Disarming the Narcissist – Behary

It’s Narcissist Friday!

It seems to be generally agreed among the professionals that narcissism is something left over from the childhood of the narcissist. For some reason, the child learned to hide his/her vulnerable self and project a superior image. During the trauma that created that deception, the child lost (or never learned) the ability to empathize with others. In fact, he/she never developed the understanding of others as persons, independent and valuable in their own right. Usually this is considered to be the result of parenting issues.

The concept of “re-parenting” people who struggled with severe personality or emotional issues got a bad reputation from those who used questionable techniques such as regression therapy and recovered memory. Those who promoted re-parenting also had a tendency to blame the parents for any and all aberrant or destructive behavior in the child, even when that child was an adult. These techniques and assumptions often had the effect of producing the results they were supposed to reveal.

However, the idea that the narcissist could return to his/her childhood and revisit the trauma from a new and adult perspective would seem to have some potential. Could the narcissist see and acknowledge the pain and fear of abandonment or the confusion of ever-changing standards and boundaries and find a way to personal peace and normal growth in relationships? Those who understand that the narcissists themselves are in pain and live in fear would hope that such a process would be possible and helpful.

According to Wendy Behary, whose primary clientele are “mostly narcissistic men,” this re-parenting is not only possible, but very useful in working through interpersonal relationships. In her book, “Disarming the Narcissist,” Behary attempts to show those who must deal with narcissists how to defend themselves and offer valuable feedback to the struggling narcissist.

DisarmingtheNarcissist2ndEd-CF.indd

As I read this book, I found myself wavering between two opinions. It is clear that Behary knows narcissism. Her descriptions of narcissistic interactions and relationships are often right on point. Many readers will identify with her observations. On the other hand, her assessment of narcissistic behavior seems to excuse the abuse and cruelty by reminding the reader of the broken child in the narcissist.

Her overview of schemas and how narcissists are able to get under our skin and control us through our own vulnerabilities is insightful and gives the readers more power in narcissistic relationships. It is helpful to know why we are so open to narcissistic abuse. However, those who are already given to blaming themselves for their relationship problems will probably feel even more justified in that blame as they understand why they react the way they do to the narcissist.

Finally, her discussion of re-parenting the narcissist by feeding back therapeutic words and helping the narcissist feel accepted in his/her weakness and see how the negative behavior affects others may be just the kind of therapy that will work with the narcissist. I have long believed that some narcissists are not as malicious as their behavior portrays, but are simply so used to responding and manipulating in negative ways that they don’t know what else to do. Helping them to discover different ways, ways that will enhance relationships while not causing them more pain, could be a great blessing.

But is this the role of the spouse or child in a narcissistic relationship? Behary gives examples of language that could be used within the relationship, but one can hardly imagine a wife or child using that language without significant backlash. If a wife were to tell her husband that she understands his continuing shame from the times his mother treated him like a dress-up doll in front of her friends, she may find him withdrawing even more or striking out in anger as he makes it clear that she is not to go to that place again. Can even an adult child be expected to confront a parent with the psychological causes of negative behavior?

Suggesting that the victims stand in the place of the counselor could serve to make them more vulnerable and feel more culpable for the problems in the relationship. Actually, Behary is not saying that the wife or child could really do the counselor’s work. She is simply offering a way for narcissistic victims to take back some control of their own lives and, at the same time, offer some help to the narcissist. My concern is that this may set the victims up for further abuse and disappointment.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, with a couple of notes. First, as you read it, don’t automatically think that you can do what Behary suggests. You may not have the kind of relationship where this is possible or the kind of narcissist who would respond in any positive way. You also may not be in the emotional position to try these things. And if you feel like you are losing yourself and are becoming psychologically or emotionally unstable, you should probably separate from the relationship. If, when you are more healthy, you want to try these things, do it from a position of strength.

It is also worth noting that a therapist who works regularly with narcissists has not written a book on how to help the narcissist. Instead, Behary’s book, like so many in this area, is written for the victims. There is something in that to suggest that the type of feedback Behary offers for use in narcissistic relationships will only be helpful in a fraction of situations. Some people who exhibit narcissistic behavior and ideas may be open to the reasonable approach promoted in the second half of this book. Others, not so much.

I would be very interested in the thoughts of those who have read this book, particularly those who have used these ideas in their own relationships. You are welcome to disagree with me. I think this is an important part of the literature on this subject, but I caution anyone who wants to approach a narcissistic relationship using these tools.  You should also know that this review is based on the first edition of the book.  A second edition is now available.

I won’t be able to respond to comments for a few days because I will be traveling, but you are welcome to leave comments. Here are some other books you might find interesting.

https://graceformyheart.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/books-on-narcissism-pt-1/

http://graceformyheart.wordpreDisarmingtheNarcissist2ndEd-CF.inddss.com/2011/04/22/more-books/

85 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Narcissism

85 responses to “Disarming the Narcissist – Behary

  1. David, I agree that this book is very insightful for helping victims understand the dynamics of what keeps them in the relationship. But, when it comes to trying to help the Narcissist through the strategies suggested, I believe it does, in fact, incite more abuse. I personally tried the tips in the book back when I was still in an abusive relationship, as have many of the people I work with. I’ve yet to hear of a successful outcome as it pertains to trying Behary’s suggestions, or any other book related to the same, for that matter.

