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Narcissist: Why Self-help?

Uploaded 11/13/2010, approx. 4 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.


In my previous video, titled Narcissist Fear Therapy, I described why the narcissist requires and avoids and evades the possibility of getting professional attention, professional help.

But is there anything the narcissist can do by himself in the meantime until he reaches a final decision whether to attend therapy or not?

The first step involves self-awareness.

The narcissist often notices that something is wrong with the circumstances of his life. Something is wrong with how people react to him. People around him are unhappy, depressed.

But he never owns up to his role and responsibility in his misfortune and discomfort. He projects his weaknesses, his shortcomings onto others. He prefers to come up with elaborate rationalizations as to why that which is wrong with him is really quite okay.

Cognitive dissonance, rationalization or intellectualization are the narcissist's allies in insulating him apart from reality. These are very powerful defense mechanisms which revolve around denying that something is wrong.

The narcissist consistently convinces himself that everyone else is to blame. Everyone else is wrong, deficient, lacking and incapable. These we call alloplastic defenses and outside loci of control.

The narcissist tells himself that he is exceptional and that he is made to suffer for it. He does not accept and does not admit that he is in the wrong. On the contrary, history will surely prove him right as he had done so many other towering figures.

And this is the first and by far most critical step on the way to coping with the disorder.

Will the narcissist admit, be forced or convinced to concede that he is absolutely and unconditionally wrong, that something is very amiss in his life, that he is in need of urgent professional help and that in the absence of such help things will only get worse.

Having crossed this rubicon, the narcissist is more open and amenable to constructive suggestions and assistance.

And here comes the second important leap forward.

This is when the narcissist begins to confront a more realistic view of himself.

Good friend, spouse, therapist, parent or a combination of these people can decide not to collaborate with the narcissist's confabulations anymore, to stop fearing the narcissist and not to acquiesce in his folly any longer.

When they confront the narcissist with the truth about himself and his life, they help demolish the grandiose phantom that runs the narcissist, the false self.

They no longer succumb to the narcissist's whims or accord him special treatment. They deny his sense of entitlement. They reprimand him when needed. They try to disagree with him and show him why and where he is mistaken.

In short, people who care about the narcissist deprive him of many of his sources of narcissistic supply. They refuse to take part in the elaborate game that is the narcissist. They rebel.

Then comes the third phase.

The third phase is a do-it-yourself element.

It involves the decision to commit to a regime of therapy.

This is a tough phase. The narcissist must not decide to embark on therapy only because he is currently feeling bad mostly due to a life crisis or because he is subjected to pressure by family or peers or because he wants to get rid of a few disturbing issues while preserving the awesome totality.

These are all wrong motivations for going to therapy.

The narcissist's attitude towards the therapist must not be judgmental, cynical, critical, disparaging, competitive or superior. The narcissist must not view the therapy as a contest, a tournament, a mind game or a power play.

There are many winners in therapy, but only one loser if it fails, the narcissist.

The narcissist must decide not to try to co-opt the therapist, threaten him, intimidate him or humiliate him. In short, the narcissist must adopt a humble frame of mind.

He must be open to new experiences of encountering oneself.

Finally, the narcissist must resolve to be constructively and productively active in his own therapy, to assist the therapist without condescending, to provide information without distorting, to try to change without consciously resisting.

Endotherapy is really only the beginning of a new, more vulnerable life.

And this terrifies the narcissist. He knows that maybe he can get better, but he can rarely get well. He can never heal.

The reason is the narcissist's enormous, lifelong, irreparable and indispensable and irreplaceable emotional investment in his disorder.

The narcissist's disorder serves many critical functions, which together maintain the precariously balanced house of cards that is the narcissist's personality.

The narcissist's disorder endows the narcissist with a sense of uniqueness, of being special, and it provides him with a rational explanation of his behavior.

Most narcissists reject the notion of diagnosis that they are mentally disturbed.

Absent powers of introspection and a total lack of self-awareness are part and parcel of the disorder.

A philological narcissist is founded on alloplastic defenses, a firm conviction that the world or others are to blame for one's behavior.

Overcoming all this is a massive odyssey, a massive quest, and few narcissists see why they should embark on it.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

How Narcissist Is Mortified

Narcissistic behavior can be modified through treatment, but pathological narcissism is unchangeable. Narcissists have empathic aphantasia, meaning they cannot visualize other people in an empathic way. The misinformation effect is a bigger problem for narcissists than for normal people because they have severe problems with their memory and are dissociative. The longer the delay between the presentation of the original event and the post-event information, the more likely it is that individuals will incorporate the misinformation into the new memory.


