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Narcissists Who Cry: The Other Side of the Ego

By Samuel López De Victoria, Ph.D.

Have you ever noticed that when you have gotten very sick or hospitalized, the person you thought was your friend never asked or called? When the same situation had previously happened to them, you were there for them.

Many of you have been in a relationship or been a friend with someone who was an extreme narcissist. These types of relationships are filled with drama unless you totally please the narcissist, which is impossible. The typical extreme narcissists are full of themselves and are overtly pompous. I would like to focus on a kind of extreme narcissist that most people fail to recognize. First, let me explain what extreme narcissism is all about.

116 Comments to
Narcissists Who Cry: The Other Side of the Ego

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  1. We used to refer to people like this as Psychic Vampires. These are the people that are so obsessed with getting all of the attention that they literally drain the people around them of energy to the point that they either submit and descend into darkness or begin to be viciously vindictive to the psychic vampire.

    • The author of this article is describing my former husband exactly. And I actually believe he is incurable/untreatable, precisely because he reflexively believes that his injury (often imagined) is more important than anything else in the world, and because he refuses to take responsibility EVER for predicaments that he himself creates. His parents actually are the source of this — they are/were extremely controlling and yet are quite emotionally detached. It has created a very manipulative, nasty extreme egotistical victimized narcissist of a son. Yuck.

    • So true, I have a co-worker who does just that. Not only is her behavior draining it also causes me great stress.

  2. This is a very good article and now I’ve a cleared understanding of narcissistic disorder. Though I’ve not really worked with any patients suffering from it yet, I did spot someone with this sort of traits and after reading this, I confirm it. Thanks for sharing and they’re very valuable information for me as a therapist.

  3. I’m a little puzzled about how this article is responsibly helping people. It is troublingly contemptuous in tone – the author seems to be reveling in his superior non-narcissistic status. I’m not saying let people run you around because that helps no one, but I think an approach that included empathy and self-knowledge would be more useful.
    The short statement on how narcissists are created is frankly just a statement of thinly veiled contempt: “excessive pampering”, “arrogant child who lacks a healthy dose of gratitude and humility. It describes the proverbial brat that no one likes.”

    For a really good and truly useful description of how parental abuse creates narcissists and the pain of being trapped in a narcissistic personality, see “Characterological Transformation : The Hard Work Miracle” by Stepnen M. Johnson.

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking! I worry I might be a narcissist, because I think about myself a lot and always have, and I felt a twinge of shame as I read this article. Haven’t we all figured out, especially those of us in the psych field, that this was of thinking helps no one and harms many? Narcissists can treat people terribly, but that doesn’t mean we should categorically dismiss them as human beings in need of empathy and understanding. I hope I never have the misfortune of visiting a shrink who talks about the mentally ill like this.

      • You have to understand that usually a narcissist does not know they are and it is very, very difficult to talk to one who doesn’t see they have issues in life. The one I know doesn’t see it, doesn’t get it and never will and will never seek help! It is almost like a drunk person who doesn’t get it until they hit rock bottom. Narcissistic people wear down those around them with their demanding and dominating ways and eventually erode the confidence of anyone they are living with who is the slightest bit sympathetic with any of their demands for attention. Unless you have walked a mile in the shoes of someone who has lived with a narcissist it is impossible to judge what they are like. Whilst we want to have sympathy and empathy for these people it is hard to do this unless they see a psychiatrist who can also have input into their lives and who can also help the people in their family to learn ways of being with these people.

    • thank you. this article could be seen as even more harmful than narcissists themselves.
      If we are not generating compassion, we are destroying it; and compassion and awareness are the only way forward.
      Dividing people into any category is contributing to the chaos of this world.

      • NO! We have to protect ourselves from the narcissist damage they inflict on us.

    • You can feel internal empathy for these people. Any exhibited external empathy will be manipulated and used against you. This is a major part of this type of personality disorder.

      • I strongly agree! This feeds their sickness!

      • Also agreed w/ Gwammadee, that empathy and compassion are important, but the problem is that the Narcissist always just exploits those otherwise noble gifts. And especially with their remarkable ‘antennae’ for others weaknesses and dreams, they will simply use your ‘caring’ against you. Also, rare is the individual who is “enlightened” enough to be totally “immune” to emotional manipulation (except for maybe the more spiritually ‘grandiose’ among us… lol)!
        BTW, great article and excellent point re: the “Victim” as another frequent narcissistic persona, though one we do often overlook, frequently expecting the more typically egotistical and grandiose type of Narcissist, than the “poor me” type.
        And yes, in fairness serious narcissists never asked for their condition, and shouldn’t be simply demonized, and they do deserve some (very cautious) compassion. But nevertheless, just like dealing with criminals, sociopaths, psychopaths, or any of the other “bad actors” and empathy-challenged types, we still need to remain aware of the denizens (and the risks) prowling around today’s modern human jungle.

    • Actually, this article is very helpful for the people who have to deal with narcissists. So if you don’t find it helpful, try and consider the fact that it wasn’t written for your benefit.

    • Spoken like a true enabler who as they are being manipulated by the clever narcissist they think that they are too smart and clever to be manipulated . Without such enablers the narcissist would be totally starved and frustrated .

  4. You mentioned:extreme narcissists are created is when a child receives a significant emotional wound or a series of them … This can happen when the parents, as narcissists themselves, are emotionally disconnected from their child.

    It’s all right to get away from always blaming the parents. That significant emotional wound or series can come from death of a parent, divorce, and some of the horrible things that can go wrong in childhood, no matter how loving the parents.

  5. Most of the article is interesting, but I have a problem with the opening example. It is possible to be a supportive, giving friend without expressing it in precisely the same way or with the same priorities as you would: perhaps that person has issues with hospitals or doesn’t know what to say or do about a physical illness that saddens or frightens them, but would cheerfully pay your rent or grocery bill if you needed it, or coach you through a difficult time at work or school when you might not feel emotionally or experientially equipped to do the same for them.

    I have been through the hospital and serious illness scenario, and found that I received incredible support from unexpected places (acquaintances, distant relatives, and colleagues who had either “done this before” and were familiar with medical routine, or who were part of an organized group where some more confident individuals could organize help and provide set answers to the “what do I do/say?” part), and that other close friends temporarily seemed to disappear, but often found other ways to stay in the loop and even help, and who remained as giving and reliably empathetic as ever in other types of crisis before and after.

    Sometimes avoidance is an indication that people are MORE sensitive to your pain, not less.

