What Is Narcissism?

Image of narcissist and his dummy

Narcissism - When it’s Healthy and When it’s Not

Updated 5/12/2016

Love yourself - but don’t be conceited. Take care of yourself - but put others first. Stay focused on your goals - but don’t crow about your accomplishments. Succeed at all costs - but don’t put yourself in front of anyone else.

With all this contradictory ‘wisdom’ imparted to us growing up, is it any wonder people are confused and have trouble getting along? Frankly I am tired of all the talk about healthy and unhealthy narcissism
as if they are similar, so today I am going to unpack this whole subject and break it right down!

Healthy and unhealthy narcissism are NOT on a spectrum


The symptoms of each can't possibly blur into each other - because healthy and unhealthy narcissism are two completely different outlooks on life. If your husband loves you or loves someone else, can that be considered the same thing? Of course it can’t and it’s not! In a similar way . . .

Healthy narcissism is about loving and caring for yourself - While unhealthy narcissism is about loving and caring for a false fantasy idea of yourself self you have created in your own mind.


So these two really can’t be considered similar at all.

Quite simply a person caught in the trap of unhealthy narcissism has so little love for themselves that they have invent a pretend self to hide from their own shame. There is no spectrum; healthy and unhealthy narcissism are opposite extremes.

Can you look at your own weaknesses and faults? Do you need to blame your shame about yourself on someone else?

Healthy Narcissism

  • Greets people (including close family and friends) confidently and warmly (by name) looking them in the face and smiling.
  • Can be objective about their own faults and weaknesses.
  • Can be objective about their own talents and skills.
  • Can relax and feel comfortable around people of all ages and not afraid to hear what other people think.
  • Can put their point of view across without putting anyone else down.
  • Is compassionate.
  • Is patient.
  • Feels relaxed and comfortable in their own skin.
  • Wins friends easily with interesting people.
  • Maintains healthy and close personal relationships with their family including their spouse and kids.
  • Enjoys life even when things are not going to plan.
  • Is naturally influential.
  • Is their own best friend.
  • Lives with ease and peace within themselves.
  • Enjoys intimate and gratifying sex.

Unhealthy Narcissism

  • Jealous and unhappy with their lot in life.
  • Competitive and obsessed with being the best.
  • Charming in public (and when they want something) but critical, rude and sarcastic to their close friends and family in private.
  • Talk badly about people (including their friends and family behind their back).
  • Only comfortable relating to a small group of peers.
  • Multiple relationship break downs.
  • Damage to business and reputation.
  • Nervous breakdown.
  • Wrongly accuses and punishes others.
  • Child neglect and abuse.
  • Puts their own need for love and attention before their own and their families well being and best interests.
  • Can’t ever admit they are wrong.
  • Feels superior but alone.
  • Feels trapped in a bubble that separates them from others.
  • Impersonal and/or unsatisfying sex.
Now while this false self is as constraining as an 18th century corset and as painful to live with as a tyrant or drunk (as many narcissists are), most people with narcissistic tendencies will still continue to protect this false image of themselves at all costs. This is because they feel too vulnerable to let their pretense down and feel the trade off is better than facing their own shame.

Because of this you are best not try and hold a mirror up to this person's bad behavior or remind them of their faults and weaknesses unless you want to find yourself rejected or dealing with an open (or covert) assault.

What to do? Please Continue Reading here . . .

Narcissism in Yourself
Narcissism in Your Partner
Why Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Marriage Counsellors Come to us for Relationship Advice . . . 

Narcissism does not need to be a death sentence for your marriage--but it won't get better by itself!

Kim Cooper
www.NarcissismCured.com

70 comments:

  1. This is by far the best information & insight to this horrible disorder ...you are defenitely the light at the end of my dark tunnel ...Thankyou xx

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    1. Thanks! You hang in there!

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    2. You hit the nail on the head... I lived with "unhealthy narcissism" for 25 Years until my husband passed away 6 yrs ago. I have since remarried to the same kind of person that ia totally opposite of my husband... Go figure! I am a co-dependent that is trying to make sense of it all! Love Safety Net has been my anchor.....

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    3. Hello Kim,
      I am struggling leaving my partner as his bad attitude & cruelty have taken the love I felt from me. My heart is in half & my spirit broken. He just seems like a mean, lying con man that is out to attack me & destroy my happiness. I was always a fun, loving & happy woman. Can't take anymore..just feel lost & empty. Your site helps but I don't want a lifetime of hell.

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    4. I think my boyfriend suffers from this but he isn't willing to get help or even listen to anything. he's destroying me daily and I think he's a lost cause now. His job, making alot of money, bragging about how much, things he wants, his feelings, him all come first. I've had 2 years of this and can't stomach it anymore. I came across this info and I don't think all of them can be helped, at least not him. I'm at the end of my rope.

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    5. To last post above this.....I COMPLETELY FEEL LIKE WE ARE AT THE SAME PLACE!!!! I am beginning to feel so much anger & disgust that it is making sick ;;((( I posted earlier above you.

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    6. Steve and Kim,
      I think the best part of the article you provided here, is where you talk about how the narcissist invents a false self to protect him from his own feelings of shame. I shudder when I hear a parent utter "you should be ashamed of your SELF!" Think about that! Could that have played a part in the child developing that inner shame they try to cover? Words of parents can cause severe damage! Your article is wonderful and I can't wait to read your materials that are based on parenting skills. Brilliant information!

