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Narcissistic Personality Disorder
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Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Can anyone recommend an effective therapist for my loved one with NPD?
Many of them say they work with personality disorders, but are there
any who actually help NPD sufferers make changes?
I hate to be a downer, but from what I've read, experienced, and heard
from other people involved with Narcissists, there is no getting better.
I left my Narcissistic husband, after years of trying to get through to
him, help myself and our family deal with his ridiculous behavior. What
made me realize it was time to bail? I was on a forum for spouses of
NPDs and we were bemoaning the lack of progress or real change (fake
change abounds when they think you're taking away their narcissistic
supply, lying to get what they want is in their DNA), and someone said
''Our psychologist told us that even with hard work, my husband might
get 3% better after 20 years of therapy.''
I was stunned.
There's lots of e-books out there saying they have the cure for NPD. My
favorite is the one that says ''Give them everything they want!''
In my experience the only way to not be ruined by a Narcissist is to leave.
And when you leave, they will try to ruin you.... just keep walking. My
NPD ex has now found new blood to suck dry... he barely acknowledges me
except as the mother of his child. Fine by me, I've never been happier.
Survived NPD Marriage
I would send your loved one to Dr. Lisa Lancaster. She has been
incredibly helpful to me. We have talked about issues surrounding a NPD
(a family member of mine seems to be a candidate for that disorder) and
I have found her knowledgeable and extremely effective.
Wow a narcissist that knows he needs help? What IS THAT?
A.J. Mahari made a really fabulous podcast called ''inside
the borderline mind''
A Borderline personality disorder is similar and she does
touch on narcissism frequently. It is WELL WORTH the
listen, if you can stand her Australian accent for three
hours. She may have something specifically on Narc, but I
think you would really enjoy this. She is a ''recovered'' and
explains what goes on in her brain, and how she manages it.
It was my son's therapist who explained to me that his Dad
suffers from Narcissistic Borderline Personality Disorder,
and for me, understanding it helps me be more compassionate.
This is a long sad story that I don't have the time or
emotional bandwidth to relate. I have been in and out of a
very challenging relationship with a man I am quite sure has
Narcissistic Personality disorder. I am a smart self aware
woman who has done loads of inner work- in therapy, books,
and 12 step. I have taken long breaks from this
relationship. and yet, I always go back. I go back to
intense passion, seduction, highs and then extreme lows- in
the form of manipulation, withholding, and some level of
emotional abuse. I am at a loss of how to fully cut this
cord. I wonder if any women out here have successfully
gotten out of relationship with a Narcissist and if so- how
they did it? It is like a drug in all ways for me- the
strongest- I know it has to do with my past- my father, my
very imperfect childhood. I see all the connections and yet-
this awareness is not enough to make me stop. I am in agony
often and know that I deserve so much more. Thank you for
any wisdom you may share.
''I know it has to do with my past- my father, my
very imperfect childhood.'' I was once involved with a
Narcissist and this, too, was my conclusion as to why I got
involved. But I also realized that I was capable of
participating in healthy relationships, too, so while this
might have explained why I was initially attracted to this
person, it did not explain why I stayed. After being hurt
emotionally countless times, I finally made a commitment to
myself to get out to preserve my own sanity. Just like any
other relationship, you need to move on! Tell him it's over
and make a pact not to contact him.
1. Make a list of all the bad things about this relationship
and carry it around with you. When you have a weak moment,
read the list again to remind yourself why you're making
this positive change.
2. Focus on other things. New hobbies, volunteering,
helping other people, animals or plants and making this
world a better place are just a few ways to take your mind
away from the past and back to today and building a better
3. Love yourself. Be okay with being alone. Treat yourself
well and you will wonder why you kept waiting in vain for
this guy to do this for you!
4. He's not going to change and you can't change him or
5. Accept that your childhood may have been not that great,
but it doesn't have to hold you back. Your father did what
he was able to do and there's no changing it. You may wish
to try to make your current relationship with him better if
he's still alive.
Just say no more!
It took me too many years to get out of a similar
relationship. Looking back, I think of those years as years I
wasted. I, too, had done the inner work, but it was a bumper
sticker that finally helped me leave: ''Don't Postpone Joy''.