    Also, narcissists are perfectly capable of making pious (and annoying) hospital visits or doing other charitable acts because it is “the proper thing to do” and bolsters their self-image, regardless of the lack of genuine underlying empathy. “Doing one’s duty” (and loudly condemning others for not doing so in precisely the same way they would) can be just another element of the perpetual victim routine.

    • Oh, Izzy, I can’t agree with you more on both counts.Your description is another version of extreme narcissists roaming our planet and just as annoying.While I was hospitalised two times for brain surgery, my favorite aunt (my Godmother) was no where to be found. I later found out she could stand to come and see me for two reasons. One, she couldn’t stand to see me in pain and all hooked up to equipment. Second, she had a hard time feeling so helpless over the whole situations.However, she made it up to me in various other ways, such as driving over a hundred miles both ways to visit me while recuperating. She’d always be at the clinic whenever I drove the same distance for follow-up visits & take me & my Mom to lunch.Not just narcissists, avoid hospitals. And, by adding this statement in an article about ways narcissistic people can be spotted, could not be the furthest from the truth.

  6. To most people, it doesn’t matter how a narcissist develops, what matters is how that person effects other people. My sister was friends with a narcissist for 15 years. The woman used her all the time and turned on her when she was too busy to see her all the time. Finally, she started talking cruelly about her to her children, even to the point of saying she didn’t like her grandchildren. My sister then took the final stand and cut her off. Her life is now one of less drama.

  7. I agree with the above commentator who described the tone of this writer as “contemptuous”. There is no possible way to completely avoid narcissists in life. There are narcissists who fall into various levels of gray. It is not black and white. I agree that it is essential to recognize the trait when encountered. The label becomes rather global which is in itself rather grandiose. There are those who are elected to the highest positions of power and authority this country, politics, business, clergy etc…. based on their ability to manipulate others effectively as functional narcissists. The two examples are accurate only in their over- simplification. Labeling is itself a form of contempt. It is true that when one becomes engaged with a narcissist one must learn how to recognize the patterns, disengage and recognize where their need to have this kind of relationship stems from. Attempting to get love from a narcissist and failing repeatedly, and painfully, needs to be recognized and dealt with. Every narcissist seems to have willing participants in this dance. To recognize ones own attraction to narcissists, one must have a fuller understanding. Books which I found to be most helpful are “Trapped in the Mirror-Adult Children of Narcissists in their struggle for Self”- by Elan Golomb. PhD. and “Unholy Hungers-Encountering the Psychic Vampire in Ourselves and Others”- by Barbara E. Hort


  8. To “a human”:
    Thanks for your input. It is not my purpose to have contempt for any human (no pun intended). My point is that extreme narcissists are not safe persons and if you deal with them, you WILL get hurt. The purpose of my article is to point out what one form of narcissism looks like: ego in the form of playing the victim.

    To “Dee from Canada”:
    I agree that a child’s wounds can come from many other circumstances such as death of a loved one, divorce of parents, etc. I often treat children, adolescents, and adults that have carried these wounds all their lives.

    To “Izzy”:
    I totally agree that we must be careful not to prejudge individuals either as non-loving because they don’t visit us in the hospital or even for using such a visit to look good. I needed to give one kind of possible scenario as an initial hook to my article where, I hopefully, explain in more detail other dynamics to look for in extreme narcissist. Thanks for your input! :)

    To “Carole”:
    Bravo to your sister for finally cutting off a highly toxic person!… When she stopped her relationship with an extreme narcissist who used her.

    To “Annapurna”:
    Yes, extreme narcissists come in all colors and grays. I also agree with you that there is no way to avoid narcissists in our lives. My main point is that we need to be especially on the alert for the extreme ones. Those are the ones that can create the most damage in relationships. Everybody has narcissism. Too little means a low self-esteem, too much means “I am God!” and then there is a level of reasonable narcissism that gives you healthy self-care. So, I agree that the label is not “black and white” across the board. I do, however, believe the label is most appropriate with those who are extremely selfish and manipulating of others. I appreciate your contribution.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

    • Dr. Samuel Lopez De Victoria:

      Thank you for your comments and knowledge of narcissism. After an unfortunate five years with an extreme narcissist, and much needed counseling on my part after that journey, I’m finally able to be me and enjoy my life. Everything you mentioned on manipulating emotions, as I’m very caring, was true. He used my concern and caring for others against me, as he always needed attention and was would go into a rage when I expressed my concern for others or their situations. It was all about him and his world and I was allowed to feel anything for anyone, whether it was a parent, family member or friend; it threatened him. If I didn’t give him attention 24/7 and be at his beck and call, the most horrible rath came from his mouth and was projected on me for what I wasn’t doing for him, but I could always seem to do for others. This is only one aspect of our relationship. It turned into something very ugly, threatening and scary. I’m very fortunate to be out of that relationship, but it took a long time to realize what he was doing to me and the why of it all. Today, I can spot narcissists after a couple of conversations with them as I “listen” now to what they are saying and my emotions don’t kick in as they normally would. It takes a long time to get to know people when they play games and use the good in you and twist it to be something bad. Thank you for your writing. The sun is shining where I am now.

    • Avoiding ANY human being is not helpful at all, and a reflection of the avoider’s smallness.
      Healthy boundaries are loving for all humans involved.
      I disagree with the language of this article, and I too hope that no therapist would ever speak this way about people with mental illness.

      • Actually, avoiding them is only not good for the narcissist, because then who will they get their supply from? Avoiding them is very good and healthy for the people who have to deal with them.

      • The extremes, Ted Bundy, Jim Jones and Charles Manson should have been avoided. Those who slander others, harm others mental health, deplete finances, and leave to find another sucker, should be avoided as well.

  9. @Izzy: Thanks for saying that. I am one of the people who always feels at a loss for words in the face of severe illness or death… and what is it that there is left to say, really? …, but feel that people expect me to say something, preferably cheerful. And I can’t, and end up making the other person feel probably even more miserable – so I usually just do all the ‘practical’ stuff for people, or find help and advice for them by involving someone ‘qualified’. It’s funny how it’s always labelled as being ‘cold’ or ‘heartless’. I’m not, well, not inside I mean, I just don’t know what to say… Not bringing flowers and a cheesy get-well card to a friend’s bedside doesn’t mean I am a narcissist. (Though writing so much about myself probably does. ;-) )

    Anyway, Dr. Lopez, don’t you think that narcissists are more than just a plight for the rest of mankind? Judging by what you wrote, it seems like a very lonely, incredibly sad way to live your life. And to think that these people did nothing of their own choosing to be that way, I feel that you are putting the blame too squarely on them.
    I know people like that, but I don’t remove myself entirely from their lives – I just don’t dignify their every demand. If they get mad, tough. I apologise if I hurt them, but I won’t change my opinion on the matter. But if push came to shove, would I leave them high and dry because they’d do the same to me? That’s a funny interpretation of morality and ethics; one I think I cannot subscribe to.
    And yes, I agree with the comments above, your article sounded condescending at times… (I, for one, would be scared to go into a therapist’s practice after reading an article like this by him/her.)