Self-Aware Narcissist: Still a Narcissist

Narcissism is pervasive and defines the narcissist's waking moments, infiltrating and permeating their dreams. Narcissists only admit to a problem when they are abandoned, destitute, and devastated. Narcissistic behaviors can be modified using talk therapy and pinpointed medication conditioning, but there is a huge difference between behavior modification and a permanent alteration of a psychodynamic landscape. Narcissism may improve with age, but it is rare.


Narcissists Fear Therapy

Narcissists cannot cure themselves, and gaining insight into the disorder is not the same as healing. The best way for a narcissist to help themselves is by resorting to a mental health professional, but even then, the prognosis is dim. The therapeutic situation implies a superior/inferior relationship, which is difficult for the narcissist to accept. The narcissist must shed his false self and face the world naked, defenseless, and to his mind pitiful.


How To Get Your Narcissist to Therapy ("Granny Fanny Cris" Method)

The text discusses how to get a narcissist to attend therapy, emphasizing the importance of not directly confronting the narcissist's grandiosity and instead using strategies such as co-opting their grandiosity, appealing to their self-conception, and leveraging crises to motivate them to seek therapy. It also highlights the challenges of therapy with narcissists, including their resistance and the need for therapists to collaborate with their grandiosity and fantasy defenses. The text also addresses the different types of crises that may drive a narcissist to therapy, such as ultimatums, mental disorders, and suicidality.


Old-age Narcissist

Narcissists age without grace, unable to accept their fallibility and mortality. They suffer from mental progeria, aging prematurely and finding themselves in a time warp. The longer they live, the more average they become, and the wider the gulf between their pretensions and accomplishments. Few narcissists save for rainy days, and those who succeed in their vocation end up bitterly alone, having squandered the love of family, offspring, and mates.


Repentant Narcissist, Therapist Must Accept Diagnosis ( 12 Steps Of Narcissists Anonymous)

Therapists are hesitant to label and stigmatize their patients, but the narcissist must accept their diagnosis for any chance of growth and healing. The 12 steps of Narcissist Anonymous are outlined as a way for narcissists to come to terms with their condition and limit the damage they cause to themselves and others. The steps involve admitting powerlessness over narcissism, making amends, and seeking to improve conscious contact with the false self. While narcissism cannot be cured, these steps offer a way to contain its effects.


Narcissists Hate Therapists

Narcissists regard therapy as a competitive sport and often try to prove themselves equal to the psychotherapist in knowledge, experience, or social status. They use professional psychological lingo and terms to level the playing field and create a shared psychosis between themselves and the therapist. Narcissists have a dilapidated and dysfunctional true self overtaken and suppressed by a false self, and therapy aims to create the conditions for the true self to resume its growth. Change is brought about only through incredible powers of torsion and wreckage, and it takes nothing less than a real crisis.


Test Yourself: Mortification, Hoovering, and Attraction Scales

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses two tools he has developed based on his database of people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. The first tool, the Heartbreak and Recovery Scale, helps gauge mortification and predicts how long it will take a narcissist to recover from a traumatic breakup or infidelity. The second tool, the S1-S2 score, measures promiscuity and self-efficacy, and helps identify traits that make a potential partner irresistible to a narcissist. These tools are not peer-reviewed or vetted but are based on Vaknin's extensive research and analysis of his database.


Raging Narcissist: Merely Pissed-off?

Narcissistic rage is a phenomenon that occurs when a narcissist is frustrated in their pursuit of narcissistic supply, causing narcissistic injury. The narcissist then projects a bad object onto the source of their frustration and rages against a perceived evil entity that has injured and frustrated them. Narcissistic rage is not the same as normal anger and has two forms: explosive and pernicious or passive-aggressive. People with personality disorders are in a constant state of anger, which is effectively suppressed most of the time, and they are afraid to show that they are angry to meaningful others because they are afraid to lose them.


Narcissist's Constant Midlife Crisis

The midlife crisis is a much-discussed but little understood phenomenon. There is no link between physiological and hormonal developments and the mythical midlife crisis. The narcissist is best equipped to tackle this problem as they suffer from mental progeria and are in a constant mid-life crisis. The narcissist's personality is rigid, but their life is not. It is changeable, mutable, and tumultuous. The narcissist does not go through a midlife crisis because they are forever the child, forever dreaming and fantasizing, forever enamored with themselves.

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