Then I read ''The Sociopath Next Door''. It's this crummy life
or a better life; your choice.
I never regretted leaving.
hopefully this is not too racy a response. but some people
in the alternative communities desire these kinds of
relationships... you seem to like the control he has over
you.. or you don't.
take the effort to find another lover, a hobby, different
work maybe. you have done the inner work. only you can be
in charge of you and your actions.
it seems like your self esteem is low and you can't say no
eyes wide open
Just wanted to offer you the perspective of someone who grew up with a
father with NPD. They don't get better. If you have a kid-- the best thing u
can do, even if your kid is his, is leave him. I had a terrible relationship wit
my NPD dad and he never knew my kids. My mother wasted her entire
adulthood, divorcing him after 35years only to have to start life anew at
age 60 and try to find a person capable of loving someone other than
himself. The only way to leave these folks is to make a clean break.
There are support groups on the Internet-- just google NPD
If not for you then for your child-- teach him/ her that they deserve to be
loved by someone willing to put the needs of those he loves first. NPD
can, and does, tear families apart and damage kids beyond repair.
I've never responded to a BPN post, but I felt moved to
respond to yours because I went through a six year
on-and-off relationship with a narcissist and I understand
much of what you wrote about -- the draw of the intense
passion, the constant withholding, the highs and lows, all
that. For me, the short answer to your question of ''can I
get out'' is yes, you can. But getting the courage to break
it off is incredibly hard, as you know, because the
compulsion to go back is so strong (I went back a bunch of
times before I finally didn't). Know that getting out is
hard work, much harder than in a ''normal'' relationship,
surround yourself with supportive friends and a good
therapist, and then just try your best to get out. And then
try again if you don't succeed. In my situation, which I
believe is common in breakups with narcissists, the break
was particularly rough emotionally because it involved no
joint reflection, no discussion of what went wrong; by
definition a narcissist can't offer you this. It's a bit
like breaking up with a brick wall. What I had to do is
completely break off all contact. No phone contact, no email
contact, avoiding all places I might run into him. It was
hard, perhaps the hardest thing I've ever been through. But
then I healed. I've never talked to him since the day I
finally broke it off (we lived together at the time, so this
wasn't easy!) After it was all over, the great thing was I
knew never to fall for another narcissist again; I knew all
the warning signs, as will you. I'm now partnered with a
wonderful man and we have a very loving and undramatic
(imagine that!) relationship. I'm sad that I went through
all those years, but I'm proud of having finally left. You
are right that you deserve more. I have a hunch you'll be
able to leave eventually -- after all, you are asking the
right questions -- but be gentle with yourself until it
happens. I wish you all the best.
I am also in one and in a position that i cannot leave. I am married to him and
have a child with him. He has told me that if i leave, I can not leave with my
daughter or he will call the police and file kidnapping charges and that is legal
and he could do that. I am in no finacial position to leave either. I can not afford
a lawyer and do not have much income coming in. It is also hard to leave
because my daughter adores him.
So if you are in a position to go live your life without, please do it for me. You
maybe holding yourself back, thinking that you do not deserve anyone better.
My sister, the eldest of four and now aged 69, has always been
extremely difficult to deal with: grandiose, unsympathetic, and
rude. It is important to her to be looked up to and to be treated
as an expert on any number of topics. She regards my brothers and
me with contempt, and maintains that she is the only one who
cares about our widowed mother. (She also owes us and various
other relatives thousands of dollars, debts which date back to
the early '80s. I don't know when she last held a permanent job
or what she does for money.) Based on her behavior, I would guess
that my sister has a personality disorder of some kind, and my
Our mother lives with her and has, to some extent, abetted her
behavior for decades, if only because my sister is so
unpleasant--i.e., verbally abusive--when crossed. (I usually
manage to be calm and civil with her, but it's not easy!) My
sister now refuses to let me speak to our mother on the
telephone, saying that the latter doesn't want to talk to me.
They live 450 miles away; if this continues, I'll drive down and
see what's going on. In the meantime, I have been reading about
narcissism and discussing the situation with my brothers.
Assuming that my sister does indeed have a personality disorder,
does anyone have some advice or perspective on how best to cope
I feel your pain! My father has NPD.
