Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 7 · 2 years ago

Can Narcissism Be Fixed?

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Stacey was frustrated by her adult 35-year-old son with two failed marriages (everything was the ex’s fault), five career changes (his bosses hated him and wanted to get rid of him), a couple of DUIs, and now living back at home. No matter what happened, other people were to blame for his relationship and career failures. Stacey was sympathetic but exhausted from the constant drama in her son’s life.

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...to grow with Christine Dot com forward slash narcissism. That's grow with Christine dot com, forward slash narcissism. This master class will change your life again. That's grow with Christine Dot Com. Forward Slash Narcissism. This is understanding today's narcissist, brought to you in part by Psych Centralcom and now here's your host, Christine Hammond. One of the many questions I get asked about narcissism is it is it possible to actually fix narcissism? So it's kind of a complicated answer, and so what I'd like to do is begin with telling you a...

...story about stacy and then we're going to kind of like work through it. What I'm going to do is I'm going to give you the three different areas that you see narcissism and then give you some solutions and an example of what it looks like. So let's start off by talking about stacy. She was really frustrated by her adult, thirty five year old son who had to failed marriages. Everything was always the ex's fault. He had five career changes, his bosses hated him and wanted to get rid of him, a couple of Duis and now he was living back at home. No matter what happened, everybody else was to blame for his relationship and career failures. He didn't take any responsibility. Stacy was sympathetic but exhausted from the constant drama in her son's life. As part of the agreement for her son living with her again, he committed to helping with the yard work, but when stacy asked him to...

...take down the holiday decorations a month later, he exploded, calling her names and treating her abusively. This, unfortunately, was not the first time he reacted this way, but lately it seemed way more of a pattern than just a one time event. So stacy stumbled across the definition of narcissistic personality disorder, probably much like you have done here, and believe that her son was displaying all of the characteristics. But then she had this one gnawing question. Can it be fixed? So that's what we're going to talk about today. The answer to the question depends solely on the narcissist. Probably the most frustrating part of this. There are some aspects that can be changed and then there are some aspects that cannot be changed. There are three components to narcissism in...

...the form of biology, environment and choice. The fourth element of support actually reinforces narcissistic behavior. So we're going to talk about the four different areas biology, choice, environment and support, and I'm going to explain to you what that looks like and how a narcissist can, if they choose, change. Let's talk about biology. First, DNA contains genetic characteristics that define the individual of a person. A quick glance at a family tree often reveals some of those traits that are most common within a family unit. Personality disorders do run in families. Even when a person does not have the disorder, the familiarity of it increases the likelihood that they will actually marry or be involved in a relationship with someone who does. This only further perpetuates the disorder within a family...

...unit. So what's the solution for biology? Well, DNA cannot be changed. However, when a person knows that high blood pressure runs in the family, they can take action to prevent hypertension. The same is also true and narcissism. It's not easy, however, because it is so contrary to the superior belief which is a defining characteristic of their personality disorder. Yet their egotistic attitude. Hell's a narcissistic person to believe that they can actually overcome anything, including the disorder itself. That's the irony of all of us. So here's an example for you. One of the best ways to expose the family narcissistic traits is to have the narcissists do a family tree. Many narcissists like to think that they are unique, even within their own family unit. By showing...

...them that no one in their family apologizes or empathizes their natural desire to outdo others within the family causes them to want to change this aspect. So notice it isn't a real hardcore, heartfelt change, which is kind of like what we look for. Rather it's a competitive, I can outdo you, type of a change that the narcissist will actually use to propel them to be different from family members. So number two is environment. The maladaptation of Eric Garrickson's second stage of psychosocial development is shame and doubt. Instead of the positive outcome of autonomy, trauma during the time of eighteen months to three years old encourages as negative outcome. This is where the narcissism is often born. At the very heart of every narcissist is a deep rooted insecurity that they desperately try to...