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  2. Have you any articles on having a now grown daughter with NPD. And how to cope and or deal with this.

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    1. Our methods were adapted from parent training and so I think you will find a lot of helpful ideas for you to work on in Back From the Looking Glass, The Love Safety Net Workbook and 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence. The Little Book of Empathy Love and Friendship and Emotional Stupidity are ebooks you might want to give her.

      If you go to the top right hand corner of this page you will see links to our main site. If you go there and subscribe you will be directed to our introductory specials page where you will have the opportunity to purchase these books at a substantial discount (the prices are actually going up at the end of the week!).

      They are all short and to the point and many have color illustrations and pictures.

      This is NOT an easy problem to deal with and so I hope our resources will help you learn how to help her and the rest of your family.

      You hang in there!

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  3. Thank you for clarifying the fact that narcissism is not on a spectrum Kim. And Steve, we know who that evil controlling master is; the devil himself. Through God's grace Kim is in your life and together you are both helping others in desperate situations. Thank you both for your commitment to this work. You are helping countless of couples! Please check out Napoleon Hill's latest book release "Outwitting the Devil". I would like to see you do a review of this :)

    Christina

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    1. Will do Christine - Thanks for your post!

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  4. i feel bsd for my mother she has been married from 1960. now that he is getting oldrf his Narcissism is wurse, Xhe must ne a gluten for punishment. I cant do much and i'm 51 and diabled from 3 strokes, he is noe handicapped himself, i really can't feel bad for him! he has called my mom to help him mors times in the last 7 months than i have since 1999! I really don't know what to do? he uses dad labguage towards her also,and she does so much for him, i hate that!

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    1. You take care of yourself and encourage your mother to stand up for herself! If he wants her help she should insist that he at least be polite!

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  5. Kim, I loved this breakdown but I disagree that there is such a thing as "healthy narcissism". Your healthy list is just what a balanced person looks like, I think. God bless you and your family! I've dealt with narcissistic people all my life, and just now learning and digesting all I can. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Yvette,

      Healthy narcissism is someone who likes themselves and has good people skills and high self esteem. It is unfortunate that Narcissistic Personality Disorder was named how it was because Narcissism is really not so much the problem in this disorder as the aggression and low personal standards. You can search up NPA theory if you are interested in learning more.

      Once you start learning how to stand up for yourself better you may find your whole world begins to change!

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    2. I agree with Yvette...also a lot of what you described in the negative narcissism can be suffered by people of many other sorts of neuroses...

      you know, for example, PTSD (which I have) or Social Anxiety (which I also have).

      People like me, lost and looking for answers--it seems people are very quick to throw a Psychopathology or Narcissism on you, without even knowing who we are and that certain things may exist con-currently. In fact, the doctors I've seen have only failed me due to this--a lot. Down to even prescribing me meds I didn't need (which made my anxiety get so intense I started to have panic attacks, and a movement disorder).

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  6. Dear Kim,

    I've been exploring this in conversation and emails lately and have to thank you for putting it so clearly. Am looking forward to reading your views on the reptilians.

    Grateful, Erin

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    1. Hey Erin - I am looking forward to that too! I hope I get time before too long to sit down and put that all on paper. Before then however I have a promise to keep that I made a long time ago to do a movie with Steve about what kind of narcissistic behavior we should be concerned about in our teenagers and kids.

      I hope we get a chance to make that in the next week and then I can get onto writing about the reptilians.

      In the meantime you might want to check out the GAPS diet for your son. It has done wonders for me!

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  7. Thank you for helping me to understand the narcissistic mind. i was married to one, very controlling, and as much as I loved him, it was never enough. It finally escalated into physical abuse and that was when I knew he could not be fixed and I had to leave. I have tried to forget the verbal, mental, and physical abuse, but I will never forget HOW it made me feel. He is still on the rampage with other women that he gets emotionally involved with. He is 70 yrs. old, will he ever get better??

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    1. Without some kind of major intervention or life setback he will be very unlikely to change.

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  8. Kim, please do an article about health and emotional stability ;-) I have read many of your articles and posts and I can see you are into that. We've had wonderful success with GAPS/SCD and the use of herbs and vitamins and even chelation! I wonder if you might use this platform to share how much those things help? I would love to hear your experience in that regard and I think those trying to help themselves would love to hear it as well. You two are really making a difference!

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    1. I get a little into that in Back From the Looking Glass and I recommend all the sites I can - but I did make a decision early on to try and keep my information here focused and in service to people's psychological, emotional and relationship needs.

      There are so many great sites out there about health that I kind of feel that the information is already there to find!

      The one tip I will recommend with the GAPS diet is to make sure you are not adding too much salt to your soups - personally I don't add any at all and I try and have vegetable juice everyday (it is delicious with home made raw milk kefir!). I have read that a few people get severe fatigue a few months into GAPS and I suspect this to be a potassium deficiency from too much salt and so I have been very careful about that.

      We are loving it and like best the fact that I hardly ever feel hungry anymore!

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  9. Thankyou guys for you articals on narcissim. i have a question though to suffer from narcissim do you have to suffer from all the symtoms?

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    1. No certainly not. Unhealthy narcissism can be on a spectrum for sure!