For help in dealing w/ folks w/NPD, go here: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/21256467/
What I also really want to say is that I'm worried about your mom's safety. Please
find a way to check on her, either yourself or call a friend who lives nearby.
If you think your sis is incapable of caring for your mother, I'm sure there are legal
steps you can take.
I have some experience with people close to me with NPD. The best you can do is
create boundaries that protect you from her way of being, as well as tactics to put out
any fire as quickly and easily as possible when you do have to interact with her. You
may want to figure out a way to communicate with your mother that doesn't go
through her. From my experience, there is no chance of change or reasoning with
someone with NPD at all. The whole point is that anything other than saying exactly
what she wants to hear will be met with complete disdain and disbelief. Good luck.
If your sister is refusing to allow you to speak with your
mother, you may need to contact Adult Protective Services. It
will be important to have an elderly advocate check on your
mother. My sister has a narcissistic personality and broke my
father's heart with her cruelty towards him before he died. Do
not allow this to happen to your dear mother. Step in and
stand up to your sister! Buck the family culture and become
the brave family member who challenges your sister's judgement.
Start documenting all communication and forwarding it to APS.
It certainly does sound like a personality disorder. And
figuring out what kind may help you manage the situation. I
would advise reading ''The Sociopath Next Door'', a very short
book that was a sea change for me. Good luck.
Not free, but feeling less crazy now.
In trying to understand my mother's behavior, I've come to
suspect that she might have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Our relationship seemed manageable, though completely one-sided
(hers) until I had a baby three years ago. Now, I no longer have
time for a weekly hour on the phone in which she monologues her
current illnesses/problems/feuds with neighbors/imaginary
''boyfriends'' and never once asks how I'm doing. In fact, since my
daughter's birth my mother's ''problems'' seem to have escalated in
scope, culminating with a trip to the emergency room when she
thought she was having a stroke, though her doctors found nothing
wrong and characterized the episode as a delusion. I dragged
myself and my toddler to the hospital that time, a five hour car
trip, only to find her relaxing in front of the hospital TV in
apparent comfort. I was frazzled from dealing w/a crying toddler
during a 5 hour car ride, and concerned about her health, though
as soon as I saw her it was obvious nothing was physically wrong.
She seemed to have no qualms about asking me and my daughter to
make the trip and focused on her fears about her health which her
doctors tried to tell her were imaginary.
Since this episode, I have gradually decreased contact with my
mom to emails only. I'm home with my now three year old, I can't
cope with extra drama, and I feel like mom's self-centeredness is
a threat to my wellbeing and to my daughter's. However, I feel
guilty about how my relationship with my mother has changed. She
is calling my friends (which embarrasses me) and telling them
that something is wrong with me because I won't talk to her. She
can't understand my point of view at all and I feel it would be a
waste of breath to try to explain it to her.
Does mom sound like a narcissistic person? Is it usual for such
people to escalate when a new baby comes into the picture--even
if it's a grandchild? Any advice on coping with and/or
communicating with her would be appreciated. Should I just give
up on wanting her to understand where I'm coming from? What about
the guilt I feel for cutting back on our relationship?
I sympathize with you-I have a narcissistic mother-in-law, and and
somewhat narcissistic mother. I think you are doing the right thing-you
need to set boundaries, focus on your child and yourself. Narcissistic
people are bottomless, never satisfied,and can quickly eat up your
energy. I think it is totally fine for you to take care of yourself by
having less contact with your mother. And of course she is not going to
like it, and talk about you to her friends-but that's part of being true
to yourself, that people are not always going to like it. But that's
really okay. You are not being cruel, you just need some distance. It
is hard to see people we love hurt by us, but sometimes that is what's
needed. It's like with kids- sometimes we set limits with them that they
do not like at all, but it's the right thing to do.
I highly recommend Trapped in the Mirror, by Elan Golomb. I too have
narcissistic parents and have to deal with the guilt on a daily
basis...but this book helped me to understand more about them.
Yes, she sounds narcissistic. My mother is very similar. After putting
up with her ''center of the known universe'' behavior all my life, I
finally did something she didn't like, and she became permanently angry
& abusive, both to my face and to my kids.
After a number of years of this,I finally cut off all contact.
