HSPs and empaths, take heed! You cannot heal a narcissist!

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In my readings and observations of people in the narc-abuse community, I’ve become aware that Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), empaths in particular, are highly attracted to narcissists. The reverse is also true–narcissists see an empath and smell blood.  As an HSP myself (though not an empath), I have always been drawn to narcissists as friends and romantic partners.   This has gotten me into a world of trouble and almost destroyed me until I finally learned to resist their “charms” and go No Contact whenever possible.

Why Empaths are so attracted to Narcissists.

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It’s a psychological truism that we tend to be attracted to people similar to the people who raised us.  For those of us who were the most sensitive child in the family and as a result, became the family scapegoat, developed codependent personalities, or even developed a form of Stockholm Syndrome toward our abusers, we continue to carry our legacy or “people pleasing” into adult life and find ourselves drawn toward other narcissistic people, who are very good at promising us the world and vowing to solve all our problems.   But getting involved with a narcissist is the ultimate bait and switch–they make a lot of empty promises to love you unconditionally and never betray or hurt you, but they don’t deliver.  Not even close.  All they care about is feeding off of your love and generosity in order to keep their false self inflated like a balloon toy.

Not only are we fooled into believing the narcissist will be the answer to all our woes and fill our own inner emptiness, HSPs and empaths are also drawn to the “hurt inner child” inside every narcissist.  Most people can’t see the emotional void and deep unhappiness at the core of an NPD; they just see the narcissist as either a likeable charmer or a huge A-hole (depending on their role to the narcissist or stage of the relationship), but empaths see beyond the “false self” to what really lies beneath the carefully constructed facade.    This is why empaths and HSPs were so often scapegoated as children–because they were children who could see the ugly truth and sometimes even blew the whistle on the narcissistic parent–and nothing terrifies a narcissist more than being exposed as living a complete lie.

I’ve talked to quite a few empaths who actually seek out narcissists to love, in spite of having been educated about narcissistic abuse and the very real dangers they pose both spiritually and emotionally.  Empaths who choose to love a narcissist and think “this one is different” really ought to know better.   They look at a narcissist and don’t see a predatory, toxic individual who only seeks to use and abuse for their own gain; instead they see only the “hurt inner child” living in darkness beneath the bright, cheerful facade.

Their observations and feelings are actually not wrong.   Because empaths can see the truth about people, the damaged person they take so much empathy on is real.  Narcissists are indeed hurt, damaged, deeply unhappy people, although some abuse victims prefer to think of them as inhuman devils without souls at all.   Narcissists are definitely human, but they are dangerous, and especially deadly to an empath, because of how much such a person tends to give of themselves and how codependent they can become.

Like moths drawn into the flame.

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Narcissists are drawn to empaths because (even though an empath can see beyond the false self, which scares narcissists), they give them everything they want.   Deep inside, what every narcissist really wants is someone to love them unconditionally, and empaths are more than capable of doing that.  They are also deeply envious of the empath’s ability to feel with no shame, even if they deny and hide their own feelings.   Empaths are compassionate, patient, self-denying, always willing to listen without judging, and generous with their time, money, possessions, emotions, and everything else they have to give, both tangible and intangible.  An empath’s love for a narcissist will cause them to stick by them no matter how much abuse gets dumped on them in return.   Empaths are perfect candidates for Stockholm Syndrome.   They will keep giving and giving, while the narcissist gives nothing in return except heartache and pain.

Some empaths may seem masochistic because everyone else can see that the narcissist is sucking the empath’s lifeblood away, turning them into a dried up husk of the whole person they once were, but the empath, like a moth driven to a flame, continues to give and give and give until they have nothing left to give.   It’s not masochism that drives an empath to stay with the narcissist and allow this abuse, though–it’s the deep belief empaths have that their unconditional love alone can heal the narcissist and make them whole again.

It’s a beautiful idea, that unconditional love can heal a narcissist and transform them into loving, authentic human beings.  It would be nice if things really worked that way, but only in fairy tales and movies do such things happen.   The Beast is won over by Beauty’s love and is transformed into a loving prince;  the miserly Scrooge is transformed into a generous and compassionate philanthropist;  The Grinch grows a huge heart out of the hard little stone in his chest when he hears the Whos singing down in Whoville in spite of having all their Christmas presents stolen;  Jerry McGuire changes overnight from a selfish, materialistic jerk into a nice guy.  Usually it’s the love of someone else–often a woman or child–who is the catalyst in getting the narcissist to change their evil ways.  These movies and stories touch our hearts and bring tears to our eyes because we wish life were really that way.

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It’s tempting, if you’re an empathic type of person, to want to reach that hurt inner child inside your narcissist and through your unconditional love alone, give them the courage to jettison their false self and let that inner child out, and finally learn how to love.   But what’s far more likely to happen is that in spite of your best efforts, the narcissist will not change and will resist or even attack your efforts to transform them.   They will just keep taking from you, for they have no idea how to give of themselves or how to love.  You become drawn deeper into their web of misery and darkness, and eventually have nothing left to give and finally, your soul is destroyed beyond repair.

The only way to help a narcissist.

You cannot help a narcissist by giving them your love.  The best way to help a narcissist is to stop giving them narcissistic supply–in other words, going No Contact.   Only then is there a small chance that without that fuel, they will be forced to confront their own emptiness and pain, which could lead to them seeking professional help.   But don’t count on it.  Most likely, they will just move on to a new source of supply or try to hoover you back in.

I’ve stated many times that I don’t think most narcissists are beyond hope.  I’m one of the few narc-abuse bloggers that holds to that view, and sees narcissists as a different, more dangerous type of abuse victim.   It’s not a very popular view, but it’s mine and I’m not likely to change it.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about Apostle Paul, a malignant narcissist if there ever was one, who was changed by the Holy Spirit into a righteous (if still slightly arrogant) devoted follower of Christ.    I know of NPDs who are in therapy or treatment, or were in therapy and have actually been deemed NPD-free or are at least working hard to change their ways and become more authentic, loving people.  NPDs  are sad people who know their lives are empty and shallow and essentially meaningless, even if they never admit it.  Some even become consciously aware of how exhausting and essentially unfulfilling their dependence on others to feel good about themselves (and what they feel good about isn’t even who they really are) really is.

I’ve always believed that with both self-awareness (knowing one is a narcissist) and willingness to change (disliking what one has become), that healing becomes possible.  But change isn’t something that can magically happen through an empath’s unconditional love.   If it’s going to happen at all, it takes years and years of difficult and grueling therapy by a trained professional who knows exactly what works for this disorder (and what doesn’t)–and because they are trained in this, are not going to get pulled down into oblivion by allowing the narcissist to feed on their heart like a predatory animal.   Healing can also come through an act of God, as it did with Paul.    We can love a narcissist (but from a safe distance!), and we can ask God to help him or her–and maybe that will turn out to be God’s will too.  You never know.  God may have a special mission for them and decide to remove the scales from their eyes.   But please, empaths and HSPs, never try to cure a narcissist yourself through your unconditional love.   It won’t work.  You don’t know how to do it.  Leave it to the professionals and God.

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Healing a narcissist is like performing a skeleton transplant.

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Credit: notrightinthehead.net

While it’s theoretically possible to heal NPD (some psychologists like Masterson and Kohut specialize in healing narcissistic and borderline disorders and have had results), in the real world, it’s exceedingly difficult and has rarely worked. As a self-diagnosed narcissistic young man recently said to me, for a full-blown narcissist to be cured (rather than simply treated for symptoms) would be no less daunting and excruciating than undergoing a skeleton transplant. It’s a good analogy.

Full blown NPD is almost always so deeply ingrained in the personality–since early childhood in most cases–that to remove it would practically remove the person’s whole personality. Its removal could even kill them (they would be driven to suicide as the False Self gives way to the true one).

But not quite. There is a tiny, atrophied but still-living seed deep inside every narcissist that never got to grow into a plant: the True Self.

Back in November, I wrote a post called “Could Reparenting Actually Cure a Narcissist.” That was around the time I became deeply interested in whether or not such a therapy–one that addressed the root causes of NPD rather than treating symptoms–could actually work, and since then I’ve have read a lot more about it and know a lot more than I did.

At that time, I came up with a series of 4 steps (based on the work of various professionals who specialize in NPD) that might be able to cure NPD in some cases:

Stage 1: The Narcissistic Crisis. A narcissist may enter therapy when their entire world falls apart and they have lost their primary (or all of their) sources of narcissistic supply. Like an addict without a fix, he will be in pain and may submit to therapy at that point–anything to diminish the pain of loss. The therapist must not offer the patient any narcissistic supply during this time! They must simply listen and make the narcissist feel safe enough to open up and talk.

