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Recovery for those with NPD/narcissism

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Recovery for those with NPD/narcissism

Postby LifeSong » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:20 pm

This was written by a man diagnosed with NPD, who recovered with therapy, and went on to found a site for those with narcissistic traits or NPD. I believe that recovery is possible for many, but that it takes a real commitment to work and change. I've read lots of his writings and I believe he essentially recovered, though a pull towards certain ways of thinking remained with him. He married and it was a good marriage. He died unexpectedly from a heart attack, as I recall, but he left a family and friends who cared greatly for him, a good legacy. Here are his thoughts on some aspects of recovery... do you agree? disagree? have yet to try it?

Some of the Factors that Affect NPDers Chance at Recovery
By Tony Brown

Healing is possible without exception for all persons who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Having this condition is not an excuse not to take responsibility for yourself or justify destructive acts simply because that is what NPDers do. In this article we will look at some of the factors that may influence how successful those with this condition may be in achieving healing.

The first variable is whether you are in a crisis. It is common for persons to seek therapy either during or in the aftermath of an emotional crisis, i.e., divorce or end of a relationship, being terminated from work, substance abuse, or death of someone close to you. It is common for a person going through such a crisis to see how they have limited access to their feelings and have acted in destructive ways throughout their life.

Coming to this place of awareness is an important step as it often leads persons to seek some form of treatment. Working through the crisis is essential though it is just the beginning of the healing journey. Very often a person will believe that they never had these feelings, or lack of feelings, or never acted destructively prior to this crisis. They may believe that resolving this crisis is the entire work of healing when in reality it is just the beginning for those of us who truly have NPD. If you stop looking and working on yourself once the immediate crisis is over there is a very good chance another crisis will come, and another one after that until you allow yourself to look at the whole picture of your life.

In reality it is almost impossible to do the actual work of healing until you have been able to achieve a peaceful or productive resolution to your crisis. A person in crisis often believes that their pain is so overwhelming that whatever their crisis may be it defines everything about their true identity. They are unable to step back and look at the good points in their life or see how their pain is not all consuming. If you truly have NPD it is essential to keep working on yourself after the crisis has passed so you can free yourself from this seemingly endless cycle of one crisis after the other.

Another important factor in your being able to recover is whether you have a support network of family and friends. It is emotionally draining to face yourself at the level required to recover from NPD. Having persons around you who can offer support away from therapy can be helpful in relieving some of the stress that is almost guaranteed to come along with therapy. Your therapist will expect you to not become overly dependent upon him and begin developing a life where he is playing less of a role in daily living. These persons don't have to be well versed on NPD. You might be able to begin developing such a network among family, friends, perhaps coworkers, ministers of members of real world support groups. The most important thing is they are compassionate listeners who are not judging you as flawed or evil. Once such a network is established you need to allow yourself to trust these people and to call upon them both when life is feeling painful and when things are going well and you just want to establish more of a connection with other people.

The matter of paying your therapy bill can in some cases be a factor in the overall success of your recovery. Accepting responsibility for your own bill is an essential step in becoming a functional adult. Sometimes a well intending friend of romantic partner may offer to pay all or some of your bill thinking this will help you get passed your emotional dysfunctions. If this is for a short period with a clear understanding you are going to pay them back and than assume full responsibility for all further costs this is probably not a problem. However, if you are making no effort to find a job or do whatever is needed to get yourself in a position of responsibility this has a very high risk of stalling rather than enhancing your healing.

This is a point that is as important for your friends and family to understand and accept as it may be for you. They may believe that whatever it takes to get you into therapy is worth it to them, including paying for your sessions. Once again if this is a short term solution it may not be harmful. However, the sooner you are paying for your own therapy the sooner you will have a personal investment in the process. Such an investment will, hopefully, inspire you to work harder and get the most of the therapy you can afford. You are entitled to heal but you are not entitled to a free ride where others are paying your way. Addressing feelings of entitlement is one of the areas many NPDers face and this is just one of the areas where it plays out in your practical daily living. If you are serious about your therapy and appear to be making progress you may find your therapist is willing to make payment arrangements. If you fail to honor such arrangements or if they become aware someone else is paying your therapy bill they may decide to terminate the partnership.

Arguably the biggest variable in your recovery is how much do you want to heal? Are you only in therapy to appease a spouse, family, or maybe a coworker or boss? If so the chances of your therapy bringing any true healing ranges between slim and none. You may be able to develop some new skills, but in all likelihood true recovery will remain elusive. Therapy will require you to experience extreme pain, view areas of your life that will make you very uncomfortable, and will drain you at physical and emotional levels. Being able to sustain yourself and do this work will require a deep commitment unlike any you've likely ever made at any other juncture in your existence. It most definitely can be accomplished but you have to want it almost more than you have ever wanted anything before. You will have to push yourself to keep going even when you want to stop. How well you are able to experience and resolve conflicts, depression and other events throughout your therapy will depend to a large extent on this single question: How much do you really want it?
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Re: Recovery for those with NPD/narcissism

Postby funky » Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:23 pm

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Re: Recovery for those with NPD/narcissism

Postby LifeSong » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:54 pm

nine wrote:Lifesong, I know that I'm a $#%^.

OK, I believe you. Your past behavior has probably proved to others, and to yourself, that this is true. But, to my mind, there is a vast difference between saying "I'm a $#%^" and saying "I love this. I don't want to change. I'm God" as many narcissists do. I haven't heard you say anything of the sort. To me, it's not dissimilar from an alcoholic saying "I'm an alcoholic/addict" with some degree with a realistic appraisal of self, and w/o the braggidosia that often accompanies the proverbial drinking / drugging stories. That's the first step.