Now I'm wondering why I didn't do it long ago! The guilt is hard, but
just keep reminding yourself that this kind of person will never ever be
satisfied, even if you sacrificed everything for her--it would only be a
palliative until the next time. And google Mary Oliver's poem ''The
better off an orphan
My mother has such a severe case of narcissistic personality disorder
that I had to cut all contact with her to protect myself and my family.
Fortunately, she has no one to call to pressure me like your mother has.
To get to the point where I was able to cut my mother off and not feel
guilty about it took quite a bit of therapy. It is understandable that
you feel guilty since it is only natural for you to want to communicate
with your mother, just like I once wanted to talk to mine. My advice to
you about how to deal with your friends receiving calls from your mother
is to ask them to stop talking to her. Tell them why you're not talking
to your mother and how their taking her phone calls is hurting you. If
they are truly your friends, they will stop talking to her. Do not bring
it up with your mother since that's exactly what she wants. She is using
your friends to get you to talk with her. Once again, if your friends
are truly your friends, they will stop talking to your mother. My other
piece of advice to you is to find a therapist you can talk to about
You need to work through your feelings of guilt as well as find new ways
of coping with having a mother like this. You will also need to find
ways of explaining your mother's absence to your child as well as to
others. As for giving up on your mother, it is way too early to do that.
This is another reason for seeing a therapist, so you can decide if it
is worth building a conditional relationship with her. Sometimes it is
possible, but it takes a long time, sometimes years, and you must be
very cautious. Also, it is normal for a narcissist to want see a
grandchild, but, remember, it will always be in a narcissistic way. In
other words, if allowed to visit with her, she will more than likely
treat your daughter the same way she treats you Knows What it's Like to
Have a Narcissistic Mother
It sounds to me like your mom is at least somewhat narcissistic.
I would focus on setting limits with her and not waste time trying to
get her to understand your point of view. From what I've read, it's also
a waste of time to try to get someone with NPD to understand and/or
admit that they have a problem. Just focus on your needs and setting
boundaries that you feel comfortable with and don't engage in the
struggle with her. Once you get a little practice at this you will
probably feel more comfortable engaging with her and may not feel that
you need to totally cut her out. Also read the wikipedia entry:
Today in our therapist's office i read an article in Psychology Today
that addresses your ambivalence about your mother. The article was about
Severing Ties with your Relatives, when to do it.
It suggests that the reason one feels ambivalent is because No ONE is
ALL bad - every human being has some good in them and that is what we
respond to. Although you would like to see her as all bad (and that
would make a break easy) you don't for all the good things she may have
done for you or the good feelings (like daughterly love) you project
The article talked about one tactic, that is, setting boundaries.
For example, you could say ''Mom, I would like to chat with you but I
only have 20 minutes'' or share with her your feelings about her
ignoring your child.
I don't think my parents are narcissistic, but I do know that they are
not ''into'' grandkids, either. When I think about it, I realize that
they weren't into their kids, either. I have slowly begun to take the
good from them and forget about expecting more.
You could also speak with a therapist about this. Good luck!
I can't tell you whether your mother is narcissistic or not, because I
don't really believe in labeling people with every disorder under the
sun. However, I did want to respond to your post, because my mom could
be related to your mother! When my son was 3 weeks old, she came to
visit us for two weeks. She didn't want to help me. She was on vacation
and wanted to go out every day to visit places in the Bay Area. Recently
she accused us of having our own porn site. They are learning how to use
the computer and the internet and they googled my name.
They didn't realize that every Google result did not necessarily belong
to me. Somehow a porn site was on the list of results, so they were
convinced that we owned the site. My sister had to go over to their
house and explain the entire process in detail, but to date they haven't
Though it is kind of funny, it is also very insulting that your parents
accuse you of such nonsense. And they would NEVER apologize.
I have talked to my friends about this and I have come to the conclusion
that most of us have slightly crazy parents. Life is about them and
about them alone! Literally all my friends have issues with their
Like this is hard on you, this has also been hard on me. The family bond
that I believed we had no longer exists or is, to say the least, changed
completely. I find comfort in sharing similar stories with others and I
realize that this might just be a part of ''growing up'' (I'm almost 40,
so I hadn't expected this at this point in my life).