Stage 2: Cold therapy/cold empathy. The therapist must continue to not give the narcissist any supply while not enraging them either. It’s a delicate balance and the narcissist is likely to project their anger and frustrations onto the therapist who is refusing them supply. Working from the rage and frustration, the therapist can guide the narcissist to think about the reasons why they feel so much rage, and start to address the trauma and hurt behind the rage. This may take a very long time and the narcissist is likely to leave therapy. Another reason the therapist must not give the narcissist any supply is because once the narcissist gets supply, like a drug addict, they may feel good enough to leave therapy.

Stage 3: Reparenting. The therapist takes the place of the mother who abused/rejected the narcissist as a child. Physical contact may be necessary and a waiver can be signed to allow limited nonsexual touching. At this point the narcissist will be in great pain and will internalize the unconditional support/maternal “love” the therapist will be giving, mostly through listening and not judging one way or the other. The therapist must remain empathetic and at the same time detached enough to not allow the narcissist to try to manipulate them (which they will be trying to do).

Stage 4: Retraining and Internalizing the Conscience. When the painful emotions from the past are addressed and released, the therapist can start the recovering narcissist in an intensive brain-retraining program in pro-social behaviors and developing a conscience, just as a young child would. This would probably require institutionalization in a very restrictive setting, such as a hospital or high security rehab center. The narcissist would need to “earn back” privileges by having none to begin with. They would be forced to ask permission to do anything at all, and rewarded and punished for bad or good behaviors. At the same time they would attend classes on empathy and given opportunities to practice and eventually internalize this new brain connection.

I have no idea if such a program would actually work, but in the best case scenario, I think it could. Most narcissists won’t stick it out though, so maybe it could be instituted on narcissistic prisoners, who cannot leave prison, or those in mental hospitals (depressed narcissists are often hospitalized).

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Today I read an article by Melanie Tonia Evans, called “What Would It Take for a Narcissist to Heal?” Her idea for curing a narcissist is remarkably similar to what I’ve proposed (and others have proposed):

The Narcissist’s “Healing Cell”
I remember years ago (unfortunately I can’t remember the source, so if anyone knows please tell me!) I came across an article regarding a person’s theory about how a narcissist could heal.

Knowing what I know now I agree…

It goes like this…

The solution:

Solitary confinement with no possibility of contact with the outside world, or the gaining of narcissistic supply.

Then, a committed effort to meet and release the original emotional traumas.

Then, stimulation and re-learning of empathy, compassion, connection to life and others, and integrity. Effectively re-parenting where these brain pathways left off, in order to catch them up to present time.

Truly – what narcissist is going to go through that? What facility is there to have that happen?

Additionally there would have to be every method possible to stop the narcissist committing suicide, because if narcissistic supply was removed, the narcissist would not want to live.

Please note I am not stating this is the case for people with mere ego issues or even narcissistic tendencies.

I believe everyone – co-dependents, and even ‘normal’ people all have varying degrees of survival mechanisms which are creating them to be not aligned in the true harmony of Who They Are.

All of these fears emenate from inner wounds that we closed down inside of us and tried to protect.

I have worked with thousands of people with confronting and releasing inner wounds, as well as confronting and releasing my own inner wounds, and I know the courage and commitment it takes to face them, to let them go and be free of them.

And I know that the people who decide to do this, need to commit to dropping all addiction (avoidance techniques) to be willing to be with and meet their pain in order to finally deal with it, and be liberated from it.

That’s what personal evolution and growth is all about.

Quick fixes, opting out, and self-avoidance just doesn’t cut it!

I have seen people who have had enough of living a life through their inner wounds, absolutely make the decision enough is enough and do the work.

Interestingly, I have been receiving many more than normal emails from people claiming to be narcissists who have had enough of the pain, and want to heal.

I refer all of these people onto the Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program. Their healing is identical to the healing for co-dependents. It is ALL about healing the traumas of abuse, and releasing fear, pain and survival programs.

These people may be in narcissistic injury and will discredit the Program later, or maybe the pain has become greater than the False Self – and maybe they are not fully NPD.

It is individuals suffering with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) who I believe are incapable of doing this.

My definition of NPD is when a person has crossed the line into malicious, pathological, and conscienceless behaviour.

– See more at: http://blog.melanietoniaevans.com/what-would-it-take-for-a-narcissist-to-heal/#sthash.IN7qE2ct.dpuf

Evans goes on to explain why therapies that only address the narcissist’s behaviors (like CBT) don’t really work because they never even get close to addressing and releasing the original trauma that caused the NPD.

The most effective therapy for someone with NPD would be pretty much the same trauma therapy that works on people with other trauma-based disorders such as C-PTSD and PTSD–because NPD *is* trauma-based. But she also admits that a narcissist sticking out such a program for the duration (and it can take years) is highly unlikely. They are most likely to flee therapy during the painful process of retrieving memories and releasing painful emotions, because narcissism is all about masking painful emotions. She explains it this way:

It’s sad, and it’s tragic because narcissists are the product of abuse, sometimes bad genetics, and often cruel violence, abandonment or pathological engulfment.

They did not ‘choose’ logically to kill off their True Self and live a pathological life – being more and more taken over by a painful, empty, angry , demanding and never appeased False Self.

However, we have to realise the truth.

There is no helping someone who won’t (or can’t) help themselves.

Being attached to a narcissist is not like being attached to a helpless person such as a quadraplegic. I totally understand the devotion people have when they sacrifice their lives to lovingly assist others.

The narcissist, however, as this helpless to ‘get better’ person is viscious, calculating and he or she will abuse you all the way to your demise. THAT is why you need to stop trying to fix this person.

Whilst the False Self is on guard there is no breaking through to a narcissist, and no getting them to work on these deep inner wounds – which are EXACTLY what they have been avoiding, deflecting and projecting on to other people their entire life.

To meet the inner wounds is equal to annihilation for a narcissist – it just can’t be done.

Sam Vaknin describes it as the narcissist intuitively knowing that he or she does not have the inner resources to deal with the onslaught of these inner wounds. His belief is that a narcissist would risk a complete psychotic and catatonic breakdown if he or she did face these wounds.

Knowing what I know about energy healing – I do know it is possible in theory for a narcissist to energetically claim and clear wounds and re-connect back to the Source of wellbeing that all of us are connected to at some level…even narcissists.

It would be excruciating and gruelling, and incredibly painful – but (I believe) it could be done.

However, here is the sticking point.

The narcissist is addicted to narcissistic supply worse than a heroin addict is addicted to heroin. The narcissist literally feels like he or she would disappear into oblivion if not getting an energy supply (attention) from the outside. The narcissist has ‘killed off’ his or her connection to being an energy Source from ‘self’.

What this means is: the narcissist when feeling any emotional low (frequent) will frenetically need to get a ‘hit’ to try to offset the pain.

Deep inner healing and personal transformation for anyone is all about being with the pain and resisting these urges to self-avoid – and dealing directly with the pain instead.

The narcissist’s False Self is its own entity which has taken over the narcissist.

The False Self has all the reasons, all the excuses, and all the justifications to make what the narcissist does as ‘okay’.

It’s like a devil on the narcissist’s shoulder talking him or her into the most outrageous reactions and acts possible. Many narcissists (Sam Vaknin agrees) report that whilst doing these acts – it is like an out of body experience – it is like the False Self has completely taken over – and the narcissist is watching from the side lines unable to stop it happening.

That takes ‘knee jerk reaction’ to a whole new level.

So, is the False Self going to consistently go to a healing space over and over again, go within and leave alone the outside world and narcissistic supply in order to face and release deep inner traumatic wounds?

The answer is FIRMLY “No”…

What I have observed is that it is only narcissists in deep narcissistic injury ( life has hit SO hard), and are literally on their knees, who will dedicate time to inner healing. The reason is because when life kicks someone that hard – the ego is temporarily too injured to operate.

Life can be a HUGE humbler in the face of shocking catastrophe.

However, the narcissist’s brain has been established and hard wired onto obtaining narcissistic supply for most of their life.

Therefore as soon as a therapist grants the narcissist enough attention (narcissistic supply) for the False Self to reinstate itself again, those brain pathways start firing again, and the narcissist’s humility is incredibly short-lived.

He or she is back to the grandiose, entitled conscienceless version of hunting narcissistic supply – and on the story goes…

So the prospect of someone with NPD being healed (at least for those at mid-spectrum and above) does look pretty bleak, even though in theory (and in very rare cases) they could be.

Dr. James Masterson has apparently had some success though. I’m currently reading his book “The Search for the Real Self” (which I’ll be reviewing at a later point). In the book are two case studies of two men named Walter and Frank, both who suffered from NPD. Both were cured of their disorder using psychoanalytic techniques. Particularly moving was Frank’s story, because his narcissism was more severe and it took over five years of incredibly painful and intensive therapy for him to be healed of NPD and begin to experience actual emotions of empathy and love. I think the fact that this disorder was ever healed at all to be very hopeful.

