You Might be a Narcissist if ....

Moving on from the likes of Sam, who has done so much to confuse and scare people on the subject of narcissism and NPD, today I want to write a bit about Lisa Charlebois, who is one of the authors of the book "You might be a Narcissist if." Not only did Lisa contact us when she was in the process of writing her book, but she has also been a fan and follower of our work for sometime and even helped us out with a generous donation towards our advertising when I said I would be happy to give her book a plug.

So with all those past connections right out in the open I would like to start off today by sharing some great stuff that Lisa said when Steve and I had about an hour-long conversation with her on Skype last week ...

There was a couple of ideas of hers which really blew me away that I want to share ...

The first is that families do long term damage to themselves by "hiding their shame".

Isn't that profound? I think that is the most simple and easy to understand explaination that I have every heard about what causes both narcissism and also codependence in individuals from their family of origin and how that learned behavior means the damage is then passed on.

The next thing she said was just as good and I believe a literal peice of gold and this was what her husband said to her helped her face her own narcissism ...

What he said was that apologising was a mature thing to do and that it would help him respect her better.

I believe that is just so to the point of the issue here that it nearly took my breath away.

So the other thing I love about Lisa's work is that she is a mental health professional but herself and her co authors have all worked through their own narcissism - and to me this is just such an incredible breath of fresh air.

So from my last post where we talked about Sam pretending to be an expert and doctor when he is not, we now come full circle to doctors and psychologists that not only believe there is hope for people with NPD, but who have even looked at it in themselves!!!

I guess I shouldn't sound so surprised about that, but having come from a medical family I have heard some good jokes about doctors, like the one that goes ... "What is the difference between a Doctor and God?" ... "God knows he is not a Doctor" ... or the doctor who came back from a hunting trip and the matron said "How was your trip?" and the doctor said "Terrible, I didn't kill anything." and the matron said "You would have been better off staying here!"

Anyway all jokes aside, I really do love this team of professionals. They run a big network of clinics called the Meier clinics who see people on a sliding scale of fees depending on your income and are Christian based.

You can find out more about them here;

http://www.meierclinics.com/

and if you are interested you can visit Lisa's website and buy their book here;

http://www.youmightbeanarcissistif.com/

Now for a special treat ... if you have any quick questions for Lisa she will be following this blog for the next few weeks and so just shoot with your questions in the comments section below and she will try and get some answers back to you when she pops in.

Steve and I will also be doing a radio interview with Lisa next week - so if you haven't already please visit our main site at;

http://www.narcissismcured.com

and subscribe to our mailing list (which is free) so you are sure to get the announcement of when that show is up.

Being able to admit it to ourselves and others when we feel embarrassed or ashamed is just such a healthy and healing thing to do. Seee if you can start practicing it today!

Hang in there,

Kim Cooper
http://www.narcissismcured.com

61 comments:

  1. Lisa,
    I was married to a man who I believe is a narcissist. He divorced me last summer, broke my heart, trust and spirit. Since then our kids were in a horrible car accident where one was killed and my daughter is recovering from a traumatic brain injury. He now wants to come back to our family. I am so afraid that while I love him deeply, he hasn't changed at all or even recognizes that he might be part of the problem. Do I risk it?

    Yes I am codependent.

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  2. I wish I had thought to ask my ex husband to just apologize. I doubt that he would have, but at least I might have realized his true nature.Is Narcissism a result of Nature or Nurture? Is it related to the sense of entitlement I see in (mostly) men these days?

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  3. I live in a constant state of confusion with my narcissist partner. WE have been together for 6 years. 1 year of dating (romance heaven), 1 year of marriage (to the day) followed by a divorce....and 4 years of dating after the divorce. I love him dearly, but I can not understand the roller coaster. Love and hate are so quick...I don't know which one is arriving at the door. Everything is conditional....love, sex, out future, money. We live apart now (it's the only way of survival) but recently I told him I wanted more...that we should take baby steps toward something that involves a bit more committment. I asked him to apologize to my mother for his 3 yrs of silence toward her (he hasnt' spoken to her in 3 yrs.). He says he will "work on it" but has done nothing. We have been in a war for 6 weeks over this. He wants the 3 yrs non-committed arragnement to continue...with all the sex and no intimacy. All the perks of having a wife, but none of the responsibility. I'm sad, confused, angry and heartbroken. One day he loves me and the next day he won't even speak to me and removes me from all aspects of his life. Please help.

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  4. I'm sure it is covered on here somewhere but I am too worn out and beat down to look today. How on earth do you get someone who thinks they are perfect in every way to even consider seeking help?

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  5. For a long time I felt like I should have seen the signs of abuse there were so many levels of it from drugs to his verbal abuse,I'm a police officers daughter and didn't pick up on things until he had left me for someone else but now I realize that he wanted things to be that way, so he could have someone else to blame and now I know he is the problem and I don't need fixing as he would call it and hes simply going to do the other woman the same way and someday it will be her fault not mine if not already.

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  6. I love the idea of telling my wife that apologizing is the mature thing to do and that it would help me respect her more.

    What do you tell someone who says she doesn't ever say she's sorry because she knows she'll probably do the same thing again?

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    1. My husband said exactly the same thing...I tell him when I feel hurt by something he says and I Ask for an apology...I told him that yes, he may do the same thing again but an apology for this particular incident tells me that he cares enough about me to apologize for hurting my feelings. ..it's working and no, it's not just "lip service."

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  7. Hi Lisa
    My husband was diagnosed bi-polar some time back; after reading a number of books, articles about narcissism I a convinced this is his problem. I was referred to a site called maritalhealing.com which had a "selfishness test" which I took and the score (for my spouse) was off the charts (3 to 4 times the "moderately selfish" level. I am wondering whether these two "diagnoses" (bi-polar, and narcissitic) can be accurate or what the two have to do with each other. Am I dealing with a "sick " man or just an unbelievably spoiled child? More importantly, what do I do? We have 7 children and I want to keep this family intact.

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  8. Hi, My names Becky and I really appreciate all of the advice. I'm just wondering if the statement above Kim and Lisa about telling the narcissist in your life that you have more respect for them when they can appoligize --if that would be considered something that would make the person saying it "more attractive" sorry if this sounds dumb but I often feel the NPD runs circles around me often and I don't wish to make things worse!

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  9. Great article Kim. For Lisa, what is one of the most important things you can do to get a narcissist to recognize their narcissistic behavior and begin to change it?
    Debbie in California

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  10. My husband of 19yrs is now living with someone barly older than that. I have a no contact order on him because he made numereous threats to me whenever I stood up for myself & our children and I counldn't be well trying to keep him pasified because nothing is ever going to be right enough and right is right. I know he knows that the situation he's created is not what he wants and I know it will fail. It's cost us a lot all the way around but, I have carried him for years and it's so painful to find the break from him when in my heart I love him, know he wants better for us somewhere deep, I want to be well but, feel like I'm leaving him not well by seperating from the madness. I can't go through the abuse anymore and not at some point break under it so I have to put barriers like the no contact order. Only that keeps us from working toward any healing and furthers his downward spiral which if ever there comes a day it opens to him we'll have all the more to come back from. Tired...I've had one maddness after another & a part of me just wants him home only he's now bought a home in his craziness and know he won't so I don't want to set myself up to be a fool again. How do I move on from here?

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  11. Hi,

    Thank you for continuing with your wonderful and useful work.

    My question is how to learn how do I frame a request that I want from say an N husband. How do I (as Kim) suggests, challenge him? I know what I want - more affection, but when I ask directly or try to give ten things to get 1 thing back, I barely get it. He doen't have to be perfect or even have understanding for how I feel, but a hug and cuddling on the couch watching a movie, being held, would go a LONG way to helping me cope with other unmet needs, cope with the stress of criticism or devaluing that I endure. A hug would make it worth it.

    How can I frame the request that shows the benefit he would get out of it?

    If I could learn that, I could get or at least ask better how to get my needs met. Nothing bad is going on, no abuse, no fights anymore, just love, lust, companionship with each other - but no affection and I feel if it were food I'd be starving to death. (Being held by a girlfriend or another man just isn't an option.) Any suggestions???

    THANK YOU SO MUCH, every time I am here I learn simple yet profound lessons.

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  12. I am so happy to find I am not crazy- that what he is doing to my head is real-crazy making- yet I am to blame always to blame. I walked away because I just couldn't take it anymore and I want to keep walking but there are children- which keeps us connected. How do I let him parent without letting him in my head or heart- I want to break free of codependence as well.