I think that you are doing the right thing by taking distance from your
mother. I hope that your friends know you well enough to understand that
your mother is a bit out there and that you're keeping your distance for
a good reason. When I look at my other siblings I realize that they have
all gone through something similar with my parents. A year or so later
the relationship has adjusted itself accordingly and things return to
''normal''. I'd give it some time and let things unwind a bit.
Before you know it, you will be back in touch with your mother.
You will probably not have the same relationship as before, but you can
still HAVE a relationship anon
I really feel for you! My mom is a a narcissist, as are my sister and
father. I'm the only one who didn't get it! Since narcissists didn't get
the attachment they needed, I asked my therapist why I am not one. She
said something to the affect of: ''Oh, you can't have a whole family
full of narcissists! They have to make sure one is an empath so that the
others can get their narcissistic needs met!''
Your mom absolutely sounds like one to me. It's not normal to be
uninterested in your own daughter's life. And there is virtually nothing
that can change one. My therapist also explained this to me. They don't
seek out therapy or growth because their n-ism is based on a very, very
deep and hidden sense of complete emptiness and worthlessness. They
build up stories around themselves that make them appear to be what we
in grade school called ''conceited,'' when in fact they have created a
whole construct to protect themselves from their inner feeling that they
are 'nothing.' They cannot dig deeply into themselves or examine their
self-importance or delusions because what's underneath if far more
terrifying than what's underneath for most of the rest of us doing
growth or healing or self-examination work.
I have had to limit my relationship with my mom, and it used to make me
sad but I'm okay-ish with it now, because I tried everything and there
is not a damn thing I can do about it.
I'm sorry because I know it hurts. Healing yourself and raising your
baby to break the chain is the best thing you can do, I think. Good
luck! Oh, some good books on n-ism are something about evil by M. Scott
Peck (Christinan orientation but light touch -- very good but very dark
picture of these types) and Why Is It Always About You?
I don't have enough information know if your mother is narcissistic or
not (try googling: narcissistic dsm criteria), but she certainly sounds
selfish. My mother is the same way, and I've also had to limit my
contact to e-mails! My mother has also had more crises since my child
was born -- maybe because of the shifting relationships, maybe because
she is getting older.
As for how to deal with her, I can only tell you what works for
me: making myself unavailable. I don't answer her phone calls anymore,
and I don't return messages or e-mails if they are too demanding or
intrusive. I just say no to unreasonable demands.
I rely on her local doctors to deal with health problems, although I
will talk to them on the phone. I don't feel guilty about it because I
have WAY too much going on in my own life and it is a matter of survival
for me. I also feel that it is important to keep my own child away from
her negative influence.
Good luck in dealing with your mom during this new phase of your life,
and be glad she is 5 hours away!
I feel tremendous compassion and understanding for you. I've been in
your shoes and continue to deal with a narcissistic mother. I certainly
don't know if your mom is narcissistic however, I would venture to say
she excudes characteristics and traits of that personality disorder.
My mom has always been self centered, controlling and completely 100%
absorbed in her own, albeit small, little world. Once I had children (I
now have three), it only continued to get worse and much more disruptive
to my personal life. For me, the only solution that worked was to keep
my distance (she lives only 30 minutes away)both physically and phone
wise too. The drama in her life just never seemed to cease and I simply
no longer had the time or energy to deal with her. The few times I
would allow myself to get sucked in, I was always frustrated and angry
at myself afterwards.
I would suggest that you check in with her (hopefully catching voicemail
when you can)occasionally on the phone and more frequently via email.
Send her pictures of your child and you together doing fun things. When
she does trap you into a tangent of ranting and raving, disengage from
the phone call.
