“How to Spot a Collapsed Narcissist”

archie-bunker

The following is is a very interesting article I found on a site called  Flying Monkeys Denied, that explains how to identify a narcissist who has “collapsed” –in other words, a narcissist who has been denied adequate supply (leading to narcissistic injury), perhaps by having failed to meet his or her goals or obtain the admiration they thought was their due.    He (or she) will spiral into “pit bull” attack mode in their last ditch efforts to force others to provide them with supply.   They become hypersensitive, hateful, rage filled, tantrum throwing, angry, snappish, intolerant, and sometimes even violent.   Any pretense of niceness or charm they might have formerly displayed when things were going better for them disappears and the rage just underneath the mask of pleasantness comes out full throttle.

They still cannot accept any blame or criticism of themselves.    They project their self hatred onto the “targets” they have selected (people of another race, religion, ethnic group, gender, or people with a non-traditional lifestyle).  It’s as this level the narcissist displays bigotry and small-mindedness.   It’s at this level you see xenophobia and intolerance toward viewpoints outside their narrow worldview.   It’s at this level the collapsed narcissist may batter his wife or girlfriend so badly she winds up hospitalized or dead.

Archie Bunker in the ’70s hit TV show, “All in the Family” was a narcissist who was painfully aware he was at or very near the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder.   Fearing he’d sink to the even “lower level” of the minorities and various ethnic groups he looked down on with so much contempt, Archie hung onto that one thin thread of hope: his whiteness, his conservative values, and his blue-collarness.

There’s another narcissist in the public eye right now, similar to Archie Bunker in many ways (only with a lot more money),  who is running for president.  This narcissist also displays all the signs of having collapsed or being in the process of collapsing, perhaps due to the pressure of running for the highest office you can obtain but deep down knowing he really isn’t qualified, so he attacks those who question  his competence or criticize his agenda.   His bigotry, sexism and racism ensures that should he fail (lose the election, win the election but become the most hated president ever) he will still be “above” these other groups who he has deemed are beneath him.

The next stage in the narcissistic collapse (if getting supply through aggression, threats and intimidation fails) would be a descent into depression, suicide, or even psychosis (when a narcissist reaches this point of having hit rock bottom, they may become so desperate  as to voluntarily enter therapy, and this is when inroads into their psyche are most likely to be made).   Such a massive blow to the narcissistic ego could also result in complete loss of control  called “going postal.”   It is this possibility I think many of us sense in The Donald that makes his possible presidency so terrifying.    Should he collapse that far, he could start a nuclear war or turn America into a police state or order the extermination or deportation of all the groups of people he dislikes.  Gay people, people of color (particularly Muslim-Americans),  even women are at risk should that happen.

My apologies for applying Godwin’s Law,  but I believe this is how Hitler went from winning an election as a smooth talking populist who promised to “make Germany great again,” to the monster who became responsible for the extermination of 6 million Jews and other groups he disliked.   I could see this happening with Donald Trump all too easily.    There aren’t enough checks and balances any more to keep him at bay should he decide to unleash his narcissistic fury.   This is one angry and disordered man who is coming undone on national TV and I wouldn’t put anything past him.

I didn’t intend for this intro to be so long.   Here is the article I’m linking to:

http://flyingmonkeysdenied.com/2016/10/10/how-to-spot-a-collapsed-narcissist/

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Karma comes a-calling for my malignant narcissist ex.

oscarthegrouch

Sometimes you can actually see what happens to a narcissistic abuser when they alienate everyone and have nothing left.

My MN ex has effectively alienated not only his ex wife (me), but also both his children. He has no other living family (and his deceased mother was also a malignant narcissist).    He runs off potential friends the first time they disagree with him and becomes abusive toward them and starts badmouthing them to anyone who will listen, so he has no friends either.

Most of you no I am No Contact with my ex.    He finally stopped trying to hoover me and these days does nothing but badmouth me to our children because I am no longer of any use to him.    My children are sick of it, and they’re sick of him.   My son can see right through his lies and bullshit, and has been able to do so for years.   Without his narcissist father in his life, he is doing very well and is reasonably happy.  He has supportive friends who serve as a kind of surrogate family to him.    He has only a few scars (Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder, including a rather pathological fear of germs) from having been his father’s scapegoat growing up, but is working on that in therapy, as well as his lingering issues with self esteem and depression.