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  13. Misty Blue,

    No, your husband doesn't love you one day and not the next; every day he loves himself, and only himself. He isn't capable of any more than that. Of course, he wants all the sex and no intimacy. He can only be intimate with himself. You are what he uses to have his needs met. He is not concerned about you--only himself. He is unable to admit the truth about himself. Please don't waste any more years on him unless he gets professional help. You are the only one who can see and admit truth. Do what you can to protect yourself.

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  14. Great article Kim. Hi Lisa! I'm wondering if there is such thing as a 'nice' narcissist. I know that sounds like a contridiction - but I'll explain. My husband is generally a nice guy. But he is a rescuer. He will put everyone and everything before his own family. If someone calls at 2am to be picked up from the pub - he will do it, despite having to get up at 6am for work.He is involved in the community , happy , loving , funny , cracks jokes , a leader at a church. He is nice to me most of the time but then out of the blue he will turn into the meanest person I have ever met. It's like a Jekyle and Hyde situation. Nice then horrible. Hot then cold. I don't know what the triggers are? I know he is a decent person and is generally nice but these 'snaps' scare me! (he's verbally and emotionally abusive - not physically) I don't know how to deal with them or do I know when they will come. I feel like I am on a emotional rollercoaster. When I try and talk to him about "his snaps" , he deny's he did anything wrong and puts the blame onto me and says " well,I would not of said / done that if you said/ did this " I end up apologising and the excusing his behaviour because "I started it" - Could you give me some advice how to deal with this behaviour and what angle to take when pulling him up for "his snaps"

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    1. Yes, I think there is a "nice" narcissist. But they really aren't nice, they are polite and say the right things but don't feel or mean what they say. I was married to a nice one for 11 years. Always was my fault that he never did what he said he was going to do and didn't make time for his family. Everyone that would meet him would say he was the nicest guy. His mean side didn't come out until the divorce and I didn't accomodate him. It all makes sense now looking back. I don't think there is a healthy way to deal with them. You'll sacrifice yourself trying. They don't change, they don't take criticism, they aren't capable of loving. Sad but true. They keep you until you aren't useful.

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    2. The previous replier is right... you think they're cured but really they aren't. My father was a narcissit and now he says since he's quit drugs and alcohol for a whopping 2 years out of 15 years of cruel domestic violence that he's "changed." Lol I'm sorry but my father has not changed... I sparked his anger while in the car driving back from Father's Day golf this summer (the only Father's Day I ever spent with him) and I was crying... he kept asking me, asking me, but he didn't realize his sarcastic behavior at the golf course made me embarrassed and brought back my PTSD, so I was having an anxiety attack. I go I'm having a f***ing anxiety attack! Then he starts driving wild like he used to back in the day and starts screaming at me f*** you and a bunch of horrible things. Snaps are NOT okay. Ever... I don't know how you'll educate him on this without suffering from more abuse, but I wouldn't suggest outright telling him he has a personality disorder since he'll get defensive and abuse you more. Maybe after a bad fight write down all your feelings and how it makes you feel when he talks to you that way and how you imagine your marriage, not only in the public eye, but in private to be wonderful too. How you do think it is wrong for the hurtful things he says and that you feel his emotional/verbal abuse is inconsiderate to your mental well-being!!!! Reverse psych in there and empathize with him about his point of view blah, blah, blah, only walk on eggshells if you have to. And tell him you'll try to be more consdierate as well and end on an overwhelmingly positive note so maybe understands that you truly love him, but hate when he talks down to you. Goodluck <3

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    3. I came from a fairly good Italian family. everything is a secret, when I said I thought I was abused no it couldn't have happened because of this that etc. I am in my late forties and always thought I was crazy. I have an unholy bond with my family that are uncles, aunts, mother, sister, brothers etc, everyone never speaks the truth, and anything I say is wrong, and I've even been told how to live, what to do, what not to do, and because I've always been their black sheep they are now blaming my husband saying he is the one who is really making my sister say this or do that. It's so hard to tear away from them, we all 5 children are the same, none of us can break away it's so weird, only in the last few years with the help of God, and my husband believing me !! have I broken away, sort of still I know. I am still talked about, meetings are had about me, they can talk about me non stop and they do, my husband would say why do you care so much about what they think? and I would say I don't know. I sometimes would have fits of emotional breakdowns because I can't figure out what is wrong with me, or them? what is this hold they have over me? right now my sister isn't talking to me, or me to her, and I am the number 1 enemy, or my husband is. whatever tickles their fancy. I have a brother who occasionally rings me with weird conversations, and the usual thing I would do was that I would take charge and fix it all. Yep that way me, the one in the middle of the night doing something for someone, I have trouble loving people, I am self centered everything is about me, but I do love my husband and children. I am trying to break this weird cycle. I don't remember my childhood, I was raped at 24 and lost my virginity, and I know I was molested. Physical abuse was rampant, emotional abuse, you name it. But we can really function well in society if we are not challenged too much, we run I saw RUN from responsibilities, commitments etcs, we never finish what we start. I am so sorry that I cannot remember sometimes to be loving towards my husband, I promise it's not on purpose, I'm selfish. I was raised like this. But, I am trying to change, and I hope that I have allot in the last 15 years. It's probably scattered what I'm writing because that's how I think too. But it's always about ME. Without thought, without even thinking about it, there is no plan, or pre thinking it just is. Sometimes, I forget to eat lunch, and realize my daughter is hungry when she asks for a biscuit. So I'm going to get her lunch because I can get lost on here and forget about her. ....

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  15. Dear Hurting,
    First of all, I want to say that I am deeply sorry for traumatic loss of your child. Given that and with what you are going through with your daughter (not to mention...that you were still in the beginning stages of grief over the traumatic loss of your marriage when the car accident happened), you must know that you are traumatized and you need know that. Given that, you need to focus on a few things...
    ~Your brain is not in the position of being able to make any major life changing decisions at this time like whether or not to reconcile with your ex-husband. I would tell him that you know you love him and you know it was your dream to be with him forever, but that if that is to work out that you need to take things very slowly... I hope you are in an area where you can attend a codependency group, and a grief group for the loss of your child. Individual counseling to talk about the specifics of your marriage dynamics and your childhood dynamics that created co-dependency in you (and support for your grief and what you're going through with your daughter)would be helpful too...but the point is is that you need to have (and you may have) healthy people who are close to you giving you love and support. If he (your ex-loves you and really wants to be with you, he will do whatever it takes to win you back. If he is going to get easily dissuaded by having to show you patience, kindness and endurance then it wouldn't have worked anyway. Let me caution you though...This is not the time to talk through with him what he did, what you did etc... You're both too traumatized... You will have to take those steps very slowly... You should check out the book called Safe People and if you think he is narcissistic, my book will give you specifics of how to understand and interact with him. Again, I am so sorry for all that you have been through!!!

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  16. Dear Anonymous (for post: May 6@ 5:29 AM),
    Narcissism is definitely the result of traumatic injury to a person's sense of self. Either a child is idealized by his or her parents (expected to provide too much gratification) or is devalued by parents or caretakers (made to feel unseen, unknown, not good enough, ashamed for feelings, wants, needs...(spelled out in Ch 3...The Creation of Narcissism of my book You Might Be a Narcissist If.... Narcissism tends to go down through the generations...wherein people (often nice people who are trying hard)who did not have their own needs met for healthy attachments role-model having shame around being human (making mistakes, being inadequate, not having all of life's answers, not being good at everything...). When kids grow up getting shamed when they make mistakes, it makes it too scary to admit mistakes and makes them want to hide their mistakes (even from themselves). Narcissism is often more overtly in men, but we often see it equally as often in women. Women just hide it better sometimes... There are a lot of traumatized husbands and employees out there who can testify to that!