Tell her there is someone at the door or you have a meeting to attend
(narcissistic personalities will only relate to emergencies). Take
control of the situation and be firm, direct but polite. Continue to
try and turn the conversation back to you, your child, your needs and
Lastly, as a good therapist once suggested, you cannot change people
(especially narcissistic types). What you can do is change the way you
respond to her. Tell your friends to do the same and warmly suggest to
your mom that she not discuss mother/daughter personal matters with your
friends. You will have to remind her time and again that your life is
quite full right now and that you simply do not have a lot of extra
You are not responsible for how other people act. You are however,
responsible for yourself and your daughter and that should be first and
foremost, your primary concern. Remember, your mom has already lived a
lot of her life already, you and your daughter have a long way to
go...make it a beautiful journey Been There
My mother is very self-centered, extroverted, opinionated. She is
intentionally provocative and controversial to get attention, and says
outrageously offensive things to be noticed. She exaggerates her
accomplishments and speaks with authority on any and all topics. She
uses information like a weapon, saving up knowledge of her childrens'
personal weaknesses for vulnerable moments later when it will hurt the
most. When they first meet her, people often think her charming - she is
very direct and engaging. But no one can take her for very long,
except for small children, who find her entertaining. My children adored
her until they got to be 8 or so, and then stopped giving her the
attention she craves. At that point, she got mean and nasty, calling
them names, accusing them of crazy things.
Once she came over when my son, then 9, had
a friend over. As soon as she saw them, she said "Your eyes are red!
You've been sniffing glue, haven't you!" One time at dinner she laid into my
20-year-old son, who dresses in an unconventional way, accusing him of
using drugs and all sorts of perversity.
Another time at a family 4th of July picnic, completely out of the blue,
she began to berate my teenage son about his posture, told him he was "spineless"
and has no backbone, what kind of "man" is he? etc. This went on for several minutes while he hunched lower
and lower. He was devastated.
My mother does not have any
friends, not a single one. She has 5 children who can't bear to be
around her. All of us had left home by 18 and never went back. I'm the
only one who now lives within driving distance. I try to see her every
week out of a mix of obligation and pity, and also so that my
children can have a grandmother.
So ... what works for me is to limit interactions, and to be very
straightforward with her.
She is also a
very suspicious and paranoid person, so I find it is better to be completely
honest and blunt with her. I will only see her in my home, not in public.
When she attacks my kids, I tell her that
I can't see her for a while because she hurt them and I need to protect them.
I don't engage in arguments with her and I don't try to
explain WHY I am mad. I just let her know that my feelings were hurt,
or my kids' were, or that "we don't use those words in our house."
She frequently makes comments about my weight, my clothes, my
complexion, my health, even my sex life. I just let her know that
I'm not going to discuss these things with her.
This is not easy. Oftentimes she makes me so
mad I have to leave the room and take deep breaths and then come back. I
don't participate when she tries to engage me in a mean-spirited
conversation about one of my siblings or another relative. I just say
''Sorry, I am not going to talk about that'', and repeat as many times
as necessary. This seems to work and she has learned now that when I say
that, there is no point in pursuing it.
Good luck on this - it is very difficult. But it is good for your
children to see you taking the high road.
signed: Daughter, not so loving
I am wondering what is out there in terms of support for dealing with an ex
with narcisistic personality disorder. I am needing good legal advice for
custody and financial issues, as well as coping strategies and advice on how
to separate and begin a healthy life for myself and my kids--to the extent
that we can do that with the NPD parent still in their lives. I am
understandng that I need to develop clear boundaries, but am also seeking
wisdom from folks who have been through this. Good lawyers that understand
the issues? Support group that deal with issues of parenting? other ideas?
The thing that has been most helpful to my psychotherapy work
with Narcissistic clients is remaining acutely aware of the
fact that their hostility covers up a deep sense of shame.
While this doesn't excuse the narcissist's hurtful behavior, it
does help me navigate communication with them so that I can
avoid triggering their defensive responses and they are more
receptive to reasonable limits and hearing what I have to say.
Sorry I can't offer the practical resources you asked for
First I want to say that I am so sorry that you are having to
deal with this. I have a family member with NPD and the boundary
setting has been a continuing struggle. I suggest you check out
http://www.mentalhelp.net/, which is a great resource for
information on narcissistic personality disorder, along with any
other mental health issue
After 10 years of pain and frustration, I've come to learn that my
husband suffers from NPD. I've decided not to leave him in the
short-term because our children are quite young and sharing
custody with him feels akin to sending them off with a drunk
driver. I understand his prognosis is poor and I am now
marshalling all my energy towards my own financial and emotional
recovery, as well as modelling healthy emotions and behavior for
my children. I am wondering if other people have stayed with
spouses with NPD and what advice they might have. I am working on
setting boundaries against his abusive behavior (without assuming
he'll understand why his behavior is inappropriate), but am
wondering if the best course of action (to maintain a peaceful
household) is to continue to act as a supply for his needs (i.e.,
be as supporting, affectionate, and adoring as I can, although I
don't feel very adoring right now) or to refuse to supply that
(for my own sake). I read on one web site that being abusive/
condescending back is the best way to deal with narcissist--that
seems extremely perilous to me, as it just triggers his underlying
rage. (Been there, done that.) We are in couple's therapy , but
I'd love some advice from others who've experienced this.