  10. Oh, ok. Just ignore that last comment, will you? ;-)

  11. Hannah,

    I have a funny feeling that you and I agree at the core. It is impossible to cut yourself off everyone or every narcissist. My motive is to provide some of the signs of a person who will end up hurting you. You may feel like you need to “love” them and therefore be exposed to them hurting you. That is a personal choice. In general, extended exposure to manipulators and controlling folks like extreme narcissists will end up biting us hard. I only mean the article as a general guide to this kind of manipulator and create awareness for protection. Thanks for your good observations and input!

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://wwwDrSam.tv

  12. My own conjecture is that a complete absence of narcissism would not be low self-esteem. I’ve had low self-esteem in past and it’s just a different way of wanting to be good enough for other people (and feeling you have failed). Narcissism and low self-esteem are thus two sides of the same coin, no? Putting labels on yourself that never quite fit or are difficult to maintain in the long-term.

    Maybe an absence of narcissism would move you more in the direction of the Dalai Lama, or Ghandhi type personality. Even they are still human of course, but they are probably not as narcisstic as the rest of us, and they certainly don’t have low self-esteem!


  13. Sarah,

    I think you are right if you define “narcissism” as being totally ego. Then there is a second view. Metaphorically speaking, if you see ego as some type of creature that takes the show when you cross a line or threshold of self-care then it might be different.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://wwwDrSam.tv

  14. Everything that is written about this subject includes blaming the parents for the disorder. I feel I am one of those parents and now the child is grown up the pain he/she inflicts is sometimes very deep. So, should one, the responsible party, (not necessarily guilty since one knew no better than what was the thing to do, according to the “specialist” wave of the time. Selfsteem, selfsteem and more selfsteem, and we parents did as we were told by those who “knew”. Are we then to run away from what we did so we do not get hurt? If we did the harm in the first place it sounds somewhat preposterous to quit the ship when “what went round comes around”. Should there not be more specific advise to cope with the situation rather than inadvertently create feelings of frustration, resentment and the like towards the narcissist who is now hurting us?
    None of the above refers to you personally, Mr López I’d like to add, since as I said before, everyone is giving the same advice.

    On the other hand narcissism is much written about but how much research has been done? What goes on in the brain of these people? Where can one find such research? I haven’t found it. As far as I have seen very little is known about this problem and so treatment outcomes are rather doubtful at least for the “everyday narcissist” who doesn’t end up in really serious trouble and although perverse (even with the therapist) appears to lead

    I really look forward to reading more about this subject.

  15. Maria,

    As parents, we try our best. I have adult children of my own. There are many things I would have changed in how I raised them. Most of those things I would change in me. We have to forgive ourselves and be able to move on knowing that our heart was good.

    On curing narcissism, it all depends. First an extreme narcissist needs to admit he/she is one. Second, he/she needs to get help from competent clinicians who know how to work with it (most don’t in my opinion).

    If they are the kind of narcissist that was birthed from emotional traumas then those defense mechanisms, false beliefs, and wounds can all be healed via many great modalities of treatment.

    If the narcissist became one through excessive pampering then it is an issue of going back to those places where he/she accepted the lie that he/she was God as imprinted by the parents. At those places there needs to be an effective reframe that changes the belief of their “omnipotence.”

    I hope you find this helpful.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  16. sure ill stay away from extreme narcissists.. but what about when the extreme narcissist is your father, whom you live with? how does a young adult shield herself from her own father from day to day? he does all the things you mentioned in your article and more.

  17. Jay,

    That’s a tough one!

    When you say a young adult, I imagine that you are 18 or older. My recommendation? If you have to live with an extreme narcissist father:

    1. Get strong healthy boundaries.

    2. Politely communicate and enforce those boundaries with your father.

    3. If he disrespects your boundaries then…

    a. Stay out of his way and avoid, as much as possible, any significant interplay that would give him access to your life greatly. Be “busy.”

    OR

    b. Move out!

    Hope this helped some.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  18. Dr. Sam,
    Narcissistic Personality Disorder is being removed from the new version of the DSM. Does this indicate narcissism is no longer considered abnormal behavior?

    • Thanks to the Kardashians its now the new normal.


  19. S,

    If you find any documentation on NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) being considered to be taken out of the next DSM, let us know through a post and share with us any web link.

    I personally think that would be a grave mistake to take it out. Society is full of NPD’s in many forms. If it is true, I wonder if NPD’s were on the deciding committee? :)

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  20. Dr. Sam,
    …I want to seek some help (for myself…I am in pain from the emptiness, and I cry for those who have suffered).

    When I read:
    “Be polite. Recognize their pain and no more. Don’t be pulled into their web of emotional manipulation. Stay away from extreme narcissists”

    I hear:
    “Leper! Leper!” ???

    Narcissists are not necessarily consciously malicious, are they? Please correct if I am wrong, but NP’s, because of their “disease”, simply can’t feel what they are doing, or about to do, to other people. People should be warned of this kind of condition (facts of life), which is what many NPD sites do, but should not there be an acknowledgment that there is a lessened moral culpability. Don’t we treat people with disabilities today in a different way than when we used to cry leper? I find the rhetoric around this disorder disconcerting and I daresay depressing. Almost a catch-22: Does one come out as being a bastard narcisist, or just continue being a bastard and hope for the best? It could lead to a living hell on earth.

    Looking at S’s comment, is it a disorder if everyone has a bit of it? How much is too much anyway? Isn’t it a necessary survival trait? After all, they advise on airplanes to put your own oxygen mask on first…before your own child’s!

    Can it be traced to a brain function disorder or neural disorder (like depression) and treated with medication? A lack of some neurotransmitter or something? Apparently nobody knows its etiology. All we have are a bunch of behavioural symptoms.

    With this kind of logic about, I don’t know who to turn to. Might the cure be worse than the disease? Is there any research on NPD causes …a medication waiting in the wings?

    Help please. (Male, 59)
    PS. If this is seen as a narcissistic rant then so be it, I’m sorry. I sensed in this column some kind of compasssion that I haven’t found yet elsewhere.

