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

Uploaded 9/12/2023, approx. 20 minute read

Therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist and other mental health practitioners are very reluctant to stigmatize and label their patients and clients.

They don't want to tell someone you have narcissistic personality disorder.

Stage 4 cancer of the soul that can never ever be cured or healed or reversed.

No one wants to be the bearer of these kinds of news. Messengers are sometimes killed, at least metaphorically, when they deliver bad messages.

So therapists and other mental health practitioners, they push their foot around. They never tell you you have borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder or, you know, they try to focus on the issues, on the problems and to tackle them with a variety of treatment modalities and techniques.

And there's nothing wrong with that. I'm very much against labeling as the first line of defense in treatment.

But still, at some point, the narcissist has to adopt and accept his diagnosis.

In the absence of a full embrace of one's problems and shortcomings and frailties and flaws, there's no growth, there's no development, there's no healing and there's no behavior modification.

A narcissist who goes through therapy because he has to. It's been a condition of his spouse or it's caught, it's imposed by the court.

Oh, I don't know what.

A narcissist who goes through therapy refusing to admit that he's a narcissist or anything's wrong with him. He's a narcissist who is going to come out of therapy unchanged, not transformed in the least.

So accepting the diagnosis is critical.


This video is dedicated to the repentant narcissist and to the therapist who is struggling with the fear of labeling and stigmatizing his or her patients for life.

I repeat in this video a call that I've made 23 years ago to establish an international network, international chapters all over the world of narcissist anonymous with 12 steps that I will enumerate in this video.

I want to thank my wife and publisher, Lydia Wielowska, for the idea for this video.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author, Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, twice diagnosed, narcissist, narcissistic personality disorder. And I'm a former visiting professor of psychology. I've dedicated my life at least the last three decades to the study of narcissistic personality disorder. And I'm currently on the faculty of CIAPS, Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies.

The therapist is reluctant to label, loathe to diagnose and stigmatize.

The narcissist rejects his diagnosis or any possibility of diagnosis.

And so this is left hanging in the air.

Who are you, Mr. Narcissist or Mrs. Narcissist? Who are you?

Narcissism is not just a label.

Yes, it carries a price, social stigma, ostracism, shunning, but it's critical. It's critical to accept who you are, who you truly are.

Narcissism is the essence of the narcissist.

As the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual says, narcissism is all a pervasive. It affects every nook and cranny and dimension of the personality, of the capacity to have intimacy, of interpersonal relationships in every field of functioning in life.

To deny the narcissist is diagnosis. Diagnosis is to deny the narcissist the potential, the possibility for some progress, however minimal.


Let's first debunk a few online myths and other forms of nonsense propagated by self-styled experts who have no idea what they're talking about.

Narcissists are self-aware, period. All of them are self-aware. They are not self-aware of their fantasies and confabulations.

They believe in their own fantasies and confabulations.

A mistake, reality for fantasy, that much is true, but they are aware of their behaviors and the impacts that their behaviors are having on other people.

They are and they can tell right from wrong and they can modify their behavior.

For example, where they are put in prison or in the army or in a hospital, the narcissism vanishes.

So it's nonsense.

Narcissists know exactly what they are, exactly what they're doing and exactly how others are paying the price for the narcissist's choices, decisions and behaviors.

Myth number two, the narcissist says, "No conscience and doesn't soul search and doesn't introspect and doesn't worry about being the bad guy or the bad girl."

Again, nonsense.

Pangs of conscience and soul searching are not signs of mental health or of empathy.

For example, neurotics, they have auto-plastic defenses. They tend to blame themselves for everything that's happening. They hold themselves responsible and guilty for every mishap and defeat and failure and pain, theirs and others.

And yet, these overwrought conscience, these supernova conscience that neurotics have, their ability to introspect and soul search every minute of every hour of every day, that doesn't render them mentally healthy.

So soul searching, conscience and active conscience, the constant question, "Have I acted wrongly? Am I the bad guy here? Am I the bad girl here?" That has nothing to do with being mentally healthy or with not being a narcissist.

This is, on the very contrary, this is the manifestation of the bad object.

No one has a bad object like the narcissist. The narcissist's bad object is the worst ever.

A bad object to remind you is an internal voice or galaxy of voices that tell you that you are ugly, stupid, inadequate, bad and worthy, worthy of punishment only. This is the bad object.

Narcissists have the largest, most explosive and explosive and overwhelming bad object ever.

So, of course, narcissists keep asking themselves, "Have I done something wrong? Am I a bad guy? Am I a bad girl?"