...cover up. Childhood Trauma, narcissistic parenting and or being bullied at school, either at home or at school, are common environmental factors in the reinforcement of the narcissistic trait. So this is the environmental factor. So what's the solution? Once the insecurity and or the trauma or Traumas have been discovered, healing from this reduces the need to mask it. In addition, other adult traumas resulting from narcissistic behaviors should also be addressed. This purging of environmental factors removes the underlying need for the narcissistic behavior. Note, it doesn't change it, it just removes the need for like what I would call a greater intensity or greater use of it. So they might still exaggerate, but not overly exaggerate anymore. So what's an example of this? Any type of abuse done at...

...an early age can spark narcissism, especially sexual abuse. Discovering this trauma is difficult, as most narcissist do just about anything to hide from their embarrassment. Once it's revealed, removing the shame and guilt associated with the event actually takes the wind out of the narcissism. Believe it or not. It actually removes some of the desire to continue to be so narcissistic. So that's the environmental factor. Once again, I want to repeat this is not a heartfelt change. This is rather just reducing the intensity of environmental factors that have contributed to the to the creation of narcissism. Number three is choice. Personality disorders are not identified until a person reaches eighteen years old. This is because the fifth stage of psycho social development is role identity versus confusion, which begins at twelve...

...years old and ends at eighteen. During these formative years, a team tries on the rolls of various persons to see which part they want to incorporate into their identity. So there is some element of choosing the narcissistic traits because they, i'vously, got some type of reinforcement for it. Either they got a job that they wanted or they got a grade that they wanted by being narcissistic. So what's the solution for this? Any person who has been married for a while will testify to either changing their personality or that of their spouse. Life's circumstances have a way of continuing to mold and shape a person for better or worse. Narcissistic traits can grow strong or even diminish as the person ages. It is up to them to make a choice towards or against their own natural tendencies. This is a really important part of it. So it's almost...

...will power iss where you are trying to work towards making a positive change, but you have to see that it exists in the first place, which is very difficult for most narcissists to do. So what's an example of this? The sense of entitlement is strong with narcissists. However, this is the one area that narcissists frequently complain about in others. By exposing and comparing one sense of entitlement with another, many narcissist naturally turn away from this trait. So it's just a matter of repeated behavior, repeated exposure, so that they see it as being distasteful and they choose not to be that way themselves. That was choice. Again, I'm sorry to say, it's not a heartfelt decision. So I want to keep reiterating this because if you're a codependent listening to this, that's going to be what you really want, but that's not what you're really going to get for change in a narcissist. Let's talk about support.

This is our last area, area number four. In order for narcissism to flourish, a narcissist needs for magic ingredients attention, affirmation, adoration and affection. Unfortunately, negative attention is just as effective as positive. The only way to starve the ego of a the narcissist is to ignore them, embarrass them or expose their insecurity. Doing so ignites a strong reaction from the narcissist that is intimidating and often threatening. What's the solution? The goal here is to teach those around the narcissist to discourage the narcissistic traits without angering the narcissist. When the traits contrary to the narcissism are done, the four magic ingredients are given. This is simply behavior modification. So what you're doing here,...

...the solution, is that you're removing the narcissistic feeding tools, which is attention, affirmation, adoration and affection, and or you're reducing them to a very small dose, a very small amount, almost like you're taking away from an addict the full use of a lot of alcohol and minimizing it. To a small amount. So what's the example? When a narcissist fails to express empathy for someone else, their insensitive comment should be ignored by immediately changing the sub object. Addressing it negatively reinforces the narcissism. When they do express empathy, is simple remark such as thank you for your kind words can provide affirmation of the narcissist needs. So you see how we like positively encourage the good behavior and we negatively discourage the bad behavior. So in that way we are able to, like, through as support effort, be able to reduce some of...

...the intensity of the narcissism. Once again, this is not a heartfelt change. So once stacy was able to get her son into therapy, some of his strong narcissistic traits actually diminished. He's now remarried with kids and has held a job for the last five years. There is hope, there is help. It can get better, but it can only get better if the narcissism wants to be fixed. Thanks for listening to understanding. Today's narcissist with Christine Hammond, brought to you in part by Psych Centralcom. For more information, visits grow with christinecom.

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