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  17. Dear Misty Blue,
    I feel embarrassed that I keep saying, "Oh...you should read my book, but I really do think it would answer so many of your questions. Yes, when someone has narcissistic injuries, their greatest fear is love. Love brings up tremendous pain in them (often on an unconscious level )because when they were very young and their heart that was in need of deep attachment, love and to feel safely dependent upon another human being to sustain them, there was pain, loneliness and despair... He will have great fears of apologizing to your mother because he will fear that she will see him as pathetic and weak and that will terrify him. He is likely to cover that up with defensive and rationalizing behavior...but that will likely be at the root of his resistance... It will help him if you can tell him how your mother feels about him and how (if this is true), an apology will help her heart feel closer to him and she will view him with more respect (not less as he fears). The hard part about marriage is that the unconscious mind knows when we become married and our childhood injuries come leaking out in uncontrollable ways. Him not being married to you is helping him hold on to his adult self. He fears (again unconsciously) that things will become too overwhelming for him and he will "lose it" if he marries you or gets too close...That is the push/pull you feel... It will help things if you remember that if he begins yelling or "puffing up" in his narcissistic defenses for you to ask yourself, "What just happened that might have made him scared, sad or threatened?" and then try to reassure him that you're not trying to hurt him...that you love him, that you want to work things out with him...without him having to leave... If you can both work on calming down before you continue conversations, you'll get a lot farther. If you back him into corners with ultimatums, he'll feel forced to run or attack you verbally ( = fight/flight system evoked) because his fear will become too great. Remember that when we hate someone...it helps us hold onto our sense of self because it draws a line between us and them. When he acts like he hates you, he is probably feeling (again unconsciously)like he is losing his sense of self. I really do think my book would help you a lot! (if I do say so myself!) (:

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  18. Been married to a narcissist for 32 yrs. He was diagnosed when we were going to marriage counseling 18 months ago I got him to agree after I had found a second cell phone which was for communicating with his girlfriend and we both agreed to try and fix the problem. he denied that there was anything going on even after I read about 2 weeks of text messages which was all stroking ( your the greatest,blah blah blah cant wait to hold you in my arms blah,blah,blah)..a desperate divorced woman... Tried to kick him out after he threw a glass of ice tea on me but he took his clothes and called me 10 minutes later begging and crying..I've experienced his narcistic rages after I accused him of certain behavior with other woman...so i didnt want to see it again..During our sessions he would lie about my behavior to the counselor all the time in the beginning. The first couple of months we were there weekly. I cant tell you how awful those sessions were. The jealousy he has towards his children because I have a relationship with them and he just cannot connect with even his children. They are a threat to him. We just became grandparents 5 months ago and he threw out a remark that I will steal him from him. Ive been trying to understand his side and cannot imagine being a humanbeing that is so empty inside. He is EXTREMELY NEEDY. I remember when our 4 children were small and they would be all sitting in the TV room together and he would actually say that I should sit with him cause he is SO LONELY... There isnt enough space here to go on with all I could say.. ... Just that I am always suspicious of him still being with this other woman... He is a very affectionate womanizer.... I've moved out of the bedroom 2 weeks ago which I feel just hurts his ego.. I've seen his Narcissistic rage... I'm going slowly to move farther away from him. An emotional seperation. I work as a nurse so my 3-11pm hours makes it convient to avoid him..

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  19. Dear Jen, I myself was terribly perfectionistic (denied all fault) early on in my marriage. Here is what helped me. I'm going to be lazy and copy and paste this from the 1st chapter of my book(:

    Then, one day, he (REFERRING TO MY HUSBAND)came to me and said, “Honey, now that we have been married for a year, something has recently occurred to me that I wanted to share with you. I know I have made a lot of mistakes during our first year of marriage and have had a lot to learn, and I know I’ve probably had to apologize for something just about every day…Would you agree with that?” I, of course agreed, but started to get slightly anxious… He proceeded with, “Well, what recently occurred to me is that I can’t think of a time when you’ve ever said you were sorry to me for anything.” His tone of voice remained loving and yet curious sounding while he continued with, “I’m just not sure how that can be possible…I mean…we’re both human, and that’s part of being human—that we won’t be right all the time and everyone makes mistakes…Right?”
    What Kim talks a lot about is that people heal in reparative relationships. People who can't admit fault to someone they love (or even to themselves) struggle with deep shame because they somehow took in the message (usually from parents who have too much shame to admit mistakes)that mistakes will not be tolerated. He needs to get the message from you that you believe that everyone makes mistakes and that all you want is for you both to be able to admit mistakes and apologize for them...as in the following excerpt:

    I’ll never forget the day…when he simply stated, “You know???...You could just say you are sorry!” I yelled, “What?” He said, “You could just apologize for hurting my feelings…even if you didn’t mean to…and I would feel better…and then, we could go on with our day.” I said, “Really?” This is when I became more conscious of my narcissistic fears. I was afraid that if I admitted fault, it would be seen as weakness…which would then be used against me. I was afraid I would be humiliated and shamed, overexposed… To be vulnerable and human meant death to me!

    I couldn’t quite believe Danny’s words, and yet, I knew him to be kind and forgiving and to not expect perfection from himself or others. What a concept! Why did I not know how to do this? I, then, knew I needed to get into my own therapy…and that’s exactly what I did.
    If going to a counselor still feels too threatening to him after you try talking to him like this, (and my guess is that he will still feel too fearful to go), you might just want to get a book on perfectionism and see if he's open to reading it. I think the practical advice in my book would really help you as would having the two of you hang out with friends and or family members who feel comfortable admitting their own flaws etc...because healthy behavior needs to be role-modeled and then you can be clear with him what behavior you'd like to see from him (and exhibit that behavior with him) so that your relationship can get healthier and healthier...

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  20. Kim or Lisa, What if you do ask for an apology and he gives it and seems soft but does hurtful things again because he cannot recognise abusive behaviour as it is ingrained in his personality? He agrees that abuse should not be a part of the family, but denies that he is abusive. When given examples, he says "all fathers do it", or "it was provoked", or "I can't say anything right!" He is always the victim, and doesn't respond even to the calmest, non-abusive, caring confrontations. He considers anything an affront if it is not sweet "I love you"s and physical intimacy. He has lost many friendships, has no meaningful relationships with any family members (mine or his) as they all avoid him. I have tried for over 20 years (setting limits, going to counseling, getting support, confronting him, etc) and the family is breaking under the strain of accumulated abuse. PLEASE HELP

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  21. Dear Lisa,
    I was dating a guy for a few years and have identified narcissism as the problem now, he broke up with my when I said no! He did this on my birthday too, and I struggled for a long time to understand the behaviour. I have been quite traumatised as I deeply loved him. Can you advise what you recommend to move on from such a traumatic person, for those of us who are no longer with the NPD.

    It feels like post traumatic stress.

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  22. My boyfriend of nearly three years exhibits many of the behaviors that I have read about above (no physical abuse and only brief verbal exchanges, but extreme distance) and he definitely had a domineering, disapproving mother. He is 55. About every three months, he has an episode, where he will shut me out and be distant for a couple of weeks. I notice these happen when we get particularly close, talking about the future, etc..
    I get very anxious and try think of how to reconnect and usually just keep reaching out. However, I feel this burden keeps me from realizing a good, communicating relationship .... I feel like I am doing all the work trying to understand him. We do not live together and started dating with marriage as a goal.
    When he gets distant, it makes me feel like he wants to break up, which triggers my "flight" ..... I feel that giving him space is good, but I keep having anxiety that I should be reaching out. What is your opinion on giving space (not doing what i normally would do, like call). Does he feel punished or relieved? Should I just never call him again?

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  23. Dear Anonymous re: the Post :May 6,@ 7:14 a.m.
    It is unfortunate some people aren't looking for "love"; they're just looking for boundariless people who won't tell them the truth or confront their addictions and if you do..., then they'll leave you and look for the next co-dependent person that they can fast-talk. If they refuse to look at the errors in their ways... then in the end, they end up with a life time full of regrets....and tend to live lonely, miserable lives. I hope that you are working on codependency issues (like in a supportive group) so that you'll learn to recognize red flag issues much sooner. Usually the person in your position feels more and more relieved as time goes on and feels more "spared" than "abandoned" as long as you have healthy support! Hang in there...It does take time...

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  24. Dear Anonymous (Post May 6th @8:40 a.m.)
    You said your wife says she doesn't apologize because she knows she'll probably do the same thing again...
    Sounds to me like she is stuck in shame and it'll help her if you say something like, "Honey, we all make mistakes every day and we all get into various habbits etc...so that is often true for most of us that if we struggle a lot in a certain area..., it will take us time to change and I don't expect perfection (that is actually what she unconsciously expects from herself...and is at the heart of the narcissistic injury); I just appreciate it that you're trying to work on things that you know hurt my heart or bother me just like I try to work on changing the things that I do once I hear from you that I'm hurting your heart or bothering you etc..." If you convey to her that it will still help your heart when she apologizes because it'll reassure you that she does care about your feelings...she will likely do it... (especially if you can give her an example like, "Doesn't it make you feel better when I apologize for ... even though I might still do that same thing a week later?" When she can empathically make that connection inside her own heart and mind like, "Oh yeah...it does make me feel better when he says he's sorry even though he might make a similar mistake in the future..." When you make it safer for her to accept her own imperfections, she'll likely feel safer admitting and owning her own imperfections... Hang in there...This can take some time...