They soul search, they introspect, they revise, they analyze, they even make lists.

So in this sense, narcissists are a bit neurotic actually.

The difference between narcissists and healthy people, the difference between narcissists and normal typical people, neurotypicals and others, the difference is that the outcomes of this soul searching, the results of the introspection, self-examination, the reverberations and echoes of the conscience are different.

Whereas other people, healthy people, normal people, they would self-inspect, self-deliberate, self-examine, self-analyze and they may come up with a conclusion that they have misbehaved, acted wrongly, hurt other people and feel bad about it.

The narcissist would go through exactly the same process, but his conclusion, having experienced this agonizing soul searching and self-deliberation, self-examination and self-legulation, the narcissist's conclusion is always, "It's not my fault. I did nothing wrong. I am not to blame. I am not responsible. I have been a victim. I have been abused."

And of course, a narcissist would tell himself, "If I'm asking myself whether I'm a narcissist, it means that I'm not a narcissist. If I'm asking myself am I the bad guy or the bad girl, it means I'm not a narcissist."

Only a narcissist would say that. Only a narcissist, a rank, extreme narcissist would say that.

These are known as alloplastic defenses.

So yes, narcissists go through all these processes exactly like you.

They don't sleep at night. They agonize. They have excruciating pangs of conscience. They worry about what they've done to others and to themselves. They introspect, they self-examine themselves, but at the very end, they exonerate themselves. They absolve themselves.

In the trial, the Kafkaesque trial that goes on in their minds, the tribunal always renders a not guilty verdict. They are always acquitted in the court of their own minds.

This is not the case with healthy and normal people.

Healthy and normal people are capable of feeling guilty, blameworthy, assuming responsibility, and apologizing.

Narcissists would never do that.

Narcissists would twist and turn and contort to prove that he is an eternal victim, has never done anything wrong, and all other people have wronged him.

And therefore, he is not a bad guy. He is not a bad girl. He has not contributed anything to what has happened.

And yet, this is a narcissistic defense, of course, and that's narcissist.

So the narcissist places an emphasis on being right all the time, on being a victim of it, on being morally upright all the time, on attaining the high moral ground, on being a healer and a savior and a fixer, and a moral crusader and a morality play.

The narcissist absorbs himself. He says, "It's enough that I'm even considering the possibility that I'm a bad guy. That proves that I'm not a bad guy."

You can see the twisted logic of such a person.

So there's an emphasis on self-efficacy.

There's a fear of just punishment that always is on its way. And there's a terror of being caught red-handed at having done something that constitutes very often a crime.

And there's no empathy.

The emphasis in the process of soul-searching, self-examination, self-analysis, the emphasis in the case of the narcissist is on himself or herself, never on others.

It's not an exercise at empathy. It's an exercise at self-calibration, self-correction, a restoration of functioning and of self-efficacy.


So here's what I suggest.

The narcissist must abide by 12 rules. These are the 12 steps of Narcissist Anonymous. I have rewritten them to reflect reality, to reflect the latest in what we know about narcissism, the latest clinical findings.

Pay close attention if you are a narcissist.

Number one, we admitted that we were powerless over narcissism, that our lives had become unmanageable.

This is the most by far crucial step, the humility giving in to narcissism, realizing that narcissism is in control, not you. Your disease is you and it's also your overlord, your master, your slave to your narcissism.

This is a process of disempowerment, admitting that you are the mercy of an internal enemy, a bad object that drives you to compensatory behaviors that are detrimental to your well-being, your freedom, your health, your life.

Step number one, I admit that I was powerless over my narcissism, that my life had become unmanageable.

Step number two, I came to believe that no power greater than myself could restore me to sanity owing to the fact that I'm grandiose and have a false self.

You have to accept this as a narcissist. There's nothing you can do to help yourself and there is nothing another person can do to help you no matter how educated and qualified and so on and so forth.

Narcissism is with you forever. It's here to stay. It's a lifelong affliction. It's greater than you. It's stronger than you. It's fiercer than you. It's more cruel and sadistic than you.

You are the true victim of narcissism and no external power and no internal power can overcome your narcissism.

Period. Your false self, the false self is a deity, an Old Testament divinity, cruel, uncompromising, relentless, callous, hateful and above all omnipotent, all powerful.

Number three, step number three, I have made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of my narcissism and false self.

There's no point fighting. There's no point in creating internal dissonance that then drives you to lose it and act out and hurt and harm other people.

This war must end. You must declare a truce and a ceasefire with who you are, with your essence. You must resolve to never again be egodystonic.