My daughter, who got “rewarded” when she was younger for being the golden child and her father’s flying monkey recruit, is over it–and she’s over her father.  Since he had no one left in the family to bully, lie to, steal from, triangulate against, gaslight, and abuse, she became his newest victim and scapegoat!   If you’re the golden child of a narcissist, never get too comfortable.   They will turn on you in a heartbeat if no other supply is forthcoming or their original scapegoats defect.  You, too, are merely an object for them to feed off of so their false self doesn’t fall to pieces.

There have been two incidents lately that made her finally wake up to the truth about him.  About a month ago, he stole her entire savings–almost $300, that she’d been so proud of and diligently adding to for over three months.   He not only lied to her about the theft, he tried to blame ME and suggest I might have taken it.   Even her tears didn’t move him–his own DAUGHTER’s tears, and he continued to deny that he had taken it and told her she was overreacting.

A week ago he broke into her car at work (somehow he got a spare key) and stole more money and some of her prescription medicine she takes for anxiety.    She was always too trusting of him–and she’s too trusting in general.  She tends to be codependent, the way I used to be.    But now she knows her father isn’t a loving person who will support her; he is treacherous and has zero conscience or empathy.  Like everyone else, she’s just an object to him.   This was a hard and painful truth for her to realize, and she hasn’t spoken to him since this incident.   Although she’s not officially No Contact, she is taking No Contact actions by not having anything to do with him.  She does love her father, but she is starting to realize he never loved her, or anyone, because he’s not capable of it.  She knows it’s nothing she did; it’s because he is very sick.

Now he has no one left and still lives with my daughter’s ex boyfriend because he can use him too and he’s too lazy to look for a place of his own.   The ex boyfriend (who is still friends with my daughter) is tiring of his mind-games and his constant demands too and never talks to him anymore, even though they are living in the same house.  He thinks the way he treats his own children is appalling.  He continues to allow him to live there, because he helps with the bills in exchange for the room, but he doesn’t like him and barely talks to him at all.

The strain is showing.  My MN ex is beginning to lose his mind (whatever was left of it).    My daughter’s ex tells us he is acting more and more erratic and bizarre, talking about things that make no sense that sometimes sounds like the word salad some schizophrenics are known for.  He threatens suicide all the time and spends his days and nights abusing random people on Facebook and trolling political websites, abusing and bullying the people he finds there.   He’s unemployable.  Even if he could find work, no one would hire him.  He not only acts insane, he looks it too.   He never bathes and dresses strangely or barely at all.  And so he just sits in his room all day, never coming out except to eat or use the bathroom.

My ex is an example of a malignant narcissist who has no supply left to inflate his false self–no family, no friends, no job, no recognition of any kind, ill heath, and he’s losing his looks with age and both mental and physical illness–and now he’s completely losing his mind.   He’s unrecognizable from the charming, handsome, ambitious, and charismatic person I met in 1985.   He doesn’t even try to hide his malignancy behind a “nice” mask anymore.   He’s openly mean, nasty and negative.  He appears to have completely lost any soul he might once have had and now he’s batshit crazy to boot.   Soon he will probably need to be housed in a mental institution, if he doesn’t take his own life first.

He’s a perfect example of a narcissist way too far up the NPD/ASPD spectrum to ever admit he needs help or realize that he has sabotaged himself by running off everyone, including his own family, with his repellent personality and refusal to accept any responsibility or blame for the pain he has caused them. He still constantly projects his own malignant narcissism onto the people he was supposed to love but never could.    I don’t see this man ever becoming so beaten down he would go into therapy to try to understand what his own role in this might have been.   He denies he is a narcissist and always will.   He has zero self awareness and always will.   If he ever “hits bottom” (which he’s really close to now), all I see him doing is committing suicide.   He’d be too proud to humble himself and willingly renounce his ways.  He’d rather die than do that.