    I’d be more apt to recommend your blog to victims of Narcissistic abuse than suggest they read Behary’s book. I commend her for helping readers understand themselves from a victim’s standpoint, but I can’t say the same for her suggestions for “disarming” the Narcissist.

    • Fellow Survivor

      I agree with you Kim. You can’t disarm a true Narc. The only true self defense is to get out of the way. There are 3 options; surrender (your very soul), get out of the way, or be destroyed.

      • Penny

        AMEN. Toy, tool, or obstacle. That’s all you are to them. Period.

      • I agree as well, and I have been there. Just the fact that I did understand something at the root of his problem was too exposing, making him too vulnerable, and lots of violence to shut me down so he didn’t have to face his internal demons resulted.
        No, not advice for spouses. Maybe it works if the N is willing to go to and cooperate with a counselor, but it’s potentially deadly for a spouse (wife in my case) to try. I know firsthand.

    • Thanks for the comment, Kim! This was my concern as I read the book. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that any real narcissist would accept that kind of counsel from a professional, but there may be some. I cannot imagine one accepting the words Behary suggests from a spouse or child or friend. As I mentioned in the post, it seems telling that the book is written for the victims and not for the narcs. If she is so successful in helping them change, why wouldn’t she write the one book we all would like to see? There is practically no competition for that contribution to the literature. Instead, she “sets up” the victim to be further victimized or, at least, to feel guilty for not being able to help the narc.

      • Anon

        Amen, David! Well said. I wish these books would be outlawed. As you say, they serve no purpose other than to revictimize the victim…which makes me think this woman really doesn’t know what she is talking about and/or has never really dealt with a pathological Narc. It further perpetuates the myth out there that narcs are just misunderstood hurt little children who like attention because they didn’t get enough and we can/should just love them out of it. What dangerous advice indeed. Again, a way better read is Character Disturbance by George Simon…contrary to Behary, he makes the important distinction that Narcs are not suffering from too much shame but rather not enough healthy shame! They are shameless and a good dose of shame is what helps most of us keep in check with our morality and have empathy for others.

      • Kathy

        And isn’t that how the Victim became the Victim in the first place — trying to be nice and to helpful?

  2. You can’t disarm a narcissist. Sounds like more co-dependency and I am not willing to go there anymore. It is like trying to find the lochness monster or bigfoot.

  3. Kathy

    I’m sure the book is very good. I have not read it nor do I intend to read it. I am less interested in disarming a narcissist as I am in de-targeting myself. 🙂

  4. Narcissis Spouse

    I am reading the comments and because I have lived with “my” narcissis
    husband for 20 years, I feel for all of us, myself included. It is, as she has said, we reach a point of practicing self-defense if we decide we love the person enough or cannot escape the relationship. Toughing it out is the most difficult option and I have opted to more or less stay out of the way of the narcissis reacting and manipulating by almost becoming my own narcissis! As I write that, I ask myself if you will understand what I mean. I think I have turned into one tough lady!

    My husband, in his eighties, grew up during the depression in a family of 11 other siblings on a farm in Kansas. Needless to say, his parents had a terrible time feeding and clothing all of these children and as each son turned 12 years old, they were farmed out to other people to work on their farms for room and board. Abandonment? Surely….lots of anger issues, a need to control what they could and probably attempting to manipulating the adults and strangers about them to even protect their safety and security.
    I groan a little when my common sense tells me his was not the only family practicing this method of “family survival” during the depression so how many other narcissis personalities were created at that time.

    As a former counselor myself working with high risk personalities, I have understood my husband’s fears and attempts to hide how he needs to operate to survive……because of that, too, I have been very vunnerable to
    his tactics and techniques and so many times it has been very painful to me
    even though “I understand”. They do attach themselves to caretaker personalities because they are easier to manipulate and control, I believe.

    Now, at his late age, perhaps he has mellowed slightly, but then, he is still
    “what he is” and I am always on guard. He is still a fox in the woods. He must always be first and not feel abandoned or else he will strike out . Then, as “Survivor” states, I get out of the way. A lesson for us all, perhaps….we need to always be watchful and strong to protect ourselves and know who we are to do so!

  5. Sunflower

    http://new.livestream.com/portableproduction/AbuseSeminar?inf_contact_key=27525dbc011c5017afcc77ac5326c11509f62e65c57e3392a170c86112cb113b

    Also, Caring For the Heart ministries has huge success with Ns by leading them to Jesus for healing of heart issues. The power of God is the only help.