This is the core dynamic that drives narcissists to hurt other people, to try to co-opt them into a shared fantasy, to abuse them, to statistically humiliate them, degrade and defile them in a variety of ways.

Narcissists do all this because they deny the fact that they are helpless, powerless in the face of an internal enemy that is intransigent and implacable.

The minute the narcissist makes peace with his or her narcissism, anxiety is abated. It's an anxiolytic step. It reduces, mitigates anxiety.

And then there's no decompensation and no acting out and no psychopathic defiance and no recklessness. And the number of people hurt is reduced dramatically.

Step number four.

I have made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.

It's a challenge to the narcissist's grandiosity.

Are you capable? Are you courageous enough? Are you brave enough? Are you resilient enough? Are you a man?

Even if you're a woman, are you a man? Do you have the balls to do this?

To look yourself in the mirror, to look yourself in the mirror, not flinch, not look aside, not superimpose some image on your true face. Can you look yourself in the face? Can you list who you truly are?

All, all the inventory of yourself.

No item accepted, nothing evaded, nothing shunned, nothing faked or refrained.

Can you do this? Are you strong enough as you claim to be? Are you truly omnipotent?

Because if you are, you would be able to do this.

And it is then that you can admit to yourself, step five, admit to yourself and to others the exact nature of your wrongs, misdeeds, misconduct, misbehavior. And it is only then when you have constructed this inventory, when you have looked yourself in the Lacanian mirror, so to speak, only then can you proceed through the rest of the 12 steps.

And number six is, I am entirely ready to overcome these defects of characters and behaviors.

No success is guaranteed. You are actually unlikely to succeed, but are you willing to try? Are you willing to fight it out?

This is the key. This is morality.

Courage is not the opposite of fear. Courage is overcoming fear. Morality is not the opposite of evil. It's the ability to suppress evil, to overcome it, to ignore it, to relegate it to the corner, to repress it. This is morality.

Are you willing to try to be a moral person?

Having admitted your wrongs, are you willing to modify your behaviors and somehow rein in, control your character defects? Are you willing, step seven, to challenge your grandiosity, to remove your shortcomings? Are you willing, step eight, to make a list of all persons that you have harmed? And are you then willing to make amends to all of them?

Step eight, step nine, are you willing to make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others? Making amends involves admission, self-awareness, self-acceptance, humility, and the ability to see other people as separate to you and as worthy of the same consideration and entitlement that you demand for yourself. This is self-love.

Are you willing to love yourself for a change?

Only when you love yourself can you then reconcile with others. You've hurt people. You've harmed people. You've affected people's lives irretrievably, irreversibly. You've caused a lot of pain and agony.

So are you willing to take responsibility for this?

And if you are, are you willing to confront these people eye to eye?

These are the tests. These are the challenges to your grandiosity and to your false self because avoiding these steps, declining to do so, it's a sign of imperfection, of cowardice. It's a craven avoidance. It's low. It's cheap. It's unbecoming of your false self. It undermines your grandiosity. It's a form of self-inflicted mortification.

The 12 steps for narcissistic anonymous, they make use of your grandiosity. They don't deny it. They don't try to abolish it hopelessly. They don't do any of this nonsense. They use it. They leverage it and they leverage it for good. They leverage it for good, for doing good rather than wallowing in evil.

Step number 10, I continue to take personal inventory and when I was wrong, I promptly admit to it. I admit it to myself and to others.

Self-awareness is not an event. It's a process.

You need to ask yourself. You need to talk to yourself. You need to dialogue with yourself. You need to examine yourself all the time, all the time. You need to carry a permanent metaphorical mirror and look at it every minute of every day.

You need to continue to take this personal inventory.

And when you do wrong and you will do wrong, everyone does wrong.

These steps apply to healthy people and to normal people, not only to narcissists.

If you're alive, you ended up hurting people. You ended up misbehaving. You ended up doing wrong, sometimes evil. If you're alive, even if you're healthy, even if you're normal, even if you're in puffy, even if you're kind and compassionate and nice, you have hurt people. You have damaged people. You have broken people. This is life. It's inevitable. It's a friction of being a social creature.

So all these steps apply to healthy and normal people, but doubly so to narcissists.

Healthy and normal people should also make amends, should also admit wrongdoing, should also take personal inventory day in and day out, should also promptly admit to wrongdoing to themselves and to others. It applies to everyone.

But healthy, normal people usually do this without any prompting.

The narcissist needs to be challenged to do this. He needs to be convinced that if he fails to do this, he is not God or God-like. He's not grandiose enough. He is a nobody. He's a failure. He's a coward.

