walls I put up around myself, but I KNOW I do feel it. Just as deep beneath my masks as my fear of being hurt, or rejected is my little boy self hiding under the bed terrified. And I believe when he sees someone upset, wounded, attacked, he wants so badly to whisper to the person ‘you can hide under here with me.’ I have had moments with friends or loved ones where I know they are sad, have wanted to reach out and hold them and comfort them but these walls I have spring up like invisible fences stopping me from reaching out. It’s as if the little boy wants to go to the friend and hug them and soothe them, but he’s just too scared to come out from under the bed. I believe that deep feeling is empathy. But my fear, learned from a young age has defeated it. It makes me sick. I don’t want fear to win. It’s a bizarre loop because victim-mentality repels me, which I know is a narcissistic trait. And yet it is partly through the fear of being a ‘victim’ and allowing myself to wallow in the bad things that happened to me as a kid which drives me to reject the negative events in early childhood and be a FULL human being, not just a narcissist who passes as one. I want to experience that Celine Dion love, of which I am sure I have felt more than just glimmers and been blessed with from others.

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I believe love exists as a two-way street. I believe to receive someone’s love IS an act of love. To give love properly, we must be able to also receive and accept it. As RuPaul says ‘if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gunna love anyone else.’ Well I want to learn to forgive the child inside for being so scared and angry. I want to teach him (myself) convincingly that it was not his fault he was adopted. That it was not his fault that he couldn’t protect his sister from her own demons spawned from the same young events. Or that somehow even if it possibly could have been his fault, it’s okay now. He was just a child.

I want to re-parent myself and unlearn the narcissistic coping mechanisms of devising a false self and put in place a new system. I feel like this is psychologically similar to having a full skeleton transplant, so I know it isn’t going to be easy. I am proposing to change myself in a big, lasting way. I’m choosing to become a proper adult, not ruled by the little boy anymore. It’s time for me to look after him, and I can only do that my knowing him. Knowing what it is I fear, what my true needs are, not just the needs of narcissistic supply. I must make this much clear: I reject my own narcissism. I do not want it. This system of self-aggrandisement, making myself emotionally unreachable, and of behaving so poorly to the people around me isn’t good enough. I want a better life.

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Your blog has given me hope that this might be possible. Your compassion has been vital for me today. I’ve been typing this as much to organise my thoughts as to fill you in on what’s going on. I know you will receive a lot of mail, and I know you’ll be all too used to big long emails from narcissists talking about themselves πŸ˜› But I say all this to say that your writing has been understood by me as a shared promise of hope. It’s really a wonderful thing you’ve done and I’m so glad I found your blog. I wish others would get to read it, rather than so much of the demonising bile dominating google on the subject of NPD. I believe it’s bad to try to turn people into cartoon villains. Every behaviour has a cause.

My main goal going forward is keeping mindful at all times of this little boy. I need to become his best friend and always listen to what he’s saying. I need to tell him ‘no we don’t lash out when we feel attacked,’ and help him grow up. He is, after all, me. I’ve had mild moments of self awareness where I have tried to learn more about treatment and even let my walls down from time to time to be honest and show my naked little self to those close to me. It’s hard for them to understand this stuff and unfortunately after a few weeks pass I find the walls have been slowly slowly rising again. Then it takes a big argument or event to knock ’em down and unfortunately one such event has cost me a really important relationship. The loss of the relationship, alongwith increasingly realising my charisma isn’t enough to get me by in life could be defined as my ‘narcissistic crisis.’

As you said: ‘Harnessing these moments of emotional nakedness is like trying to hold onto a dream while awake.’ My next step is to find a method, or try to invent one to keep me mindful. I think reading works like your own frequently, perhaps daily and reminding myself of exactly what my demons are might help. To hold my inner enemies close in this way may help me defeat them. You’ve helped enormously. Thank you.

* I have no idea whether he actually has NPD or has ever been diagnosed with it. He could have some other disorder. True narcissists rarely acknowledge their disorder or desire to be helped, but I’m sure there are exceptions.

6 thoughts on “Another narcissist* who wants help.

  1. I read somewhere that at 3 years old is when we are in the narcissistic stage. How long it lasts I don’t know, but I think it said that’s when it starts. And when we are traumatized at a certain age or beginning at a certain age, we become developmentally arrested at that particular age. So if the trauma happens to a child when he or she is in that narcissistic stage at age 3 or 4, then the adult will be stuck there in that stage of emotional development.

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  2. This is another good post… I mean listen to this guy talk, he is a unique person, an individual showing you vulnerability, caring about himself, sensitivity, hope for healing, etc. So much better to view someone that way than to label them with some meaningless diagnostic label, in my opinion.

