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Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

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Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

Postby Goku » Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:15 am

Hi all,

I'm sort of new here, and I had a question to ask regarding treatment for NPD. I think I've been suffering from NPD for my entire life, and it's deeply ingrained into my personality. My therapist seems to agree with this too.

I was wondering if the best way to deal with narcissistic thoughts would to challenge them by airing them in public? At the moment, I repress all my negative thoughts about other people because revealing them would result in a humiliating confrontation and loss of friends. Would the better thing to do be to reveal this attitudes? To hear how these attitudes make other people feel and how they won't respect someone who treats them badly. At the moment, I feel like every waking second of my life around others that I'm repressed and terrified of revealing my true self to them, but perhaps it's the best way to confront reality to hear first hand what people think of you.

Would be interested in hearing other peoples thoughts..
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Re: Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

Postby HappyBusyFun » Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:44 pm

Would the better thing to do be to reveal this attitudes? To hear how these attitudes make other people feel and how they won't respect someone who treats them badly


I think you need to discuss this with your therapist. It sounds a dangerous way of self help to me for a large number of reasons - but I'm no therapist and it is equally dangerous to take lay advice when you need an expert.

1. The issue you need to address is the underlying attitudes. Telling people about this won't address the fundamental problem which needs addressing first and by professional help.

2. Life is short and your reputation is valuable. If you go round telling people that you really find them dispicable will damage your reputation irrepairably and is likely to lead to you being shunned. Benefit to you =nil.

3. If you are just coming to terms with having a personality disorder, doing anything radical that will rock your tried and tested support system overnight, seems a bit drastic and runs the risk of you having an equally bad reaction to its loss. One step at a time. Slowly slowly.

4. As I understand it, a fundamental part of NPD is having no empathy. If so, it seems you are unlikely to really benefit any way from this type of action. Do you really think that you are going to properly understand someone responding to you if you reveal your true thoughts? Are you going to have empathy and truly "get" that they feel hurt and betrayed by your revalation that you find them stupid/disgusting/only put up with them because they worship you/give you attention?

If you have a very close friend who knows you well, you could start opening up very very slowly and in confidence to see how it goes -but personally I think you should discuss all of this with a mental healthcare professional.

Good luck.
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Re: Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

Postby margharris » Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:23 pm

I recognize your motives might be to free up your brain space and connect with your honesty.
This is just looking at the problem from your perspective alone. Do the people you intend to let fly on, really deserve your abuse? What are they likely to do to you? Your behaviour will cause an effect in others. You can't control the return blow. This is the way to getting fired and losing other people's respect.
That pretending to be what other people want you to be is very tiring. Holding on to grudges can way you down. You need to find a better way to process these negative feelings. Blaming others for how you feel ends up with that desire for getting even. Have an rethink about that cause and effect equation.
We all have to wear a form of mask hiding something of what we feel or would like to say. If we didn't we would turn the world into our own war zone.
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Re: Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

Postby Not a Victim » Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:53 pm

Goku wrote:Hi all,

To hear how these attitudes make other people feel and how they won't respect someone who treats them badly. At the moment, I feel like every waking second of my life around others that I'm repressed and terrified of revealing my true self to them, but perhaps it's the best way to confront reality to hear first hand what people think of you.

Would be interested in hearing other peoples thoughts..


I was treated badly by an ex-friend of mine who, I later figured out, was most likely a narcissist. But I don't think badly of HIM. I simply don't want to be subjected to bad behavior, which, I understand, may be sometimes beyond his control due to his condition.