But never, ever try to fix a narcissist yourself. You can’t.

The latest on the NPD* sufferer in “Another Narcissist Who Wants Help”

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I thought this may interest those of you who read my article from April 30, “Another Narcissist Who Wants Help.” It’s a followup email he sent me yesterday, describing some of the things he’d doing to attempt to heal himself from NPD or at least be able to control its symptoms better.

* I do have some doubt he actually has NPD though, due to what appears to be a normal level of empathy and a lot of self-awareness; I think he may be being too hard on himself and suffers instead from something like BPD. He also has no official diagnosis.

All that being said, what this young man is trying to do and has dedicated himself to doing –opening himself to being vulnerable and letting himself feel and share his honest emotions–is incredibly courageous, especially for someone as young as he is (he’s in his early-mid 20s). He’s also doing his homework–he seems to be doing a LOT of reading about NPD, if this email is any indication. He may not actually be a narcissist, but even so, it’s still a courageous thing he’s doing. Any of us who suffer from being too guarded–which is most of us–can benefit by giving ourselves permission to just feel life in its glorious spectrum of colors.

I can tell this young musician is sincere because he’s been watching all of Brene Brown’s videos . In fact he is the person who tweeted about Brown’s compassionate and sometimes humorous messages of being authentic and vulnerable in a world that hates and fears those things. If you take on the challenge of setting yourself free of whatever traps you– whether it’s a narcissistic mask or the fear that fuels so many other disorders — it takes a lot of strength and courage to do that. Which means becoming vulnerable isn’t becoming “weak” at all — it’s just becoming an authentic human being.

I have permission to repost the email I got, removing personal details like names.

Original email is in this post: https://luckyottershaven.com/2015/04/30/another-narcissist-who-wants-help/

Email received 6 weeks later (yesterday)

[…]It’s not really a bad thing to share how we are feeling – in fact NOT sharing how I feel is probably one of my biggest downfalls. So it is healthy to express your emotions to someone, wherever they’ve come from. If you’re feeling emotionally down, or wounded it’s worth remembering one of my favourite quotes by Iyanla Vanzant (you’d love her when she talks about relationships check out her appearances on Oprah’s Lifeclass she’s awesome) which is that ‘a wound needs a witness’ – meaning it is in our nature as humans to want to share our feelings. The worst part of narcissism is it leads the narcissist to detach from their true feelings, and results in the narcissist viewing emotions in others as weak. I could imagine that belief that emotions are weak can be contagious but we weren’t put on earth to suppress ourselves, but express ourselves! So remember your feelings are a huge part of who you are so I don’t think you should deny them, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to express them (even if I have been trying to silence mine for years ha!)

I hope you’re doing well – I’ve been immersed in personal exploration lately. The book ‘The Drama of the Gifted Child’ has been fascinating for me and I’d thoroughly recommend it (or maybe it was you who recommended it to me?) if you want to better understand the origins of narcissism. Much of it resonated with me and it’s a very hopeful and forgiving text. I understand it’s one of the main books on the subject. I’m moving on now to a book called Disarming the Narcissist which is interesting because even though it’s from the point of view of someone living with a narcissist in their life it helps me see how I can better inter-relate with the people in my life.

I’ve kinda realised that the worst parts of narcissism don’t actually manifest themselves in my life at large: I have healthy and thriving friendships. I’m not going to lie and say I am not centre of attention a lot because I am, but I’m here for my friends when they need me and I’m working on being even more available emotionally and otherwise in the future. I don’t think I’m ‘cured’ but I am aware that the extremes of my difficult qualities tend to bubble up tot he surface only in relationships where consistent intimacy is expected. So basically romantic relationships. That’s not to say the work I’m doing on myself isn’t important across my life but it certainly is most relevant when I’m in love, because it is in those times my frequent emotional detachment becomes a problem. Detachment from my own feelings means I am longer able to experience the feelings of those around me, which in time results in me objectifying them and treating them less than well.

Interestingly music has been important for me too. I haven’t really lay down in bed with the lights down low on my own with a great album on in the background in so long. I think listening to music keeps me connected to my emotional experiences and helps draw out my true feelings. Maybe that’s what happened with you before you drafted that post? I think it’s a good thing. Music is, of course, the feelings of other people and we feel connected to the human experience by listening to and enjoying it.

Oh and Brene Brown! What a gem! I’ve downloaded her book Daring Greatly (think that’s its name) and can’t wait to get started. I feel that book is gunna be a proper uplifting read, and with the summer kicking in here now I’m looking forward to reading in the sun in Hyde Park with a gin and tonic and some olives! Yay!

I think it’s time we stop bashing all narcissists.

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This post is probably going to make some of you angry or upset. I understand that. After all, many of us were badly damaged by the narcissists in our lives. Anger and even hatred is an understandable and very human reaction to their abuse.

The blood sport of “narc bashing.”

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There are a lot of people these days writing about narcissism and the sentiments found on the Internet about “narcs” and “N’s” is overwhelmingly negative:

— They can never change.
— There is no hope for them.
— They are monsters.
— They are demons.
— They aren’t human.
— God hates all narcs.
— They all deserve to burn in Hell.
— There is nothing good about them. Everything they do is evil.
— They were born evil. They are bad seeds.
— They never tell the truth.
— They have no emotions. They are machines.
— They all deserve to die.

Pretty ugly, isn’t it? This attitude is fueled by hatred and behind hatred is fear. Again, I understand this. I’ve experienced that hatred and fear myself. We have a right to be angry if we were badly treated by a narcissist. People with NPD aren’t pleasant to be around. But here’s the rub: unchecked fear and anger lead to hatred, and hatred accomplishes nothing. Hatred builds walls and leads to a refusal to even try to understand people with a devastating mental disorder. Hatred is itself evil–and narcissistic.

Hatred also leads to bigotry and intolerance. There is already too much of that in the world. People with NPD are mentally ill. We don’t malign people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder the way we malign people with NPD, but people with those disorders can also be very unpleasant to deal with. If someone started a blog that spewed hatred toward people with schizophrenia, there would be outrage. That person would be called a bigot and possibly evil.

Narcissists are abuse victims too.

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It’s true that people with NPD are extremely unpleasant to deal with. But all mental disorders are unpleasant. People with NPD weren’t born that way. There is no such thing as a “bad seed.” In almost all cases, a person became a narcissist because of severe abuse or neglect as children. In most cases, they were raised by people who were themselves malignant narcissists or psychopaths.

Pastor David Orrison, who writes about narcissism from a Christian perspective in his “Narcissist Friday” posts, illustrates this well in this sad story. He is rightfully critical of the disorder and its manifestations but his posts are always written in a way that attempts to understand narcissism and people with NPD the way Jesus would have done–holding them accountable without hatred.

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Some of you have said, “but they don’t count because they made a choice to be narcissists.” Yes, that is true, it was a choice. But that choice was almost invariably made when they were young children, as a coping mechanism to protect themselves from being hurt anymore. Narcissists are people who started life with too much sensitivity, maybe more so than those of us who identify as HSPs (because we still found a way to cope with life without constructing a protective False Self). Narcissists felt too vulnerable and naked. They were born without any natural coping mechanisms at all. They knew they couldn’t survive without this protective natural armor, so they had to construct a False Self to cope. The False Self is a lie, but it protects the True Self from further harm. The reason they act so mean is because they live in terror of the False Self being damaged and exposing the too-vulnerable True Self. Like the rest of us, they wanted to survive. This was the only way they knew how.

This doesn’t give them an excuse to act as they do. It doesn’t mean we have to tolerate their manipulations and abuse. I’m not condoning abusive behaviors and that applies to anyone. But we don’t have to spew hatred against people suffering from NPD all over the web either. We don’t have to be so judgmental. We don’t have to pat ourselves on the back because we are “better” people. Only God can judge us that way. We can try to have compassion without giving in to abuse or allowing narcissistic behaviors to destroy us.

A serious dissociative illness.

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Narcissists suffer. They are deeply unhappy people. They don’t know how to feel empathy, or experience joy or love for others. They never learned how–or they dissociated themselves from those feelings at an early age because it hurt them too much to be that way. They are not without emotions. In fact, their emotions are so strong they feel like they must always be on the defensive, 24/7, 365 days a year. Imagine how stressful it must be to go through life in mortal terror of your facade of invulnerability being ripped off, of constantly having to act a part in a play, of never being able to show your pain to others, of never being able to risk loving anyone else or feeling empathy, of being bitter and envious of everyone all the time? It must be hell.

