I am Sam Vaknin and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
In the book describing the fabulous tales of Baron Munchausen, there is a story about how the legendary nobleman succeeded to pull himself out of the quicksand marsh by his own hair.
Well, such miracles are unlikely to recur.
Narcissists cannot cure themselves any more than Baron Munchausen pulled himself out of a swamp by his own hair.
Pathological narcissism - narcissistic personality disorder - is not merely an apparent thought process which can be controlled cognitively.
It is an all-pervasive, emotional, cognitive and behavioral impairment of the entire personality, every corner of it.
Thus, gaining insight into the disorder is not the same as healing.
It is not a question of determination or resilience, it is not a function of the time invested by the narcissist, the effort expended by him, the lengths to which he is willing to go, the depths of his commitment and his professional knowledge.
All these are very important precursors and they are good predictors of the success of an eventual therapy, however, they are not a substitute for one.
The best, really the only way, the narcissist can help himself to some extent is by resorting to a mental health professional.
Even then, sadly, the prognosis, the healing prospects, are dim.
It seems that only time can bring in a limited remission or at times an aggravation of the condition.
One way can tackle the more pernicious aspects of this disorder, it can help the patient adapt to this condition, accept it and learn to conduct a more functional and socially acceptable life.
Learning to live with one's disorder is a great achievement and the narcissist should be happy that even this modicum of success is in principle possible.
But just to get the narcissist to see a therapist is very difficult.
The therapeutic situation implies a superior/inferior relationship.
The therapist is supposed to help the narcissist and so to the narcissist, this means that he himself is not as omnipotent as he imagines himself to be.
The therapist is supposed to know more in his field than the narcissist and this presumption seems to undermine the second pillar of narcissism, omniscience, the belief that the narcissist knows all. Going to a therapy of whatever nature implies both imperfection, something is wrong and a need and narcissist regard needs as weaknesses, signs of inferiority.
The therapeutic setting where the client visits the therapist has to be punctual, has to pay for the service, implies subservience.
The process itself is also threatening.
It involves transformation, losing one's identity, in other words, one's uniqueness, one's long-cultivated defenses.
The narcissist must shed his false self and face the world naked, defenseless and to his mind pitiful.
The narcissist is inadequately equipped to deal with his old hurts, traumas and unresolved conflicts.
His true self is infantile, mentally immature, ossified, frozen, incapable of confronting the almighty superego, the narcissist's inner chastising voices.
The narcissist knows all this and he recoils. Therapy demands of him to finally place full unmitigated trust in another human being, something he has never done since the last time he had been disappointed by his parents.
Moreover, the transaction of therapy, the therapeutic alliance implicitly offered to the narcissist is the most unappealing imaginable.
He, the narcissist, is to give up decades of emotional investment in an elaborate, adaptive, and mostly functioning mental hyperstructure: the false self.
In return, the narcissist tends to become normal.
And this is another matter to the narcissist.
The narcissist does not want to be normal or average or pedestrian. He wants to be unique, special, outstanding.
Being normal to the narcissist means being average, not unique, non-existent.
Why should the narcissist commit himself to such a move when it doesn't even guarantee him happiness?
But there is a lot the narcissist can do by himself until he reaches a final decision whether to attend therapy or not, about this in our next video.
Be sure to watc