If he explicitly told me about it earlier, sort of 'what to expect from me' or 'why I behave this way', then I would just write certain things off as part of who he is, rather than holding him to the high standards I apply to other special people :). But I can appreciate how difficult it must be to share such a thing with others who, very likely, may never understand.
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Re: Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

Postby funky » Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:19 pm

Marg, very good, insightful advice, especially the second paragraph. I wish I'd seen it a few years ago.
Not a Victim, I don't think it would have been so much that your friend would have found it difficult to share his real nature with you, (although I agree that he would), as that he'd have been unaware of it except dimly, and unable to explain it.
I think that HappyBusyFun's advice is very good, too, Goku, I agree with all of it. (I've got narcissistic traits myself; just mentioning it so you can see that consensus is coming from both sides, so to speak.)
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Re: Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

Postby Not a Victim » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:36 am

funky wrote:Not a Victim, I don't think it would have been so much that your friend would have found it difficult to share his real nature with you, (although I agree that he would), as that he'd have been unaware of it except dimly, and unable to explain it.

I think he is aware (and perhaps, there is a formal diagnosis). Some references that he had made suggest this. I think he was trying to tell me that on some level, but I was too dim at the time and could not process it. And then the contact was not as frequent, and then we went separate ways.
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Re: Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

Postby deepwater2011 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:38 am

OK Goku, know that I am a spouse and that's my perspective, and am only about 8 months into even knowing NPD as a term, but I have learned MUCH here. So my view/advice from the other side is this:
-you are awesome for being here and asking such questions, so great start
-read a ton of stuff in this forum before you do anything...I agree that sharing your thoughts can rock your world, and the worlds of these other people, and seriously affect relationships and your reputation.
-If you read enough here (other people's stories, opinions and feelings) you will probably come to assume that "Non's" won't have the first clue on how to react to you if you get "real" with what you think of them, or you try to tell them about NPD even if you are focusing on explaining "you" and don't even go there regarding what you really think of them. The people in your life will probably not be able to deal with either approach, even if they care about you, without having any solid understanding on what NPD is. Only someone close to you, with a LOT of regard for you (no matter what they might hear from you), and in my opinion, a lot of experience with what you are "like" at your most honest levels you get to with people...only someone that close to you is likely to handle any NPD revelation from you. Even then, they will need a whole lot of good info on what NPD is, and (being honest here) it is probably best if you, yourself, have a solid handle on that before you would hope or expect anyone else to as well.
-Plus, I am wondering if it isn't better for you to go to a pro, as in a therapist, i.e. also a neutral yet trained stranger, to get your questions answered, and get guidance on what to do with your newfound discovery of your own NPD, if that is the correct thing you have arrived at. But, I personally don't think a lot of therapists are going to be "specializing" enough in NPD to be of any more help than just reading a lot here. And this forum is free, so a big bonus.
-If you were revealing yourself, and/or your honest thoughts about me, to me (this is a theoretical scenario with you specifically knowing me), and you were my husband, whom I love very much, and I am well versed in NPD already (I am getting there) or you did a great job of introducing NPD stuff to me, I could certainly handle you telling me you thought you had NPD...because I would already know that, or you would explain it to me well, gently, etc. if I didn't. But...a big but...even for me, now, knowing what I do now, it would be hard, and I have to assume extremely painful, and I mean really, really painful, to hear what my husband "really" thought of me, since I know from what I read here that it can be pretty devastating stuff.
-So I am saying my personal feedback on your idea is that it is full of damaging consequences, to both you and others. And I would recommend alternatives, like...

That read a lot in this forum suggestion, for starters.Get your curiosity satisfied about what it would feel like to those around you if you really told them what you think of them by reading what us Non's have experienced living with NPD partners...and how much it has hurt us all.

Maybe, Goku, look at what you think it would do for you to see people's reaction to your true opinions of them. Are you just curious? Or are you looking to find who among these people care about you enough to let you be more open? Are you really wanting to express just your negative opinions of them, which I bet you already have guessed won't go so well received, or are you kind of hoping to "be yourself" more with someone, maybe a few key people that mean a lot to you? If so, I am guessing you might be feeling tired of trying so hard to hide what you really want to say or "who you are" and are hoping you can count on some people in your life to care about you enough to let you be yourself more with them. Well, the negative things some NPD people think and would say if not holding back are generally pretty hard for anyone else to take, so I advise stepping very lightly, only with someone very important to you (and likely to adjust to new stuff coming from you), and only after you feel very well versed not just with NPD but how NPD people here interact with their own loved ones...what they feel they can say, and what they still hold back on saying.

