Category Archives: Articles

Why Narcissism Is a Profoundly Misunderstood Psychological Disorder

This article discusses the link between NPD and psychopathy, which I always find interesting, because both NPD and ASPD are so prevalent in my family.

But what I really related to was the discussion of fear in NPDers. One of my core issues is constant, never-ending anxiety — essentially fear or worry about future events.

I can spend hours at a time ruminating about an anxiety-inducing issue, trying to plan for every possible outcome. I never want to be caught off guard for fear I will look stupid or face humiliation.

Looking at NPD as a form of fear avoidance makes a lot of sense and really rings home with me personally.

Rooted in ‘Profound Fear’

On their own, psychoanalytic explanations are inadequate and unconvincing. This is where neuroscience can help. Last year, Elsa Ronningstam and Arielle Baskin-Sommers showed that NPD can be linked to fear and decision making processes. Indeed, feelings of fear have been frequently cited as a significant part of NPD pathology, and possibly even a motivating factor in narcissistic personalities.

Ronningstam and Baskin-Sommers say that the fear of dark and negative self-experiences, or even intolerable aspects of one’s identity, “can drive protective self-aggrandizement as well as destructive suicidal behavior enforced by overwhelming feelings of despair.” What’s more, certain events can trigger fears associated with earlier “narcissistic trauma.”

It’s possible, therefore, that NPD is a form of fear avoidance, especially of failure. It’s a “self-regulatory strategy” driven by specific motivations, including achievements, competitiveness, improvement of performance, and perfectionism.

Neurologically speaking, scientists have pinpointed the amygdala — the part of the brain that regulates processes like the detection of emotionally arousing and pertinent stimuli. Other regions, like the nucleus accumbens, hippocampus, and some prefrontal regions, form a neural network involved in the perception of threat, fear learning, and fear expression. Together, these areas act to produce an integrated fear response .

In addition, and relatedly, the hormone cortisol has been implicated in narcissism — at least in males. Cortisol is released in response to stress, which can be triggered by a fear response.

Read the rest of the artice here: http://health.yourdailyideas.com/why-narcissism-is-a-profoundly-misunderstood-psychological-disorder/

Research: Can You Change Your Personality?

The client’s reason for entering therapy did impact the level of personality change, though. Those who sought therapy for anxiety or personality disorders (such as borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder) changed the most, while those with substance abuse and eating disorders changed the least. It’s not clear why that is, especially since personality disorders are considered as difficult to treat as substance abuse. But it does suggest that not everyone is able to change to the same degree and that more research is needed to uncover why.

Can You Change Your Personality? | The Huffington Post

It’s totally narcissistic to think you’re an empath

Several NPDers I know believed they were empaths prior to self awarenes. I did too.

Here’s some more research to ponder:

According to a recent study published in Personality and Mental Health, narcissists consistently overestimated their emotional intelligence.

Read: Narcissists overestimate their emotional intelligence, attractiveness and social skills. 

14 Psychologists Describe What It’s Like To Treat A Narcissistic Patient

Wow. Reading stuff like this makes me feel like I’ve won the lottery by waking up.

It’s also incredibly depressing what the world thinks of us, and how quickly and easily they write us off as inherently damaged and unfixable. It’s eerily similar to the messages my mother gave me as a child, which is how I got the disorder in the first place. Irony or nah?

On the flip side, I am coming to see narcissists are much more open to awareness and change than previously thought. It took me 9 months in therapy to wake up.

It’s just I don’t think the world — including the psychiatric world — has caught up yet.  When my husband told his therapist that I was diagnosed with NPD and was working on changing, she didn’t believe him at first. And she’s a professional. Sheesh.

I should note, not all professionals agree with these pessimistic outlooks on NPD. In this podcast, the therapists agree the narcissists are the fun ones to treat, while the codependents are really frustrating. Others, like Craig Malkin, author of Rethinking Narcissism, also take a more positive approach. And personally, my therapist is very supportive, positive and empathetic toward me and my recovery.

I think it’s important to find a therapist that really enjoys working with personality disorders — they are the ones leading in this field and making the biggest strides toward effective treatment, whereas others are quick to write us off.

I’ve heard too many stories of NPDers seeking treatment, only to be dropped without explanation by therapists who never even gave them a chance. In my opinion, that’s incredibly irresponsible, damaging to the patient, and should come with some sort of professional consquence.

Despite some of the pessimism, it’s interesting to see what professionals treating NPDers are thinking. You can read the article, 14 Psychologists Describe What It’s Like To Treat A Narcissistic Patient here.

Working with a narcissist in family or couple’s therapy

Here’s another helpful article I ran across on how to effectively work with a narcissist in couple’s or family therapy.

The article offers some gems for both the therapist and the family member. 3 Basics of Working (Mindfully) with a Narcissist in Therapy: a Balancing Act:

It may be surprising to know that it’s definitely not about a sole focus on how to “set the npd straight” or “correct” their attitudes and treatment of others; in effect, that’s their job. Your job is about letting go of what’s not yours … to avoid that trap, so you can remain aware and authentically connected to your inner sources of strength, thus, in an optimal state of mind and body to be a healing presence for yourself … allowing you to do “your part” to create a context or “holding place” in which healing, authentic connection and transformational change is possible.

