Preconditions for the treatment of narcissism
On the Internet a lot is written about the treatment of narcissism, about how you should deal with a narcissist. Sometimes I startle when reading those advices, whether written by a psychologist or psychiatrist or a pseudo-expert. Here I would like to share my advices - based on all evidence available and all advices I've read - My advices will be in line with the model of a normal personality that I've presented on another page and in line with behavioral learning theories.
First of all, you have to reflect on the type of relationship you have with the narcissist that you want to deal with. Is it a relatively safe relationship? Or rather a risky one? For example, if you are an ordinary employee of a boss who is narcissistic, then such a relationship is not a wise starting point to deal with his narcissism. Just as risky is the situation in which you are the partner of your narcissistic husband whom you would like to change. This safety has everything to do with power. Many narcissists can only continue with their abnormal behavior because they are very clever in manipulating others to come into positions of power. In such positions they can do things that in another context will not be tolerated by most people. Examples? the surgeon on a ward who terrifies everyone, the CEO of a large company that has to take inhumane decisions, the soccer legend who is considered by many to be a saint and therefore can do almost everything, a leader of a country who has the military backing him so he can oppress his people.
Treatment of narcissism: the concrete steps
1. Work consistently with the so-called I-message. Let the narcissist clearly show that you do not like his behavior. He has to know that he (or she) is tresspassing your boundaries. Because a narcissist does not have enough empathic capacities to feel that he is crossing your borders. You have to provide him with this feedback, clearly and without any doubt. However, do not do this with a frontal attack and never do start with "You are...". Such actions immediately trigger an outburst of aggression that not always can be controlled by the narcissist. And if you are alone with someone like that, well, that's not really safe. However, there is only one exception on this advice. IF it is the purpose to trigger an emotional outburst from the narcissist then you should try a direct, frontal attack. Be sure you have yourself surrounded by other people, some of whom are more powerful than the narcissist. And...you are sure these people will support reason and you, not just the narcissist! In all other circumstances: please begin with the I-message, for example: "I don't like it when you do like this. It hurts me." There is a possibility the narcissist will startle and stop his abnormal behavior. Immediately take the lead and make it clear that when he wants something he can ask it in a different, much friendlier way. When the narcissist continues his abnormal behavior, then just take a time-out and walk away. Be advised though: walking away can trigger even more aggression from a narcissist that has already proven he can become violent. If you know that, just stay and be silent. The downside of this reaction is that the narcissist knows you are afraid and he will very likely do this again. This kind of silent reactions happens a lot in women with narcissistic husbands. They are too afraid to indicate that their boundaries are crossed. And so...this menacing behavior of the narcissist keeps going on. Fear almost never is a good advisor. Staying in such relations is asking for trouble.
The biggest mistakes in the treatment of narcissism
1. The biggest mistake and misconception about dealing with narcissism is thinking that we as healthy human beings can not do anything. Because we are afraid, or we think that it all does not work, because it's no use, because we are the only ones who will object to this kind of behavior. 'Take them as they are' is one of the advices on the Internet. A completely wrong advice! I know what was meant here: please do not try to change them, alone. That will not work. However, never, ever, accept this kind of abnormal behavior of a narcissist. Just because we all are too afraid, or highly value a narcissist because he can excel in certain things, these are all understandable reasons not to do anything about narcissist behavior. However, in such a way we all keep this kind of narcissistic behavior going, we condone it, we actually reinforce it. That's not only unethical, in the long term such kind of behavior is getting stronger and stronger. Just as we see today in the western world. We have much more narcissism around than 50 years ago, in my humble opinion. We all build our own graveyards.
Summary: do NOT tolerate any narcissistic behaviors
My whole plea here in the treatment of narcissism is in fact: please DO something about it! Please show that you do not accept abnormal and unfriendly behavior. Be that strong to show your boundaries. Then you are an example for others who are usually too afraid to react. Maybe, only maybe, your actions will trigger more actions to stop narcissistic behaviors and narcissists in our society.
Do YOU have any other suggestions in dealing with narcissists, or even have experienced succesfull actions against them, please report them here. You can add your stories simply by clicking the right link below. You can help others with your story and maybe, just maybe, we can all change the world into a more friendly place to be.
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