    • Kathy

      I would like to think there is help for an N — but I don’t believe there is. I think of the smear campaign — very deliberate lies meant to completely discredit someone, isolate someone. That is evil.
      God is the only help — He can set the captives free. The captives of the N.
      God is very clear in His word — there are evil people. Do not throw your pearls before swine. They will turn and trample you.
      I don’t for a minute believe Jesus meant that literally — because no one in their right mind would do that literally.
      Ns have made a deliberate decision to live against God’s word and they have no excuse. Many are “Christians.” They know the Word.
      Their evil is deliberate.

      • Valerie

        I agree that the evil is deliberate. My N, too, has slandered me and sabotaged any attempt to keep our marriage. There is a difference between offense and defensive strategies for coping. With my husband it didn’t seem to be a coping mechanism but a way of life. He was able to turn on/off his abusive behavior. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

        I highly recommend Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That?”. Lundy’s approach is that the heart of the issue is entitlement. Abusers keep abusing because they believe that they have a right to want what they want regardless of how it affects others. He does not offer boxes of Kleenex to the abusers but calls it for what it is.

        I used to be in the school of thought that said every unhealthy behavior is the result of low self esteem but I no longer believe that after seeing evil face to face. A narcissist doesn’t have low self esteem (despite what they try to tell you) but rather an inflated sense of ego that brings them to entitlement. I recently was talking with someone who said several times in the conversation that they have low self confidence/self esteem. Minutes later this same person proudly stated that once they learn how to do something they actually do it better than most people could. Doesn’t much sound like low self esteem to me!! A narcissist will often play the low esteem card knowing that most people’s response is to inflate their ego to help them feel better. Just what the narc is looking for.

    • I want to affirm this reply–I am a guy who was shut down at a very young age and recently God brought me through a confluence of inputs that really helped me. The first was a week with a counselor named Andrew at Caring about People Ministries in Middlebury, Indiana. He has done the Caring for the Heart training, and when my wife and I went to him he was very helpful in bringing me back to the very moment that I was desperately hurt by my dad, and to lead me through bringing Jesus’ presence into that memory, allowing me to grieve the hurt and all the fallout that has happened in my life. I can see where I have had tendencies toward narcissistic behaviors in my relationships and am happy to report that Jesus has begun a healing process that is ongoing.

      The second part of this confluence was encountering a couple of books. “Leadership and Self-Deception” and “The Anatomy of Peace”. These books tied in closely with the things I learned about myself at CAP. I am very aware that I have tended to view people as objects, and now I know it was a protective behavior, and the cause of pretty much all the conflict in my life in recent years.

      As part of the counseling process I have revealed all my secrets to my wife and we have a much more open relationship–I never want to go back to the way things were before.

      I was ready for this transformation. The problem is hard-core narcissists don’t ever get to that point. I wish my dad could experience what I have, but he’s deeper in the narcissism hole and twenty years older than me so any meaningful change seems that much harder. I thank God that I was able to make it over the threshold from secretly knowing I needed help into the very safe environment at Caring About People ministries where I met Jesus in a way I never had before.

      There is a part of the “man” in me that is getting tired of how easily I find myself blindsided by things that trigger my grief response (I haven’t cried so much since I was a little boy), but I guess if there is a lifetime of “stuff” that needs to be dealt with I should expect this. I hurt for those who have responded here that are in really bad-news relationships with narcissistic victimizers. Even that sympathy is something new in my world.

      The only hope is in Jesus, met in humility. That’s the rub, right? We must be ready to admit we are broken and that is not something that typically happens with the narcissist. I am blessed to have heard the Spirit of God and believing I had nothing more to lose and everything to gain.

      • Anon

        Good for you, RadioMark!! May God Bless you and your family!

      • UnForsaken

        RadioMark, I’m so pleased for you!!!

        You are right about hard-core Ns vs. learned N behaviors – the latter is Much easier to overcome. I believe that most of us who grew up with N surroundings have to learn a new normal, perhaps made even harder for certain personality types. For me, it was all about learning empathy, something that comes so naturally to others here. Once I got past that, it was as if a veil fell away from my eyes…..and I could cry again!

        Bless you on your healing journey!!! 🙂

      • OnceBrokenButNowHealed

        With Jesus anything is possible 🙌. Good for you Radio Mark! Thanks for sharing! I pray and hope others read your comment and are able to have hope for their loved one who is fighting narcissistic behavior.

        Truly Amazing!

        God is so INCREDIBLE. JESUS is our one and only SAVIOR!

  6. Anon

    I read the book and had to laugh at her suggestions. She must be dealing with narcs on the very low end of the spectrum. I had tried these tactics with my diagnosed Narc/Sociopath and was met with more abuse. I still recall him saying, “SHAME? WHAT SHAME? I don’t have any shame issues!!Where do you get this stuff?! I just need someone who adores and worships me and you don’t!!” They don’t want to truly heal because their evil ways get them what they want. They are not like us. A better book for understanding would be “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft or “Character Disturbance” by George Simon.