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  10. Yes the subconscious mind that runs the main show might not have had the best indoctrination but, by working the K&S programs one can crack the shroud and bust out of the old world immature patterns that really don’t work long term for anyone or anything. Thanks again for the love and passion in your work! Al

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  11. Thank you so much for this information and support that you and your wife give . I have delt with a difficult spouse for years and I am finally knowing how to set boundries. Thanks again.

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  12. Thanks Kim,
    For writing your insights to my emails. You guys have helped me understand what happened to me. I can recognize the dysfunction now as it presents itself in real time. I can mouth the next words out of the mouth (or text) of my recent ex based on the insights I've gained from you.
    Recognizing it and having a name for it and realizing its destructive and morally bankrupt nature has helped me put that relationship in context. Still a nightmare though.
    Slowly but surely gathering my own sanity back....

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    1. You hang in there Paul and just keep referring back to the steps in Back From the Looking Glass. It is laid out how it is so you can hopefully find what you need fast.

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  13. I'm going through a really bad time now. I naively thought my N-tendency husband wasn't hiding transactions etc. as I thought his moodiness was about his past and hating his job. But Kim was right, he was hiding things from me and I found out about (some?) of them. I confronted him very calmly and he admitted things but still tried to put it all back on me, focusing on the fact that I did a 'covert investigation', rather than deal with his own lies and emotional affair. He also tried to say that the things I've done are just as bad (e.g., I tried drugs once about 15 years ago, I didn't take his side on x, I didn't thank him for y etc.) to justify his behaviour.

    I also called him on his verbal abuse and said that I wanted to be treated with respect and wouldn't put up with yelling. I bought books about this topic which while I dídn't throw in his face, he saw me reading them.

    Since then, while he started exercising, doing more around the house, speaking more politely to me, seeing a therapist (briefly) and a few other things there was an undercurrent of..not sure how to put it, but I was hopeful but also uneasy waiting for the other shoe to drop. I felt like he was doing those things the way a teenager does, for a short time and somewhat resentfully, just waiting for an excuse to rebel again at any moment and secretly thinking "Mum" is mean and unfair.

    In the meantime I was focusing on my own goals and earning more money, being friendly and warm and looking into trying to get him some good role models. I also tried to suggest ways to make things easier for him (and where possible just did them). He was up and down, had good days and bad, but overall he definitely seemed depressed. He was hurt by my 'covert investigation' and by calling him on the abuse - it made him face things he doesn't want to face and then he both blamed me and tried to justify it all away. He also hates it when I pay attention to my family and friends and I've been doing more of that.

    Last night the 'shoe finally fell'. He was at the pub, I (stupidly) called and tried to talk to him. He was sarcastic and evasive and finally I got the spill of everything I've ever done to him that he didn't like and, of course, he didn't like my response - I responded to the wrong parts in the wrong way. I admit I handled things badly by calling him at a pub and forcing him to talk but one thing I did really well was stay calm. And we had to have some kind of confrontation, he was doing the pub thing more and more and spending all our money. Anyway, he came back from the pub, packed and left, took the car, left for a trip alone we were supposed to go on together, wants a divorce and me out of the house. Not that I'm leaving, of course. If he goes ahead I'll have to get legal advice. Unsure if this is a 'worse before it gets better' or the end.

    I called the police after he left because I was afraid he might be drink-driving, but they said basically there was nothing they could do but try to call him, and if he went near an RBT they would pick him up. I don't know what happened with that.

    I'm not sure if it's codependent me hoping that this is a 'worse before better' thing. It may be better just to end it. At this point I can't imagine him making long term changes or losing his resentment. I'm shattered of course but coping reasonably well under the circumstances. As he left on that trip I'll have to see my family over EAster and of course they'll be telling me to end it.

    Does this sound like a 'worse before it gets better'? Or an 'I'll only make short term changes and do it resentfully and then keep rebelling and scapegoating' or possibly even an 'it's all over'. Of course I can make the choice to end it, and I may, but good to have your opinion.

    Thanks for listening to the ramble.

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    1. Hi anon,

      Only time will tell. You just need to stand firm now with your new codes of behavior and see what happens. Him trying to blame you (and even run away) is pretty normal - so you will need to wait and see.

      If he does decide to leave it will be much better for you that he made this decision and not you. If you tell him you want it over things will go much worse for you and so it is best if you can swallow your pride and leave this to him.

      I would not put up with too much of his talk about how he is hurt by your covert investigation. He is just mad he got caught. That is a conversation I would snip pretty fast as in "I'm not prepared to talk about that any longer - your just mad you got caught."

      Hang in there - what is great is how much stronger you are becoming - despite what happens you are learning to trust yourself and that kind of trust is the best thing you can have in the world!

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  14. I don't know that it's ever in anyone's best interest to stay with a narcissist. I've been married to one for 33 years and have put up with his crap. I realized he was a narcissist about a year ago. I now have estrogen-positive breast cancer--with NO risk factors. I am angry because my narcissistic spouse, who is angry ALL the time, does not have cancer from all of his anger and negativity. I am angry because he had the nerve to blame ME for my cancer. He says that I needed to get MORE hormones when I finally stood up to his bull and have tried to stop his abuse of me. HRT would have made my cancer worse, but he thinks I'm a liar because he feels he knows more than my oncologist and the medical community.