    • V_Australia, your whole comment feels very off. How much is too much?? Whenever I hear someone say something like that, I know I’m listening to a person who is trying to twist things and pretend they’re being asked something totally unreasonable. Too much is when other people get hurt by your behavior. Your comment is one long cry for pity and is exactly the behavior this article talks about.

      You say you came here looking for compassion. Why are you searching the internet looking for ‘compassion’, rather than treatment? And why would you think it’s appropriate to look for compassion in an article that is written to help the victims of narcissistic abuse? And where is your compassion for the victims of narcissism?

      No, narcissists do not deserve an ‘acknowledgement of lesser moral culpability’. What exactly are you suggesting here? That people should offer themselves up on a plate for vicious, lifelong abuse (and narcissistic abuse is vicious) because otherwise they might make the poor narcissist feel bad? And they can never hold the narcissist accountable because it’s so unfair on the poor narcissist to be expected to display moral behavior?

      Your comment doesn’t come across as a rant, it comes across as the narcissistic pity play. The very fact that you’re attempting to guilt and shame people for staying out of abusive situations is just so strange and messed up. Use your time to find ways to take responsibility for yourself and get help for your narcissism, instead of searching for people who’ll buy into your pity story.

  21. Dr. Samuel,

    Thank you for the article… although some of the critical response from the readers may have helped shed more light to the topic, I still enjoyed the sharpness of your argument.
    A healthy interaction with others requires wisdom and much personal growth. It really is a sort of art the ability to help/assist another human being in a way that is constructive to both. 25 years of work with very dysfunctional individuals/communities have given me much to think about. At the end of the day we are all somehow touched by the dysfunction of our/the ego and all the disaster that it brings to our lives. In some the ego takes over completely. I agree with you completely : “Stay away from these extreme narcissists”. The ego will not stop… it doesn’t know how…


  22. Australia and Been There,

    For many extreme narcissist, life is a delusion… self-delusion of grandeur. Being extremely selfish can come with its own deception. The ego is like a drug. Some may realize they are that way consciously and some may not. I find that the subconscious mind seeks to please each of us. If we send it the messages that “I am God” it will be trained to play with us that game. It will tell us, “Yes, you are Divine!” For that egotist, that is what “normal” looks like.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  23. I can’t disprove a tautology.
    But my remorse is genuine.

  24. I ENJOYED READING THIS.. IT DID NOT SEEM LIKE HOMEWORK.

    THANK YOU PRO. YOUR AN AWESOME AND WISE PROFESSOR. :)

    XOXO
    T.Z

  25. “The more I pressed them about their lack of being forthcoming and failing at their own promise of commitment to the friendship, the more vehement they became at avoiding disclosure of their warts to me”.

    Therapist, heal thyself.


  26. Echo, you are a very funny person. I’ll give you the benefit of doubt that you are not a spammer, troll, or trying to flame me, etc.

    For your information, I continue on a life-long journey of healing in my life. I have a long way to go and the path is awesome! How about you, Echo? Are you finding healing yourself? :)

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  27. Wow. The reaction to this fine article is astounding. I suspect you all agree at the core. I didn’t find the article condescending. It’s true that overly pampering a child can create a false sense of entitlement/narcissism as can early injury, which makes a person unable to bond with another and love in a genuine way while desperately needing love they never received from a parent.

    As someone who has to been seriously injured by a narcissist, i subscribe to the response of just cutting them off. They are vampires and will confound your life in many ways. Who has time for that. If you are stuck dealing with them, due to circumstances beyond your control, then you have to play the dance.

    I must say that before I became ensnared by a narcissist, I was a very kind person who only wanted the best for others. I Liked helping others. Now I am scarred — but perhaps this is for the greater good. I am now skeptical of others and less likely to give the benefit of the doubt. If I spot any inconsistencies or issues up front, I address them, and if possible, detach from the relationship. I have always valued good character, but now I a stickler and try to ensure only people of good character surround me — and immoral people are phased out.

    People who are all ego are draining and will never help you when the chips are down. However, they can be useful if you can use them to get what you want by helping them get what they want/feeding their ego, etc. They will never have your generous nature.

    At the same time, when you achieve your goal, you no longer have to cater to them as they have no loyalty to you. It’s interesting to watch them lash out and slander after they no longer get their way and have your undying loyalty and support.

  28. Lucy, wow I experienced just about exactly what you described of the narcissist that you had dealt with. I dated a guy for 7 months, and as soon as I started to realize that something about him was off, and I started to stick up for myself and not pamper his every need and desire and didnt praise him non stop, then things got bad and he started to turn on me. He looked down on me, degraded me, made me feel low as a person, made me feel useless, but then he would switch back and suck me back in by being charming to me and being sweet and affectionate. I think he just did that to get me right back to where he wanted me and to get me back under his control. He seemed to know exactly what to say and just what to do to suck me back in. And it always seemed to be that if I wasn’t in full support of his every wish, then he lashed out and started to blame me for problems in the relationship. Everything was my fault! I was sick of being blamed for all these things that I never did. I did however always end up apologizing if something was my fault and i would also apologize and take the blame for what he did. I let him go ahead and put all the blame on me. I couldn’t handle it anymore and I finally got out of the relationship. That was the most traumatic time I have been through. I was and still am emotionally drained, I feel like I now have all these issues that I didn’t have before, I feel sucked dry, I feel like I’m messed up in the head and I’m now starting to think that everything was all my fault in the relationship. I’m starting to listen to his lies that he kept putting in my head when we were together. I feel like I’m the bad person for walking away. I think “well if I would had just done more, or been nicer, or praised him more, etc, then maybe things couldve worked out”. But there was literally nothing more I could do but get out. I couldn’t handle living under that stress. I cried at least twice a week if not more because I couldn’t handle it, but I stuck it out longer to try to make it work because I didn’t want to give up and quit. I cut off all communication from him in September 2010, then we reconnected over the phone around Christmas 2010. Which I still don’t know why we did. We got together and started to fall back right where we left off, I was happy for a while because I thought things had changed with him, then I started to realize and remember again how he made me feel horrible as a person, and I saw that nothing had truly changed, so I had to cut it off again. I feel like I went back because he has this power and control over me and this way of luring me back in because he knows just what to say to win me back. And it’s sick! It’s ruining my life and I am an emotional wreck because of it. How do I deal with the pain and after math of breaking away from him again, and how do I stay away? I know he is dangerous to be around, my family and friends all see it in him. I have to admit that he is very good at what he does and how he plays this sick game, and he is very good at manipulating to get what he wants from people, and it is sick! Just being around him this second time around for a few weeks has already got me running for my life to get away from him! I want to learn to stay away and not get sucked back in by his sick control and manipulation. I do believe that he is cold hearted and can’t truly feel anything for others. Just from his actions and some of the things he has said and done to me, it is evident that he has no true empathy or compassion on anyone, and most likely doesnt know how to truly love someone. Yes my tone in writing this may be with some anger, but I am very saddened and frustrated that I went through this and experienced such a traumatic thing. I don’t wish this experience on anyone, so from personal experience I totally agree with Dr. Sam in warning people to STAY AWAY FROM LETTING AN EXTREME NARCISSIST GET CLOSE TO YOU! It’s definitely for your own good and well-being! I feel like after coming out of this relationship that I am not healthy as a result of it, and I want to get back to being healthy and stable and strong. I tried to stand up for myself and fight against his power over me, but I just wasn’t strong enough and couldn’t handle it.

