Tag Archives: narcissism

Therapy for narcissism


narcissist photo

Photo by Victori∀

Therapy for narcissism

Narcissism is one of the more difficult disorders to treat (Young et al, 2003).People with narcissism find it difficult to give and receive genuine love. They were often emotionally deprived in childhood and as a result have learned to overcompensate for this by developing a conceited, self serving personality. They often appear entitled and expect a lot form others whilst giving little in return. Their motto seems to be “What’s in it for me?” They rarely practise self sacrifice and have little real empathy for others.

Not all narcissists are diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) but many have traits consisting of: seeing themselves as defective.  They believe that any exposure of a flaw will lead to rejection. Many narcissists  have a ‘lonely child’ within them. They often have little awareness of this though. Feeling average is one of the worst feelings for a narcissist and this is why they surround themselves with high achievers and like to exaggerate their wealth, intelligence etc. Underneath all their bragging they are often excruciatingly insecure.

Therapists tend to work with the ‘lonely child mode’ and help the client to identify their inner loneliness and emotional deprivation and find ways to help the client to self soothe and nurture this inner void. Many narcissists cope with this void by being aggressive and lashing out at the slightest criticism. They also use dominance and bullying to protect themselves from being ‘found out’ and scared and vulnerable. They get so used to this pattern of behaviour that they begin to identify with this false persona and this makes therapy even more tricky.

Childhood origins of narcissism:

Loneliness and isolation

Insufficient limits (set by parents)

History of being used or manipulated

Conditional approval (by parents)

In treating clients with narcissism, therapists overarching goal is to help them learn how to get their core emotional needs met. Narcissists find it hard to accept genuine love, They can accept admiration, approval and attention but cannot take in love. They can often choose loving partners though but give very little back. They only give in order to get.

The three most common modes of narcissism:

Lonely child – they feel unloved and unloveable. Feelings of inadequacy dominate. This is the underlying feeling.

Self aggrandizer – Overcompensation for lonely child mode to protect themselves. In this mode they behave in an entitled, abusive way. They also seek status and behave in insensitive ways. This is the mode they use to deal with others.

Detached self soother – When alone, they usually flip into this mode of detached self soother. In this mode the shut off their emotions and engage in activities that will soothe them or distract them from feeling. In the absence of validation from others, the Lonely Child tends to surface and the detached self soother is a way to avoid the pain of the lonely child.

Narcissists and relationships

Narcissists often choose partners that will make them look good to compensate for their feelings in inferiority. They often devalue their partners in order to feel superior and boost their own self esteem. Some even become sadistic and humiliate their partners. The more the partner tries to please the more it backfires. The more the partner fights back, the more the narcissist will value their partner’s approval.


Therapy for narcissism

Therapy involves the therapist bonding with the lonely child, creating a safe environment without judgement. The therapist values the client for expressing vulnerability and gives the client unconditional positive regard. Clients are often not very self aware and don’t even realise they have problems establishing true intimacy. Through therapy, clients can begin to realise that they have been lacking true connections with others. The therapist encourages the client to stay in lonely child mode and meet those early needs in therapy. The same message is always given by the therapist – “It is you I care about, not your achievements or performance”.

Sooner or later the client begins treating the therapist the same way they treat everyone else – in a condescending or challenging manner. It is important for the therapist to stand up to the narcissistic client or else they will lose respect. The therapist needs to be appropriately assertive and set limits for their client.

  1. Therapists empathise with narcissistic point of view and are tactful in confronting entitlement.
  2. Therapists neither defend themselves nor attack back when the client’s devalue them. A therapist must rise above the content and not get ‘sucked’ into the narcissist’s world.
  3. Therapists assert their rights nonpunitively. Example: “You are probably not intending to hurt me, and deep down what you are feeling is misunderstood, but I am not comfortable with the way you are speaking to me”.
  4. Therapists do not allow themselves to be bullied by clients into doing things they do not want to do.
  5. Therapists establish that the therapy relationship is mutual, based on reciprocity, not on master-slave principle.
  6. Therapists look for evidence of underlying vulnerability and point it out each time it occurs.
  7. Therapists rise above specific incidents and ask the client to explore the motivation behind entitlement, self aggrandizing, devaluing or avoidant statements. They do not get caught up in the content of arguments. Rather, they address the way the client is behaving and the effect this has on others.