    I think you should warm people to stay away from narcissist instead of trying to bend your life to THEIR will.

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    1. Oh my God how much do I agree with your last statement. Screw this! I am gonna find a way out & back to a good & happy life..WITHOUT THIS JERK!!!!!!!!

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    2. If you can stay away from them fine - but unless you look at your own patterns that feed into this you are likely to end up in the same kind of relationship all over again.

      Serious and Chronic illness is a symptom of codependence and is why it is sometimes said that codependence kills.

      You may be just as blind to your side of "the dance" as he is to his.

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    3. We don't ever suggest bending yourself to anyone's will. We teach skills of how to stand up for yourself and protect yourself - which are skills it sounds like you need!

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    4. I really don't know where to start...I feel completely taken back by the way my life has completely changed over the past 3 years since being in a relationship with a man who most certainly suffers from NPD. Our relationship has been through many changes, always coming back to him either pushing me away, breaking up with me and most recently kicking me out. I have read your ebook, Back From The Looking Glass and am trying to rethink the thoughts I have been taught over my lifetime as this book challenges me to think very differently.

      The lies, disrespect, lack of consideration or empathy, the way that everyone, including his ex-wife come before me...I am just so overwhelmed! There are times, as you know when in the moment things couldn't seem better, and then in less than a blink of an eye, I feel as though I have just been thrown into a tornado. To make matters worse, his ex-wife is mentally unstable (literally). The two of them were high school sweethearts and had 2 children (now 20 & 17 1/2 years old) and were married for 17-18 years. This woman makes it a point to stay active in his life = my life! The NEED for communication is no longer a need and yet his dependency to be everything to everyone, keeps the attachment there. He clearly likes the attention and I clearly am not ok with his choice to continue having her in OUR life. I have tried talking with this woman, that is a lost cause.

      In reading your book, I am realizing that she has created that "safe place" for him. Through the years, despite all that has went on between them, she has manipulated the situation time and time again, so that in a very sick way, she "makes" him feel wanted/needed, and nothing I have said or done has made any difference to the contrary.

      I have "tried" to set boundaries that I feel are healthy, yet he all but spits on them and I allow that to continue? Seeing myself now and hearing those I love so much tell me that they would have never believed I would be "tolerating" what I have and am is so extremely hurtful. I don't recognize myself anymore.

      Now that I am not living there any longer and he has yet, "broken up" with me again, I am at a loss for what I can realistically do or say that will make any kind of positive difference for him or us. I am asking for your advice. I am asking for some suggestions. I am asking for help b/c I do not feel leaving is the right solution and yet I am clearly in over my head!

      Thank you,
      MM

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    5. Hi MM,

      If he has chosen to end the relationship there may not be much you can do. In the end the fact that it was his choice may be a blessing in disguise as when it is the other way around the abuse often gets much worse - but this way at least he will probably leave you in peace. That said you working on your own codependence is going to help you face whatever comes. It will also make you more confident and more attractive. Get interested in your own life and goals right now and give yourself the love you are craving from him. Don't let the worst in him bring out the worst in you. Rise above it and stay on your feet!

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  15. MM,
    I don't have any advice, I need advice as much as anyone so I don't have a lot to offer. But I just wanted to let you know that you described almost exactly my situation (except his ex is only financially dependent on him and his safe place is the pub and/or emotional affairs with women who stroke his ego).The behaviour and my thoughts mirror yours though. Sometimes it's nice to know you're not alone.
    Take care.

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  16. Thank you for your input, Kim. While it's not always easy hearing certain things, it is a perspective and right now I can use mucho perspective. Your suggestion "give yourself the love you are craving from him", was sincerely a hit in my gut, and quite difficult to swallow. Literally bringing goose-bumps to my arms. However...it got my attention! I've heard many times through this ordeal that I need to love myself, and while that is an easy statement to make, it's quite difficult to do when you haven't liked yourself for "allowing" these things to have gone on. Your comment on the other hand challenged my thinking and brought some awarness to my understanding. Thank you for this and all you do!

    Hi Anonymous,
    I can also relate to your situation, for the first 2 years of our relationship he (equals me) was her only means of finance as well. When I took the time to write down just how much he had given her (what I knew of), I was completely sickened. Lets just say it would have bought 2 new cars...all the while he was living with me, rent free! Since, I have lost my home, and "had" moved in with him (he later got his own house). In January, he told me to leave. I don't know about you, but I have decided that I DO NOT want to go back to the woman I was before I met him. It seems that no matter how confident & self-sufficient I thought I was...I was no where near the person then or now that I WILL BE. Had I been what I thought I was, I think I would have made a much healthier choice in the beginning for me. I appreciate your sharing with me, as you are certainly right about it being nice to not feel alone...Sorry it was under these terms though. My thoughts and prayers are with you!