    • You are not alone. i am just getting out of a 3 times divorced “gentleman. just let go and try to go on with your life because he will never revert to you once he was “discovered”.

  29. Dear Dr. Sam,

    The article is so true to what I experienced with being in a relationship with what i believe to be an extreme narcissist. I was crying as I read the above article because I was just what I experienced and felt. Even from the start of the article that says these relationships are filled with drama unless the narcissist is getting everything they want, that is so true to what I went through. I started to think that he was the girl in the relationship because things were so dramatic and overdone for no reason, he was a drama queen. I was so shocked to see what I thought was a man, yet acting like what reminded me of a teenage boy or a child. I had a question about one of the things you said in the article. You said that they cannot have any god over them being god of themselves. My ex claimed to be a strong follower of Christ, and he had made some comments before that I thought were a little strange, he said that he was God’s favorite and that he wanted to be the closest to God that anyone has ever been before. It seemed as if he would almost view himself as Saviour of humanity and god’s gift to humanity, and that he was being god instead of letting god be the god of his life yet he was claiming that he followed after gods guidance and direction for his life. His demeanor was not that of a humble man, but one of wanting glory and honor shown to him for the works that god has done in his life, and wanting to be praised for being gods hand picked special favorite person. It was as if he believed that god needed him to fulfill things on this earth. He seemed to look down on others and was such a know it all and thought he knew almost everything about the bible and god. He claimed to have these wild and off the wall stories of crazy things that God has done specifically for him in his life over the years. After reading that part in the article it just makes me think that maybe his fascination with god stems from him reaching out for that sense of grandioseness so that he can continue in this state of mind to where he views himself as the best, the greatest, the know it all, and so that he doesn’t have to lower himself down to be humbled, and therefore doesn’t have to face himself? It was almost as if he himself wanted to be worshipped as a guru or spiritual advisor or be god. I would ask him questions about the bible and god and he would sometimes tell me that I just wouldn’t be able to understand it and that there is just so much more for me to learn that I have no idea about yet! I don’t remember Jesus telling people in the bible that they just wouldnt get it or understand, I remember him saying that even a child could understand. My ex would make it sound like he had the secrets to the bible and to god and that he alone understands it and that other people won’t, and that people should come to him to gain that knowledge and insight into spiritual things. That to me sounds like a demeaning personality and one who was looking down on me with no respect. It’s just crazy how that whole article pretty much completely described my ex-boyfriend.

  30. Lexa – it sounds like you were with a man who is not only narcissistic, but delusional. He was being spiritually abusive toward you and trying to be the God in your life as well. Trust me, stay away from this person and seek the God of your own understanding – he is narcissistic and wants to be treated as a God like he must have been treated when he was younger. Try to figure out what you get out of being with a person like this.

    I was with a man who was extremely narcissistic – his mother spoiled him when he was younger. He was the surrogate husband and she would belittle his step father in front of him, as his step father abused his mother in front of him as well. Then his mother would cry to her son and take sides with him – treat him as if he were royalty. He eventually became a young man and turned against his mother, took the step father’s side. Unfortunately – he treated me with abuse the same as his step father treated his mother.

    He expected the same from me – to treat him as a God while he verbally abused me. It was really sick. Because I didn’t figure it out right away – and thought I COULD CHANGE HIS BEHAVIOR – I stayed too long and got sucked in. A year later, I am just starting to heal. And this relationship only lasted a year and a half.

    Take it as a learning experience – study all you can about sociopathic people and stay away from them. My biggest problem is I was very NAIVE. Now I am sadder but wiser…

    In your healing process – I suggest you do what I did – do VERY NICE THINGS FOR YOURSELF – and treat yourself well mentally. Then you won’t accept anything less from any man.

    Thank you Dr. De Victoria for these great articles. I was reading the Amazon posts on the book Quiverfull – and came across your wise comment. Thank you for that. There are many narcissistic people in the church who are not lead by grace and expect perfection from members – who are then too shamed to come forth and learn what true healing is about.

  31. Thanks, Lexa and Michelle. Been there, too, and tried again, and ended up the same. Still reeling from the loss, hurt, confusion and it’s almost been a year.

  32. This describes my partner. When she does wrong and that is pointed out to her she threatens to end the affair,and it’s now been three years and two kids. We have planned our marriage several times and had to shelve plans or delay because she accuses me of not loving her enough, or some other excuse. We are currently going through counselling and I doubt if that is working on her.

  33. This article is an absolute disgrace. It feeds in to the human fear of being exploited and creates chasms between people who should be looking out for one another. It is very easy to pick up on elements of mental disorders in people in society – we have them all to one degree or another. In my humble opinion this article is emotive and derogatory in the way it deals with what must be a very distressing situation for any human being to be Living through. Keep up the prejudice and you’ll be as much a narcissist as those you disdain.

    • You apparently have never encountered a narcissist – they will destroy your very soul.
      It is correct to stay away from these people – they twist and distort everything they can to justify themselves.
      They are the most unhappy people in the world.
      I write to you because I am a happy, caring person who fell victim to a narcissist. This person
      tried to destroy my very soul because they were envious that I was happy with myself. I am so glad that God gave me the wisdom to realize what was happening and the strength to get away from this person.

      • correct … it has taken me 55 years to realise that my mother is an extreme narcissist .
        she destroys everything she comes in jcontact with unless she is the centre of attention. pure evil.
        to understand is to protect oneself . thank you

      • Dear Happy. You are so right. A narcissist will destroy your soul and when they have finished will delete you. I was told I was making him unhappy (after three years of my caring and love). Then I found out he had recalled his ex divorced wife back two days before and no longer needed my supply which was diminishing. They like to get back to a relationship that was – in the past – a good source of narcisstic supply. They cleverly dish out some more sexual excitement and flattery. That person fell into the trap again and has my pity.I would not resume a relationship with him no matter how attractive he would try to make himself. I know it would not last and abuse would not be long in forthcoming again. This took me some time to realize and only after a lot of help.

