Narcissism: Self Help Base or Do I Need Professional Help?

Q: Is it possible to deal with narcissism purely on a self help basis or would professional help be required? Is there any specific advice or coping strategy I can give to my wife and children regarding both my, and my mothers narcissistic behaviour?

I have found your website this weekend which I find quite revealing. I feel I have a narcissistic mother and as a result have narcissistic traits and have experienced narcissistic rage. I identify with the scapegoat role as I was physically, verbally and I feel emotionally abused throughout my childhood. I identify my older sister as the golden child role. She has married what I feel is another narcisstic person.

They have one daughter who I identify as a golden child, my children resent the attention and praise she receives from my mother as they feel they were/are constantly criticised by her. My wife and three children have all expressed their sadness and anger at the manner in which they have been treated over the years. My children are all grown up now but my mother has zoned in on my eldest son, possibly identifying him as another golden child. My wide and I are confused as to how we should address this. However, I feel I have good sense of empathy with those around me and in the world.

I am fortunate to have an extremely loving kind and thoughtful wife. We have been married for over twenty years and our youngest child is now about to leave home. I have tried to manage my life with my mum since childhood but basically withdraw or drink excessively when visiting. My father, who has been diagnosed with a bi polar disorder since the 1970,s is now frail and in a care home. My parents separated when I was 6 years old. Both of my sisters and I witnessed the trauma and violence of their marriage break up from an infant age.

Any advice you can offer me would be appreciated. Thanks for a really helpful and enlightening website. J.

A: J, It is possible, although very difficult, to cope with a narcissist like your mother on a self help basis unless you have been able to go No Contact. With ongoing contact it would be extremely helpful to have the professional advice of a therapist experienced with NPD. Have your wife and children read as much as they are willing to on the subject of narcissism. There are articles that can help you and them cope with the abuse you all have endured once they understand the basics of NPD. Help them understand that NPD is much more than just an egocentric person; they need to understand that living with one is traumatic and has lifelong effects on one’s ability to cope with anger, ability to have self confidence, and often results in some narcissistic behavior by the victims (especially children as they are raised to think this is normal behavior). Because of the other issues you mention (excessive drinking, witnessing trauma/violence when young, rages) I would highly recommend the professional help for you and your family rather than solely self-help. From your letter, I would surmise that you have some narcissistic behaviors but I would be very hard pressed to think you were a narcissist yourself. Not only does your sense of genuine empathy rule that out, but it also is extremely rare for a narcissist to seek help (as you are doing) unless they are forced to.

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2 Responses to “Narcissism: Self Help Base or Do I Need Professional Help?”

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  1. JPJ says:

    From my personal experience with narcissitic relations, the advice given is the right medicine. Therapy does not work for narcissitic people very well, as they think they are perfect people, so you need to go to trained professional,s who have reality based minds.
    Sounds like the mother is living out her dreams/fantasies through the grandchildren vicariously. Again, no contact is a very good idea, at least until the kids have had the situation proplerly explained to them, so they understand what the narcissit is doing.
    Education will help for sure as guidlines and some stiff rules for contact are needed. In my personal life, professional therapy was priceless and helped me to see the light when the days were dark and bleek indeed.

  2. Sue says:

    I grew up with a narcisstic mom but didn’t kno what I went through was not my “not normal”, or “crazy” but quite chaotic & although I felt nurtured by loving grandparents, I had no confidence in my judgements or decision & at age 12 , I began my validation as a worthy person who was liked.
    But after meeting a great guy slowly observed his lack of information on this millennium, he began exhibiting no control over any aspect of basic life! He said,”I’m lucky to hav a mom who brings me food!” Or, just do wat u do!” He was a total wreck from his divorce & no good @ life!” His mom called me yelling & cackling ranting that she can’t find him & he doesn’t listen…he’s an idiot…I never gav her my #, she didn’t say hello & her son was gone ONE day! He later said, all moms do that caus she cares & worries!” Got worse & worse…I’m only stating this progression to say that even thru my empathetic acknowledgement that he’s not crazy & if he feels bad –it’s bad…he’s human thus neurons & hormones due to lifetime of the cinderella worthless servant scapegoat he regresses in flashback to a 9 yr old , arms above head in protection of harm & flickered glazed eyes moving while cowarding with knees buckling his 6’1″ framed fearful & degraded by 4’8″ pointing , yelling ,”Y is the AC on –which I just turned on minutes prior upon seeing his pale, sweaty body after mowing lawn on hottest summer day with debris, grass & his long POW (slave !) hair stuck he shuffled outdoors alone as if regular greeting no trauma just ritual & to top it off–they brought him a ‘doggy bag’ from mom’s bday celebration he wasn’t invited nor aware of visitors “barging in ‘! Racing in rage at the thought of his comfort!! He said,” that’s just my mom!” Ur getting wrong idea!?”
    We’ll after continual visits alway barging in , yelling, pointing, his glazed, fearful , silent humiliating mom’s hateful rage calling him an idiot & asking him what’s wrong with his face? Ultimately, he slowly, silently gets in fetal position -back turned-& she smirks shrieking,”gotta go!!!” Later , he’d say that she comes caus she loves him… I appeal to ogives that if so, then Y does she stay til he’s in pain? A stranger’d ask if up ok!? We’ll, NO CONTACT is obviously only way to begin healing & finding happiness but he is afraid hel b laugh at n called crazy… Aww–NO CONTACT

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