    MM

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  17. I'm on public assistance, trapped in the house with 2 small girls not yet of school age with a man who works 2 high-paying jobs and still somehow has NO MONEY EVER. I separated from him because of this, and took him to court to get the child support in place. He's currently in contempt of court for not paying. He owes me around $5,000 I'd guess.
    I honestly don't have any hopes of us reconciling. He's violent, disrespectful, uncaring, hostile, argumentative, abrasive, forceful, angry, and sullen - stuck in his ways at 27! I'm still having a hard time with rescuing him, such as saying it's okay that he can't come up with my child support. Also, things like ME constantly working around HIS schedule. For example, he's supposed to take the children every other weekend and he'll go 2 or 3 months not seeing them, and not saying why - he'll just not show up! On one of MY weekends when I've made plans (I'm almost positive he doesn't keep track of which weeks are his and which are mine) he'll drop by and demand to see the kids. DEMAND, almost border-lining on violence. Then he'll drop the kids off 2 days later, and disappear for 6 more weeks. He'll ONLY pay child support on the weeks he's planning to take the kids.
    I'm loosing my mind! I look like an irresponsible, pathetic, stupid, love-sick fool to the world, when in reality, all I'm trying to do is what's best for my 2 girls. I don't know how to set boundaries with him or move on from being the 'pacifier' of the relationship.
    I can see some aspects of how my behavior is sending him the wrong message, most of the time I'm in the dark as to why he's responding to me the way he is, or why I'm doing what I'm doing. I need change ASAP!
    Now I'm back at home with my mother, and it's like watching my horrible childhood unfold right before my eyes - me and my sister being played by MY 2 daughters, and my mother delighting in playing them against one another, against me, emotional manipulation, and most infuriating of all, the FAVORITISM! I feel like I'm drowning trying to save my kids and it's like I'm treading water holding my kids above my head, but MY head is still underwater, and eventually I'll drown while holding them both and then we'll all go down.
    On top of this - and most ironically - is my CRAP mother, the one who abused me, is telling ME that I'm a neglectful, abusive mother! I'm aghast! This woman has called Child Protective Services on me for 'neglect' 4 TIMES! EACH AND EVERY TIME THEY SAID I WAS A FIT PARENT, & THE CASE WAS 'UNSUBSTANTIATED!' But STILL my own mother calls the state against me. I'm BEYOND fed up!

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    1. Hi Rachel - You urgently need to learn to set boundaries that have teeth - and our books are exactly what will help you do that. I strongly advise you get special offer one and two (you will be offered these when you subscribe to our main site at www.NarcissismCured.com) not to try and reconcile with your ex so much as learn to stand up for yourself with both him and your mother!

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    2. If you are on public assistance that should cover your rent, get awway from your mother quickly, live alone it is the only way, exact situation as you.

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    3. Sweetest Rachel, please get up :)If not for you, then for the girls. Get Up. Wallowing is useless, futile, damaging to all concerned & simply wrong. You can do it!
      Dawn Cerise

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  18. I've bing in relationship with a narcissist for 8 years as only recently I realized. What a rude awakening. I had to leave, because I could not bear to be "sentenced" to no love relationship for the rest of my life. I sacrificed everything - money, credit, best years of my life, just to find out that this kind of thing existed.. It's a hard lesson and seems so hopeless. He wants to fix things and even admitted he knows about his "tendencies", but I am afraid he's only "trapping" me because he knows that much is still left in me (I am 34 and my spirit is still not broken). There is a tiny tiny hope that he's doing it for the sake of our family - we have a 6 month old baby, that I refused to get aborted, paid dearly for it, but still worth it :) Your website gives hope, everywhere else they say run to save yourself, or what's left.. I believe in God and I know he can do impossible, I hope your knowledge will be the answer to my prayers to have a whole family, that once I thought I had..

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    1. Hi Anon - Yes I can imagine you are concerned. I think you would be best to learn as much about this as possible before you make a decision. Back From the Looking Glass would be a great place to start for you to see what taking him on might involve!

      Hang in there (-:

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  19. I just ended a relationship of 8 years with my narcissistic husband. I bumped into the term "narcissism" while googling if it's normal to be in totally loveless relationship (from his side). I am so grateful that blindfold was taken off and everything now makes perfect sense. They don't think like us, they don't see world like us. It's actually pretty scary realization, how these people are.. I found courage to leave with a 6 month old baby on my hands, no job and in a totally foreign place and I am so happy! As soon as I moved, he all of a sudden agreed to all the wrongdoings and that he knows about his narcissistic "tendencies". He wants to reconcile and start over, but I am scared he's simply trying to "trap" me, because much of me is still left and my spirit is not broken. I would do it for the sake of our child, so she would have her father in her life and I hope that your knowledge will be the answer to my prayers..

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    1. Keep moving... why would you subject her to being raised to dance around & "deal" with a narcissistic father? Doesn't she deserve better? Simply put, you didn't know better before, but now you do...

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  20. I just ended a 3 years relationship with my girlfriend, when we finished she was mean with me and said a lot of hurting things. I thought that maybe I was the problem and I tried to get back togheter but every time we talked she was cruel and sarcastic. After some thinking I got to the conlcusion the best thing was to stop there and I tried, but she would call or send me some text, so I talked to her and she would turn things around saying that she didn't want to get back and went to saying hurtful things. know I go back to the begging and see that I made some mistakes but things that she is saying that I made never happened or she turned things aorund so she would be the victim when we started I was happy but after a while I started changing because of the things that happened, sha was very jealous and I wasn't at fisrt an even tried to make her feel better about herself but she would never be happy, and so I started to act more like her and many times I regreted this and ask for forgiveness but she keep doing things that bothered me so am I crazy? I feel sad and I miss, but I don't undertsand why se wants to hurt me now and she acts like I'm crazy every time we talk about things she said