      • If you’ve never had the experience of knowing an extreme Narcissist, then it’s easy to criticize this description. But it is the truth.

        In the case of the extreme ones, hanging around trying to make things work really never ends well. They are toxic, and they WILL get you.

        I have an aunt who is this person. She was so awful all during my childhood, that as a young adult and new mother, I refused to allow her any contact with my children. It was a good move.

        After the children were older, I began to feel sorry that she had no one who could be around her or who liked her much; so I tried to re-establish a relationship. I thought that as a middle aged woman, I could handle her dysfunction. I thought wrong. It was with great shame and defeat that I cut her out of my life. I don’t like that I couldn’t ignore the abuse long enough to help her out. But I couldn’t.

        It helps to read articles such as this and see other people find it just as damaging as I.

    • Disgusted? Apparently, this article is too close to home for you. I believe you feel this could have been written about you and are in complete denial. I was a psych major in college and have come across several narcissists over the years. The author is spot on with this vile disorder and I intend to purchase his book today, as well as giving my roommate notice in a way I’ve become accustomed to in the last year. I have never been so generous and in exchange received nothing but stress, anxiety and a guy who feels superior to the world. It’s always lovely to hear how wonderful your significant other is…… only problem, it only comes from his mouth. It would be nice to hear it from others, however, sadly that’s not the case. Btw, if I read an article and disagreed with the author, that’s okay. Let it be. When an article resonates and you’re a little smarter after reading, then the author should be commended. If I go into a boutique and the sales person is rude…. I don’t return. When treated kindly, I will go out of my way to let their superior know. I’m going to change my plans and do as much research on the subject as possible. Buying this book, is my #1 priority at the moment.

    • Well said. Well said. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This article makes me want to puke.

  34. Disgusted,

    I would ask you to look at the other posts before yours. With all due respect, they seem to disagree with you. I have done clinic, agency work, and also have my own private practice. If it weren’t for patient confidentiality laws, I could give you names of people that use their infirmity as a tool to manipulate others. In the official manual for diagnosing mental health (DSM IV) there is a term called “malingering.” If you believe I am exaggerating or misleading people I suggest you look at the definition. You can find a general description at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malingering

    I would kindly suggest that before you throw a rock, you first do a little more research on the matter.

    May your “disgust” be changed to enlightenment and blessing! :)

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  35. Thank you doctor for your insights and personal experiences. I have played the role of Narcissist Supply more than once in my life now. I know what it feels like to genuinely give of yourself to others who would use your own compassion and trusting nature against you; it feels like someone is chipping away at your soul, like you too are in danger of becoming indifferent and cold. It’s a long path to forgiveness for me for these types of persons so the fact that you want to treat them and feel there’s actually hope for them to experience what empathy and genuine concern for others feels like, is to be commended, not maligned.

    Thank you and keep you the good work!

  36. So is it safe to say that narcissist develop codependent relationships?

    • Yes, they do. “Co-” means a having a partner, a duality. Both people in the relationship are co-dependent but for different needs. And the things with narcissists is that they are never, and I do mean never, going to be able to do without that supply or admit their co-dependency so it has to be the other dependent person who seeks treatment and has to get out of the relationship or risk losing themself.

  37. nice article–am now understanding why my mother can not worship the true God Jehovah…its because she won’t stop worshipping her narcissistic self absorbed self– People like this who were self absorbed were swept away in Noah’s flood because they took no note of reality and were preoccupied with selfish pursuits and merriments–

  38. i disagree with the disgusted comment–i didn’t understand the attack on the truth about the reality of narcissistic traits in defense of them? It makes me wonder if the author of the comment is a narcissist defending his/her own tactics. I didn’t think the author of the article needed to be provoked and defend the article or justify it as if it was a personal attack, I kinda lost respect for the supposedly professional response to it?…but we are all imperfect humans and react to defend our ego?
    Anyway I did enjoy the coverage of the article–It was very interesting

  39. i just broke up with that kind of gentleman. with 3 divorces and so many weepings, he seemed at first as God’s designed lamb. once toegther, he never had money enough despite his one million plus villa. i ended up by paying even his son’s school.feeling bitter and angry at myself i still wonder at that kind of individuals who demand their place under the sun at the expense of others; i am also sorry that psychology dedicate the time to analyse what is so simly called egotism, egoism or whatever. forget the parents! dont give them alibis! the scavengers of our planet do not need Freud!

    • Soledad,

      We need Freud in the sense that to understand and eventually cure many of our issues we have to deal with the past. For example, finding original events where a person was traumatized and picked up limiting beliefs and negative emotions is the place to go to reframe and release the hold those have on us. I know that we have Cognitive Behaviorists that don’t believe that. My experience with the latter approach of only dealing with the present is that you end up treating only symptoms and not causes.

      Best regards,

      Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
      http://www.DrSam.tv

      • Freudian philosophy in conjunction with Cognitive Therapy is a powerful set of tools to have in the mental toolbox and can help repair a multitude of mental imbalances.

        I’ll personally be glad when the various schools of thought get over the “silver bullet” syndrome and learn to sing in harmony so we can all evolve a bit healthier.

        But the menage a trois psychiatry has started with that Narcissistic devil, BigPharma, and its brainwashed companion, the FDA, does not bode well for any of us. After all, as a species we’re several eons into the search for the religious silver bullet so mental health will have to wait in a VERY long line.

        There is no theory of everything.

  40. What do you do when you can’t avoid them? When it’s your mother and you still need her support as a college student? Her manipulation goes as far as limiting my resources and forcing me into submission.

  41. It’s taken me 37 years of my life being married to and divorced from the same narcissist 3 times to learn how dangerous they can be to your psyche. It’s not a brain disorder like Bipolar or schizophrenia, it’s a personality disorder, meaning you there’s no medical treatment like prozac or lithium. Further, these people are unable to experience feelings, so what makes us think they’d have the capacity to search their own soul and see they had a problem so they could get help?