An npd’s behaviors are destabilizing at least in part because: balance is both their greatest need, yet also what they most actively and desperately fight against, nevermind the outer calm they may present.

These three starting points provide a mindful understanding of npd, first and foremost, as a set of learned problem behaviors driven by a certain mindset (belief system, thoughts, etc.) from which the therapist may invite the npd client and their loved one(s) to work as a team, inspiring them to create new possibilities. This starting place:

  • Shifts away from judging or condemning the npd client to identifying the “problem behaviors” that, in effect, predictably always produce the same effects, and include negative ones for the npd as well, for example: they push those they love away from them; and isolation, knowingly or unknowingly, is the cruelest of punishments to human beings. For the narcissist, abandonment can be their greatest fear. If this seems puzzling, consider this: their current mind set associates “avoiding vulnerability” with “status” and illusions of “power,” etc., which explains why they desperately need to shift to a mindset that would better their higher needs to relate authentically as human beings. The new mindset, for example, would recognize the ability to be vulnerable as a relationship-building strength! (Warning to codependent partners: This is not your job; it’s theirs alone.)
  • Allows the focus of what needs to change to remain on the “problem” mindsets and behaviors, and the cultural and familial contexts in which they flourish. Additionally, this focuses on “judging” behaviors, not persons (and disarms the npd of one of their primary weapons — blame). Instead all are invited to not only take blame off the table, but also to (humorously) team-up to “blame” blame itself for much unnecessary suffering.
  • Places primary responsibility on therapist, and increasingly on those interacting with an npd client for their part of the interaction, and that is, to remain present, observant and thoughtfully responsive rather than judging, reactive, anxious to fix or to please, etc., because reactivity “feed” the npd problem-behaviors.
  • Last but not least, this shift to a new mindset emphasizes the reality, that: all human beings are hardwired to yearn to matter and feel they contribute value and meaning to life around them. The destination mindset is a way of thinking that makes therapy (and relationships) a place where each is primarily responsible for relating to self and other in ways that promote authentic, wholehearted ways of loving self and other. Most npds are more capable of empathy than they’d care to admit. Thus, for those interacting with an npd client, it’s important to keep reminding themselves that npdare human thus fully equipped with human capacities (just more or less misguided or addicted to a false sense of power they gain from their current mindset, reinforced by major cultural institutions, media, entertainment, etc.)

As a therapist (or loved one), there are no quick fixes. The best hope of being a healing presence that has a balancing effect on your relationship with others starts inside you — your mindset, and relationship with your self.

Read the rest of the article here.

How to communicate with a narcissist

I’m really lucky to have a husband who is fully supporting me as I try to overcome my personality disorder. But he doesn’t always know how, and that’s incredibly frustrating for both of us.

A huge downside to having such a stigmatized PD is that it’s nearly impossible to find any helpful advice among the mountains of hate, shaming, misinformation, outright lies and general vitriol for people unlucky enough to be stuck with my disorder.

One of my husband’s chief complaints is that whenever he searches for anything having to do with NPD all he gets are narcissist hate sites. He can’t find anything on how to help me manage my disorder, how to more effectively talk to me, or how to support me in my recovery. He has searched and searched and the only advice he says he can find is, “get away from them.” Nice.

“I’m not giving up on you. I’m not leaving you,” he tells me. “I love you unconditionally.” For me that’s pretty hard to hear or accept, in part because vulnerability is still so fucking hard for me. I am still struggling to believe anyone can really love me at all, let alone unconditionally. But he’s trying to show me and I’m trying to learn to believe him. So, how can we help each other out?

Where’s the practical advice for those who aren’t ready to give up on their spouse or loved one with NPD, who is trying to change? I don’t have all the answers, but when I find something useful, I will pass it along — because it’s quite literally like finding a needle in haystack.

I came across this article the other day, and I think it had some decent, practical advice for people like my husband, on how to more effectively communicate with a narcissist:

How can you effectively communicate with someone who is generally only able to process what’s going on in their own lives and minds?

  • Let them think you are focusing on them, but really divert their attention to the emotions and thoughts of others. Giving them outside perspective. When they try to bring their feelings or thoughts back to center, acknowledge, then divert again.
  • Remind them of their responsibility in the causes and consequences of their actions. Not everything is someone else’s fault. Although they will try to make it seem that way. And they cannot complain about the choices they made freely and willingly.
  • Remind them of their responsibility to care for their own ego, and boost their own self-esteem. While encouraging them to support others’ emotional needs, as well. Not necessarily by making someone feel good, or feel anything for that matter, but by providing an open, welcoming, gentle atmosphere for others to dwell.
  • Remind them of the difference between caring for others and trying to control them. What they think isn’t always best. Support and show affection to others. Don’t just peddle advice.
  • Ask them to really listen, not just talk. Think how what is being said affects them as they’re listening. Focus on how the topic of conversation affects others.
  • Be sure to note direct comparisons of their lives, attitudes and actions to those they deem inferior or incorrect in others’ lives. They easily notice flaws in others but rarely notice, acknowledge or take responsibility for their own flaws. If they are doing these things, they probably will put forth a lackluster effort to change them, if any at all.

Read the rest of the article at Familyshare.