One of the best ways therapists can show narcissistic clients that it is okay to be vulnerable is to be vulnerable themselves. Acknowledge when they feel hurt, admit mistakes are are willing to be imperfect. Even if these clients view this as weakness, it is still important for the therapist to express appropriate vulnerability. Narcissistic clients take time to shift their thinking and behaviour but with effective therapy and client motivation, a lot can be achieved.

Mandy X

Mandy specialises in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and helps clients with Narcissism. Get in touch if you require Skype counselling or would like further information.


Loving a narcissist


loving a narcissist

Loving a narcissist

Loving a narcissist is a major challenge, relationships require expert navigation to succeed and loving a narcissist requires strong will and self awareness to survive.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder where a person has an inflated sense of their own importance as well as a strong need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. However behind the facade of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that is vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

 “But enough about me, how do you feel about me?” – this would typically be what a narcissist would think or say! It’s all about them.  If your partner always wants attention and admiration, he or she may be a narcissist. If someone is easily slighted or over-reactive to criticism, they may also be a narcissist. If they feel they are always right, that they know more, or that they have to be the best, etc., these are also signs of narcissism.  Narcissistic individuals may only appear to care about you when you are fulfilling their needs or serving a purpose for them. A narcissistic relationship can lead to a lot of emotional distress.

 Around 1% of the population suffer from narcissistic personality disorder.

Common traits of narcissists:

  • Sense of entitlement or superiority
  • Lack of empathy
  • Manipulative or controlling behavior
  • Strong need for admiration
  • Focus on getting one’s own needs met, often ignoring the needs of others
  • Higher levels of aggression
  • Difficulty taking feedback about their behaviour

How does a narcissistic partner negatively impact a relationship?

Narcissistic relationships tend to be very challenging due to the fact that narcissistic partners usually have difficulty really loving someone else, because they don’t truly love themselves.   They tend to only see the partner in terms of how they fill their needs (or fail to fill their needs). Their mates and children are only valued in terms of their ability to meet these needs.  Narcissistic partners often lack the ability to have empathy with their partners’ feelings. This lack of empathy leads to a lot of hard feelings.

Yet many people are drawn to narcissistic relationships. Narcissistic partners can be very captivating, especially at the beginning. They tend to have a “big” personality. They are the life of the party. They can make you feel that you too must be great for them to choose you. However, in time, they can be too controlling in relationships. They may feel jealous or easily hurt.  When narcissistic injuries occur, they often lash out and can be cutting.  Their reactions are dramatic and attention-seeking. The initial rush of excitement is not sustainable. Narcissists are prone to falling madly in love quickly and are quick to commit and draw the other person. They are intense but the flame soon goes out and the controlling, self absorbed tendencies follow.

When you are in a narcissistic relationship, you may feel very lonely. You might feel like you are just an accessory and  your needs and wants are unimportant.  Narcissistic partners act as if they are always right, that they know better and that their partner is wrong or incompetent. This often leaves the other person in the relationship either angry and trying to defend themselves or identifying with this negative self-image and feeling badly about themselves – filled with self doubt.

Learning to develop your own confidence and sense of self love and value is important in counteracting the negative effects of being in a relationship with a narcissist.

Fostering self compassion is important too in counteracting narcissism – being kind to oneself can lead to us being less tolerant of abusive behaviour from a narcissist.

For there to be any hope of recovering a good relationship from a narcissistic relationship, the narcissist must overcome their self-centered and negative traits. They need to challenge their self-feeding habits and pseudo-independent stance. They need to focus on developing their capacity for empathy and respect of others.  Lastly, they need to develop transcendent goals, to care about and invest in others’ well-being. Being generous and giving to others are examples of behaviors that would be corrective, building real self-esteem and practicing focusing outside of oneself.