    It didn’t help that I’m Bipolar I with psychotic features, and I finally realized I can never become stable again until I’m away from the constant, passive-aggressive abuse. All the hard work, therapy, medications, etc. are worthless when you open your eyes every morning to someone standing over you screaming about something you did wrong, or didn’t do, even if it was 20 years ago; when you break an ankle and they say “just walk around on it a couple of days, it’ll get better,” and refuse to drive you to the ER; or refuse to say anything in couples counseling besides “I’m confused,” even when asked what they’re confused about – until you confront them and they look you in the eye with a smug sneer and say “I have no respect for you, you haven’t earned it – until you do, I have no intention of trying.” When you spend weeks working to make their 60th birthday special because their mother never ever had a party for them (it’s just another day!), cooking an elaborate meal with wine, champagne, candles, flaming dessert; staging the dining room like a French bistro and even dressing in character; and search the internet for months to locate a gift of something they’ve wanted all your married life. But on yours, they insult and vilify you all day then take you out for a nice dinner, but continue the abuse all the way there and back in the car, and when you decide to ignore it and enjoy your dinner and have a nice time, they won’t look at you or respond to any attempt you make at conversation as if you weren’t there. But they’re a hero because they took you out, you’re an ingrate for complaining (and they’re the victim). And it gets worse with time, the verbal abuse gets peppered with physical threats, beating the dog, hitting you with the refrigerator door “accidentally” and coincidentally stepping in front of you to use the sink while you’re standing there – I could go on and on, but this is exactly what I mean. And if you complain, everyone, even your family and kids take their part because THEY’RE the victim having spent their life putting up with YOU. You’re “twisting” everything around; you should just “suck it up;” it’s better than growing “old and ugly” alone. You have it so good; a nice house, someone to pay the bills, you can’t make it on your own, etc. And when I finally got some support from a domestic violence hotline, joined a group of women who shared the same story, and actually believed me, I hardened my resolve to leave and found a place to go. But packing up, now I feel horrible and guilty; they’ll be all alone, I feel bad because they’ll be lonely and sad and I’m hurting them, we’ve been together since teenagers, etc. It’s like they inject you with a slow-acting poison that you can’t get out of your system, you have to go through withdrawals, but even one drop again and you’re completely hooked again – I should leave the country and would if I had the resources, never to be seen or heard from again. Not like anyone cares. This is what being involved with a narcissist does to you. I used to be a professional, educated, smart, attractive, successful – now I’m beaten – unemployed, sick and weak, 93 pounds of skin and bone, heart problems, rapid cycling for the past 2-1/2 years non-stop. A nightmare.

  42. Anna. We are the same age and I can identify with you. A narcissist is a dangerous person but we can feel tremendously sorry for him. That is because we are not one! He will never – I repeat – never – feel sorry for you. I have done so much research on this and it has helped but it is a long road and agonizing! Humans have to feel empathy for the survival of our species. Without it we are doomed. A narcissist can be pitied because he is not truly human. Be brave and escape so you can breathe. I know a lot of people can take their side and you take the blame. This can be devastating. But remember. You know best. There are so many nice people out there. And you can be cured. He can’t – especially by you because you have been a big source of supply and he will never look on you as being anything else even after you cease to be one. I went down to almost what you have but am rising up again. I never thought I could but death is the alternative and who wants that! Especially for such a monster. Think about it. Your life is much more important than to you than the narcissist in your life. You only get one life and you are very lucky if you only get one narcissist in your life. They are – unfortunately – pretty common

  43. This is only my belief and I may be wrong but I think if a narcissist has proclaimed himself cured then he was never a true narcissist. If there was a chink there somewhere that let the light in then he could not have been. I believe a true narcissist has no chinks – no openings. It is a closed personality with no possible avenue that another can penetrate. If it happened that a true narcissist let this guard down for even an instant he would probably die of terror or go insane but he would not be cured. He would preferably sink back again before any revelation was experienced anyway. If you feel you have been cured think yourself so lucky that you were not a true narcissist but just someone with a severe disorder who had some cracks somewhere to let the light in. A true narcissist, I believe, has not the slightest crack. Their world is a dark place TOTALLY contained within. If they could be cured then there would be no such thing as TRUE narcissism. I would welcome others opinion on this – especially those who may have felt they have cured one! Jan

  44. If you come in contact with someone who has been in an extreme narcissist relationship give that unfortunate person as much empathy compassion and love as you can muster. They have given this out in extreme dozes and have emtied their hearts in frustrated attempts to help another to find and return love. They are not suffering from self pity or going mad. They may not be even suffering from depression – although it resembles that. That is why anti- depressants do not always help but may even hinder recovery. Help this person to make them aware of the extent of their ex (hopefully) partner’s narcissism traits and how it has affected them and how it will affect their recovery. This knowledge can be the way to get over it.Let them explore the hurts and insults and abuse and send all that blame back where it belongs. This is a case of NOT TAKING ANY BLAME! It is not a two way thing. The narcissist is to blame intirely. He or she will not ever accept it so there will not be any remorse so you can blame all you like and feel FREE perfectly legitimatly! Jan

  45. Well I’ve been wondering for some time now what exactly is the issue with my boss…. She has everyone at work convinced she is the nicest person, but she’s had this crush on me and I’ve seen a side of her that completely made me question how i was so blind in the first place… She would constantly try and plant thoughts in my head about how my boyfriend was horrible and I should be treated like a princess… and luckily for me I don’t fall for bs that often and constantly making comments about how happy she was when we were working together or if we had a long drive to one of the stores. It made me uncomfortable but didn’t say anything. I kind of felt bad for her in a way cause she seemed naive and trusting and got stomped on a lot by both supervisors and subordinates so I always tried to help her cause up to this point it would always seem she was bending over backwards to help someone out and was a good person that just wanted to do good for every. WOW I had no clue what I had gotten myself into by trying to be there for her and to try and find a way to help her stand up for herself, since she didn’t really have any friends through work and her home life sounded awful and her significant other constantly guilt tripping her into staying in a horrible situation. Well all I guess I can really say is they prey on those with good intentions, try and drive a wedge between the person of interest and every single person in their life. They try make you think that you are a role model to them cause you are trying to help them learn to be stronger and not take abuse from others while in the mean time they are trying to seduce your boyfriend so the blame can be pushed on him taking advantage of her insecurity. In actuality he just wanted to say a nice thing to try and boost her confidence. Next thing I know, she’s saying she is such a bad friend for falling for his BS and bashing him again and saying I’m worth so much more than him looking elsewhere when the person he is with is so great. This makes me so uncomfortable. She knows I’m straight and is on this mission to make me see how we should be together… Anytime she starts to feel like I’m on to her manipulation she throws comments such as “well, I really hope if something bad happened and we weren’t friends anymore, it wouldn’t interfere with you being able to work under me” then basically a comment like how I’m so wonderful she doesn’t know what she would do with out me in her life. I’m not stupid. I know that is “leave me and I’ll make work hell for you til I fire you” she comes on even stronger, still getting denied. Then its why don’t I mean as much to you as you mean to me. So I’m conflicted dying to tell her to grow up cause she’s a decade older than I am and she’s very immature for her age. I then think about bad economy, no job market. Say something nice so you don’t lose your job.