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  25. Dear Anonymous (May 6th @8:59 a.m.)The difference between narcissism and bipolar disorder is that narcissism will tend to be fairly consistent over time and moodiness will be fairly controlled (e.g. acted out at home, but not at work or at church etc...). With bi-polar, people cannot control their mood episodes which will come much more out of the blue. Narcissistic moodiness and anger will erupt more when the person feels inadequate or feels a lack of control (which is probably almost always with 7 kids!!!). Also, if the person has post-traumatic stress disorder from a traumatic childhood (even emotional abandonment issues can trigger massive trauma reactions)then that makes a person very prone for moodiness because their brain's fight or flight system becomes easily activated... (Medication, biofeedback, relaxation tapes, 12 step groups for anger or codependency and counseling can all help). If the person is bi-polar, moodiness can be improved with medicine, but they neeed to be carefully monitored by doctors because bi-polar patients have the highest suicide rate (because they become trapped in emotional hellish states that feel unbearable ): I love the book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Dr. Daniel Amen. It might help you discover if there is a chemical problem and he gives herbal recommendations and lifestyle changes too(but again if he is bi-polar, he should be working closely under the supervision of a psychiatrist), but Daniel Amen's website is: www.amenclinic.com. There is an online assessment... Of course, I think my book and Kim's resources and support would help if it's narcissism and I hope both you and your husband have some personal time in your lives (to go to coffee with a friend, or fishing or whatever) because having 7 kids could push the sanest of us over the edge!!! Good Luck!!!

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  26. Becky, (May 6th @10:59) What you'll want to convey to him is that you would like to work on both of you (even if you already do it, don't point the finger at him or he'll get defensive) apologizing to each other even when you accidentally hurt each other because you know it'll make your relationship healthier. This is a true statement that the healthiest relationships are not the ones where people don't fight; it's the ones wherein people know how to make "emotional repairs" when there is a rift. If he says that he already does that perfectly and you're the one that needs to work on that, say, "Well, I think we can both work on this so I'll try to be open to apologizing to you and you try to be open to apologizing to me if we do something to offend each other...o.k.? How can argue with that?
    Then you might want to follow it with, "Then we can get on with our day without one us being mad or hurt and we'll both be happier." Narcissistic people have a high neeed (even though it doesn't seem like it at all!!!) to make others happy around them because then they feel more adequate... I know it's weird but the less threatened he feels, the less he'll need to spin things around and blame you and the more responsibility he'll take...

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  27. Lisa, I see a lot of my relationship with my husband in the other comments so your replies to them really help. But my question is, what to do if I already do and say what you have suggested, not just now, but for 20 years? I discovered over 20 years ago that over-reacting and not being emotionally healthy was not helping, so I worked on myself.

    But his insecurity and immaturity is so deep that he doesn't come to the conclusions that you or Steve Cooper did when confronted lovingly by the emotionally healthy behaviour of their partners. He is really only happy when everyone else is happy with him. When confronted, either directly or indirectly, whether lovingly, honestly or by tough actions, he doesn't react well - before he would get aggressive; now he just withdraws and says he is changing but his body language kills. Could it be that change is so unlikely because he is not ready to face his pain?

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  28. Dear Lisa,
    I have been with my narcisstic husband for 22 years now...first he kept me waiting for 8 years without any commitment and then finally when we did get married he broke my heart by admitting one day after the marriage that he has another girl who loves him desperately and so he wants both of us. I struggled with him for a year, with repeated fights and managed to break free. Soon he followed me and then I had his baby. I stayed with my parents and tried getting him to have some responsibility but he kept out of it for eight years continuing to visit like an uncle would..having all the perks of the marriage with no responsibility as someone else in this blog has so aptly described. I moved away, lived on my own and brought up our daughter but he kept coming in again and again.He moved to a foreign country and had me hooked on through phone and internet for three years. Now I realise that I allowed him that. One phone call from him and I would get all excited. After 13 years of having a 'distant' marriage he finally took me in last year. But he has brought me so far away from home and my family that I have had to fight depression and loneliness again. I had to quit my job and it made me lose my sense of worth. We have been together for a year now..no intimacy and lot of abuse. I would fly into a temper whenever he twisted facts and hurt me. He has emotionally abandoned me in this new country. I did go to counselling and that's where I discovered that something in me keeps getting victimeised. I learned about my codependence. Counselling helped but I still do not know what I want in life... He has no proper job, keeps taking short term assignments and I am for ever not sure when he is going to dump us again and run to another country! He never thinks of us or how we are going to bring up our daughter if he keeps doing this. Reading Kim and Steve's website has made me feel stronger and I want to go back and start my life all over again. But my doubt is will he keep me hooked again by trying to contact our daughter every day? He wants me to move with him wherever he goes and I know it is very scary for me and my 13 year old daughter because she has to make a lot of adjustments every time. It is also quite pointless as there is no intimacy. I want to get a clean break from him this time. Please advise.

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  29. Hi Jo,
    I wonder what would happen if he no longer had you bent over a barrel for once. When I told my husband of 13 years "no." he just couldnt understand the meaning, and it took a while for him to actually believe "no." But he respects me alot more. I had to decide that there was more in life than pleaseing him on any and all counts, cause I was loosing my life and sacrificing my children to please someone who would never be pleased with me. But what an unexpected turn when I started respecting myself my goals my kids needs, he had to adjust to my life changes and was utterly floored that there was something else out there besides him. He suddenly became interested in me with his face pressed up against a window looking in at me. Its crucial that I didnt jump up to open the door to let all the madness back in at this point. Better that they regard you from afar then wreak havoc in your life and the life of your children. If a clean break from him is what you really want and you have a child together you will learn how to have boundaries with him that keep you emotionally safe from his manipulations. It seems incomprehensible now that thats possible but just keep getting support here and you will find out whats right for you and your daughter.

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  30. Hi Lisa,

    I really enjoyed your radio show interview with Kim & Steve, and I am now looking forward to reading your book this weekend. Got a few questions for you though:

    1. Does the fear of abandonment exist in us at birth - is it innate within us? Or is it a learned thing, perhaps right from infancy, and reinforced or exacerbated by various threats of abandonment (perceived or otherwise) or actual abandonment experiences throughout our lives?
    2. It is said that both healthy and unhealthy narcissism exists in everyone - are we ever able to fully overcome our unhealthy narcissistic traits, injuries and triggers?
    3. Is there a scale or checklist upon which we can self-assess where we are on a scale between healthy narcissism and unhealthy narcissism? (Although perhaps a self-analysis would be subject to potential inaccuracy due to one’s own blindspots and false-pride! LOL!).
    4. Do narcissists find it more difficult (if not impossible) to work through their sadness and grief to a place of eventual acceptance & peace when someone they love dies? Do they feel “abandoned” when someone they love dies?

    Many thanks,
    CD, Australia.

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  31. Please forgive me everyone...My thyroid crashed so I've been dealing with that...so I've gotten behind in my responses and promise to get back on track. I'll now continue answering questions in the order they came in. Sorry for my flakiness!!! Lisa

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  32. Dear Anonymous, re: post May 6th at 12:22PM
    You asked what is one of the most important things you can do to get a N to recognize and begin to change their N behavior... Keep in mind that what N's struggle with the most is feeling inadequate and any time that any of us have to hear negative feedback about ourselves from someone we love, it usually evokes pain in us to hear the ways we are hurting or letting people down... and in reality, it is a message of how we are acting in an inadequate way at the present time so... this will evoke a lot of fear in the N... So, it will help if you remember to try to phrase whatever you need to say in the most non-shaming way you possibly can... It helps if you can bring up the things they are doing that you like and then say something like, "I want you to keep in mind that I like a lot of things about our relationship like_____, but there is one thing that has been bothering me that I'd like you to work on..." etc... Make sure you tell them very quickly what behavior you would like them to do that would rectify the situation. They may not be able to tolerate listening to you go on and on about how hurt you were when... It'll help if you just state it like "It hurts my feelings when you___ It would really help me if you'd ____ (and describe the exact behavior they can do to make you happy). N's hate to make mistakes so they'll likely correct their behavior very quickly if they know exactly what you expect, but don't expect them to guess... because that'll make them feel more inadequate but they can't read your mind... I give specific examples in the book depending upon the situation (eg if the N is your spouse, your mother, your co-worker etc...), but the most important thing is to remember that you want to keep them from shaming out...because that's when they get defensive and will likely then turn the conversation around and begin criticizing you about something... If they do that, say, "Look, I'm not saying that you're totally terrible (or whatever they accuse you of); I'm just asking you to change this one thing and reiterate what they can do that would be good. If they attack you about something, say, "I'm sure there are a ton of things about me that you'd like me to change and we can totally talk about that, but right now...I want to make sure that you've heard what I was trying to say..." Believe me,...they might end the conversation abruptly like "Well, fine then I'll just..." but they will likely think a whole lot about the feedback you gave them...and you'll see changes. If they totally deny their behavior ask them for permission to point out to them the next time that they do that behavior (eg being critical of you). They'll usually say, "Fine, go ahead because I know I don't criticize you!!!" ...and then watch, they will criticize you less (: or just point it out when it happens and they will get them message and very likely become more conscious of that behavior and decrease it. If they pout after you give them feedback, it's helpful to say, "Is that the rule in our relationship...that you can tell me what bugs you..., but if I tell you what bothers me, you withdraw and ignore me?" They will likely get a change of attitude in the near future...