    One criticism from your favorite devil’s advocate: “the fact there are so few therapists willing or able to reparent a narcissist” – how did you determine this “fact”? From therapists I’ve talked to and reading I’ve done, quite a number are willing and able to work constructively with people with narcissistic traits and disorders. Did you have a percentage of therapists you think are able and willing to reparent a narcissist? πŸ˜‰

    I still think you attitude is a bit pessimistic – although, to give you credit, you are a lot more balanced than many people who write about narcissistic problems. Since you are so interested in researching/writing about narcissistic problems, I want to re-recommend to you several books that you may not yet have – Huprich’s Narcissistic Patients and New Therapists, Kohut’s Analysis of the Self, Giovacchini’s Impact of Narcissism, Masterson’s The Emerging Self, Kernberg’s Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism, Johnson’s Humanizing the Narcissistic Style.

    I think you are missing some key information that you would get from the case studies and theoretical discussions in these type of books. You would see that things are more hopeful than is often thought, depending on the availability of people who know how to relate well with narcissists… many of whom do exist.

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    • Yes, I agree and this man is also an extremely talented singer-songwriter. I have seen his work; I do not want to identify him here (he is not a celebrity in the States) because I have not been given permission to do so. I was very impressed by the deep emotion he expresses in his creative work. I feel honored he feels somewhat supported here, even though most of my posts are critical of narcissists, as are other ACON blogs. I also can tell that what he wrote here was sincere and honest–it was his true self speaking.

      I am going to check out the books you have recommended; you certainly are well read and know much more than I do. You probably have read more than most mental health professionals! I don’t think there’s enough material on the Internet about curing narcissism, and I’m really starting to think (as I stated in the other thread to you) that these mentally ill people are unfairly demonized and dismissed as hopeless monsters. Yes, they are unpleasant and their disorder doesn’t give them an excuse to abuse others, but some of the things I have seen said about them are just as abusive to them. Just saying. Oh, and I’m not exempt from that either–I’ve said a ton of nasty things here about people with NPD. Imagine if we talked about schizophrenics the way we talk about people with NPD–we would be accused of bigotry (and rightfully so)
      Some people have said they deserve it because it was a choice–yes, that is true but the choice was made during childhood as a method of making an intolerable life more tolerable. Almost all of them were abused in some way.
      I really need to write a post about this issue and will tonight or tomorrow.
      Thank you for all the info. Your attitude is refreshing.

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      • Yes, demonizing them in my opinion is wrong because there is (in theory) hope for almost anyone – given sufficient awareness and supportive resource – and no one should be told there is no hope in any circumstance, which “narcissists” are often falsely told.
        I have an idea – it’s fine to say nasty or negative things about people who are being bitches. But that is because they are acting badly, it’s because of what they do and say at the time, not because they’re a “narcissist” – do you see what I mean?… them being a “narcissist” doesn’t really explain as much as we think it does. There are other “narcissists” who don’t act badly like the covert narcissists in Masterson’s book or the lesser narcissistic-style narcissists in Johnson’s books that I mentioned… again this goes back to my point about the lack of reliability, meaning, validity and explanatory power of these labels, which should be conceptualized along a continuum of severity, not as concrete all-or-nothing reified entities.

        As for that guy, that’s ok, you don’t have to identify him here. You can just email me his Social Security number, full name, and address when you get a chance. Thanks.
        Haha.

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        • Yes, there are different forms of narcissism other than the type most commonly talked about on ACON blogs, which is the “aggressive” type. Not all narcissists are even abusive. Some are codependent. But I won’t get into that here. Masterson is a good source of information; I am not familiar yet with the other writers.

          I’m not going to change the focus of this blog, since as an ACON blog, it is largely about the abuse inflicted on those of us who were raised by them or in relationships/marriages with them. But I’m finding I’m increasingly wanting to understand them and offer them some hope, as they were victims too. Some ACONs may not like this; some may hate it. But these are human beings so I’m starting to lean more in that direction. Again, it doesn’t excuse the abusive BEHAVIORS–as you have said, we can call out the behaviors as evil or bad without making a value judgment about all people with this disorder or the disorder itself. As you have stated, there are degrees. Some narcissists are far more malignant than others. Some Borderlines behave just as badly as some low-mid spectrum narcs.

          LOL @ you asking for his address and SS# etc. I doubt you would have heard of him anyway. I never heard of him until I checked out his stuff on Youtube. I may ask him if I can share one of his songs here when I talk to him again. He is so good!

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