I don’t exactly enjoy seeing his deterioration, but a part of me can’t help but think it’s all due to his choices and refusal to take any kind of responsibility and that he’s just finally getting what he deserves.

A Covert Narcissist’s Worst Nightmare, by Anonymous.

I saw this today and thought it was brilliant and creative, so I’m reposting it. I’m pretty sure it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. 😉

A Covert Narcissist’s Worst Nightmare

By Anonymous.

paranoia

You wake up one day and all the people who once respected and liked you, and gave you supply — supply that gave you esteem and a sense of self — have turned against you, because they found out you were a Narcissist, and now they’ve actually all conspired together, in an attempt to systematically destroy your false-self, because “that’s what’s best for you honey.” Your family ostracizes you. Your work is no longer valued. Any attempt to garner supply from others is met with contempt and slights and ridicule. Now every innocuous glance and comment is an attempt to put you down. Rage just pushes people away, as does snapping and hurting others. Your inwardly-constructed personal reality and persecutory delusions that originally took the blame off yourself, and upheld your false self, begin to falter, and you focus more on your deeply wounded true-self.

So you buy a Ferrari and drive around and associate with your fellow yuppies, trying to look cool and make others think so too, but they just see you as trying too hard, and all your associates stop hanging out with you, because they don’t think you’re worthy anymore. “Mr. Nobody” is your new nickname. Even your attempts to get supply on social media is met with zero likes.

Turning inward to fantasy (violent and grandiose) and narcissistic withdrawal, and numbness, you try to generate supply from the inside, which works for a while, until even that fails. Taking drugs and getting drunk to escape from the nightmare just makes things worse. No matter what you do, you can’t ever get any more supply.

Everyone sees how fake you are, including your friends; they see you are over-exposed and vulnerable. It turns out no one appreciates you anymore, probably because they were all narcs themselves. You try to fight it, but you know it’s the truth. You feel the very essence of who you are break apart — pure ego death — and there is nothing you can do about it. You know that the only way to feel alive is to get gratification from others, and in the end — you can’t get it at all, and suicide seems like the only option. (My note–Please don’t do this if you have NPD and lost all your supply–go get some professional help ASAP!)

But then it turns out it was all just a bad dream, like the ending of “Click”, and you go on living your life the way you always did, using others to pump up your false self, blissfully unaware of your own inadequacies.

NPD mood cycles can mimic Bipolar disorder.

comedy_tragedy

I remembered something about my NPD ex tonight. He used to have mood swings that seemed in many ways reminiscent of Bipolar disorder. It was only later I realized what they really were–cycles of of grandiose entitlement and dejected self-pity. Whenever supply was abundant–such as when he was promoted at work–he became puffed up with pride and this resulted in an attitude of entitlement and grandiosity which he lorded over his subjects, namely me. He also seemed somewhat manic when he was in one of these grandiose phases.  These were the times he was the most likely to become overtly abusive, both emotionally and physically. Instead of being happy the way a normal person might when thingsa are going well for them, my ex became hostile and prone to pick fights. I learned to dread the times in which good things happened to him, because that was when his narcissism seemed to go into overdrive.

When his supply was running low, he sank into deep depressions, in which he lost all his motivation and energy and spent most of his time staring dejectedly into space or sleeping (or pacing the house frantically at night). His “manic” behavior disappeared and he talked very little when he talked at all. When he did speak, it was to moan endlessly about how terrible his life was and how everyone had it in for him (nothing was ever his fault, and he was still assigning himself Center of the Universe status).  He acted helpless and needy, and wallowed in self pity like a pig in mud. He sometimes threatened suicide (but never attempted it–narcissists generally don’t). As annoying as his depressed moods were, I preferred him that way because he was less overtly abusive (though still abusive in a covert, manipulative way). He acted a lot “crazier” in his depressive states and suffered terrible panic attacks on a regular basis. This actually fits with an NPD diagnosis: when a narcissist isn’t getting any supply and their victims aren’t cooperating, they begin to feel like they don’t exist, and can become very depressed and dissociated. The dissociation can lead to severe panic attacks and even psychotic episodes.