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  21. I have a situation with my narcissistic partner I need some answers to and it's to do with sex. I've been with my partner for nearly four years now and have lived with him for three and a half years. I know he watches pornography and was watching it on my computer after I'd go to bed which hurt me a great deal, but I was almost afraid to confront him over it because of his temper and the soul destroying things he would manage to say to me in the heat of argument. In the last six months I've taken a stand and put a password on my computer and told him I wasn't tolerating his pornography watching on my computer any longer. He threw what I can only describe as a five year old temper tantrum, how dare I deprive him of the only thing he asks for in our relationship, he called me a dyke and told me I was nothing but a prude and other insulting names. In the past in arguments he's told me he watches porn because of me because it bores him to have sex with me and that's why we don't have sex that often. I have practically begged him for sex, implored him at times to consider our relationship and how important sex is for that loving connection as a couple, tried to explain to him how he is damaging our relationship by watching porn. He insists it's just a fantasy and it's nothing to do with our relationship. He has insisted since the beginning of our relationship that the woman should instigate sex, "it's a woman's prerogative" - what rubbish - the problem is he insists on me instigating it then rejects me, rolls over and gets out of bed, going to read the paper, waiting for me to leave the house to walk the dog, then would watch porn, until I stopped him from using my computer. I would try to instigate sex over the next couple of days, more rejection, then I give up, then after a couple of weeks of me not trying any more he creates an argument over sex that I never touch him, that I'm disinterested in sex, I'm a dyke, then I try again, we might have sex and then the cycle begins again. After reading your articles, Kim, and other articles on narcissistic personality disorder I know now that it's a game he's playing, I know he can't be happy playing it, I'm certainly not happy playing his game. I want to understand why he's doing this. I've now stopped playing his game, I won't instigate sex to end up getting rejected and I've clearly explained this to him recently. What he's saying to me now is that I don't turn him on because I don't have a toned stomach and it's a turn off to him, the little roll I have after having three children and what have I been doing at the gym for the last three years, it hasn't done any good. I do feel that this is just an excuse and feel that if I was lucky enough to get rid of my little baby belly he would find something else wrong with me instead to avoid sex. Ok, the question about all of this. What can I do about this, why is he doing this to me, what can I do about it? I don't have anyone I can tell about the porn to get him to reform his ways, we don't go to church, He says he loves me and needs me and I'm sure he almost broke down the other day when he said he needed me, he looked like he almost was going to cry, which is so unlike him. I've applied a lot of your suggestions Kim and our relationship is pretty good most of the time, I've sucessfully dealt with a lot of his argument creation, refusing to let it escalate to total anhilation, I'm learning to get over things he says as just button pushing rubbish and I'm not taking a lot of it on board (some of it still gets to me, though). How do I get him to want to have a sexual relationship with me and stop playing these games?

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    1. I would ask him who he thinks he is, Johnny Depp? and then I would find something else to do and ignore him!

      I am sure you are beautiful and how dare he speak to you like that!

      You may need to be a little patient with this but it sounds like what you are doing is having an effect. It is good that you don't play his game anymore - it is about power and shows that he is very scared. Maybe his mother was unfaithful to his father - I don't know - but it would seem sex makes him feel very vulnerable.

      As well as hanging in there and keeping up the good work I would also suggest you get him the book The Brain that Changes Itself and point him to the chapter about pornography and tell him that you think it may be about him. I explains how porn changes a persons brain and basically makes guys impotent. I think he might find that an eye opener and it might help him stop thinking he is in a position to put you down!

      After you give him the book don't bring it up again - just wait and let him sweat for awhile and leave the ball in his court. Let's see if a little more truth and humility doesn't come out?

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    2. Thanks Kim, I have tried to download that book without success, I wonder if you could tell me where I could get it. I am sticking to my guns at the moment and not instigating sex, because I'm not prepared to go back to the way things were. He's raged at me a number of times, abusing me hatefully, "sexless bitch", "dumb slut", "why are you packing those high heels, I couldn't care less what you're wearing to the casino", all good news when we're due to be married in one month. I have refused to argue with him and have withdrawn myself. I feel like running a mile sometimes and wonder when this is going to stop. A curious thing, what do you think, we've been due to send out the wedding invitations for ages, they're now what I would consider late, he is insisting he has the last word on who is invited. I can not write out the invitations. Everytime I approach him to review our list he dismisses me with words to the effect of I'm badgering him and not now, later. Appreciate to hear what you think.

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    3. I certainly wouldn't be considering marriage until you see if you can sort him out.

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    4. i agree with you Kim...

      My husband took complete control of the wedding too.

      The day after the wedding he said: "Now I own you..."
      The day after we bought a house together(with the majority of my money)... he stopped making love and started wispering in my ear: "I wish there were more women/people with us..." He sabotaged sex in all the ways above too..
      Yep... I should have halted the wedding as well...

