It’s Narcissist Friday!
Not long ago I suggested that narcissism was becoming the new “fad” diagnosis. It does explain much of what we see in our culture and in our relationships and narcissists are often extreme characters. Those who struggle in narcissistic relationships often have dramatic and tragic stories to tell. And narcissism is often confused with egotism and other personality issues. Add to this the intense longing victims have for help and you have the formula for marketing success.
There is a great deal of information about narcissism on the web, just like there is for many of the diseases and relationship issues regular people face. One website that has been called to my attention is narcissismcured.com. It is a platform for Kim and Steve C. Of the several books sold through the website, the primary one on their story and solutions for narcissism is “Back from the Looking Glass.”
I always appreciate new resources. This one concerns me. I learned about this resource through a comment left on this blog, but I held the comment until I could purchase and read this book. Here are some of my thoughts.
Narcissism is a multi-faceted problem. One of the more important things I have learned is that solutions that work for one person or relationship may not easily transfer to another. The Cs identified a problem in their relationship that they consider to be narcissism and found ways to deal with it. There are many things on their website and in their book that will be helpful to some people. To others it will bring more discouragement and condemnation. This is why I really cannot endorse their work. Some of the things I will mention are just things that concern me. But I know the desire some readers have for a solution to their problem and a cure for their marriage. I know that some would be happy to part with all kinds of money to follow the suggestions of the Cs. I also am confident that, for many, this money would not only be wasted but would purchase more trouble.
Here are some concerns. You are welcome to disagree or ignore or whatever.
- A website called narcissismcured.com is almost comical in its marketing promise. The suggestion that the Cs have stumbled onto something or have invented something missed by generations of therapists seems a little much.
- The website is built like the intense marketing websites that promise solutions to health, dating, and sexual performance. There are many things to purchase. Some free information is shared, but it all leads back to the obviously primary focus on sales. Now, I understand that people have a right to sell information and that this is a legitimate style of marketing. Many of the points of the free information are genuinely helpful. But this will seem almost mercenary to many people.
- The booklet is short, just fifty pages or so, and may be difficult for people who care about the details of good writing. It is a personal success story with the author’s opinions on what worked and why. For those who are in narcissistic relationships, there is some basic and powerful information about boundaries and how to use authority. Those who purchase it will find some useful information about how to confront narcissism in a marriage relationship, but will probably be disappointed at the cost/value ratio.
- Of course, my perspective stems from Christian thoughts. This book does not share that view and I think it falls short of providing the real cure for narcissism in Jesus Christ. Now, that’s my perspective. I am entitled to it and you are entitled to disagree.
So far these are style or philosophical concerns. I found it a little disconcerting to find a hard marketing approach to a problem that has hurt so many so deeply. But the value isn’t in the marketing, but in the content. Unfortunately, I have some concerns with that as well.
- It is difficult to believe this story. I am sorry to say that. There is something off in the telling. It may be that the author avoided too much of the negative. It may be that her solutions are a little too familiar. I am not saying that it is fiction or a lie; just that it is off somehow. When something is hard to believe, it becomes a difficult source for learning.
- Apparently some have doubted that the husband was actually a narcissist. I did not find where they had received a professional diagnosis, but the author rejects anything less than a full NPD situation. From the little that is written by the husband as affirmation in the book, it seems to me that he shows too much empathy to be narcissistic. That may be the result of hindsight, but he writes as though he actually understood and valued her needs at the time. He was glad that certain actions were taken to hold him in check, for example; and he was glad that she was taking the opportunity to stand up and grow in herself. This is hardly narcissistic character. It seems much more likely that this was a troubled individual who had to learn some limitations and deal with his avoidance issues.
- The primary mechanism for change in this relationship appears to be some kind of re-parenting for the narcissist. That is the word used in the text. This approach is questionable at best and I would never consider expecting a wife to do this for her husband. The definition of a marriage relationship would seem incompatible with this approach. Perhaps a counselor or an older guide of some kind could do this, but a wife?
- The wife in this story seems almost super-human. Yes, it is obvious that this was a struggle, but the success is powerful. Her tenacity and personal strength must have been off the chart. I cannot help but admire her dedication to the marriage and her faithfulness to her husband, but the way she takes over his life would be difficult for a normal person. A narcissist would recoil at such intimidating control. Now, again, this is my opinion. Perhaps she is right about the need to control his friends, his time, and almost everything else in his life and perhaps some narcissists would agree to that control. It does boggle the mind, though.
- Although the promise is the cure of narcissism, the result seems to be a change from narcissistic behavior. I have always believed that this was possible through strong and enforced boundaries. Narcissists have needs and when the supply of those needs is tied to behavioral change, they can comply. They may even do so willingly and positively. But this is not the same as a cure for narcissism. The book does address the need for perspective change in the narcissist, from being afraid to being secure in love, for example. I think the author understands some of the core issues of narcissism and tries to suggest ways to deal with those issues. However, since it seems doubtful that the husband actually was a narcissist, the cure may be simple behavior modification.
That’s just a few of my concerns with this book and website. You are free to judge for yourself. I appreciate learning of new resources and am happy to look them over, but I won’t blindly pass them on. If you want to get the C’s book, go to Amazon and save a little money. But you could save your money altogether.
While this is not a resource I would recommend, you might find some help there. Look over the free articles before buying anything and look with a critical eye. The practical steps suggested are helpful for those who need to know how to protect themselves. My primary concern is that someone would read this and become even more discouraged and shamed. The idea that you just have to do a certain number of steps to cure someone’s narcissism and save your marriage is a message that can make someone feel even more of a failure. Believing that there is a way and that you cannot measure up to the competence or strength needed may make you very discouraged.
The bottom line is what we have talked about so often. It is certainly not mandatory that you give up on your narcissist. Some have chosen to live with their difficult person. But you will find more success if you set solid boundaries, backed by strength greater than your own. Be willing to use law enforcement. Be willing to have a safe place to go. Be willing to plan ways to stop the abuse. Understanding the narcissist’s needs may allow you to do this through negotiation. Whatever you do, seek to be healthy.
(Kim Cooper has sent a nice note, which I have included in the comments below. Since I directly addressed the ministry and web presence she and Steve have, it seems fair that she has this opportunity to respond. Please scroll to my comment on February 14, 2017 for her note.)