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  33. Dear Anonymous re: Post May 6th 1:27 PM,
    I am so sorry!!! Sounds like you've been put through so much... My advice would be for you to get help from a co-dependency group (or al-anon) and re-build your sense of self... Then if your husband ever wants to change his destructive ways, you'll have lots of people in your life who can support you to help you see if he truly wants to make genuine changes or if you're just falling for his lies and being co-dependent again... I recommend you read the book, Safe People by John Townsend. It is good that you are trying to create a safer and more sane environment for you and your kids. Your husband would really have to be willing to change a lot of things and it doesn't sound like he's motivated for that...at least at this point... Sounds like the boundaries you are setting are very necessary at this point. I hope you are getting a lot of support!!!

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  34. Hi Jeanette, I don't know if you've read the book called, The Five Love Languages, but if you haven't read it, I would and then you and your husband can each answer the questions that tell you what each of your love languages is. There are Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service (eg. if he unloads the dishwasher for you). The book is great because it says that people almost always marry someone with a different love language than their own and people tend to try to show love to their spouse using their own love language. It makes it non-threatening to talk about the lists of things each person can do to help the person feel loved within their own love language and points out that marriage goes so much better when our love tanks are full (or even a little filled...) You can then ask him what he'd like you to do that is in his love language (or you can point out the things you do do and ask him if he feels loved or would like you to add anything to the list...)and ask him if he can do a few things that you spell out... People often have to write themselves sticky notes at first because it won't come naturally. If he then forgets, try to remind him with, "Oh come on Honey, give me a hug..." in a friendly tone or sit by him and say, "Can I just snuggle against you while we're watching the movie?" Be very careful to keep your tone positive with what you would like him to do...instead of negatively saying things like, "You never snuggle with me" or if you just wait until he initiates...you could be waiting forever because if that's not his love language, he could have no idea why you don't feel loved by him... I'd highly recommend the book!!!

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  35. Dear Anonymous re: Post May 6th 2:44 PM
    I do think breaking free of the co-dependence is the right direction for you to head in... I think it is so valuable when people not only join a codependency support group, but also get a sponsor who will work with you on an individual basis...to help you take the small steps you need to take in setting healthy boundaries for yourself and within yourself. They teach about creating an emotional distance or detachment that helps you get your sense of self back. You can then make choices from a healthier place. I advise people to check out a few groups in their area and find a group that they feel the most comfortable in and then announce that you are looking for a sponsor (or if you hear some people talk that you really like...you can ask them if they have the ability to sponsor another person). The website is www.coda.org. I think you put in your zip code and it gives you a list of groups by you. Hang in there... Getting the right support will really help!

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  36. Dear Anonymous, re: Post May 6th 4:49PM
    What I tell couples to do when someone emotionally "snaps" is: When your spouse begins verbally attacking you (or vice versa), it means that the fight/flight system has been activated. When that happens, the brain tries to "kill the perpetrator" and the brain literally feels as if a ferocious lion is ready to devour the person. I tell couples that when one person in the couple flies into a rage to memorize inside themselves "NOTHING PRODUCTIVE IS GOING TO HAPPEN NOW BECAUSE HIS (OR MY) BRAIN IS NOT WORKING". At those times, people need to slowly back away from each other, decrease contact and say nothing inflammatory. I also tell the person not in a rage to NOT listen too closely because a lot of what is being said is to "annihilate the threat" so it can help to say inside your own head, "I'm not going to take much of this in because this person feels threatened and does not mean much of what he's saying because he's in fight or flight". For the person who is not in a rage..., it can sometimes help to say to themselves and sometimes to the other person, "What did I say that could have implied blame, could have felt like an attack, could have felt controlling, or could have evoked helplessness, or is he just stressed out about money or something else, or is he overtired from feeling like he's giving too much to everyone?" If you feel clearly that you have done nothing then as he's yelling, you can say things like, "Honey, I didn't say that or even mean to imply that"(whatever he's raging about). Usually if you get quieter, the person's adrenaline will decrease and their normal brain function will come back (in about 15-20 minutes). Remember that a person will feel hatred when they feel like they're losing their sense of self. It helps the unconscious mind feel like it can draw a line between the "you" and the "me". It might be good for you to get a book on codependency and just share with him some concepts that you learn from it because he might actually be traumatizing himself by giving too much from a codependent place and then feels like he's losing himself and then flies into rages... Learning more about codependency will be a good thing for you too... and yes, many narcissists or narcissistically defended people are actually very nice people...when they aren't feeling threatened (:

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  37. Dear Confused (From May 7th post),
    I'd read the comments I just wrote a few posts ago about the fight/flight system, but you do sound very worn out... I hope you have enough support in your life from non-narcissistic people. If after you read about the fight/flight stuff, if you feel like you've done all of that and nothing works...then I'd highly recommend that you show your husband what you wrote on the blog...and tell him that you want him to go to individual therapy with someone who can help him deal with his trust issues because he's alienating everyone in his life...including you. If he refuses to go, I'd tell him that you're becoming nervous because you're wearing out and you just don't think you can go on without him making some changes. He might become more open if he read my book because it would explain to him what is happening inside of him and the marriage chapter points out how a couple can improve their marriage and what happens if they don't (and the choices that the non-narcissist is left with making...) Just remember that your confrontation will go the best if you say things not as a threat, but from a place of being worn out and that you're running out of energy... It is true that sometimes people wake up one day and they can't do 5 more minutes in their marriage and it just feels "over". You may be getting to that point where you feel you have done all you can do...and then I would just tell him that. He will then try to take some action or he won't and then you'll have your choices to make... Again, I hope you're getting support from others. I feel for you ):

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  38. Dear Anonymous (re: post May 8th 4:59 AM)
    Wow, I'm sorry for your loss, but it's good that you did not end up in a relationship in which you can never say, "No". I'd recommend that you read "Boundaries in Dating" by John Townsend and Henry Cloud and Safe People by the same authors and I've heard they also have a great book called something like, "How to Not Marry a Jerk" I love how clearly they spell out what is healthy and not healthy in terms of people having a sense of self. You will likely feel validation for your pain and relief that you are seeking a healthier relationship.
    There is a true post traumatic stress condition that happens when someone is abandoned by a narcissist because it feels as if you've been "left for dead". Some narcissists just emotionally cut off and move on and that feels brutal because the love, the years etc... all get discounted!!! I would keep getting support around your grief through reading, possibly counseling, and you can write him a letter (that you don't send) wherein you tell him what you loved about him, what you hated about him, and what he hurt inside of you when he coldly abandoned you... That can really help to gut out the grief. It is really sad and you need to honor your heart and how much it was hurt ): Then as you read about healthy relationships, your heart will be more open to loving again... I wish you the best!

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  39. Dear Anonymous (from post May 8, 2010...Sorry for the delay!!! I'm still having thyroid issues...)
    Your intuition is correct...your boyfriend needs a little space to be able to hold on to (or regain) his sense of self, but then he'll feel comforted when you come back...after he's had a little time to regroup. It is true that times of emotional closeness will evoke massive panic within him unconsciously because his brain will say, "Wait a minute...when I longed for attachment and closeness (with his mother), things became emotionally dangerous and painful."
    I always tell my clients that I can help explain what the narcissist is going through, but each person has to decide if he or she thinks the positive in the relationship outweighs the negative... It is true that this relationship will take more energy than some others...so it just depends upon if you feel like he's worth it.