    Sorry for the Novel,
    If this sounds like anything happening to you… RUN… It gets really annoying… and was completely confused as to why i was appalled when she said there is nothing wrong with circling an ex’s house or neighborhood or logging on to their or mutual friends social site to stalk them… She’s very well liked at work. Only manipulating 1 subordinate at a time so they appear crazy and she has her other employees will back her 100%. people view her as very professional and find them wanting to work even harder… I never realized the uncaring, fake, self centered, vengeful monster hiding inside the caring, selfless, naive, supportive boss we all wanted to be our best for.

    • You are exactly right, once you blow their cover or don’t go along with them they will retaliate with a vengeance, I was fired when I ended the relationship with my superior. He threatened me that it would happen if I didn’t stay with him. He was true to his word. Six months later he married someone from his past. I am suing for the loss of my job. He has received a promotion. How fair is that? He has them all fooled. No job was worth the abusive treatment .

  46. I am a survivor of a narssasist, 24 years with one and I had no clue, that is till I was an empty shell, if a bus was coming towards me I wouldn’t of had the energy to get out of its way, or even wanted to get out of its way. The last 3 years being the absolute worst cruelty and demeaning degrading behaviour from him, no sex, he didn’t speak to me, grunted abuse, I was ugly, fat, crazy, I finally snapped, told him I wasn’t going to enable his crazy shit anymore, and 24 years of being together stopped in that instant. Its been 5 months, the first 3 I was in shock denial didn’t eat, sleep was hospitalised, it was like our relationship actually never happened? Was the most bizzarest feeling. By the 4th month I started feeling better and desperately wanted him and my life back, thought cos I was stronger again I could go back and do what I’d been doing, which was basically waiting and watching for what sort of mood he was in, of stroking his ego, building him up,course I was totally brainwashed, I know that now. I have run into him a few times and he makes out he doesn’t know who I am or why the hell this strange woman has approached him, he has even called the police. Thank god I know what I know about these sick sick individuals.

    • Neene, my story exactly…..its like 25 years of your life didn’t exist….so so strange…..the more you research this illness the more you realise that most narcissist are almost a clone of each other in many of thei behaviours……I believe the major conflicts in the history of the world were caused by people with NPD…..and make no mistake anyone who is unfortunate enough to be involved with one is in the battle of their lives…

  47. Appreciate this long discussion thread very much, Dr. and posters. Have just been abruptly dumped by what I now realize is a major, or perhaps extreme, narcissist. Grateful that the relationship was only an intense few months,rather than years. But am still reeling, and will need much time to recover. Spent hours on end focusing on this person, falsely believing my naturally giving, compassionate nature (which he seemed so delighted with) might “cure” him, and that my strong love could help heal his severe past hurts. My role as saint & rescuer was my undoing! Yet when I recently caught him in a compromising situation and uncovered what he didn’t wish me to discover, he immediately cut off all communications. My use to him was over. Where did that sweet, charming, wounded little boy-man go? To my shock, he became a cold-hearted withholder, and a hostile controller. So all these discussions have really helped me see the fault is not so much mine as he would have me think, but more from his own illness and shortcomings. This realization will help me recover with some self-esteem still intact. Whew. And no going back, no matter how tempted I might be, IF he should ever again try to contact me. Thanks to all.

  48. Wow. Thank you all. “the more you research this illness the more you realise that most narcissist are almost a clone of each other in many of thei behaviours” … SO TRUE. I’m speechless because prior to reading this, I would never have labeled her as a narcissist (as I previously understood it to be defined) I respect and understand the desires to shun them, and at the same time, I personally don’t agree with it in entirety. If we always shun those who are wounded, what does that say for our own morals? I’m not saying I can be her ‘savior’ nor do I wish to be so, however, if she were to reach out to me and show some sort of remorse, I would not turn her away. Although, after reading all of your comments, I am coming to the realization that remorse will likely never happen. She has currently cut off all communication with me. And strangely, I always had a sense that she was in love with someone from her past that I would never measure up to… I had no idea this is a common occurence. Since my college days, Gandhi has been my inspiration for how I want to live and in drawing upon that I find strength to keep showing love while being aware of the patterns which this article and your comments have brought to light. I can’t thank you enough. Go forward in love and be well.

  49. Carl Jung used to say that ‘Neurosis is a substitute for genuine suffering’. Narcissist in that case really suffers, it’s not made up or pretended, it’s just that they don’t always realise that it’s because of the injured ego and lack of emotional stability. On the surface it looks like they are using people, but actually all those actions are just expression of the suffering inside, a mean and hurtful expression but the suffering is genuine. It doesn’t excuse them but it explains a lot. That’s of course my humble opinion, I have worked with it in therapy and with EFT for a while and noticed that as the levels of suffering subside and are integrated the levels of narcissism are also decreasing. Of course it requires openness and ability to reflect on one’s actions.

    • huh. good quote from Jung that I had forgotten–if I ever knew it. thanks for a thought provoking comment to mull over with my morning coffee.

  50. This describes a severe, even psychotic form of narcissism. Being narcissistic comes in degrees; everyone in our culture has some narcissism.

    True narcissists are more needy of love than “normal” people. They are also guarded emotionally, insecure — this makes them seem overly self absorbed. The ol’ two edge sword.

    I know an incurable narcissist, not pleasant to be around. She will never find the love she desperately seeks — her father died when she was a child. She deserves compassion if not affection.

    I know another narcissist who is fascinating and funny, but a volatile insecurity. A difficult friendship, but incredibly rewarding.

    So, perhaps, instead of scorning them for being “brats”, perhaps try to appreciate them for being so tragically — human.

    • @Dwee… though speaking as one with no small experience with Narcissists… including parents, siblings, recognizing my own narcissistic traits, and even ending up being married to a clinically diagnosed NPD… I still struggle with finding more humane & compassionate ways of dealing with these kinda folks, who IMO are actually all too common in modern culture.
      So it would be interesting to hear any “tips” that still allow you to maintain some sort of presumably healthy relationship and boundaries with them. Although I sometimes fear that those of us still struggling with “boundary issues” of our own, might not always be the best candidates for “managing” any sort of relationship with a narcissist (…lol)!

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