    • I agree, I don’t think anything can change the narcissist, neither God nor man. If it could, stories of narcissists who have been cured would filter out but all I’ve heard from medics is, they don’t respond to treatment.

  7. maggie

    I have read this book and have spoken directly to Wendy Behary twice, at length. She was very empathetic and I felt safe sharing my experience and I felt heard. I was grateful for her work. I tried to use this approach and it did not work. N is truly on a continuum and my spouse is not reachable because he has advanced to believe his distortions so there is no real progress to be had when someone is that far in. Having said that I believe my spouse has serious character disturbances and to that end I learned more about my own personal empowerment by reading Dr. George Simon’s book Character Disturbance and Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing than anything I read and discussed with Wendy Behary.

  8. Patty

    Only God can change the narcissist. I don’t see how you ever disarm them

  9. Leslie

    Sunflower…..you have much to learn in life.

  10. Sunflower

    Excuse me?

  11. Angela

    I have read quite a bit on narcissism over past 10 months having divorced a narcissist last November after he physically pushed me around. My first husband is also narcissistic in a passive way. Bottom line in my opinion is that only through a miracle of God will they change. I am a physician and have spent hours trying to understand the brain pathophysiology of the disorder. Studies now suggest we can develop new pathways memories (Dr. Caroline Leaf very interesting neuroscientist). However, some of the core processing of empathy, etc I believe must be more hard-wired when very young. I don’t think these narcissists can change. I had so much hope. I consider myself to be logical and well-read but I still feel into the trap. It is extremely hard to avoid all contact but from my current experiences and reading I do believe that is the best thing to do. It is also apparent that some people tend to attract narcissists and will need help avoiding a second doomed marriage. I only wish I had known more about this while dating!!

  12. BuffyPalomar

    I can tell you, living with a “Christian Narcissist” they are worse and more dangerous, because they have the church fooled and you, the wife (me) looks like the crazy one! Always! Without exception, except of course to your true friends and some family. This is what I have lived, I know what I’m talking about. And of course you always look insane to his family, because in my case, all of his brothers & sisters are the same, it is scarry, to say the least. And his Dad, his Mom has passed and I never really knew her. I have dealt with them and “it” for 33 years now. But, I also just found out a few months ago that my husband was a narcissist, my counselor said to me, where do you think is the best place for crazy (narcissist) people to hide? CHURCH! Do I believe that God can heal them and they can change? Of course I do, He’s God, He can do anything, but can you get a narcissist to admit he is one and needs to change? God does not usurp our will, it is up to the individual to search and realize they need that help. I have never been able to get my husband to admit to how horrible his childhood was, how dysfunctional he grew up, that his parents were awful parents, never mind terrible husband and wife to each other. He wont admit it was all bad and that it affected him, at all. He believes he is an upstanding Christian man. He does, of course appear that way in public, but I don’t have to tell anyone reading this how I am treated at home, behind closed doors. Who you are at home, in private, when no one is watching is who you truly are inside. It is so sad to have found this out after so many years of a hellish marriage, at times, hoping things could change, only to find out that I am going to have to get my life back somehow, and I will. I don’t know why I had to suffer this situation for so many years, but I know that God will restore the lost years to me and I know He loves me and that He is good. I pray others find some peace and restoration, as well. Don’t stop believing…..

    • Valerie

      Wow Buffy…I could have written nearly every word of your post in my journal! Hugs to you! We are not alone!!

      • It is truth, although a sad truth. I do not journal and never have been able to have any privacy, written down, at least. Although I have always longed to just be able to write my feelings freely, it has not been possible for me. I believe I have 4 or 5 books in me to write someday. But, as you may know, if I leave anything laying around, a receipt, a note of some kind completely innocent, of course, or a card, it is turned around and made into something it is not and at some point, I pay for it. Not anymore, but for years! I have his number, now and I don’t let him get away with anything! I look him right in the eye and speak my truth, don’t back down and then walk away and leave him in his disbelief! I feel so free and empowered! And I have survived the Narc! He did not do me in, I may be a bit worn down, but I am not out, far from it! Maybe we should keep in touch and encourage each other! Hugs back! Together we rise and thrive!

      • Valerie

        Buffy, yes! Mine did that too. He kept copies of notes I wrote to other people and things like that. It was truly creepy. I now think that he was keeping these things in part as a reference to more closely mirror me and to use my words as his own (which he often did). He would repeat things I said and say them to others as though it were his own thought so people thought he was introspective on a topic he knew nothing about- ironically it often involved marriage and scripture.

        Yes, I’d love to chat sometime as a fellow war veteran!

  13. Trying to cope

    I have to co-exist with this N. I do not appreciate discarding. I seek to be un-discarded. I know it’s a tall order but how do I convince the N that I am not the one that needs discarding. Pick someone else. Just treat me normal. I must have my own character flaw because i do not cope well with being singled out and discarded. Anyone have a good book idea or just an idea on that.