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  40. Still Hoping, Wow, you've certainly hung in there! I don't know how old your husband is but narcissism often mellows in men as they age (from like 45 on...) I'll give you a few suggestions of things you could say, but if you've already done this, then I would just re-state things from time to time. Remember that narcissists truly have to learn new ways of thinking...which can be a long process, but here are some examples:

    "Honey, when I share my feelings, it is never meant to hurt you. I just know that I'll feel closer to you after I have told you how I feel. Even if you disagree with my point of view, it still makes me feel better when I feel listened to. It would help me if you just acknowledged that you have heard me and care about what I have to say." etc...
    I find that it helps a lot if people can state things like this over and over with the intention of getting messages across of "I really am a safe person for you; I really do want our relationship to work; I'm not trying to hurt you or embarrass you; all people make mistakes and accidentally hurt each other or say the wrong things when they're mad" etc...
    It also helps build empathy if you say things like, "Doesn't it make you feel better when I tell you I'm sorry that I hurt you even if I didn't mean to? Well, I know that you usually don't mean to hurt me, but it would just make me feel better if you just said you're sorry and I'll feel better and we can move on"
    You can also try getting more confrontive, by saying, "So, is this the deal? If I express any unhappiness with you, you withdraw and refuse to speak to me? Am I just supposed to shove down any difference of opinion and just pretend to agree with you all the time???" etc... It's okay to be honest and say things like, "I can't stand how one sided our relationship is. You're allowed to disagree with me and criticize me, but if I say the slightest thing, you...(shut me out, verbally attack me etc...)" It's good to keep re-trying certain things over and over if they seem to work somewhat...I hope you're getting emotional support in some other relationships!!! And yes, some people are too emotionally fragile and are limited in how much they can change and grow... I hope he gets better with time. The fact that he says he's changing is an indication that he's trying to change, but doesn't know what else to do other than to not be aggressive so sometimes spoon-feeding ideas even in a joking way at a time when things are not tense can help like "Honey, you need to practice saying "I am sorry I hurt your feelings. I didn't mean to, but I 'm sorry that I did" over and over a few times a day. I'll be sooo happy with you when you can say it at a time when I'm upset and then we can hug and go on with our day with no more tension..." :) Good Luck!!!

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  41. Dear Jo (from May 15 post), I agree with what Theresa said. If you set some boundaries and show some more self-respect, he'll either respect you more or he'll leave you and look for someone else that will be totally codependent... I agree that it would be good to keep building support in your life so that you'll become stronger either with or without him and that'll role-model healthy behavior for your daughter. Isolation is your worst enemy...because it'll make you that much more desperately in need of him and you won't have the energy to set healthy boundaries... Hang in there!!!

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  42. my name is Cathy
    Thanks so much for your attempt to alleviating the pain and wreckage narcissism. After my readings here, some attempted marriage counseling, and codependency support meetings, I now know I deal with narcissism from both my mother and my husband. Both my mom and my husband are "so nice" to acquaintances, that it seems that I am the only one with a problem.

    After the wedding, the intractable circular arguments, with the bald-faced revision of details felt disturbingly familiar. I could never understand why my mother lied about small things when I was a child, when she championed herself as moral. I now know that she does not even KNOW she is lying. I was further disturbed by the recurring dreams of my mother and her not hearing me or seeing me when I was in some "dream" danger situation. After getting clarity on her narcissism, along with my husband's, I feel like I am broken beyond repair. I have a small son with a life-threatening condition, she did not come to the hospital when he in the ICU. However, she charms him with dramatic play and has been spinning her web around my boy when it suits her.

    My husband and I have been separated (on different continents) for the last year. He ran away when he lost his job. This increased my neediness, which was very unwelcomed by the narcissists, she reacted predictably to become even more withholding and cold. My husband misses his son, and me, and wants me to move to his country. I am wary. Although he had attempted accountability and responsibility, it is periodic. Both my mom and my man are so narcissistic, but while my boy is small I need some back-up (however conditional). I can't decide which is worse, where will I have a chance of becoming a person again?

    The brokeness is in relation my mother, her sons (they are my brothers), and my husband. So, feel incapable of wise decision-making anymore, it was a poor decision to marry a narcissist. Both the counselors I saw with my husband sort of "gave up" on helping us.
    Are there people who never recover from the damage? It seem like there are, when one reads biographies or looks at history. I don't want to be buried by this, but can the challenge be too great?

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  43. Hi Cathy,

    Thanks for sharing, I don't have a lot of time now but please DO NOT move away from your support network.

    Kim Cooper
    http://www.narcissismcured,com

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  44. Hi Cathy,

    It may not seem like it right now but you do have an unlimited inner strength of human spirit - and unfortunately up until now it has been mainly channelled towards surviving the ravages of narcissism both through your childhood and within your marriage.

    By good fortune though you have now discovered what narcissism is and you have just been awakened to what you are dealing with. You will now be able to redirect your unlimited inner strength towards looking after and caring for yourself - as a priority - and your sweet little son with his life threatening illness.

    It would appear that you do not readily have proper support firstly from your husband, nor unconditional support from your mother and maybe your brothers - and that is understandable if they are all narcissistic or self-centred and/or emotionally immature.

    This is why it is extremely important right now for you to build your own physical, mental, emotional and financial support for yourself as a priority. You can create a lot of this essential support for yourself (by yourself) as you learn more about narcissism through Kim and Steve's program and forums, and also by continuing to attend your co-dependency support group. Then as you learn and grow you will build an extended support network in addition to any other existing support network you may have.

    With a growing support network of caring and understanding people you will feel less and less overwhelmed by what you have to deal with right now and you will without doubt be in a much better place to face whatever challenges may arise for you and your son.

    Working towards your own physical, mental, emotional and financial security and independence will also see you in a much better place to deal with the narcissism in your husband, mother and brothers.

    Stay calm and right where you are for now with your already established support network - find your "centre" - your own place of stability for you and your son.

    You cannot change another person - but you can define, install and protect healthy boundaries for yourself with the narcissists in your life. This may temporarily provoke more disrespectful behaviour from them towards you until they feel "safe" with the changes in you, but eventually you will command more respect for yourself by sending a clear message that you love and appreciate them but you will not accept unacceptable behaviour from them - and this may eventually inspire change in them also.

    Try not to tackle all of your problems at once - there is a lot to do - take baby steps one day at a time - concentrate on yourself and your son only at first - and you will eventually get through each day more confidently as your mind gradually replaces the confusion and despair with clarity and renewed hope and direction. Sometimes it is consoling to remember that each one of us (including the narcissist)does the best we can until we know better - the narcissist's false pride is his/her biggest stumbling block to a better way to achieving their own personal growth and success in life. We, however, have been fortunate to have had that light switched on in us - a light at the end of the tunnel!

    Good luck Cathy, believe in your own personal strength and a greater good - this challenge is not too much for you - it is what will make you even stronger than you already are.

    CD, Australia.

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  45. Dear Anonymous (from May 20th 6:55 p.m.),
    Sorry for the delay... I answered this post a few weeks ago but it got erased into cyberspace ): I finally now have time to answer your 4 great questions again: Yes, it appears that abandonment fears are innate within us because as attachment literature has proven, babies can literally die from lack of attachment even when they're fed regularly. This is often at the core of the narcissistically wounded person... He or she might have had physical needs met, but often eye contact and emotional connection was missing. Just as emotionally neglected infants will eventually begin turning away from caretakers, the narcissist has come to loathe his/her own need for attachment and can no longer bear the incredible ensuing feelings of abandonment. As he or she unconsciously disowns his/her needs for attachment, he or she will come to devalue love and closeness. So the answer to the second part of your first question is also yes... the degree to which a person suffers with abandonment issues is very much based upon life experiences with significant relationships in childhood and adulthood.
    Re: your 2nd question about if we can ever fully overcome our narcissistic traits, injuries and triggers... It is my experience that under high stress or a high degree of perceived emotional threat (when our fight/flight systems are evoked), while some people consistently take flight, most people (and esp. those of us with narcissistic tendencies)will internally puff up and have the desire to verbally attack our opponent. The more we are able to hold on to our sense of self (=remember that we are a person who is loved, valued and respected), the less our inclination will be to smash the other person like a bug (=narcissistically devaluing them). What I've noticed is that if we are surrounded with a lot of healthy people, then when someone attacks us, we are more likely to stay grounded and to know it is their problem...but the more we are around unsafe relationships, the less likely we will be to not act narcissistically ourselves when we're threatened. I view it like an alcohlic who is in recovery...that recovery from narcissism is a daily process of applying princples of growth to our lives...and as long as we're doing that, we are in recovery and when we're not, we're in relapse behavior...
    OK for your third question...I have a narcissism checklist in Chapter 3 of my book. And, I always think it is advisable for us to have our loved ones or close friends honestly rate us too and then compare notes...
    Re: your 4th question, Yes, I think grief is a tremendously terrifying emotional place for a narcissist to go. Inside the narcissist is a vow to no longer feel sadness and grief over emotional attachment losses because there has been too much pain and loss. However, narcissists still become emotionally attached (often deeply emotionally attached) even though they are afraid to consciously admit it to themselves or others so they do experience loss and even abandonment when someone dies. It can help them when others around them role-model the expression of feelings of grief and reiterate that feelings of loss are normal...and if the N denies having those feelings (or devalues them), he or she will likely think about them later... Great questions!