Saying what you really think, coming from an NPD perspective, can really have devastating results for the other person. If my husband told me, for instance, that he doesn't feel deep love for me and just feels like he wants to stay married because he is fond of me, sometimes, and that is the deepest thing he ever feels, it would still hurt me very much...even though that might be the deepest thing he actually can feel, with his NPD. Yet I know to expect this, if he went 100% honest with me, because that is what others on this forum have honestly said about their own feelings for their spouses. Here I am, aware of NPD, trying to save my marriage with techniques like stepping out of my own woes and trying to put myself in his shoes, with the help of the input from the people here, and I STILL would be devastated to hear any actual words from his mouth like "I am sorry to tell you this, but I don't think I can feel love like you feel it for me...I am just giving you my best."

Even though I know that is probably the truth, I still don't want to hear it. And I am one of the "enlightened" spouses now. Just read a lot here. You will see the NPD folks who have people they care about saying they are careful, very careful, with what they say, because they know their true feelings, the most negative ones, or disappointing (to us) ones, will indeed hurt that person.

I am really sorry to say that it is probably wise to temper what you say to people...seems unfair to me too. But there is such a gap between an NPD based perspective and that of someone who has a lot of empathy (and is therefore also easily hurt) that it requires you knowing when to hold back on the most potentially hurtful stuff and your spouse (let's say) being both up on NPD and toughening up on their end for them to take some things less personally in order for you to be more honest...assuming it is a relationship you want to both save and be more honest in.

If you don't care about the other person, and still want to be more honest with them, you probably won't go to the effort of making sure they understand NPD more before you try more honesty, and your honest comments may be too harsh, if you aren't interested in presenting them gently. I don't see the results being too positive there, but at least you will get to see a reaction if that is your goal.

Good luck with what you are looking for. How to proceed (or whether to) depends on if you care about them...
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Re: Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

Postby Metastatic » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:32 am

Nons hide their contempt too. Everyone does it. Waiters at restaurants complain about customers and ruthlessly mock them, then they disingenuously suck up to the customers to get better tips. It's normal to have negative opinions of other humans that you hide from them. It would be abnormal and self-destructive to reveal those beliefs to those people.
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Re: Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

Postby Metastatic » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:58 am

funky wrote:.
Not a Victim, I don't think it would have been so much that your friend would have found it difficult to share his real nature with you, (although I agree that he would), as that he'd have been unaware of it except dimly, and unable to explain it.


Narcissists do know they're narcissists. They know that they are considered arrogant, self-absorbed, power-hungry, etc. I know that I'm a narcissist, but I don't think it's bad. I know I'm smarter than the overwhelming majority of human beings (I have been formally tested and brilliant scholars have given me positive feedback on my ideas) and I have many more adaptive qualities. I believe I'm superior because the evidence indicates that I am superior. I accept that no one is perfect and we're all flawed (clearly, some of us are less perfect and more flawed than others), but I do not dislike myself.

Here's a popular science article about a study that found that grandiose/overt narcissists have self-awareness: http://healthland.time.com/2011/10/27/n ... es-anyway/

The researchers used the NPI which is the most widely used and most extensively studied test of overt narcissism. My score on this questionnaire is more than two standard deviations above the mean.
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Re: Can a narcissist be cured with 'tough love'?

Postby Goku » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:11 am

Thanks for all those responses. There was some interesting stuff in there. I think it's certainly true that it's important (if difficult) to understand where other people are coming from, for me and others suffering with NPD. When imagining saying all these true thoughts out loud, I can easily anticipate the experience being humiliating and hurtful to me, but it's alot harder to see it from the other person's perspective (the hurt they would feel from having a friend telling them they dont care). I can understand it intellectually, but it's hard to convert that into an empathetic response. That's an important thing to remember is that other people's disapproval of a narcissist comes from somewhere. And that's something that is hard to appreciate sometimes.

But once again, thank you for taking the time to help with a query.
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