    This board has helped so much in helping me understand it is not me. Everyday however, I am face to face with the fact that my life would be significantly better if the N did not feel the need to discard me. I have prayed for wisdom and I treat the N as normal as my wounded soul will allow. I do find that 50 % of the time it can make for a more peaceful day. In reading here in the comments the N needs to be adored and worshiped. On some level that makes sense and yet on another does that not make me week. The N like to charm people. It’s like the N needs a supply of adoration but i am not sure the N respects these people. It is all so confusing. I’m just tired of being treated like dirt and even more confused why I even care. I think it has just become so personal. I feel like me? why me? how could you pick me, after all you know about me? how dare you pick me?

    I have not read the book but in the case of this N I deal with, if I were to try to talk to them, raging would ensue. If I try to express my unhappiness at the N’s bad treatment of me, the N starts talking very loudly. like they are trying to draw attention to me so I could be belittle, devalued. not sure. The N did that once and i have stayed out of the way since. I hate that I have to tip toe around. i have this overwhelming desire to outsmart him into just un-discarding me. I’m almost certain when I figure that out, i will be free and won’t care anymore. I just need to be released of this hold. hopefully someone out there understands what I’m trying to convey and maybe has ideas. I know they love worship but this N, likes to think he’s being pursued. But then it’s a reason to reject people. Unless of course it is the supplier (he is downright giddy if his object of supply notices him) So that is his M.O. At one time I was a source of supply, for what I have no idea, but honestly that was a better role than the one I’m in.

    • Have you thought about simply cutting him out of your life, and barring all contact from him? That’s what I did in the end. Worked wonders for my well being and sanity although I still have a bad day now and then. Take back your power.

      • Trying to cope

        I try and then I get slapped in the face with the rudeness of it all. I get a daily reminder of how worthless I am.

      • Anon

        Trying to cope, if you cut him out of your life completely (HARD CORE NO CONTACT) then how are you getting daily reminders of how worthless he says you are? You must BLOCK ALL CONTACT so that there is NO WAY IN FOR HIM. I tried the grey area myself for a year and finally came to the same conclusion that we ALL must come to with a narc. ONLY COMPLETE AND UTTER NO CONTACT WILL WORK. You must kill them off in your mind as if they are dead now. Oh, and forgive the caps as I am not yelling at you- just stressing the point but don’t know how to make italics! LOL. Kim Saeed at Let Me Reach is a No Contact Coach – http://www.letmereach.com. you could check out. Her website has lots of great articles, too. He has victimized you so far, but only you can stop the victimization now. Go No Contact. Read Kim’s articles on how to do it…she covers every little detail on how to block them and email her for coaching if you need it (fee involved but not sure how much).

      • Trying to cope

        Anon and Ella, I work with the N. I am face to face many times a day with him. I can refuse to speak, but it is very uncomfortable and leaves me just wishing I could fix situation. Which of course is impossible.

  14. Pamela

    I tried with my sister, thinking there was a breakthrough; sadly the attacks and lies continue. As a peacemaker, I wanted everyone to get along. Not going to happen. Had a dream that I was cheating at math – not doing the long division. God spoke to my heart and said I try to get everyone to take the “short cut”, but He allows the “long division” (no pun intended) to bring revelation, truth, accountability and freedom. For years I would beg my husband to “just get along”. Being discerning, he couldn’t; he saw through her and stood up. Thank God he protected me from me. Sooo grateful for Jesus and His grace and truth…

  15. Leslie

    Had I ever said anything like ‘I understand you are acting out of fear because your mother allowed your father to abuse you” to my ex husband, or anything close to that I would have ended up in the ER if I was lucky.

  16. Maggie

    Trying to Cope… I can feel the pain ,the confusion, the anxiety and you have my full empathy. I am terribly aware of the stage you are at. Could be that all of us have passed through this stage at one time or another. I can only offer that I prayed fervently over and over to have that cross pass from me and it was not until I prayed to surrender the whole entire problem over to God , on my last foot, and at my truest deepest bottom from the whole mess did I begin to experience detachment and relief in this stage. I shifted swiftly into addressing my own flaws and to restoring my own integrity that had been compromised by the severity of my living situation. PLease be reassured I acknowledge first and foremost I am not the problem but because I have children with him it is a part of my problems and I am making sure I am there for the children and putting myself back one day atva time. I could not believe that i still longed for authentic love with a man who simply cannot give it and who alternatively delivers evil over and over again. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF more. You have been seriously compromised by a severely ill person and the only way you will become restored is with a focused thorough effort in returning to God and self fully. In that you perhaps will experience an authentic detachment with Godly love and compassion for your N( not necessarily reconciliation). I do not recommend the book . I do recommend Character Disturbance,Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing …George Simon. He does consultations too. In my prayers.