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  46. Hi Lisa (Charlebois),

    Thanks for your reply to my questions - you have given me food for thought in trying to deal with especially the grief issues my husband has had since his favourite sister (and her son) died in a tragic MVA back in 1977, and now his more recent grief at having lost his mother about 3 years ago.

    He was very close to both of these women and he used to often lean on them for emotional support (he grew up with an abusive father).

    Since his mother died he has now been on a roller-coaster of emotions again (the same as after his sister died) - from severe depression and insomnia, to narcissistic highs, fakeness and rages - and we (his family) have not found it easy to deal with and it seems like we are "paying" for his loss.

    It disturbs me now however whenever I see and hear him telling me and/or others how he is working through his grief but most of the time he is being less than genuine - and I am wondering whether he is actually able to acknowledge and accept his loss, work through his grief and finally . . . let go. I am concerned because his sister died more than 33 years ago and it seems he has never got to the stage of letting go - or if in fact he has never really acknowledge or accepted the loss in the first place. His father died in another country and it did not seem real when we had a service with his ashes - a funeral seems more real when you are able to see a life size coffin - we both shared that sentiment.

    I have been with him for 35 years and I can usually see when he is being real and when he is being fake or embellishing his story to get attention. Essentially it is recognisable when it becomes a monologue of "how no-one has ever suffered as much as him and no-one could ever understand or help him get through this - the victim - and then how he saves himself from himself - the hero". It is hard to explain it - but it is like he is "milking" his audience for attention more than sympathy - even though he already has our attention and sympathy.

    There is no eye contact (downcast eyes), an air and body language of aloofness, and an insatiable need for attention which contradicts the autonomous and emotionally independent person he is presenting himself to be.

    In fact he is a very emotionally dependent person, and this is why I think he cannot move on from the death of his sister and mother - because he used to emotionally lean on them so much, and now they are not there. He has also leaned on me and others over the years while claiming he needs no-one, and he presents himself as this big tough guy, but either bullies or "emotionally dumps" on me or others through emotionally challenging situations.

    The tricky part for me is to respond in a supportive and healthy way without me being used as an "emotional dumpster" - I would like to have my husband "own and deal with" his own emotions, instead of avoiding them by dumping them on me or others.

    This is very sensitive where grief is involved - and while I am sympathetic where there is genuine grief, I am concerned about feeding into his narcissism whenever the grief is fake and just attention seeking. I am sure there would be a sense of loss underneath it all, but the only response I can think of on the fake occasions is "It must be very difficult for you."

    Hopefully he sees the challenge in this statement - to get over the fakeness and to work through his real grief.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    Cheers,
    CD, Australia.

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  47. You are bringing up a very important characteristic of narcissism... Because a narcissist denies being in need emotionally and feels too threatened to ask for what they need from others to comfort their hearts, they tend to try to get those emotional needs met by bragging about accomplishments, complaining about their health/work situation/teenager etc...(yes, playing the martyr)or in your husband's case talking about his traumatic losses. When narcissists do this behavior, I look at it as attention-seeking behavior because they're probably feeling lonely or disconnected and are needing some emotional connection, but because they can't consciously allow themselves to say, "Can we spend some time together?" (In your dreams huh?!!!), they express their need for connection through complaining... I just validate their feelings and then I look for other ways to connect with them like asking them about how some project they're working on is going etc... and then I try to give them positive feedback (but I never lie...I only say what is true or it can feed into their unrealistic views).
    With regard to helping him with any unresolved grief issues, it can help to share with him tidbits of info about healthy grief information (eg. asking him about positive memories he has...and then at times when he brings up the grief, you can tell him that he might want to think about the time when...and bring him into the positive memory and then tell him that our memories can help us hold on to loved ones in our hearts...). He might not look too interested but he'll probably be listening more than he'll show! Holding onto our grief about a loss can also help us to still feel attached...so getting more attached to positive memories or pictures can help...
    Sometimes grief also gets complicated if we have repressed anger about the person who died, or if we feel guilty for something we said or did or didn't say or do...so that can make a person feel that they, themselves, deserve to keep suffering in pain... Some food for thought... Hope it helps!

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  48. Dear Lisa,

    On May 7th, I posted a question to you and you very graciously gave a discerning answer. You were very perceptive about the fact that I didn't feel I could go on anymore, and I felt desperate because I had never, in 20 years, wanted to leave. I always hung in there and tried in many ways to help him. In the end, I had no option but to leave.

    I did feel guilty, but my mind is so much clearer. He is still very clueless and is telling everybody he doesn't know what the problem is because he doesn't think he is that bad, that he does apologise and that he is not abusive. This is in spite of hundreds of candid conversations, some tense, some violent, some calm, some in writing, some in front of counselors, some with church leaders, some in front of friends. But although he claims to be trying, he doesn't seem to get it. He'll be rude, sarcastic, ordering, then rationalising it.

    Everyone that he tries to get answers from feel very sorry for him because he is crying all the time now, but they don't know the issues like I do, and he doesn't want to hear it from me. He only wants sweet nothings from me and is trying very hard to get me back. The kids are happy now. He does have unsupervised access, which makes me nervous because he can lose it at them and they are too young to stand up for themselves.

    I was so hoping for an ending like Steve and Kim's. After all, Steve seemed to have worse issues (like pornography, deceit, etc). My husband had violence, moodiness, impatience, control, silent treatment, etc. and our mental health was deteriorating fast. In the end, we had to move on.

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  49. Nacissistic/bipolar people are Celiac. They need to eat no dairy or gluten...then their intestines will heal and they will pull in more vitamins/good oils and heal fast in body/brain. LDN blocks Celiac but not 100% and helps the personality even the first day. The diet is still needed. Blood tests and biposies to diagnose Celiac may not work...but www.enterolab.com can work to diagnose it. Doctors/dieticians may not be trained in Celiac. They may also be full of heavy metals..(hair tests show heavy metals) and need EDTA/DMPS IV chelation from an Alternative medicine doctor.They may need Vit B12 shots, HCl and enzymes when they eat, dairy free acidophilus, Vit D3(I need 5000IU),Nature's Plus Source of life multiple and more. I take many vitamins for the brain. Now brand- Detox support also helps. They need to rebuild their cells since gluten didn't let nutriens be absorbed to make cells right. Gluten is oats/barley/wheat/rye. I ate organic brown rice instead of gluten and Osteoprocare instead of dairy. A narcisstic/bipolar person can heal instead of get worse. Drugs don't fix the Celiac except LDN...they just cover up symptoms and they get worse and have many sideeffects. Alternative medicine can heal the person and the personality too. People are born Celiac but they get worse with age as the intestines get more damaged from the gluten. Dairy destroyed my brain. Some people are like Celiac if they eat dairy and gluten and their past heritage didn't. Low sunlight heritage causes Celiac. To get a narcissitic/bipolar person in the sun helps or take Vit D3. Best wishes.

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  50. The Little Girl inside

    Hi I dont know where to even begin, O.k. Ive been involved with this man for over 3yrs. Of those three years, 1yr 1/2 of it has been with dealing with his drug issue that either left him in treatment or non-employable. Each time I have maintained our home, all finances, and totally been the only provider for him. Of it each time he is fully ready to commit to being the Man that God wants him to be. Which includes marriage. He commits to being present in the relationship, faithful, honest, trustworthy. All of these concerns that exists, he is totally committed to doing right, which includes marriage. We have set 3 wedding dates. The closer the dates, the more inappropriate he becomes. From lying, unexplained disappearing acts, verbal abuse, which has transpired to physical on one occasion. About one month ago I lost my Mother. My Father has been on a ventilator 4 months and is in his very final stage of life. This man's abuse has become so normal in our household, and with each situation, Im told I provoked him. Im disrespected constantly daily, and he always thinks he is justified. He gets angry at me when He is caught in Lies and tells me I have a problem and he is not going to be in a relationship with no trust(Go figure that one), He does not touch me at all. In Six months he may have been intimate with me 6 or 7 times. He would rather watch Pornography. He is totally unavailable to me, and dealing with the loss of the only Two People in this world that Loved me unconditionally Ive lost my Mom and preparing to lose my Dad, I need help and guidance to make it through this.