Relieved to have ID'd the problem
It's very hard to overcome the influence of Narcissistic
Personality Disorder. It's my understanding that that's one
reason that many people leave the NPD spouse - to provide an
entirely healthy environment for the child(ren). I completely
sympathize with your desire to avoid unsupervised time for your
husband with your kids: I didn't ID the problem until post-
divorce, but I do remember that nobody believed that my ex-
husband was anything but charming and loving, even when there
was ample evidence of neglect (ignoring the child's needs in
order to fulfill the adult's need for constant ''supply''). So
maybe waiting awhile is a good idea . . . but not a long time.
The thing is, your kids will model your behavior (in response
to your husband) without understanding the reason for it - that
you're compensating for an ill partner. That, combined with the
NPD itself, gives them nothing healthy to imitate. To the
extent possible, you need to give them a healthy emotional
model, something positive enough and consistent enough to
counter the pervasive influence of the NPD. That will give them
a base from which to understand that their dad isn't entirely
well, that his perspective isn't the only valid world view, and
that his behaviour isn't necessarily the way that they should
I have a sibling with NPD, and I can tell you that ''feeding
their needs'' or trying to ''appease'' them to maintain the peace
has the same long term effect that Chamberlain's attempt to
appease Hitler had. In other words, it's a disaster!
You must set clear limits. You don't need to be abusive, but
you must make it clear that abuse will not be tolerated. This
is also a very important example to set for your children. If
you are loving and supportive when your spouse is abusive, it
sets your children up to repeat the pattern as adults. Not a
You can work out the best way to set limits with your counselor
(alone if necessary). But please, please do not get trapped in
the cycle of appeasement!
Been there, done that too
I have first-hand experience with a husband with NPD. We were
in couple's counseling for 8 years and he was in an anger
management group for 5 of those years. We have two beautiful
children (now ages 1 and 5). I found personally that being with
a narcissist was destroying me and I was exhausted most of the
time. It was like caring for three children and believe me, the
negative modelling has already had a harmful effect on my 5 year
old who is now in therapy. Our family and relationship was fine
as long as I overfunctioned and took care of everyone. This
went on for years. Earlier this year, my mother became
critically ill and I needed to help care for her. I obviously
could not maintain my previous level of functioning at home and
the support just wasn't there, in fact, the sarcasm and
abusiveness worsened during a time when I most needed a
supportive partner. We stopped having sex which triggered a lot
of negative, abusive reactions. As my mother was dying, I
realized that I could no longer live like this...that my
children & I all needed a better, healthier life and leaving an
abusive partner was the most powerful modelling I could provide
my kids. I left the month after my mother passed away (in June
of this year), and despite the challenges with visitation, I am
so much happier. The kids are adapting well and with the advise
of a great attorney, there are some clear parameters around
visitation that make me feel more comfortable. I'd be happy to
pass on a referral for a good attorney, if you need one. I also
have a wonderful therapist who has helped me tremendously with
individual work that I'll be needing for a long time. Being
apart has given me great perspective. I found that the couples
work was more like a temporary band-aid when I really needed
surgery. Be very careful though. I found that the best way to
deal with a narcissist once you've left is firm limits and
boundaries which can cause rages. When we were together, the
only way to have a peaceful household was to cater to his needs,
be adoring/loving, overfunction which made me internalize a lot
of negative emotions and as I said earlier, gradually started to
destroy me. It wasn't really a marriage. Best of luck to you in
this very difficult journey.
My mother suffers from NPD. The poor prognosis is accurate,
unfortunately, and from what I've seen, it worsens with age.
