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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