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  51. Lisa - is it too late to post a comment or question?

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  52. OH MY!!! I am so glad I found this site!! I always new there eas something wrong with Al. When my girlfriend said I think he's a narcissist. Right away I got on my computer and looked up the definition and it blew my mind! A HUGE WEIGHT was liftef- I wasn'tCRAZY!!! I have been with this man on and off for 16 yrs. He is 19 yrs. older than me, I am 52 and he is 71. He was 55 when I met him. I thought he was the love of my life and he has been the worst thing that has ever happened to me! I divorced my husband, let my ex have custody of our children, whom I love and always feel like the worst mother out there, but we have a close relationship which Al tried to destroy. He has tried everything to destroy me, having me arrested, beating me up, emotionally bringing me to the lowest point in my life, and all the time saying it was all my fault. I've read all these stories and he is by far the worst case ever! He still thinks he's perfect, he can tell me all my faults, but in his mind all I do is 'RIP HIM' I have tried all the suggestions you have mentioned to other people and nothing works. I lived with him for 3 years and what a rollar coaster. He is a retired firefighter and has of had so many people fooled. All his friends think I'm crazy and in fact the last 8 years nobody he knows, knows we were back together-WHAT???? That's crazy, oh no wait a minute, he thinks there's nothing wrong with that, yet my friends and family know, which they think I'm crazy, well to make a long story short, after 16 years of being with this man, the last time he was over, I was trying to say in a calm way that I would appreciate it if he could understand my feelings and try to have at least one discussion where we could resolve an issue without him walking out, well once again, I was "ripping him" and he said, putting it on me, should I just leave, do you want me to leave, which I would usually say no and drop the subject again, like I have a thousand times, this time I said yes , there's the door and haven't heard from him in 2 months, 16 yrs.-DONE! I guess I was just some one to have sex with, he always said he'd never get remarried and I was a secret, so after the last couple of years doing alot of trying to get my thoughts of convincing myself I don't need help, he does, which he thinks he's perfect and I've got problems, I feel really good he's gone, I'm so much more relaxed and what I've learned from all of this, instead of thinking how many years I've wasted being with him, I think- look at all the years I've learned to be a wiser and better person, Good luck to all the people out there that are with these sick, pathetic people, they are lost souls and I feel sad for them that they just don't get it, well it took me 16 yrs- I get it. I wish Al would have got it!-Michelle

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    1. Sorry it has taken me more than 2 years to comment!!!! But well done and it is great you feel good about standing up for yourself like you did :)

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  53. 30+ years, and just realized.... Thing is, my husband says he is sorry ALL THE TIME! He just doesn't mean it.
    What I wonder, is can the trauma they put you through, become a catalyst to making a "normal" person behave like a narcissist?(My MMPI-2 test came out normal, his showed his narcissism, but no one would tell him). In this case, I have a hard time apologizing because he would use it against me, so I refuse to apologize to him, yet with others, I don't have that problem. Same thing with hugging, touching,and especially being vulnerable with him. I can't do it, because of intense fear of his using it against me! Yet with my kids or others, I am a completely different person. I look at the signs of an N and feel like I am one when I am around HIM. However, I am NOT co-dependent and DO NOT love him, and wish he would leave, or that I could, but I have 2 of my kids still at home and most of the "stuff" here is mine. The house is in his parents name, so I can't make him leave. I am slowly moving my things out, but I can't really start un-decorating the walls and hauling out furniture. But I want it over. I want the daily pain of knowing that his inner dialog is running with blame and accusations and sick crud -gone and out of my everyday life. I know he is judging on and on because I have seen some of the ridiculous crap he's written. The incredible lies! It is a mountain of lies... all designed to protect him and implicate me. He even said he hopes I will divorce him so he can go around telling those we both know at church etc, that I lost it and am insane! It would almost be funny if he said it to the older kids... they would knock him into place, and run him out! But I fear there are too many who will believe him because he appears SO "together" and charming. (I am quiet and not outgoing unless approached.)
    He pretends to have epiphanies, to keep me from leaving. He is the ultimate actor in the show! I used to believe it, but I WILL NOT again! Only the sustained change in behavior will convince me,now! His daughters see through him, and it bugs him a lot. Some of the boys do too, but they don't let on. I used to regret that he wasn't much of a part of their upbringing... now I am intensely glad! Because most of them escaped this debilitating mental/emotional illness! I was an at-home mom. His mom went back to work when he a a tiny baby. He was NEVER good enough to them. He is still seeking their approval, as is his brother. It is sad and yet after all the years of abuse, it also disgusts me. What would happen if he read your book, LISA? Would he maybe see? He says he is realizing his self-deception more and more. He has read Healing Your history, or something like that and Eckhart Tolles book The power of now.

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    1. Hi, I know this post is well outdate but I just had to say that we sound identical. In all ways. It took me 23 years to put a name on his disorder. Now its my time to heal. God has shown me so much this last year. God wants us a whole,healthy ,healed person so we can be a example to othersr especially our children.My children and I will be stronger because of all this. And if he so chooses to change, than so be it, God is a Big God and has great patience. I hand him over to God, He is the potter not me, I will not interfere with God s plans.

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  54. My experience has not been with a husband, but my youngest daughter. For years I felt i had been supportive and as giving as she would allow me to be. She became pregnabt 12 years ago and she and my wonderful grandson lived with me for about 8 of those 12 years. My daughter met a man anf I allowed him to move in with us. i paid all the bills. They married and moved out,but because my son in law has a lot of child cupport to pay from a previous marriage, they had and still have money. I did at least 10 loads of laundrey a week. i worked full time nights at a tennis club and home schooled my grandson because my daughter asked me to do it. I was thrilled to be able to help,but as a result my grandson and I developed more a mother/son relationship. When my son in law gained custody of a son whom hwas concieved by a girl he was living with when he met my daughter, my grandson was very unhappy and missed the attention he used to fet from his mother, and we became closer. I had know idea i was upsetting my dauhter and son-law. i had also given them a car9not a great one but it ran most of the time) and I helped them many times financially. One day I asked if they could bring the laundry over on Tuesday nights and Sundays so that I could do it while not having to go to work. With no explanation they stopped bringing over the laundry. I continuued to let the boys spend date nights with me, but I have serious back problems, so we usually watched movies and had more quiet activities while they were there. I had a hard time becoming close to my step grandchild. he was aggressive, and if he didn't want to be at my house,my older grandson also waasn't allowed to vome. Then, out of the blue, i received an email from a "fake" counselor,esplaining that my daughter was being treated for the effects of being reared by a narcissistic mother. She has refused too talk to me for almost a year, and I was not allowed to respond to amything. I was allowed to see the boys for a while,but I crossed boundary of theirs' when I told my oldest grandson that because of my back I was going to have to leave and say with my older daughter,but that we would still be in touch. I didn't know he was so upset until his stepfather sent me an email telling me I could no longer see the boys.
    I have seen a psychologist periodically through my life,being treated for GAD and post traumatic syndrome. This situation has thrown me into a downward spiral. I am afraid to say much to the boys and really walk on eggshells with my son in law. <y psychologisst told me I didn't test positice for narcissism. My youngest daughter was diagnosedwith borderline personality disorder when she wasw a teen and she was also a cutter. I,of course had her hospitalized for this, as any caring parent would do. her father was very emotionallly absent, and only met his grandson this year, as he refused to be involved woth a child born out of medlock. I think they do talk once in a while and my grandson was thrilled to meet him, tough he still wants to know who his father is.Also, my daughter refused to accept medical records from my psychologist,wouldn't have family counseling.and later her husband told me ithat the diagnosis made wasn from her college professor who thought I had the narcissism problem but that it was just an opinion. I have done as my daughter requested and I've made no contact with her except for a birthday card.I no longer know what to do. I know the time is coming when my son in law is going to cut off all contact with my grandchildren.I could use some ideas and help.

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    1. Three years later I have only just stumbled on this comment. I am so sad to hear this story and hope that you found the help you need. These blogs sites can be so hard to manage - especially now that I have so many stories online. Sorry I didn't get back to you and I hope that you and your grandson still get see each other.

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