The terms “covert narcissism” and “overt narcissism” aren’t mutually exclusive. A covert narcissist (the depressed, “fragile” type) will usually become more overt (grandiose) when supply is high. A grandiose (overt) type will sink to a more covert form of narcissism when supply is low. The two types of narcissism are really just two halves of the same personality disorder. Grandiose narcissists are thought of as being high achievers, but that may be because since they get more positive supply to begin with, they have more reason to act grandiose.

Before I put two and two together and realized my ex’s bizarre mood swings were in direct proportion to how much praise and recognition from others he was getting, I was sure he had Bipolar disorder. Unlike most narcissists, he did see a psychiatrist (mainly to get meds for his depressions and anxiety; there was little to no desire on his part to improve himself), who actually gave my ex a Bipolar diagnosis.

The most common type of Bipolar disorder is what used to be called Manic Depression. During a manic phase, the patient is likely to be extremely hyper, grandiose, testy, and quick to anger. They have an unrealistic sense of their own invincibility that doesn’t line up with reality. This is very similar to the grandiose phase of someone with NPD.

The covert (depressed) phase of NPD can look extremely similar to the depressive phase of Bipolar disorder. The main difference is, a narcissist will generally not follow through on suicide threats (because they are intended to manipulate and garner sympathy, a form of supply) while someone who is Bipolar is in grave danger of suicide. A bipolar patient can also be helped by medication, while there is no effective medication for NPD (although antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can help with some of the symptoms).

Further reading:

The Relationship Between Narcissism and Bipolar Disorder

Derealization and depersonalization in NPD and BPD.

Worlds_Collide___Phaeton___by_Meckie
Worlds Collide-Phaeton: by Meckie at Deviantart.com

A common symptom of both NPD and BPD is dissociation: a splitting or fragmenting of the personality not very different from what occurs in the Dissociative disorders such as DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and Psychogenic Fugue. It usually happens in response to a severe loss of supply or major narcissistic injury, or a sudden awareness of oneself as not oneself (realizing your false self is not who you really are–which happens when a narcissist becomes self aware). These disorders themselves, especially NPD, are dissociative in nature because a split in the personality has occurred. In the narcissist, it’s a substitution of the original personality for a false one.

Borderlines, rather than having a false self per se, are more like chameleons, adapting their personalities to fit the people and situation around them. That’s why Borderlines can seem so changeable.

I first started to experience dissociation as a young child. I remember at age 4, waking up for breakfast and walking down to the kitchen where my parents were already eating, and seeing colored specks like glitter falling all around me. When I asked my parents if they saw the “glitter,” they just looked at me like I was crazy. I also had dreams that would continue after I awoke and often felt I was living in a dream. Maybe that’s the case with most young children though. I also remember hearing music from TV shows late at night after everyone was asleep that couldn’t possibly be coming from anywhere, as this was in the 1960s and no one had the capability to record a show on VCR yet, nor was there TV after midnight or so–all we’d get in those days was a test pattern until morning.

I remember at around the same age, banging my head against the wall in the family room to relieve some kind of congestion in my head. I think it may have been to relieve those odd feelings of unreality–not much different than the way a Borderline will sometimes cut herself to “feel alive.” In fact, this may well have been an early symptom of my BPD (and I always thought it was autism).

Most people have probably experienced dissociation, perhaps under the influence of a drug. Sometimes people experience it on hearing shocking news that could be either tragic or fortuitous–like hearing one’s child just died, or winning the lottery.

But for people who have certain personality disorders (as well as people with various dissociative disorders and psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, and also those with PTSD and C-PTSD), dissociation is both common and chronic. It’s also severe enough to sometimes interfere with functioning.

Q: So what does dissociation FEEL like?
A. Because something so ungrounded in the tangible and everyday reality is so hard to explain in words, I’m not sure if these descriptions of what it feels like will make a lot of sense, but I’ll try.

Derealization.
I’ve actually experienced this the most. The world seems odd and dreamlike. Reality seems somehow “off” the way things are in a dream. In a dream, a familiar scene can look the same as it does in reality, but at the same time there’s this feeling of offness and otherworldiness about it. When I was younger and used to ride the subway, sometimes I couldn’t look up at the people because they all seemed like masks…sinister, somehow. It’s a very weird feeling but not always unpleasant. Sometimes that dreamlike oddness about everything is sort of compelling and interesting.