Narcissists, in spite of their name, don’t love themselves. They only love their False Self, and will do anything to protect it from exposure as the mask it really is. Because the False Self was constructed when they were so young, they don’t even know themselves most of the time. How can you love someone you never got to know? If anything, they live in deep shame of who they really are so they hide from the world behind their masks.

Some mental health experts believe NPD should be classified as a severe dissociative disorder. You can read about that here and here. It’s not that narcissists don’t have any goodness in them, but that they have “split” from their good (true) self to avoid further harm–even to the point where they can no longer access who they really are. But the pain they feel still comes through and if we listen closely enough, we can hear what they are really saying: “please love me.”

Narcissists never got to grow up. Their true self is at the emotional stage of a very young child. Inside every narcissist is a little boy or girl of 3 or 4, sitting in a dark corner crying because they feel so lonely and unloved. Their reactions are at the level of a young child too. They never learned how to experience more mature emotions, because the False Self was constructed when they were too young to feel the emotions of an older person.

NPD is a spectrum disorder running from mild all the way to psychopathy and sociopathy at the top of the spectrum. Most narcissists are not psychopaths (who actually have Antisocial Personality Disorder rather than NPD and have built a wall so impenetrable even they can never access it and will never be able to admit they are the ones with the problem). Even malignant narcissists (just under psychopathy on the spectrum) may have rare moments of insight and regret for the way they behave. It’s my belief that NPD is as much a spiritual disorder as a mental one, but that doesn’t automatically make all narcissists “evil.” Who are we to assume that God hates all narcissists and can’t help even the most malignant ones? I believe God can perform miracles should He choose to do so. To speak for God this way is itself narcissistic.

Art allows the True Self to find expression.

iris_scott

The pain and hurt that fuels narcissistic behaviors can find honest expression. I’ve noticed many or even most narcissists have a talent in one or more of the arts–William Shakespeare, Ezra Pound and even Michaelangelo (who probably had NPD) come to mind, to name a few. Good art is about Truth and is one of the greatest blessings God can give. It’s through these artistic endeavors that a narcissist’s true self comes through, that they dare give that vulnerable hurting child a means to express the truth of how they really feel. Having a creative ability–whether in the visual, literary, or performing arts–is all the proof I need that people with NPD are still loved by God. Through their art, they are crying out through their mask. They want to be loved and they want to feel love. I can think of many examples of this, but the other day I received an email that really stood out to me and made me take a second look at my own negative attitude toward “narcs.”

The email was from a young man who admits he has NPD. He expressed a strong desire to try to heal himself. He hates his disorder because of what it has done to his life and the ways it has caused his relationships with others to suffer. He wants to know how to feel empathy and genuinely love others. I have no doubt his words were sincere and came from his True Self.

This young man said he was a singer-songwriter so I checked out some of his stuff on Youtube. (I can’t post it here right now because I have not asked for permission to do so). I was blown away by his talent. The words of the songs he writes express emotions almost too deep for words. His powerful emotions of pain and the desire to love and feel connected with others come through in his beautiful voice–and in his face when he sings. I have no doubt his music comes from his True Self, not his false one. Through music, he’s able to break through his wall of narcissism and allow himself to become vulnerable, to cry out in the darkness.

Insight and willingness: ingredients for change.

willingness

I don’t know if this young narcissist can heal himself. It’s a difficult enough disorder to treat by professionals, but he says he can’t afford a therapist and can’t find one willing to treat NPD anyway. Most narcissists won’t present themselves for therapy because their disorder is so deeply ingrained they have no insight and think it’s everyone else who has the problem, not them. Some narcissists may have insight into their disorder and know they aren’t well but still not be willing to change because their mask has become too adaptive or they are too afraid. But insight is the first step toward redemption–it’s not possible to have willingness without insight. This man has both the insight and the willingness. With both present, I think there is hope for him.

Tough love, not hate.

tough_love

Just because we should stop spewing hate against people with NPD doesn’t mean we have to tolerate their manipulative and abusive behaviors. It also doesn’t mean we can’t leave a narcissist or go No Contact. In fact, doing so may be the most loving thing we can do for them. Going No Contact removes the source of supply we have been giving them, and in rare cases may cause a narcissist to seek help or at least begin to question their own motives. Going No Contact is also the most loving thing we can do for ourselves. Refusing to have further contact with a narcissist isn’t an act of hatred. It’s an act of self-love and survival.

St. Augustine said, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Jesus inspired this quote because He hated no one but was no pussy either. We can hate the behaviors without hating an entire class of people with a severe mental and spiritual illness that causes them even more misery than they cause those they attack. Going No Contact or refusing to play their narcissistic games isn’t an act of hatred. It’s an act of survival and is just plain common sense. It may even be a way we can show them love–“tough” love.

I realize this post may be controversial because we ACONs have gotten so used to thinking of “narcs” as evil. Their behaviors may be evil, but people with this disorder are still human beings who have feelings–even if they don’t know how to show them properly or keep them under wraps. Except for the most malignant narcissists and psychopaths at the top of the spectrum–who probably can’t ever change–I think calling narcissists evil, or referring to them as demons, monsters, or machines is a form of bullying a group of very sick people and is just as hurtful to them as what they have done to us.

I also realize I may sound like a hypocrite. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve engaged in the popular sport of “narc bashing,” and recently too. While the anger and rage we feel toward people with this disorder may be adaptive while we are trying to disconnect from an abusive narcissist, when these emotions no longer serve a practical purpose (after we have gone No Contact or disengaged from our abusers), they become bitterness and hatred, emotions that eat away at our own souls and can even turn us into narcissists.

Another narcissist* who wants help.

narcissus3_mythman

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. 🙂

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…’

trapped2

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.

attitudinal_healing

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.

narcissism_childhood

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 😛 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.

New static page: Healing NPD

narcissus3_mythman

I realized I have so many articles about or that reference healing techniques for people suffering from NPD that I decided to devise an easier way for people to find these articles by creating a sort of “Table of Contents” listing them.

The possibility that NPD could be healed in some cases (I don’t think malignant narcissists or psychopaths/sociopaths can be healed) is important to me because I would love for everyone, even narcissists to be able to realize their full human potential they were born with.

It also sure would be a nicer world for the rest of us to live in if somehow NPD could be exterminated from our planet, wouldn’t it?

A Narcissist in Therapy (Kohut’s Self Psychology Model)

Healing Narcissism: Stephen’s Story

Narcissism and Chakra Healing

Attitudinal Healing: A Cure for Narcissism?

Free Association: Thoughts on Gratitude, Pride and Healing

On Narcissists Who Want to be Cured

Can Sam Vaknin be Cured of NPD? Or is That Pie in the Sky?

Do Narcissists Cry? (see the part about lucid dreaming as a possible tool in therapy)

Could “Reparenting” Actually Cure a Narcissist?

Comment from a Narcissist Who Wants Help

I’m making this a permanent page in the header which will make it much easier to find these articles.

If you’re a narcissist who wants help and don’t want to post on this blog, please feel free to email me (see “Contact Me” in the header) and I may be able to help you find resources and point you in the right direction to get help.

A narcissist in therapy (Kohut’s Self Psychology Model)

heinz_kohut
Heinz Kohut, psychoanalyst and pioneer in treating people with NPD

The following is a pretty fascinating scholarly article from one of Sam Vaknin’s sites about a patient named Michael who underwent psychotherapy (using Heinz Kohut’s Self Psychology Model) for his NPD.

Being as interested as I am in possible healing and therapy methods for people with NPD, this article was right up my alley. For a scholarly article, it’s not a difficult read.

Psychotherapy with a Narcissistic Patient Using Kohut’s Self Psychology Model
Jamie McLean, MD, corresponding author

Abstract

According to Kohut’s self psychology model, narcissistic psychopathology is a result of parental lack of empathy during development. Consequently, the individual does not develop full capacity to regulate self esteem. The narcissistic adult, according to Kohut’s concepts, vacillates between an irrational overestimation of the self and irrational feelings of inferiority, and relies on others to regulate his self esteem and give him a sense of value. In treatment, Kohut recommends helping the patient develop these missing functions. Kohut proposes that the therapist should empathically experience the world from the patient’s point of view (temporary indwelling) so that the patient feels understood. Interpretations are used when they can help the patient understand his sometimes intense feelings about any empathic failure on the part of the therapist, and understand why he (the patient) needs to restore solidity and comfort after being injured by any failed empathic (self object) ties. As insight develops, the patient begins to understand why he might experience these apparently small empathic failures so deeply.
In this article, therapy with a narcissistic patient is approached from the point of view of Kohut’s self psychology theory, and the successes and problems that were encountered with this approach are described and discussed.