You sound like you have your priorities set and are clear about
what you can handle. I really wish you the best, and recommend
that you continually reassess this situation.
It's true that harsh behavior generates the best responses from
persons with this disorder. Since you have a good sense that
being abusive back to him doesn't work in your situation, you
would be wise to avoid it. Not to mention itUs not great
behavior to model for your children.
What I have done is to set up some fairly rigid boundaries with
my mother, maintaining a peaceful, helpful (helpful as
different from caring) facade with her while protecting myself
emotionally by not investing in her or letting her in to my
personal life. (thousands of miles between us don't hurt
either) But I find that when I deviate from those boundaries
and let her in to my personal life or respond to her in a
caring manner, the demon rears its ugly head. She always finds
a way to punish me for genuine acts of kindness towards her.
Her behavior goes from that of borderline, functioning adult to
young, spoiled child.
It sounds shallow, but it's really the most humane way to deal
with a narcissist, while protecting yourself emotionally. I
would suggest that you get help for your children from a
counselor, they aren't going to understand what's going on in
the same way that you can.
Being abusive may or not work, but I doubt if it would feel good to you in either
case. Who wants to behave that way! It doesn't make you feel good about yourself,
or good inside.
My mother had NPD, along with other problems, and I left home knowing all too well
how to fight abusively, since it was the only way she knew how to deal with conflict.
It took me many years to undo that and to learn other choices. That is the tricky
thing about staying with him for the sake of your kids, once they are old enough to
become objects of his abuse (if they are not already).
It is indeed a disorder with an extremely poor prognosis- people with it are very
guarded, and defensive if crossed, and have virtually no insight into their behaviour.
Although on a deep level my mother knew that there was something wrong with her,
she would never let anyone close enough to her for them to be able to actually help
It is very lonely to be close to someone with NPD, since they can never truly relate
emotionally, and I feel for you. You have to make your own plans, but I would
suggest being neither phony or abusive in any case. Keeping your own spirits up
and finding as much satisfaction for yourself in other ways is really the best, and
only, defense- even though he probably won't like it.
I grew up with a mother with NPD and a sister that shows signs of it. It is
an extremely difficult life that DOES get more difficult with age. I feel for
you. The only way I learned to cope is to move 2000 miles away.
Set boundaries in a strong and firm voice and know that others have gone/and
go through this. Sometimes I think I should form a NPD Survivor's Group.
I feel for you. My mother has NPD, and it is hell to live
with. To exarcerbate the sitation, she was also an alcoholic.
And I can also tell you, yes, it does get worse with age. I
will be direct here: your husband will probably not change, and
your children will live with the impact of his behavior. I
would cut my losses and go. In the long run, both you and your
children will gain from the happiness you can achieve as a
I also was married to an NPD with small children. When my
husband (now ex) decided he was entitled to do whatever he
wanted he decided he should have an affair with one of his
employees. He wouldn't give the other woman up unless I promised
to get back with him. I said no deal. So he didn't give her up.
He picked a woman who didn't even care to be with her own
child. His affair gave me all sorts of things, an STD, a lower
bank account as he bought her gifts, he sued me for spousal
support (I made more money). In the end, he basically got
eveything he asked for except getting back with me. An NPD
doesn't care about anyone but themselves. Yet, underneath it
all they don't have the capacity to love themselves. Without
that capacity they can't truly love anyone else. Yet, they
force the outside world to demonstrate that they are lovable.
It is a quest with no end. They lie, they lack remorse, they
are an unfortunate role model for your children. They question
you need to ask yourself is what modeling are you showing your
children by staying in an unhealthy relationship? Are you
demonstrating that relationships are meant to NOT work? That
one person is less valuable than the other in a relationship? At
some point you won't be able to take it. Or worse, the toll will
be upon your children. They know that something isn't right
even if they can't verbalize it. They will try to compensate or
try to replicate that relationship since that is what they've
been taught. Although my life has new hardships, like paying
bills and juggling schedules I have peace of mind that an NPD
can not control me anymore. There is no winning with an NPD,
whatever you do will never be enough. I have peace of mind and
I'll never go back. Good luck to you and know that people like
me are out there in your corner.
I have walked in your shoes
this page was last updated: Oct 2, 2013
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