  17. Maggie

    I want to add that I and maybe all of us have spent a lot of time trying to understand the depth of this illness and the likely causes. I take objection to that approach now. my instinct told me he knew what he was doing but i spent a lot of time listening to doctors and books that wanted to get to a root cause. The truth is there may be some demons and or root causes but they have nothing to do with deliberate and intentional methods of hurting and abusing others. That is a choice . A choice of free will and we all have it. I did not have a good male role model in my life and I do not take that out on others. I had a strong mother who guided us around his mess and I could have become an N easily but i di not. I did not because I made choices and I remained attached to my Father in Heaven. N’s have a deep spiritual problem, a deep lack of character and zero integrity. That is sin, that is what makes life hell and trying to learn about it or talk about it any other way empowers the N abuser to excuse the behavior and often then follows that the victim becomes the problem for not being gentle,compassionate or understanding. What would Jesus do/say to an N? We could produce arm bands with that question and read them daily for our own sanity. With love to all who share here.

    • I agree, my childhood was no picnic. I chose to be better and stronger. This person has singled me out deliberately and for 2 years has been daily making sure that I know I’m worthless. When I confronted him he raged. When I talked he turned it on me, when I questioned was told I was confused, I have issues, … I am certain he’s trying to drive me insane. I am not quitting my job because this lunatic had a bad childhood!!!

  18. LS

    So sick to death of Narcissism being blamed on their childhood ‘trauma’. Both the Narcs that traumatized me have had, by all accounts, almost perfect childhoods…. zero ‘trauma’ that I can see.

    • Narcissis Spouse

      LS, Don’t you really mean that you want them to take responsibility for their behavior formed by their “trauma” which might have enacted their narcissism? (Which they never EVER will!)
      Too…it just might be in the genes…..will we ever know and the knowing cure it? Doubt it……by the time they get to us it is a completely ingrained behavior. Thank your lucky stars that you were intelligent enough to get out of there! Of course, to me, a perfect childhood could easily be a great breeding ground for a narcissis!

      • Kathy

        My N’s “trauma” occurred when he met someone (me) who actually said “No, that won’t work.” It was downhill from there.

      • UnForsaken

        What life doesn’t have some “trauma”…..and yet the Ns I know take things personally and exaggerate Very small things!

        My own N was simply Spoilt. His own father could see it. In other words, perhaps some Ns have cushy lives, are selfish and bored, and decide this behavior of melodrama will get them something. Or perhaps it becomes an option because of their obsession with fear and control.

        As for genes, we certainly get personalities that way, as well as picking up coping tactics from our relations. But all that and more effects the way we think and the choices we make. In my family it seems like it happens every other generation, but I can only look back a couple!

        N. Spouse, your story fascinates me because I know of at least one N who was in K. during the depression. He was an adult who had lost his only sibling in chidhood, but as an only child after that, he too was spoilt. Logically his own depression kids Should have turned out Ns, but they didn’t. Interesting how logic doesn’t really enter into the facts surrounding Ns. It’s like they are shape shifters, and ‘normal’ has to find a way to survive and thrive in their atmosphere. Keep up the good job…..your thoughts are So true about knowing who we are and protecting ourselves!!! It IS possible to overcome.

  19. Eileen

    I read this book and was also taken aback by the suggestions of how to speak to a N. The amount of hoops the author suggested you jump through to be able to have a voice with a N. was not realistic because in my case no matter how carefully I chose my words or how loving I communicated my need, want, desire, the response is the same, persuasive blame.
    I appreciated the authors expertise on the characteristics of N. and her willingness to work with such a difficult population. I think it is still impossible to understand what living with a N. is truly like-even if you counsel them 8 hours a day.

  20. Maggie

    This last entry from Kathy makes me smile. Three years ago I discovered my N had spent the last 25 years living a double life, never faithful from dating through engagement(pre-engagement counseling because I wanted to disclose my family of origin issues which was my father’s alcoholism and its effects on me), through 23 years of marriage and 4 children later …no loyalty , fidelity , etc… and he explains frequently the trauma I experienced when i came to know all of this traumatized him and that is why he cannot demonstrate humility and empathy. WOW…the trauma he is responsible for that traumatized me was trauma for him so I must be gentle with him and accept he is as traumatized equally as I am. ..WOW, cannot really make this stuff up .

    • UnForsaken

      Maggie, they are so good at that! When they rarely, strangely decide to take something hard in Our lives seriously, it suddenly turns into their own, personal thing with alterior motives. :/ Sooo true.