Read the rest of the article here.
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/toxicrelationships/conversations/messages/3640

Healing Narcissism: “Stephen’s” story.

who_am_I

Disclaimer:
I am not a licensed mental health professional and as such, have done no studies or surveys to find out if the healing regime I am going to propose here would actually work on people with NPD. I have no guarantee such a therapy regime would work, but I feel like I’ve done enough reading about the disorder (NPD in particular), both from Internet material written by a number of people, and books by professionals who specialize in this disorder, to outline a possible therapy regime I feel might give sufferers of NPD (as well as BPD and other disorders of the self, and even PTSD) who want to get better some hope of doing so. This is not a therapy I “made up,” since I am not qualified to do so, much less diagnose anyone with any disorder. Instead, it’s an almagamation of several different therapies–drawn from both from traditional insight psychotherapy and alternative therapies proposed by both people who suffer from this disorder or are involved in alternative medicine and spiritual therapy.

For several months I have been reading everything I can about healing Narcissistic Personality Disorder, because as a victim of narcissistic abuse who has cared for and loved people who are narcissists, I have a vested interest in the possibility there may be hope for some of them. I also think our world would be a much nicer and safer place for the rest of us to live in if narcissists could be cured of their disorder!

In my readings, both on the Internet and from books about healing NPD (I just received a copy of James Masterson’s book “The Emerging Self,” recommended to me by fellow blogger BPDTransformation. Although I have not had time to read the book, I have skimmed through it and can already see that its premise of the narcissist getting in touch with their true self and confronting and releasing long buried true emotions of sadness and fear is not much different than therapies others have proposed for NPD).

Overview of Some NPD Healing and Treatment Techniques.
Following are some brief descriptions of some therapies that have already been proposed to heal or treat the symptoms of people with NPD. A few come from traditional psychotherapy disciplines; others are more alternative/experimental.

Cognitive-Behavioral Training/Therapy (CBT)

CBT

Currently, the only psychiatrically sanctioned and accepted “therapy” for NPD is Cognitive-Behavioral Training (CBT). CBT is useful and may help some narcissists who are not psychopathic or sociopathic learn to control and monitor some of their more antisocial and hurtful behaviors. It has been used with some success on prison inmates who want to change their behaviors, children with ODD and CD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder) such as 6 year old Beth Thomas, who might have become a psychopath had she not had early intervention that intercepted her early antisocial behaviors and murderous impulses toward her brother and parents; as well as other people with NPD or BPD who are insightful and willing enough to want to change the way they act and stop hurting others.

The problem with CBT is it does not really cure the narcissist (unless done at a very early age, like Beth Thomas). CBT doesn’t address traumatic childhood issues or make the narcissist shed their protective masks or get in touch with the painful emotions that caused them to choose narcissism in the first place. It’s really just a band-aid and probably helps those who must deal with the narcissist more than it helps the patient. The narcissist remains a narcissist, and must constantly monitor their behaviors or be reminded by others to do so. The more positive behaviors never become internalized because the narcissist has not really changed from the inside.

That being said, I believe CBT is a valuable component in the type of therapy I am going to describe, but must be undertaken once the NPD patient has gone through a complete emotional catharsis resulting in the release of painful emotions stemming from childhood (or whenever they “chose” to become a narcissist to protect themselves). I’ll describe how this can be used later in this article.

Narcissists adopted their False Self to survive.
I hold to the probably rather unpopular belief that people with NPD started life as Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) or possibly even empaths. Sam Vaknin’s journal entries, especially his descriptions of himself as a sensitive and generous child who cried when his malignant narcissist mother was upset (I cannot find the link for that right now but will look for it), as well as writings and journals by other NPD sufferers on message boards and forums have made this evident.

It came as a surprise to realize this, because Narcissists (as opposed to those suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), who really are hopeless and can never get better) seem like the most insensitive and cruel people on the planet. But their obnoxious and cruel behaviors stem from the False Self, not their true one, which hasn’t died, but is atrophied and in hiding. The False Self was constructed as an elaborate defense mechanism to protect the child from further hurt and abuse. Most people with NPD were abused or neglected as children, and being more sensitive than other children, the only way they could survive further hurt and abuse was to construct a False Self which makes them appear big and bad when deep inside, they still feel utterly worthless, despised and vulnerable.

crying_is_okay

One thing I noticed in all these therapies (not including CBT, of course), is the key to healing is emotional catharsis. Crying–not the usual narcissistic manipulative crying–but deep and honest crying resulting from releasing past pain, grief and fear–is an absolute necessity if any healing is to occur. Of course crying is key in any psychodynamic therapy for any disorder that can be healed by such means, not just NPD. As the False Self breaks down and the True Self begins to emerge, painful emotions from the past will start to be released. This is necessary and healthy. In fact, healing from NPD (or many other mental disorders) isn’t possible without it.

The following are some techniques used for actually healing NPD rather than treating its symptoms. It’s probably prudent to keep in mind their efficacy is iffy at best. If a narcissist is neither insightful nor willing, none of these therapies will work. Insight and willingness to change are necessary and must come from the narcissist him or herself. As I’ve described before, the willingness to heal is a cost-benefit analysis. If the narcissist has benefited from their narcissism, they may not think going through all the emotional work required to heal from NPD is worth it.

1. Attitudinal Healing.

attitudinal_healing

Tony Brown was a self-professed narcissist who decided he no longer wanted to be one. He believed narcissism stemmed from fear. (He’s probably right). He healed himself using a 12-point (not the same as a 12-step program) technique of replacing thoughts of fear with thoughts of love. He called this therapy Attitudinal Healing. Eventually, he says, these thoughts of love and empathy become internalized and the patient begins to remember past hurtful incidents that turned them into narcissists. During this process, the patient finds themselves crying a lot as they remember things long forgotten and the many ways they have hurt their loved ones. AH is kind of a New Age technique, but his followers swear it has worked for them. Tony Brown died in 2008 of natural causes, just after he was cured. His forum, HealNPD, is no longer active, but you can read his material about AH there and posts by others who were undergoing AH to heal themselves of narcissism.

Criticisms of AH: There’s some skepticism because there have been no studies or empirical evidence for AH’s efficacy, and some believe thought-replacing isn’t deep psychology and therefore can’t access the true self.

2. Reparenting.

remothering

“Reparenting” is a term used by Sam Vaknin for his theories of healing NPD, but the techniques involved are not his alone and partly derive from New Age therapy practices and traditional psychodynamic therapy and Freudian psychoanalysis. Reparenting requires an initial accidental or intentional removal of all the narcissist’s sources of narcissistic supply, which sets into motion a “narcissistic crisis” (a time during which the narcissist’s defenses and masks break down). This is the only time a narcissist may present themselves for treatment. At that point, the therapist offers only “cold empathy,” which means giving the narcissist acknowledgment and the “mirroring” they missed out n as children, without offering approval, criticism, sympathy for the narcissist’s plight, or any other means of narcissistic supply. The narcissist’s frustration and anger with the therapist (transference) for only mirroring them but not giving them the supply they want (validation or approval) results first in rage, then dissolves into emotional catharsis and release of negative and painful emotions associated with childhood abuse and neglect.

Criticisms of Reparenting: Intensive therapy like this could not practically work unless the narcissist was in a closely supervised setting, such a a rehab center or hospital, because of the strong possibility that even a willing narcissist, when undergoing such painful cathartic emotions, would suddenly leave therapy and go back to their old ways. I personally don’t believe such a therapy would work permanently unless combined or followed up with behavioral training such as CBT to retrain the conscience and internalize it into the psyche.

3. M. Scott Peck: “Remothering” and physical touch.

woman-holding-newborn

Dr. M. Scott Peck proposed a technique similar to reparenting called “remothering” in his book “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil.” Peck doesn’t go into great detail about re-mothering a patient in his book (and in fact doesn’t discuss treatment much at all outside of exorcism), but in his description of his malignantly narcissistic patient Charlene, he expresses his regret that he had not offered her unconditional love and support (not the same as narcissistic supply) and actually physically holding her as a mother would a baby, instead of allowing her to manipulate and torment him and making him continue to pander to her need for narcissistic supply.

Criticisms of “remothering”/physical holding: Peck’s briefly expressed ideas of holding (in a nonsexual way) and nurturing such a patient as a loving mother would are similar to reparenting, but would require the narcissist to be willing to allow themselves to become vulnerable enough to undergo such a treatment, which is unlikely unless they were undergoing a severe narcissistic crisis and utterly desperate. There’s also the problem that physically touching/holding a patient could lead to accusations of sexual abuse, or sexual feelings between the patient and therapist (which is a common but questionable outcome of transference/countertransference).

The problems of possible legal allegations of sexual abuse/harassment are addressed here, and there is a consent form in some states a patient can fill out to give permission for limited touching in therapy sessions to occur.