Step number 11, I seek to improve my conscious contact with my narcissism, with my false self, becoming more aware of the false self, adopting a position of an observer, an observer stance regarding the false self from the outside, thereby acquiring the critical faculty, the ability to critically analyze and critically think about the false self, see the flaws, the shortcomings and imperfections of the false self.

And I hope only for knowledge of the will of the false self, for me and thereby develop the power to oppose it.

It's a very critical step. It's step 11. It's a very critical step and very complex.

The narcissist identifies with the false self. He introjects himself into the false self. He projects himself into the false self. He becomes the false self.

Step 11 demands from the narcissist to take a step back, just to withdraw for a minute, stand aside and observe the false self so that this distance, this partial detachment would allow the narcissist to realize that the false self is not perfect, is not unlimited, is not omniscient, is not God-like. And this newly acquired knowledge will empower the narcissist, allow him to resist the false self when the false self demands of him to contradict the previous 10 steps.

And this leads to step 12, having had a spiritual awakening or whatever you want to call it, a process of healing.

As a result of these steps, I will try to carry this message to other narcissists and to practice these principles in all my affairs.

The narcissist must make peace with who he is.

And only then will he be able to transcend who he is, to overcome some aspects of who he is and to definitely terminate behaviors that are painful and hurtful and damaging to other people.

This is the narcissist problem.

We all live with inner demons, healthy people, unhealthy people, mentally ill, mentally well. We all have to struggle daily with voices, introjects, processes which challenge our sanity. That's nothing new. It's not special or specific to the narcissist.

But the narcissist needs to impose on this inner turmoil a structure, an order, because there's nothing there. There's an emptiness, there's an abyss inside the narcissist.

So the only way for him is external regulation.

The 12 steps are a form of external regulation which allows the narcissist to reconcile with who he is and then to take it from there.

It's a small step.

This would not lead to healing. The narcissist would be a narcissist forever, but it would allow the narcissist to limit any damage and any pain to himself, to stop the proliferation of his grief and excruciating agony throughout his social milieu to other people. This would allow the narcissist to stop sharing his internal chaos and demonology with others.

It is the 12 steps are a major of containment, not recovery, not healing, which are impossible with narcissism.

Don't listen to online nonsense, even by so-called mental health professionals. This is self-interested. They make money. They sell you therapy and they make money. Period. It's a lie.

Narcissism cannot be tackled, healed, reversed or recovered. End of story.

But it can be contained and it's done already.

The various treatment modalities which do succeed in modifying narcissistic behaviors.

12 steps is a form of intervention of this kind.

I hope the idea catches on and I hope to see many, many narcissists channeling this energy of narcissism because it's a huge, it's a nuclear energy, challenging this energy in socially acceptable and beneficial ways, sublimating it.

Thank you for listening, especially if you are a narcissist and therapist, help the narcissist accept who he is, stop fighting it, collaborate and collude even with the narcissist's grandiosity and false self to induce change in the narcissist by challenging his view of himself as capable of anything.

Make him act in a way that would allow him to reintegrate in decent society.

Now every narcissist is an outcast internally, if not externally.

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

Narcissist: Why Self-help?

Narcissists can take steps to cope with their disorder before deciding whether to attend therapy. The first step is self-awareness, which involves admitting that something is wrong and accepting responsibility for their role in their misfortune. The second step is confronting a more realistic view of themselves, which can be achieved by people who care about the narcissist confronting them with the truth about themselves and their life. The third step is committing to a regime of therapy, which involves adopting a humble frame of mind and being constructively and productively active in their own therapy. However, few narcissists see why they should embark on this massive quest.


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.


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.


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.


Narcissist's Pathological Space: His Kingdom

The pathological narcissistic space is a geographical area, group of people, or an abstract field of knowledge in which the narcissistic pathology reaches its full expression and effectiveness. It is a territorially expanded false self that is achieved via sources of narcissistic supply. The existence of the pathological narcissistic space is independent of the existence of sources of narcissistic supply. The pathological narcissistic space constantly consumes and drains narcissistic supply, and it generates negative narcissistic accumulation.


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.


Flat Attachment, Dreading Intimacy, and Defiant Promiscuity

Flat attachment is a type of attachment style where people are incapable of bonding or relatedness to others. They commodify people and treat them as replaceable objects. Flat attachment is common among narcissists and psychopaths. With the rise of dating apps and social pressures, people are becoming more atomized and isolated, leading to an increase in flat attachment.


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.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
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