This post was inspired by some of the things which you have said to me. I hope you don’t mind, and I hope you can see how much you inspire me.
What would happen if you went into therapy to try and heal the issues that the Narcissists in your life have caused, and your therapist, after listening to your story, instead of being understanding as you had hoped they would be turned to you and said – I think you may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Now, if you’ve been in a relationship with a Narcissist, they may have accused you of such a thing already. It’s a trendy accusation and has been so for a while. It’s one of those accusations to which there is no clever reply, so if it was used to distract you from the situation, to shut you up or leave you sputtering angrily – No, I’m not, you are! – it probably worked. You got so caught up defending yourself that you forgot what the discussion or argument which you were having was actually about. And the Narcissist escapes responsibility once again by driving you crazy.
I saw this tactic used in an episode of Six Feet Under. The real Narcissist accused their partner of being a Narcissist to win an argument by taking it to a place of no return.
Since most Narcissists are not consciously aware that they have NPD, but they are aware of the existence of the disorder and that others (never them) have it, they feel very justified in using it as an accusation. To a Narcissist, it is everyone else who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They believe that, so arguing with them is pointless. They probably have proof too. Lots of stories about all the Narcissists in their life and what they did to them. Narcissists are always the victim. You made them do it. That is that.
And people who are not Narcissists, but who may consistently attract Narcissists will have similar proof and stories.
Can you see where this is going? It’s going straight into the land of confusion which is typical of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, whichever side of it you are on.
So what do you do if someone tells you they think you are a Narcissist? Well it depends on who is telling you this about yourself. If it is a Narcissist, shrug and ignore it, they’re talking about themselves as usual. But what if it is a mental health professional? They should know, right?
Well, in theory they should know. In practice… they should know that telling a Narcissist that they have Narcissistic Personality Disorder will get a door slammed in their face and that’s the last they will see of them. So why would they do it, unless they were deliberately trying to get rid of that patient. Maybe they were testing to see whether their patient truly wanted to heal themselves. A Narcissist who is willing to accept their disorder is rare, but they do exist.
But what if the patient who has just been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder doesn’t have the disorder? And what if they now believe they might because someone they are supposed to trust has told them they do?
If you tell someone who is trying to recover from years of abuse at the hands of a Narcissist that they have Narcissistic Personality Disorder you may end up destroying what was left of their strength to fight their way out of the confusion and silence which Narcissistic abuse causes.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder has become a demon of a disorder. Everyone knows about it. No one wants to be diagnosed with it. If you really have it, and you suspect you do… would you admit it? Society views it now as akin to being diagnosed as being possessed by evil. And we know how humans deal with that sort of thing.
If you are the child of a Narcissist, and especially if both your parents are Narcissists, you will have inherited by exposure to your parent or parents many of the traits and behaviour of NPD, but you do not necessarily have the disorder. But you may be an Inverted Narcissist:
Sam Vaknin—”a self-help author who openly discusses his experiences as a person with narcissistic personality disorder”—has identified a special sub-class of such codependents as “inverted narcissists.”
Inverted or “covert” narcissists are people who are “intensely attuned to others’ needs, but only in so far as it relates to [their] own need to perform the requisite sacrifice”—an “inverted narcissist, who ensures that with compulsive care-giving, supplies of gratitude, love and attention will always be readily available … [pseudo-]saintly.” Vaknin considered that “the inverted narcissist is a person who grew up enthralled by the narcissistic parent … the child becomes a masterful provider of Narcissistic Supply, a perfect match to the parent’s personality.”
In everyday life, the inverted narcissist “demands anonymity … uncomfortable with any attention being paid to him … [with] praise that cannot be deflected.” Recovery means the ability to recognize the self-destructive elements in one’s character structure, and to “develop strategies to minimize the harm to yourself.” – via Wiki – Codependency
Narcissistic parents tend to turn their children into Inverted Narcissists. Recovering from being an Inverted Narcissist is significantly easier than curing Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Inverted Narcissism is still questioned as to whether it actually exists or not. That in and of itself, to me, confirms that it does exist as it is a disorder which does exactly what it says it does, it demands anonymity and so people ignore it and deny it. That’s what happens to children of Narcissists.
I am the child of two Narcissists and I was an Inverted Narcissist for a while. I did not develop NPD. I did feel pressured to do so by my parents, but it never took root, because my parents did not want that kind of competition, so they installed a self-destruct button within me should I ever think I was… a separate entity from them. So, in some ways, having two parents who were Narcissists stopped me from becoming one. I also owe a lot to life for not giving me the sort of opportunities which might have encouraged the disorder to take hold. I never went into therapy. Therapy requires trust. Trust is very difficult for the child of Narcissists, as when your parents betray you, trust is not an option. I cured myself, and still work on that cure every day. My cure basically entails embracing being an ordinary human, and enjoying it. I’ve written about this in other posts, and you’ll see the signs of it in all of my writing.
And that is the secret to knowing if you are a Narcissist or not. Can you embrace being an ordinary human? That may sound like a silly question, but it is the simplest things which give Narcissists away. To them the concept of being ordinary is horrific. To me it is a relief and a most beautiful idea. Tell a Narcissist that they are ordinary and they will scream – I’m melting! No they won’t, they’ll try to annihilate you with vitriole and/or erase you from their life.
So, if your therapist suggests to you that they think you may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder… rather than being upset or offended or outraged, flip it around… no, don’t accuse your therapist of being a Narcissist, they might be but that’s another story… If the reason you are in therapy is to heal from the abuse you suffered at the hands of a Narcissist, then maybe being cured of having Narcissistic Personality Disorder is exactly what you need. WTF do I mean!?! Well, NPD is a confusing mess… so perhaps the cure for all the abuse you suffered at the hands and mouth of a Narcissist lies within the cure for the disorder itself.
I have learned more by studying NPD than I have by trying to solve my problems individually. Because the NPD of my parents caused most of my issues, getting inside of the disorder has helped me to understand it and cure the damage it has done to me. I’m still working on it… and most recently realising how much of my behaviour is similar to that of those with NPD has been an amazing breakthrough.
Healing… can cross boundaries, and sometimes by crossing those boundaries willingly we can embrace the sort of healing we thought was out of our reach. A flexible mind with very flexible thinking is necessary when dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
So, if your therapist suggests you have it, try this just to see what happens – Ask them what the cure is? Maybe that cure will help you, even if you don’t have the disorder. You never know until you try, by trying you find out, and then you’ll know for sure… and won’t be as open to being messed with by others.
Please be aware all my advice is crazy. I learned a while ago that the only way to deal with my parents and other Narcissisits was by being crazier than they were (I suppose that’s rather NPD-ish), it was holding onto my sanity that was hurting me. If you can’t beat them, join them, learn their ways and then use those ways against them to free yourself from club you don’t want to belong to.
As always… Take care of yourself. I mean that literally.