    • Anon

      OMG, Maggie, I can’t stop laughing at the absurdity of it all!! They are so whacked!!! My ex, after he kicked me out and divorced me PURELY for asking him to stop calling me names and mocking me and my son, told everyone that HE felt verbally and emotionally abused because by me asking him to stop his behavior I was therefore calling him abusive and he was now the one verbally and emotionally abused!! He said, “I can’t be married to someone who sees me as her abuser. I need someone who worships and adores me.” OMG, no we can’t make this stuff up…only they can with their sick minds. Maybe they will have their own big banquet table in hell where they can manipulate and ‘word salad’ each other til their heads explode. 😉

    • Kathy

      You can’t make this stuff up!!! The Ns that were active in my life are my in-laws. I cut off contact when my wonderful husband passed away.
      They abused by proxy. Each one, on separate occasions, would tell me what to do by saying “Dad said you would….” and “Mom said you would….” I thought that was very bizarre behavior for grown, married adults who didn’t even live with their parents! My husband did NOT do that.
      The first time it happened I had just had a baby via C-section, and it had been tough. I had invited my FIL and MIL for several days to meet her.
      My Brother In Law called and said “MOM said I could come and bring my girlfriend too.” No matter how I explained why this would not be possible, he wouldn’t let up. And his mom said “I said he could come.”
      That was the no I gave — “I just had surgery and I don’t have the extra room.” I had absolutely no idea that, in their heads, I had just done the unforgiveable to them. I had said no.
      Oh, he did come and did bring his girlfriend. And no one even helped me cook or set the table to hold the baby. (Husband was working night shift).
      GGRrrrrrrrr…….

  21. Forrest

    It is useful to understand how narcissists operate. It is also useful to understand how victims respond and why they respond in these ways. We can choose to try to help narcissists or to help victims. We cannot do both at the same time and the narcissists’ victims are not the ones who should be trying to help the narcissists.

  22. Maggie

    This morning I am grateful for the acknowledgement of the thoughts and experiences I shared here. Living with an N for as long as I did creates a gap in validation and I am grateful for having my experience validated through others sharing their experiences. Thank you.
    Yes, N ‘s victims are not the ones to help the N’s.
    In my opinion I do not think there is as much to discover about why victim’s respond as we do. I think it interesting that most N victims are often highly empathetic people with serious integrity and intentionality to give others the benefit of the doubt, to express their own vulnerability and to trust that their fellow human beings have the capacity to respect that. It is no wonder that “we” are targeted . Naturally I am called to mature and integrate what I have experienced with the N into my person and future relationships but I hope, pray and expect to never loose the character and integrity that have been the hallmark of my best self….Owe it all to God and in my case the Sacraments!

  23. Penny

    Anon, Maggie, etc~these are classic examples of the “crazy-making” tactics of the narc!! At one point, my abuser actually accused me of being “mentally ill”, and that I was “brainwashing” others….which actually had me doubled-over in laughter at this perfect example of “projecting” her pathetic real self onto me, in a frantic effort to keep her perfect image intact. Crazy-making indeed!! Hugs to everyone here:YOU ARE NOT THE CRAZY ONE!

  24. Kitkat

    I wonder, and please correct me if I am wrong here, if a group of people confront a N on their behavior if there is any change? The reason I ask this is, my former friend is now starting to show her true colors at my church. I haven’t been there for several weeks now, but a number of people are very angry at what she has done to me. People have been calling me on the phone or e-mailing me asking me to return. But when I explain to them why I don’t wish to return, they have informed me of her behavior. They tell me that she is absolutely thrilled that I am no longer coming on Sundays. Another person said that they believe she wants to be in charge. And two others felt that she did nothing but ride my coat tails the whole time I was there. So, if she were confronted by these folks with what they have observed collectively, do you think that it would force her to come to terms with her narcissism? Discuss, thanks for any comments.

    • Anon

      I would love to hear feedback on this type of intervention, as well! Has anyone done it? My Narc ex-husband’s third ex-wife and I (I’m his 4th) were talking about what we thought would happen if we staged an intervention where all his past wives and family and kids confront him on the destruction he has caused to all of us. His ex thought he would bust the door down or smash a window to get away and never return. Sounded like a good plan to me, lol. Seriously, though, she and I know he simply cannot or WILL not face the truth about himself. It’s easier to play victim and find new supply than to do the actual inner work of change and growth. I second Maggie’s recommendation…If you haven’t read “Character Disturbance” by George Simon, I just finished it and HIGHLY recommend it.

      • Kathy

        I doubt an “intervention” would work. Gives the N an opportunity to play the victim. All these folks ganging up on poor, misunderstood Victim N.
        My ex-husband, who I married and divorced years before I ever heard the word narcissist, dragged me to a counselor. He swore he would do ANYTHING to get me back (we were separated). He was crying. He was begging. He admitted he had not been nice at all.
        I said if it was true that he would do anything, then he needed to go back to AA, he needed to work the program, he needed to go for individual counseling to find what it was he was trying to deal with by drinking (he was dry at this point), and he needed to date me for at least 6 months before I would consider moving back in with him (we had been separated almost 2 years).
        To him, that was the equivalent of saying No. I dared put conditions on a reconciliation!
        His demeanor changed immediately and he told the (Christian) counselor that as his wife wasn’t I just supposed to forgive him and move back in with him?
        The counselor agreed with him!! His tears were so believable.
        But the key here is no matter what is said to them, no matter what they say, if you dare come against them in any way, shape, or form, no matter how reasonable, they become ANGRY.
        An intervention is an invitation to be abused. IMHO