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    5. As a little self help exercise, I am thinking it is time some serious questioning of why you feel you are in this position? Ask yourself, as I have asked myself, Why am I advancing in an abusive, manipulative, powerplay relationship with an emotional verbal & physical abuser? Why am I allowing this? Unless he owes you serious money & would leave you with all of his debt if you did not make it legal? Either way it is a balance because divorce is not free. Otherwise, forget the wedding... use the money on you :) And not just the money, use all the things of value that you have been "spending" on him & his ugliness... use your time for you, your thoughts for you, your love for you & the poor kids who are living through this, all of this frantic energy spent on what he may do next & the anxiety you allow it to cause in you is to be used positively for you & the children...

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  22. At this point, he is very angry & defensive. His way of "dealing" w/ things is basically to be rude enough so that I won't want to be around him. Interestingly enough, he will make excuses as to why it's best for me. Never saying that it's what he wants (ex: "Well why would you want to be around me if you feel that I have disrespected you? I don't want you to feel that way. The less we communicate, the better it is for you so you don't feel disrespected by me."....& so on).

    I have read your eBooks and am trying to apply the techniques that have been layed out. I am just so overwhelmed w/ his behavior. There are times that I don't know how to reply to the mean things he says in a way that lets him know what he has said inappropriate w/o him using my words against me to twist them.

    I want a future with this man...one that he respects me & will let his guard down with me. Our relationship has been up & down, but I have stayed by his side. It's hard to do that when he throws us breaking up as a "solution". I have told him these things as well...& he makes more excuses about how it's "best for me".

    It wasn't until after he asked me to leave that I had the opportunity to read, Back From the Looking Glass, 10 Steps to Overcoming
    Codependency, and Emotional Stupidity. I am in the process of reading The Love Safety Net Workbook, & The Little Book of Empathy. Because we're not currently residing together, I don't feel that I'm in a position to talk to too many people. I have spoke w/ some of his family & while they don't agree w/ is behavior, they seem reluctant about talking to him because of his blow-ups. He & I don't share many of the same friends. He is an alcoholic & so most of his friends are as well. The "support" he gets from those "friends" is to fill my void by "fixing him up w/ other women". This entire situation is so complex. I am in counseling working on my own co-dependency. I am seeing positive changes within myself, but am at a loss for what else there is to do...

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    1. Work through the WorkBook Exercises and try not to engage in conversations where he is being rude or stupid. You might say "Yes great you are probably right about that - I will talk to you later when you have figured out how to be polite. Then just get on with your life. I know that is tough but it will change the dynamic and give him nothing to argue with and you the upper hand. Not living together always makes this really tough but you convincing is not going to work either and will just push him further away. You might also like to read my article you will find in the index above called Verbal Abuse 2 - Choose victory.

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  23. Kim, The information you've been sharing with us is truely remarkable and I thank God that he led me to this site. However, I have to say that I greatly admire Steve for being vunerable and humble enough to allow the entire world (practically!) to read about his past struggles. It is a testimony of the freedom he walks in now that he is willing to do that! Thank you Steve for keeping my hope alive that my narcissistic husband can get the help he needs too!!!! -Ella

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    1. Yes I can't believe how far Steve has come - he is a wonderful man!

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  24. I sincerely wish that I can help my partner through these struggles and also grow with him. I am hoping that this is a step in the right direction. All I can do is try. Best, Abi

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  25. Thank you Kim & Steve. My "fiancé" & I were together 3 years. I had a heart attack - and short of that would not have had the courage to break it off - it literally took almost dying under the abuse to break up with him. Two years of being alone and I accepted one of his calls & met him. We have been in counseling for the last seven months & after hope & progress I find myself $15,000 poorer and still being verbally/emotionally/mentally attacked almost daily. He started a fight the night before our wedding (twice) and contends it is my fault we are not married. Is this love addiction? I want to die sometimes. The narciccism is textbook. He is almost 60 - breakup also torture- is there hope? Should I run & white knuckle it? So sad - words of change - no action or he makes fun of the counselor's suggested actions after having declared weeks earlier that he was excited to do the hard work to overcome the cycle of abuse. Suggestions Kim/Steve?

    Grateful for your work. Thank you.
    B

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    1. I am a therapist. He is 60 years old? "When people show you who they are, BELIEVE them!" GET OUT! Lucinda Johnstone, MS, LCDC, LPC, NCC

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    2. Hi anon and Hi "Get Out" - I understand your sentiments but if you really understand narcissism just saying "get out" is not enough here - it is like telling someone corned by an angry dog to run. I hope you stick around long enough to learn more about our approach - there are many therapists using our Steps to a Peaceful Home now (and a couple of hospitals as well). We have had over a thousand testimonials to date and always welcome new therapists to our very practical pro active approach.

      The steps in Back From the Looking Glass will give you detailed advice on how to protect yourself if you choose to stay and also how to end your relationship and get closure and keep yourself safe. I personally believe this is more important for you right now than trying to get a precise diagnosis.