4. M. Scott Peck: Exorcism.

exorcism

Peck, a born-again Christian, believes that many cases of narcissism are a result of a malignant entity entering the body of the patient, at the time they made the choice to become a narcissist, whether in childhood or later in life.

In some cases, where the possession by an evil entity is not complete (that is, a patient with narcissistic tendencies who is not psychopathic or malignant), a patient can be healed through the centuries old religious rite of exorcism, formerly only sanctioned by the Catholic Church, and even then, was only approved in extreme cases that were approved by the Pope. Peck believes any highly trained psychotherapist with a strong faith in God (not necessarily Christian) and with strong unconditional love for their patient can successfully perform an exorcism on a patient who is willing and properly prepared ahead of time. Peck writes about exorcism in both “People of the Lie” and goes into more detail about the two exorcisms he successfully performed in his later 2005 book, “Glimpses of the Devil.”

Criticisms of Exorcism: Besides its obvious medieval and superstitious connotations, exorcism can be physically, mentally and spiritually dangerous for both the therapist and patient. Death is a possible result. There should be others in the room during the exorcism if additional hands are needed to control the patient undergoing the rite. But because I believe NPD is as much a spiritual disorder as it is a mental one, I don’t think exorcism should be dismissed as a possible healing technique in extreme cases where other therapies have not worked.

5. Dr. James F. Masterson: Psychodynamic Treatment of Narcissistic Disorders of the Self.

closet_narcissism

I have not yet read his book “The Emerging Self” (I just received it in the mail) but from what I have seen, the therapy is psychodynamic (as opposed to merely behavioral) and requires the patient to confront and purge past hurts and undergo catharsis. Narcissism and “closet narcissism” are not the only disorders addressed in his book; he also addresses similar disorders such as BPD which can be healed using the same or similar techniques.

From Wikipedia:

Masterson’s subtypes (exhibitionist and closet)
In 1993, James F. Masterson proposed two categories for pathological narcissism, exhibitionist and closet.[40] Both fail to adequately develop an age- and phase- appropriate self because of defects in the quality of psychological nurturing provided, usually by the mother. The exhibitionist narcissist is the one described in DSM-IV and differs from the closet narcissist in several important ways.

The closet narcissist is more likely to be described as having a deflated, inadequate self-perception and greater awareness of emptiness within. The exhibitionist narcissist would be described as having an inflated, grandiose self-perception with little or no conscious awareness of the emptiness within. Such a person would assume that this condition was normal and that others were just like them. [Masterson’s definition of the closet narcissist sounds more similar to the “covert” narcissist or “inverted” narcissist Sam Vaknin discusses on his website].

The closet narcissist seeks constant approval from others and appears similar to the borderline in the need to please others. The exhibitionist narcissist seeks perfect admiration all the time from others.

Criticism of Masterson’s techniques of treating NPD: I cannot offer any criticisms as I have not read his book yet.

6. Rebirthing.

rebirthing_session
Rebirthing session.

Rebirthing is a controversial New Age healing technique that involves deep and circular breathing. It has been proposed as an alternative healing therapy for people suffering from NPD and many other mental disorders, as well as for healthy individuals who just want to get more in touch with their spiritual nature. It’s supposed to improved the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of anyone who decides to undergo this process. During the rebirthing process, the patient will begin to remember painful emotional incidents long forgotten and crying is common, but is usually followed up by laughter and a feeling of spiritual lightness.

Criticisms of Rebirthing: The type of deep breathing rebirthing requires can lead to hyperventilation and a feeling of being high (from intaking too much oxygen) or having left the physical body. In some cases it can freak out the patient or even cause a psychotic break, much like hallucinogenic drugs can. Because it’s an experimental, alternative therapy given by practitioners not schooled in traditional psychotherapy, there is no proof of its efficacy or empirical studies showing it actually works.

Skepticism among mental health professionals.
pIt must be said, that most professionals are highly skeptical about the possibility of healing (rather than just treating) NPD and feel that because they suffer less than their victims (or at least seem to), that it’s best to treat the victims for the PTSD, anxiety, depression and other disorders their narcissist has caused in them.

I won’t argue with this, but as I’ve said before, I don’t think narcissists, at least those with both the insight and willingness to change (which probably means the non-malignant, non-psychopathic types) are as hopeless as most mental health experts claim.

So I’m going to propose a healing regime here using a hypothetical man named Stephen that comprises elements of ALL of the above techniques (except rebirthing and exorcism due to their highly controversial nature), as well as CBT for helping to retrain the conscience.

There are a few prerequisites necessary for successful healing of NPD:

1. The narcissist must have insight into their disorder and know they have NPD and see how it damages their minds and souls. But insight alone isn’t enough.

2. The narcissist must have willingness to change from the inside–and that means a willingness to undergo intense emotional pain as their True Self begins to emerge and their masks break down. You can have insight without willingness, but not willingness without insight. Both must be present for change to occur.

3. The narcissist undergoing such treatment would be best treated in a highly supervised, even residential setting such as a hospital or rehab center, where their natural tendency to revert back to their old ways of behaving could be intercepted by trained professionals. This is especially necessary during the crisis period where their painful emotions may cause them to want to quit therapy or leave. They could sign a waiver prior to treatment that such attempts to escape would be intercepted or not allowed, and the patient brought back to treatment.

4. The narcissist is probably already undergoing a narcissistic crisis where they have lost all sources of narcissistic supply or a major one, such as a divorce, loss of a fortune or career, death of someone who was a source of supply, serious illness or incarceration. Having lost their sources of supply, the narcissist is already in a vulnerable state and if they are going to present themselves for help, this will be the time.

I am going to describe a hypothetical successful therapy used on a fictional man named Stephen who is afflicted with mid-spectrum (non-malignant) NPD, using a combination of the above techniques I think could be successful for some narcissists in a highly supervised and intensive setting.

STEPHEN’S STORY

'It's all about YOU, isn't it? YOUR hopes! YOUR wants! YOUR needs!'

1. The Master of the Universe has a Narcissistic Crisis
Stephen was a 45 year old successful owner of a video game company. He was married to a meek and quiet but intelligent woman named Lisa who elected to stay at home with their only child Cayden, who was two years old. They lived in a large home they built themselves, and owned two late model SUVs. Stephen could afford to take his wife and son on several vacations a year. To outsiders, they seemed like the picture perfect family.

But all was not well behind closed doors. Lisa was threatening to leave Stephen and take Cayden with her because of Stephen’s constant gaslighting, projecting, blaming her for their child’s excessive crying and misbehavior, and most recently, isolating Lisa from her former college friends and even her family. Lisa was so depressed that often she had no energy to take care of her son and Cayden was left to his own devices, at first crying and demanding attention from Lisa, but finally withdrawing into a quiet, withdrawn, almost autistic world of his own.

Lisa wanted to take Cayden to a psychiatrist, but when she proposed this to Stephen, he flew into a rage and accused her of calling him a bad father. He told her that if she was a better wife and mother, Cayden wouldn’t be having these problems. He also told her that taking Cayden to a therapist was something only a weak person would do. Cayden would just need to learn to “man up,” in Stephen’s words.

Lisa became increasingly depressed and one day she attempted suicide. Her suicide attempt landed her in the psychiatric ward, and Cayden’s care fell on Stephen’s shoulders. He resented his fatherly duties to Cayden, and grew increasingly impatient with him, and Cayden’s behavior grew worse. He resented having to leave work early or not come in to attend to one of Cayden’s many needs when his nanny would call saying there was a problem with his son.

sad-mother-child

One day Stephen was called into his boss’s office and confronted with his poor attendance and sloppy work. Cayden’s needs were not a concern to management. Stephen was told he needed to find some other arrangements or he would be let go. Stephen panicked. His high flying job and the money he made were the only things in his life he cared about. He hated to admit it, but Cayden was nothing but a burden. He had never really wanted a child at all due to all the responsibility.

Stephen’s problems continued. He had no choice but to keep leaving work when his son was sick or when the daycare center called saying he was throwing another one of his uncontrollable tantrums. Stephens’s boss summoned him once more and let him know he was being let go.

Stephen was devastated and began to feel hate toward his son for making him lose his job. He sat at home dejectedly staring at the TV or computer screen but felt so deflated he didn’t bother looking for another job. Cayden screamed and threw tantrums and Stephen, overwhelmed and filled with resentment for Cayden, began to physically abuse him.

A week later, Lisa was released from the hospital and announced she no longer loved Stephen and was taking Cayden with her to live with her parents. Stephen flew into a narcissistic rage and tied to stop Lisa from leaving, but there was no stopping her. She grabbed Cayden, tossed some of their things hastily in some bags, and took off for her mother’s. It was then she noticed the bruises on Cayden’s body and decided to press child abuse charges against Stephen.

