My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
No one knows whether therapy works in the long-term when narcissists are concerned.
What is known is that therapists find narcissists repulsive, overbearing and unnerving. It is also known that narcissists try to co-opt, idolize, intimidate or humiliate their therapists.
They regard therapeutic session as a competition, mind game, or a power play.
But what if a narcissist really wants to improve? Even if complete healing is out of the question, behavior modification is a distinct possibility.
To a narcissist, I would recommend a functional approach with the following stages.
First of all, know and accept yourself. This is who you are. You have good traits and bad traits, and you are a narcissist.
These are the facts.
Narcissism is an adaptive mechanism. It is dysfunctional now, but once, when you were a child, it saved you from a lot more dysfunction or even non-functionality.
Make a list. What does it mean to be a narcissist in your specific case? What are your typical behavior patterns? Which types of conduct do you find to be counterproductive, irritating, self-defeating, or self-destructive? And which types of behavior are actually productive, constructive, and should be enhanced and encouraged despite their pathological origin?
And so once you've constructed these lists, decide to suppress the first type of behaviors and to promote the second type, the constructive ones.
So build a list, compile a list of self-punishments, negative feedback, and negative reinforcements. Use these upon yourself when you have behaved badly.
Make a list of prizes, little indulgences, positive feedbacks, and positive reinforcements, and use these to reward yourself when you have adopted a behavior of the second kind, a constructive attitude, a behavior that promoted your interests.
Keep doing this with the express intent of conditioning yourself. In other words, keep rewarding yourself for constructive, positive, self-promoting behavior. Keep punishing yourself for negative, socially unacceptable, irritating behaviors. Keep these reinforcements coming negative and positive with the express intent of conditioning yourself.
Try to be objective, predictable, and just in the administration of both punishments and rewards, positive and negative reinforcements and feedback.
Learn to trust your inner court, your instincts.
Constrain the sadistic, immature, and ideal parts of your personality by applying a uniform cortex, a set of immutable and invariably applicable rules.
Once you feel sufficiently conditioned, monitor yourself incessantly.
Narcissism is sneaky and it possesses all of your resources because narcissism is you. Your disorder is intelligent because you are intelligent.
Beware and never lose control. With time, this onerous regime will become a second habit and supplant the narcissistic, pathological superstructures.
You might have noticed that all the above can be amply summed up by suggesting to you to become your own parent, to re-parent yourself.
This is what parents do and the process is called education or socialization.
Re-parent yourself. Be your own parent.
If therapy is helpful or needed, go ahead.
The heart of the beast is the inability of the narcissist to distinguish truth or false, appearance from reality, posing from being, narcissistic supply from genuine relationships, and compulsive drives from true interests and avocations.
Narcissism is about deceit. It blurs the distinction between authentic actions, true motives, real desires, original emotions, and the malignant forms.
Narcissists are no longer capable of knowing themselves. They are terrified by their internal operations, paralyzed by their lack of authenticity, suppressed by the weight of their repressed emotions. They occupy a whole of mirrors.
At what moonlight their alligator figures stare at them on the verge of a scream, it's somehow soundless.
Help yourself. Grab yourself out of the abyss. Make yourself a better, more functional person by getting rid of some of this baggage.
Not all of it, because some of it is still adaptive, but the rest of it is holding you back. Have your best interests in mind.