I know that I can't feel anything, I wish that I could, but I can't.
You've proven to yourself, in some way, that your best efforts haven't allowed you to access your feelings. OK.

I can't put right the harm that I've caused.
That's a statement that may or may not be true. Might be true as you presently stand. Might not be true if there were some change. Regardless, it's not so much about the past; it's more about the future. We heal and change and grow not to undo the past so much as to ensure a better future.
Too much focus on past thinking just leads to hopelessness and despair and depression. You'd be surprised what making even minor changes for the future can do to address the past in some ways.

I don't know how therapy can change the past, or give me feelings, especially as there's no childhood trauma to overcome.
I don't know either because I don't know you, personally, but I DO know that therapy can do lots to breakup the repression and inaccessibility to our emotions. Again, this need not be so much about the past; most therapist I know (and I know alot of therapists) like to start right now, with the here and now, and only deal with the past as it becomes needed, if needed. Give you feelings? Therapy can't give anyone feelings but it can unlock the feelings that have become so trapped inside that they are no longer felt or even acknowledged as existing. Therapy can assist greatly with emotional access. It's a myth that all PDs stem from childhood issues or trauma; though most do, it is not universal. There can be a myriad of other reasons why emotions become frozen and submerged.

I'm crying as I write this.
Have you tried therapy? Good therapy? It's surely an alternative to crying, my friend. If it doesn't work, OK, it doesn't work for you. But what if it works in some way... ?

Sorry, I'm not in the best of moods at the moment.
Me neither, frankly. I talked with my NPD mother recently and it is always exasperating, if not infuriating, to talk with her. Even that is a misnomer.. there's no talking with her... there is mostly sitting on the phone while she talks, unless she begins to become abusive in some way and I'm well skilled in how to address that. But this same-o, same-o, ad naseum, is mind-numbing and gut-wrenching and also very boring.

Thanks for the post, though.

You're welcome. I wondered about posting this. I've been accused lately of being a narcissist-lover, being too friendly with narcissists, or perhaps even being one myself :roll: . There is even a former member here who has been banned who, in some sort of retaliatory measure, is posting these same thoughts re me, others and the mods here in various places across the web,I'm told.

But it isn't true that I'm a pawn for narcissists, nor am I a narcissist myself - tho I did have traits when I was young and can still catch myself sometimes about to take a step or thought in some sort of traited way. I don't think you can escape this if you're the child of a profound narcissist. It's just reality to deal with, and overcome. I'm grateful for my own therapy that helped me, so grateful that it led me to a career change that has proved to be one of the smartest choices I've ever made for myself.

Though I don't hold out much hope for most true narcissists, as most will continue throughout their lives in denial and unawareness (as does my mother), I do know some narcissists who have made significant changes in their lives, in their behavior, and even in their thinking, and have been surprised in this to discover that they were not so devoid of emotions and conscience as they once believed. It is for these few people that I post things like this, and respond to some posts of narcissists/NPD with encouragement.... while at the same time, being a realist and advising most nons to cease involvement with significantly narcissistic people.

Stop crying. Do something about your situation. You can.
Last edited by LifeSong on Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recovery for those with NPD/narcissism

Postby Anais » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:56 pm

nine,

I just wanted to address you saying that you were never abused (on several threads I've read) and that there's no trauma for you to overcome.

Please know that it's generally only the non-narcissistic children of narcissists who have problems with their parents. Narcissists usually idealize their own narcissistic parent(s).

So when you see LifeSong and me and others talking about our parents, and you think "My parents were never like that, they were fine, they never abused me" that may be partly your disorder talking.

My mother's mother was widowed at a young age and put my mother in the position of a replacement spouse, emotionally. She beat my mother on occasion. She rejected her in may ways. She rejected her gifts and things she'd made, and even though my mother can tell these stories she can't see the truth of them.

To this day my mum toasts her own mother at Christmas and on other occasions, and has a very romantic view of her. She thinks she was a strong and spirited woman. But what she was, was a child abuser.

Memories in narcissistic families are strange things.
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Re: Recovery for those with NPD/narcissism

Postby funky » Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:55 pm

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Re: Recovery for those with NPD/narcissism

Postby LifeSong » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:21 am

Nine,why do you and your brother have such differing views and/or experiences of your mother?
What accounts for that, or what are your guesses?

Sorry if you've already said this somewhere and I missed it; I'm not on here everyday and I do not read all the threads.
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Re: Recovery for those with NPD/narcissism

Postby funky » Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:52 am

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Re: Recovery for those with NPD/narcissism

Postby lodi dodi » Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:23 pm

Enlightening, resonating information--thank you for posting it.

I'm going through a NPD rage relapse right now... it is very emotionally/physically draining in efforts of recovery and anger is ever so present...


People in general being "shocked" by my presence or picking up on my NPD (because one of my mantra is not to be fake) and therefore treating me like some kind of threat seriously threatens any streak of recovery I might have going on.
I don't attend therapy still, however, I'm always focusing on trusting other people and forgiving any hurt/pain other people cause me. But the hurt can get overwhelming and my anger takes over and I've become an unpleasant person all around...

I'm at a "stage" where I'm also trying to focus on being a more trustworthy person, but these anger conflicts makes me flat out untrustworthy.
Only thing that seems to successfully counter it is, again, forgiving and focusing on trusting others even at my expense. The emotional pain I harbor is still too ever-present so this is going to take a while...
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