Stephen was eventually arrested for child abuse. Now he had a police record and was probably unemployable, except perhaps in some sort of consulting role. He had lost his wife, his job, his child, and now his freedom.

2. Self-awareness and willingness.

Vector illustration of a man lock up in prison

In prison, Stephen broke down and cried almost nonstop. He made no friends because of his emotional instability. So he spent time by himself, reading books in the prison’s library about mental disorders and realized he suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. At first he tried to deny this to himself, but in his heart he knew it was true. He also realized this disorder was the cause of all his problems. He didn’t feel remorse, exactly, but knew he needed to do something about it. Some of the prison staff took pity on Stephen and referred him to a psychologist who specialized in character disorders, NPD in particular. Stephen was desperate to change his ways and willingly entered an experimental but intensive therapy for people suffering from NPD and other character disorders like BPD. Although the therapist was a licensed Ph.D, he was open to incorporating alternative techniques in his regime.

3. Cold empathy.

narc_rage
Narcissistic rage.

Stephen started therapy (which he was taken to from the prison) with a litany of complaints about his failures and how no one understood him. He talked about his dickhead of a boss, his emotionally disturbed and annoying son, and his bitch of a wife who betrayed him. Stephen took no responsibility for his own contributions to his downfall. He demanded sympathy and often resorted to rages and tears during his sessions. Rather than sympathize or offer emotional support, Stephen’s therapist listened quietly to his litany of woes, only nodding here and there or asking questions when he needed to know something pertinent.

Stephen became enraged by his therapist’s supposed lack of caring and sympathy, and began to attack his therapist, calling him a charlatan, incompetent, and an idiot. He threatened to leave, but knew the prison wouldn’t allow him to quit, so his abuse escalated. Projecting his own feelings of rage and other emotions onto the therapist is a process called transference in the psychiatric community (the opposite, the therapist’s projections of their own emotions onto the patient is called countertransference and is nearly as common).

One day he became so enraged he physically attacked his therapist. An officer was called in to intervene, and together, they got Stephen to calm down. Stephen, defeated, slumped in his chair and dissolved into convulsive sobs. The guard stood nearby, and the therapist quietly waited for Stephen to finish crying.

4. Stephen’s True Self begins to Emerge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After several more intense sessions like these, Stephen reluctantly began to talk about his mother, who had abused him as a child. He tearfully discussed the time she held his hands on the hot stove to teach him a lesson, and the time she locked him in a closet for two days for refusal to eat the vegetables on his plate. After releasing him, she made him eat the half-rotted vegetables from a plate on the floor along with the family dogs. Stephen recalled being a good kid until he was about 5 or 6, and always very sensitive to his mother’s moods. He wanted to please her, but never could seem to accomplish that. No matter what he tried–bringing her flowers he picked from the garden (which he’d be punished for), or hugging her (where he’d be pushed away), she always rejected him or punished him. At first he talked about these incidents in a matter of fact, almost flippant way, but after about three more sessions, he began to choke up and tears began to run down his face.

But these tears were different than the ones he used to shed to get his way or manipulate his sources of supply. These tears felt different and came from a deeper, more honest place. He was embarrassed about the uncontrollable crying he could not seem to stop. He tried to hide these tears but his therapist told him they were healing him, melting away his False Self, and to let them come. So reluctantly at first, Stephen did. He told his therapist his “heart hurt” and then he broke into wracking sobs and buried his face in his hands. This was the breakthrough needed to move to the the Reparenting/remothering level.

In some difficult cases where he patient is having trouble bringing emotions to the surface or recalling past events, hypnotherapy could be useful in helping the patient recall painful childhood experiences.

5. Reparenting Stephen’s Lost Self.

inner_child

When Stephen broke down into convulsive sobbing of honest grief for the mother love he never received, and his intense fear of her as a child, his therapist knew he was no longer being manipulated and these were honest emotions from Stephen’s lost self. So the therapist came over and sat down next to him, and encouraged Stephen to cry on his shoulder. If the therapist is an empath, I think that’s an enormous advantage, for I feel that for this type of therapy to have the most success, the therapist must be able to share and feel the patient’s emotions–even if that means crying or grieving along with them. This may also make the patient feel less alone and more comfortable if they are not feeling their emotions alone.

Stephen, in his infantile, vulnerable state, didn’t hesitate to let his tears flow and allow himself to be held, and they stayed like this for a long time. The therapist was careful to stay quiet during this event, and limited himself to stroking Stephen’s head and back and holding him gently as a mother would hold a child. He did not offer judgment, congratulations or explanations. He simply let Stephen release all that pent-up emotion that had been hiding inside him for decades. And felt along with the child that still lived inside Stephen and longed to be able to live a normal, happy life in the world instead of forever hidden away behind Stephen’s disintegrating False Self.

Stephen felt comforted and nurtured. He told his therapist he wished his own parents had held him like that. His father never had either, because he had died in an accident when Stephen was only a baby.

Several more sessions passed like this. In each session Stephen remembered other things that had happened to him as a child. He remembered how sensitive he had been and how he felt hurt by everything. He remembered how much his mother hated it whenever he cried. He remembered being bullied by other kids in school and always running away in terror.

And then he remembered when he had to make a choice. That choice changed the trajectory of his entire life and transformed him from a highly sensitive little boy into a heartless and cold narcissist.

6. The Choice.

monsters-nietzsche

Stephen recalled a dare when he was 8 years old. A group of boys who had bullied him dared him to set a paper bag of dried dog poop on another boy’s rickety wooden front porch and set it on fire. The boys promised him that if he did this, they would no longer bully him and they would be his friend and protect him against any further bullying. Stephen knew that doing this could set the other boy’s house on fire and at first he protested, explaining what could happen. At this point he still had a conscience. But the boys threatened him and told him if he didn’t do it, their bullying would become worse and they would kill his pet rabbit. Stephen believed them, so against his will, he complied.

They set out after dark for the targeted house. The boys watched from the darkened yard as Stephen lit the paper bag on fire and hesitantly walked up the front stairs of the boy’s porch and set it next to a dead potted plant. The deed done, all the boys ran away before anyone saw them. Stephen looked back in time to see the flames ignite the plant, and quickly start to spread over the railings of the rickety old wooden porch. He felt awful and considered going to the police, but he didn’t dare. He went to bed that night and had terrible nightmares.

bullied_child

The targeted boy’s house burned down and he, his baby sister, and his mother had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Soon after, the family moved away, never to be seen again. No charges were pressed because no one knew who the culprit was.

7. Becoming a Narcissist.

narcissism_childhood

To protect himself from his unbearable feelings of guilt and shame, Stephen shut off his painful emotions of guilt and conscience. From then on, the group of bullies accepted him as one of them, and they continued to engage in tormenting other children and even petty crimes.

Almost immediately after the incident, Stephen’s personality changed. Due to his choice to disobey his own conscience, he was becoming evil. He became a narcissist to protect himself from any further painful feelings. It was all just too unbearable.

Stephen confessed not only this, but also the way he used and manipulated others for his own gain, how he obtained his high level job dishonestly by faking qualifications on his resume, the way he emotionally abused his codependent wife who was so easily manipulated, and the abusive way he treated his own son Cayden. He cried and cried some more, and in return, his therapist held him without speaking, only projecting unconditional love and acceptance.

8. Return to Humanity.

freedom_man

Within a few more weeks, Stephen felt like a different person. He had become a model prisoner, and also found God during his incarceration. He was asked by the chaplain to speak to prisoners after the Sunday services, and Stephen used his own story to help and motivate other prisoners. He proved to be a good public speaker, and took courses in psychology and motivational speaking. He started to write a book about his experiences.

Stephen’s therapy was followed up with an intensive outpatient CBT program, to help him internalize the lessons he had learned about right versus wrong, and further help him develop his fledgling conscience.

When finally released from prison after two years, Stephen found employment as a counselor for prisoners and became a professional motivational speaker. He published his book, which became a best seller. He was asked to appear on TV shows and interviews to promote his new book and offered hope to thousands. Soon he met and married a psychology professor and today they have three children, who he loves very much. He would never dream of abusing them. He’s a very involved father and admits he’s happier than he’s ever been.

Recently he met up with his prison therapist, and the therapist noticed Stephen’s eyes and whole face looked different. He looked younger and happier, but more tellingly, in place of the cold, dead eyes of the narcissist he used to be, Stephen’s eyes sparkled with love and joy. His smile, instead of a sneer, was genuine and happy.

On narcissists who want to be cured.

narcissists_cant_change
We shouldn’t just dismiss them as hopeless until we know more.