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  26. I have studied this issue for a long time. It was only in the past year though that I learned of the direct relationship of codependency and narcissism, how they gravitate together, how codependency is sometimes referred to "inverse narcissism". I thought I had dealt with my codependency issues long before I even met my SO, but the problem was that I thought the family dynamic had been caused mainly by my alcoholic/ schizophrenic brother (though it did seem to me that there was something more I couldn't put my finger on). Then I learned, also in this last year, that there is a martyr form of narcissism and alarm bells went off. I don't think most people would easilt recognize extreme martyrdom as a form of narcissism but it truly is, and I realized my mother had been one. It all started falling into place then, and I realized that my relationship with my SO (15yrs) had long ago become a re-creation of my relationship with my mother (though he is the more "classic" form of narcissist) with me desperately wanting to "win" this time. Our relationship did not start out this way, the first two years were so utterly different (though in retrospect there had been some "warning signs" that I dismissed) --I think he had been presenting a "face" that he thought would be charming and lovable but could not maintain the facade indefinitely. (I believe he shows some signs of BPD as well). When he wrote me a note (really? a note?) saying he didn't love me anymore (I guess because I was insisting on trying to be "real" in our relationship, have reg. communication and honesty etc) it tripped ALL of those old codependent fears & behaviors into full action. Yeah he came back but it's been a "whole different ball game" ever since. I have been relieved to at least know now what happened and that everything is not in fact, my fault, as he was trying to have me believe all these years. He has even admitted that he knew I was blaming everything on myself and he had let me. Yeah that one hurt. This article here helped me solve a puzzle though, as I have long recognized that he seems to be totally engrossed in & vainly in love with himself and yet also empty, not knowing who he really is, and at times quite depressed or making suicidal threats. (He tried to force me to stab him 2 times in one night last May because a barmaid had told him I seemed to be paying too much attention to his friend. Since he had just completely traumatized me a couple weeks earlier, becoming violent and enraged, shoving me around because he thought I was cheating on him--well yeah I wasn't necessarily feeling too chatty or chummy with HIM at the time). But in the article, the part about being in love with a false fantasy self they have created just * crystallized* the true meaning of the dichotomy between those two sides of him. Your stories and everyone else's sound so very familiar; I know that I have found the core of the issues now. I have been working on myself, my self esteem, and clarifying who I am again outside of him and the relationship. He is NOT making it easy though I can tell you that, especially when he's drinking which is nearly every day now. Anyway, I just wanted to say how helpful the article was in helping me understand a critical issue in my full understanding of the dynamic that has been taking place. I love that your story had a happy ending Kim and Steve. I don't know if mine will, but I feel like I am going to be ok now no matter how it works out. Thank you so much for the work that you do and for sharing your story. As NPD is considered one of the most difficult mental disorder to treat successfully (along with Borderline Personality Disorder) there really NEEDS to be other options and answers out there as traditional therapy methods are so often unsuccessful. I will keep reading and following your work, as I know I will continue to gain new insights and resources. Again, thank you!!

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  27. My experience when I had a specialty practice in working with personality disorders and now in my general practice is that there is a type of borderline personality disorder that appears to be narcissism but is really "high functioning" borderline. These clients are in enough psychic pain and are, at the same time, strong enough that they are what appear to be the "curable" narcissists (never really cured but can become healthier through awareness and application of skills). I have my doubts that the true narcissist can allow themselves to experience enough emotional pain to be motivated to make change, but I'd be glad to be proved to be wrong. I've known a few true narcissists and worked with their family members to at least behaviorally shape their behavior and render their cruelty ineffective. I also think we sometimes mistake a misogynist for a narcissist, but the misogynist is more of an antisocial (sociopath). I posted as anonymous, but I just didn't want to supply a URL. I don't mind providing my name and credentials: Lucinda Johnstone, MS, LCDC, LPC, NCC

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    1. Hi Lucinda I hope you take the time to read the steps in our program, they are designed to empower couples and help individuals set real boundaries regardless of a specific diagnosis.

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  28. Kim, thank you for all that you do to help all of us who feel helpless. Everyday i wake up wondering what today will be like with my husband who very clearly is dealing with this. He has he good days but most of all they are bad days. Thank you for reaching out and steve allowing you to do so.

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  29. it's great information but people suffering PTSD could be incorrectly labeled with this when in fact they simply need time to recover from whatever caused their traumatic illness, thanks

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  30. Please don't confuse traumatic injury as NPD - also - some people are simply lovers of the natural and simple life and don't need a greatly interactive social scene, thanks

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  31. OMG! as of today I didnt know anything about a narcissism. the more I read about this disorder am kind of second guessing myself. F*** i dont want to hurt my love one's in anyway especialy my little one's. Kim please guide me to the right direction.

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  32. This is a thought provoking article. We all need a bit of healthy narcissism to care for ourselves. It's vital for self esteem.
    I've also been reading the replies about boundaries. What I've worked out is my own 'survival manual'. It's not fair to expect my husband to suddenly get what boundaries are about having lived most of his life without them. He can get if I do .... it will.... so he can understand cause and effect and consequences, but only in relation to his own needs.
    Things are easier these days because I gave myself permission not to jump at his command, to be able switch off when he is in criticism mode and not to take the bait when he is attempting to provoke a row. I used to try sharing things with him, but he's eventually used it against me such as I was in a bad mood with him because of something I was worrying about. Interesting thing about that was, he was projection what he was doing onto me. It was his irritation about something unrelated to the home that often sparked tirades.
    I don't think he'd want to be 'cured' as the way he is ok to him. He can't keep up being 'nice' for long as it taxes him. He still puts on a performance for others how caring or good he is to me. It's part of what he has to create for himself, his unhealthy narcissism, the illusion of being someone he isn't and avoiding the person he really is. That used to really wind me up, now, I step back from it and take no notice. I realised it was completely about his needs, he has to do it to survive, as much as he needs to breath.

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