Mandy X

Source/Info: http://www.psychalive.org/narcissistic-relationships/

How to handle a narcissist




How to handle a narcissist

Narcissist’s are chronically insecure people. Their biggest fear is that they will be exposed and be seen as not good enough by others around them. As a consequence of this, they often choose partners whom they perceive to be above them or superior to them in some way. They often see their partners as an extension of themselves and possess very poor boundaries when it comes to relationships. So if you find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist, at least you can congratulate yourself on being above average in many aspects.

Due to the fact that narcissists have very low self-esteem, they attempt to surround themselves with good-looking and successful people. They see this as testament to their own worthiness. As far as a narcissist is concerned, there is only success or failure and nothing in between. Narcissists have very rigid rules about the world they live in.

When your rules for living are inflexible, these rules are more easily broken. Narcissists live in a perpetual state of fear, they intensely dislike any kind of criticism and often act in an entitled and spoiled way. They do this to overcompensate for their feelings of inferiority.

The best way to handle a narcissist is to know your own boundaries. Narcissists will frequently try to move the boundaries and will use manipulation, emotional blackmail and guilt to get what they want. The tough part is that narcissists are emotionally intelligent enough to know how to manipulate and ingratiate themselves with those they wish to control. They can be extremely charming and charismatic, one-minute making you feel like the most special person ever and the very next moment can make you feel as if you are the lowest of the low. They are especially adept at reeling you in emotionally and then once you are hooked, they begin their campaign of control.

Never waste time arguing with a narcissist. Nothing is ever their fault and they have such impenetrable walls up to protect themselves that they will never acknowledge your points of view. Instead of getting them to see your side, you have to stick to your boundaries and give up trying to negotiate with them. They will always want more, no matter what you give them. This is why you need to decide what you will give them (what you feel is reasonable) and desist from discussing your decisions. It is just wasted energy as they do not possess the empathy required to acknowledge how you feel. There is very little room for manoeuvring with a narcissist.

Repetition is a good form of defence. Stick to your guns and when a narcissist tries to persuade you otherwise, keep repeating your original statement/offer. You will never change narcissist, so if you are in love with one-learning to manage them rather than change them is the best plan of action.

Narcissists are extremely selfish, self absorbed and are motivated by self-interest alone. If they appear cooperative and kind, it is because they feel this behaviour will get them what they want. They are unlikely to behave in ways that are purely altruistic.

My advice would be to avoid a narcissist at all costs. I see them as emotional vampires-they are exhausting to be around. If however you feel you cannot be without your narcissistic partner, learn to value yourself and keep firm boundaries around you as to what you will and will not allow. Never allow criticism or unfair expectations to be placed upon you. The more you give a narcissist, the more they will want. Protect yourself and love yourself and make sure you surround yourself with people who truly love you without expecting anything back-your friends and your family.

Mandy X

The Dark Triad of Personality Characteristics


evil personality photo

The Dark Triad of Personality Characteristics

A dangerous recipe of three personality characteristics exists. Someone possessing these three traits is dangerous as they lack empathy, use people as objects and have a determination to succeed that is devoid of morals and ethics.

These three personality characteristics are:

  1. Psychopathy – anti social personality, lack of empathy, lack guilt and very impulsive
  2. Machiavellianism – manipulation and exploitation of others. Often seen is corporate types
  3. Narcissism – selfish, self absorbed and lacking in empathy

People with these personality traits are brilliant at moving between these three personality traits and only show the side they need to in order to further their aims. They can be heartless and are adept at dissociation whereby they act in a detached way. Acting in a detached way ensure they will have no conscience or guilt over their actions.

Sadly, many CEO’s and Directors of companies possess the dark triad of personality characteristics. Their need for power and status coupled with their lack of empathy ensure they get ahead.

People who possess the dark triad have often experienced a difficult and unloving childhood where these anti social traits will have been fostered. Abuse in childhood is a good predictor of many types of dysfunction in adults. If you know someone who only seems to care about what’s in it for them, offers very little in terms of emotional intelligence and empathy and can cause upset easily without it affecting them, you may know someone with the dark triad.

Relationships are all about give and take, cut your losses (especially if you are in a romantic relationship) and get out!


Mandy X



Photo by hang_in_there