Depersonalization.
This definitely causes me serious panic attacks. I first had episodes of this at about age 9 or 10 and thought I was going crazy. I felt oddly disconnected from my body, like I was floating. People talking to you sound like they’re coming from either a great distance or out of a tube. You can’t focus on what they’re saying because you’re freaking out and panicking but trying to hide it to keep from appearing as crazy as you feel.

I think people with NPD and BPD (as well as the Schizoid, Schizotypal and Paranoid PD’s) who do not improve or try to change, are probably at high risk for developing psychotic disorders and even schizophrenic like conditions when things are going badly for them, there’s been a massive loss of narcissistic supply, or when the person becomes gravely ill or very late in life.

Is NPD really a dissociative disorder?

dissociative_identity_disorder

I think there’s good reason to think NPD (and to some extent, BPD) is really a dissociative disorder. Think about it. There is a true self and a false self that are split from each other, much the way a person with dissociative identity disorder (DID) has a “waking self” or the “host personality” (the DID’s equivalent of the true self) that has split into different “personalities”, some of which aren’t even aware that others exist. Still, the narrative of the true self runs beneath everything, like an underground river feeds the land above it. In other words, the false self’s behaviors are driven by the need to keep the true self hidden and/or protected.

NPDs (and BPDs) also have episodes of dissociation and feelings of unreality, depersonalization, derealization, or even annihilation when under stress or when injured, and these dissociative episodes can become so bad during a narcissistic crisis that a psychotic break can occur. Narcissists are not unknown to become psychotic during old age due to massive loss of supply.

There are other things too that are dissociative–the magical thinking, the splitting, and the manifestation of the FS itself, which is, in essence, a separate “personality” from the TS.
I’ve read elsewhere that NPD could be a dissociative disorder, and I think it’s a valid argument. Thoughts?

Healing a narcissist is like performing a skeleton transplant.

skeleton-transplant
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).

depression

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.

Building a narcissist

brick_man

I was browsing and NPD forum and came across this post by a woman who claims to be a narcissist or possibly a borderline (she is undiagnosed) and is begging to be healed (she is apparently undergoing a narcissistic crisis–which usually happens after a loss of a major or primary source of supply). What’s interesting is her memory–presented as a kind of list– of the events that led to her choosing narcissism as a coping strategy. It is a choice, after all–usually made in childhood, though the choice can be made as an adolescent or adult too. It may or may not be a conscious choice.

This could, of course, all be fabricated by someone who knows the psychology of NPD fairly well, but if it isn’t a fabrication, it’s a textbook case of how this personality disorder begins and evolves. It also illustrates my ideas about narcissists beginning life as highly sensitive people (HSPs) and how painful this illness can be for its sufferers.

In a most narcissist way I want to ask you how I can heal.
🙂

Working mom
Parents divorced at birth
Father disconnected.

Sensitive child. (nature/animals/people)
left at 8 weeks with babysitters constantly
LOVING MOTHER
over indulged (spoiled)
only child
childhood trauma at 4 (seeing something with animals)

I tipped and decided that all people were cruel.
I shielded myself for years from TV, movies and news articles that I deemed disturbing.

I learned pedophiles were real and a problem at age 40.
That is how well I shielded myself.

Now, today I am 52 years old. My husband divorced me. I changed when I was put on Prozac. I had a bipolar episode and life went downhill for 14 years. I came off all medication 2 years ago.

No help with detox. No therapy as I don’t trust people.

Now, I am having problems and after reading your articles believe that I am a narcissist, possibly borderline personality.

Depression overwhelms me when I think of offering myself to the world.
I don’t want to be rejected.

I understand this fear is from perceived trauma.

How do I get passed this?

How do I resolve anger after (feeling like) I lost 14 years of my life due to mis management of psychotropic medication.

I have searched for a therapist, I have called therapists and interviewed them. I get confused and really don’t know with whom I should place my trust.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.