The above quote is a common sentiment among survivors of narcissistic abuse, and healthy when we are trying to go No Contact with a narcissist who has tried to ruin us, or cope with a narcissist we can’t practically disconnect from. To give a narc any benefit of the doubt during these times is what has kept us trapped in a sick and destructive relationship. Many of us are also empaths and that’s the very quality that has kept us trapped in the hellish merry-go-round of the cycle of abuse. When we’re leaving our narc (or trying to cope with one), it’s healthiest for us to give them no benefit of the doubt at all. It serves us best to think of them as inhuman machines, devils, or monsters with no ability at all to love or to feel real emotions.

But is it fair or realistic to think of them this way? I don’t think it is, because narcissists aren’t machines, demons or monsters. They are human beings with a terrible mental disorder that causes them to attack and manipulate others for their own gain. I’ve come to a point in my healing where my narcs are safely out of my life, and I can finally afford to think of them as fellow humans and even have a degree of empathy for them. It’s nice to not hate, but am I deluded?

Do narcissists really suffer?

Obviously, I read a lot of blogs and forums about NPD and narcissistic abuse. There seem to be very few websites for people suffering from NPD, which you would expect, since narcissists are more likely to cause suffering in others than suffer themselves.

NPD

It has been argued that narcissists do suffer, but they suffer alone. They don’t want you to know. They aren’t likely to seek help for their disorder unless they’ve lost a major source of narcissistic supply, and the defensive structure they have built for themselves is seen by the narcissist as the flimsy house of cards it really is. I believe this is all true, but some narcissists are so out of touch with reality and their true self that they project their misery and emptiness onto others and keep lying even to themselves.

But occasionally, even on victims’ boards and blogs (the following is from a Christian-oriented blog with a strong focus on victims of narcissistic abuse whose pastor owner is unusually compassionate toward people with NPD), I see a post like this:

Wow! Reading this is very sobering. I an not a victim of this, but the oppressor! I admit that I have been this way. I am saved but I am discovering that my while life I have really been a selfish narcissist. My question is this- is hope for an unempathetic narcissist like me? I am honestly sick and tired of my selfish ways and the way I’ve hurt others and have lacked any empathy or emotional feelings for others. I trust that Christ can help me out of this, but does anyone have some advice or testimony for a narcissist who WANTS to change? I always see alot of literature for the victims of narcissistic abuse and I give my utmost respect to the victims, but what about us perpetrators who want to give this up? Any feedback put advice will help.

The narcissist, who calls himself “Michael,” followed up his post with this:

It bothers me a lot that i lack love and empathy for others. I can’t feel life the way I want to. I think my narcissism problems are largely fear-based, over rejections that happened to me at a young age. Also, I admit I’m just addicted to pleasing my self and I don’t know how to truly love someone else. It is no fun being a narcissist, it is miserable. It really bites when it seems everyone else around you knows how to love and feel deep empathy and passion, while you’re feeling “stuck in an emotional bubble”.

Posts like these ones by Michael give me hope that somewhere inside their blighted souls, narcissists still possess a seed of goodness and with enough water and sunlight, that seed can grow into something beautiful, healthy and good.

I remember several months ago a self-proclaimed narcissist came to this blog and wrote a seemingly heartfelt post that he or she wanted to change. It floored (and moved) me enough to write an entire article about it.

Malignant optimism.
I still can’t get over my childlike excitement whenever it appears a narcissist wants to get well. I’m just like a 4 year old with an ice cream cone. Sam Vaknin calls this malignant optimism. Is he being overly pessimistic about the possibility of a cure, or is he right?

I don’t know the answer to that.

malignant_optimism
Malignant optimism.

As a Christian (and a codependent), I tend to want to give people the benefit of the doubt. After all, we’re all God’s children. He made us in His own image. I always try to look for the good even when all I can see is the bad. I do believe in evil, however, and that there are truly evil people in this world. I like to think they’re not that common though. So when a narcissist says they want to change, how can I sit there and pass judgment and assume they’re just lying? To do that would make a narcissist of me. Maybe there are moments of clarity or windows that occasionally open in their dirty souls to let in the light. How can I say they’re not telling the truth? Maybe they are. They are still human beings with souls, after all.

Maybe they aren’t really narcissists.

Then there’s the possibility that a narcissist who goes on a blog or forum and writes a post about wanting to be cured, isn’t actually a narcissist at all. Very few narcissists have the insight or desire to change. Maybe “narcissists” who write posts like this really suffer from some other disorder that causes them to hurt others and lack empathy, like Borderline Personality Disorder or even certain anxiety disorders like OCD (whose sufferers may also seem to lack empathy) or psychotic disorders like schizophrenia (although the pleas for help I have seen by narcissists certainly don’t sound like they’re written by schizophrenics).

“Michael” (the above quoted poster who claims to be a narcissist), wrote about how the Holy Spirit was trying to change him but he kept fighting against it. He doesn’t sound much like a narcissist at all in this followup, but there’s no way to tell for certain without an official diagnosis. Maybe he has another disorder besides narcissism. It’s an interesting post though, because he speaks about the bullying and abuse he endured that may have caused him to develop NPD. If he does have NPD, he seems to have both insight and the desire, and that’s a good omen.

Wow thank you for that insight. I will also add i have a great deal of apathy in my life. It’s like i don’t care about others, God, life, or even my own well-being at times. But having Christ in my heart, it’s like the Holy Spirit wants it but my flesh does not.

I never handled shame or rejection well as a kid. At a young age, I was bullied in school until the end of my middle school years. I wanted acceptance from my peers- from women I wanted attention, from men I wanted respect. I didn’t receive either, so I put on a facade of myself to fit in so I would be “accepted”. My whole life I’ve been emotionally numb, and I hate it how it’s like I don’t even cry when i should, like when a loved one passes away, or when someone shows a deep display of love, just as Jesus did. Even in my Christian life, I feel like the Gospel hasn’t really penetrated me on that deep heart level yet because I cannot really love or feel love. I guess only God is the answer to this, because i sure can’t do this in my own strength.

abused

The cost-benefit analysis of healing.

If it’s possible for a narcissist to be cured of their disorder (not merely treated), it’s not going to be an easy or a short process for them or their therapists. (I’ll explore this more in a later post, but I’ve already written about it in other posts about NPD healing regimes such as Attitudinal Healing and Reparenting). It’s a topic that’s fascinating to me, and I also have a vested interest in it because it gives me hope for the narcissists in my own life that I have cared about and even loved. This could include my beloved daughter, who may have a mild form of NPD (but is more likely Borderline–the jury’s still out on that).

smashingmirror

Obviously, some narcissists would be more curable (or at least more treatable) than others. They must have both the insight into their disorder and the desire to change. They must be willing to undergo enormous psychic pain and terror as they confront their true self and shed their false self. Desire without insight isn’t possible, but insight without desire is. If narcissism has been beneficial to its sufferer, they may not want to be rid of their disorder, even though they still may be in immense psychic pain. Whether they are willing to be cured requires a cost-benefit analysis of whether undergoing intense and painful emotional catharsis is worth giving up whatever benefits narcissism has afforded them. For the vast majority, it probably isn’t. Even if they willingly enter therapy, once the painful process of healing is underway, they are likely to run away in terror and put their masks back on.

I have to be realistic too, and not dismiss the tragic possibility that a narcissist can want to change, but have no hope at all of it actually happening. All I can do is pray that God will step in and help them find their way to the light. I pray for them every day, as well as the more numerous people they have victimized.

I can’t even.

tears

I was about to go to bed but decided to check my email one more time tonight, and read something unbelievable.

A person who had been reading my blog and says they are a narcissist wrote me a long email. To protect their privacy, I will not repost their email.

To paraphrase, she told me she knew she was a narcissist and felt like she didn’t deserve to live anymore. A few months ago she was ready to commit suicide. She confessed to me many of the things she’d done to hurt her husband, her kids, friends and family which I won’t go into detail about here to respect her privacy. She said she wants to change but doesn’t know how to stop. She tries, but it never works for long. She is also an ACON who had a narcissistic mother (and no father because he died when she was a child).

She’s been reading my blog for awhile and has never commented because she said she was too ashamed to even post under a handle on a public website, but she said my posts have given her so much hope that she decided not to kill herself and is starting to see a therapist who specializes in personality disorders. In the parlance of young people today, I can’t even.

I just have no words right now except tears. I’ll have to respond to her email tomorrow.

I can’t even tell you how amazing and incredible and magnificent and encouraging it is when someone tells me my blog has helped them or given them hope. I get choked up every time I hear something like that. But when it comes from a narcissist? That just proves to me there really is a God who loves every one of us.

Even if this person isn’t a narcissist, who cares? Whatever her problem, she feels better.

What an incredible gift. Who cares about spikes in stats or numbers of views, when THIS is what really, really matters.