    • Penny

      You could sell tickets for something like that, b/c it would be “reality TV”, guaranteed to be dramatic but fake. A narc will NEVER suit to an intervention of any kind. It will be long on drama, short on substance. Plus, it feeds the need for attention, so is counter-productive. I have seen narcs vomit bile “on cue”, collapse on the floor “on cue”, cry crocodile tears, beg to be loved, to be understood, or else stomp out of the room in disgust, blah blah blah–and it was all for show. They will never change. Never. They do not “come to terms” with narcissism. They are not the “problem”, everyone else is the problem. They are “misunderstood”, deserving of worship. They are consummate actors on the stage of life, but are not “real”. The best strategy is to ignore them. Utterly ignore them. “no contact”, no attention, nada, zip, zilch. They will be forced to seek attention elsewhere b/c they crave it more than life. Positive or negative matters not to them–as long as they are the star, the center of attention. No, sadly—they will NOT learn, nor do they want to. They simply want power & control–and believe they are entitled & justified to it. An “intervention” only adds fuel to the fire of their self-absorption, it’s like feeding the monster. Stop feeding the monster. NEVER feed the monster. It will come back to devour you.

      • Anon

        Ha ha…yes, good point. Reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures warning the victims of narcs… “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and attack you.” – Matthew 7:6

      • UnForsaken

        Amen, Penny!!!

        Funny, but true…..I was recently thinking of that verse, Anon, and quite seriously.

      • Thank you for the reminder. I like to reside in denial. It is beyond me how this could even happen. I truly am trying to come to grips with the fact that it’s true. I keep making excuses. Maybe I am worthless, maybe I did something wrong, said something, didn’t do something. But then I hear the stories, see the spittin image. The playbook they all follow and i am reminded that I have met a real live, very stealthy Narcissist. No doubt about it. Then I fall into denial and just want to make it all better, like normal people do. Who just discards someone with no reason, no warning, no chance at forgiveness. I trusted him. I forgive people. So everything about this just hurts. The same person who used to put a smile on my face everyday now brings a tear to my eye everyday. How can that be?

  25. Kitkat

    Thank you for your perspectives. One of the reasons I asked that question is because of the pressure I am feeling to return to the regular Sunday services by my other friends in the congregation. I am still involved at the church, but I don’t attend on Sundays and the pastor is well aware of my reasons why. My son, who is a missionary waiting to return to West Africa, is staying with us until he gets the all clear. And he feels that the pastor should confront the wolf in sheep’s clothing and tell her to leave. He had a friend who got tangled up with a N woman who made it her life’s work to wreck marriages in her church. His friend was her 11th conquest. However, despite knowing her reputation, she is still allowed to be the director of the children’s choir at the church. And my son believes that some pastors don’t do enough to rid their flocks of these very destructive people. This is a dilemma not only for those of us who deal with these people on a personal level, but also the impact on the group dynamics in a church or work setting. So, how do we deal with these people??? We can’t just keep running away from them, can we??? We meet and interact with these people in our everyday lives. Is it that we just educate ourselves and then just avoid anyone who seems to be a N?? I guess I am looking for things that have been successful in dealing with them. The one thing I observed with my ex-friend, is that by taking a really hard line with her and confronting her with the truth, she absolutely crumbled. I wouldn’t tell her, but she wanted to know who all had been talking to me. When she returned to the church, she wanted revenge. The impact of this destructive behavior causes division in the church and can devastate a congregation. So how do we love our enemies as Christ taught us, and keep the damage to a minimum? Is that even possible? Maybe Pastor Dave can enlighten us on this. How do Pastors successfully deal with these folks in their congregations???

    • Penny

      Your ex-friend “crumbled”? But then wanted you to “name names”? and then went back to the church seeking revenge?? This is exactly what they do! My experience tells me she didn’t “crumble”, she was playing the poor, pitiful victim, and hoping that you would crack and give her the very ammo she wanted to shoot you with! what an Oscar-worthy performance! They always “want to know who has been talking to you”. They want “names”, NOT so they can repent, but to take revenge, to defend themselves, to slander you, to start the smear campaign, etc. What to do? Sadly, until churches and pastors are willing to confront the wolves, then the sheep will be wounded and devoured. Your friends are better advised to go to the pastor, elders, etc., on your behalf and that of the other sheep, but sadly, I do not hold out hope for change. I humbly suggest visiting A Cry for Justice blog for some encouragement. Start here:
      http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/02/29/still-more-thoughts-on-wolves-hiding-among-the-flock-by-jeff-crippen/
      You can type “wolves” in the “search” box to pull up more wisdom from Ps Jeff and Barbara Roberts relating to church responses. Share that link with your friends and even the pastor. Then pray. I will pray too.
      Hugs~

      • Kitkat

        Penny, That is exactly what she did, played the victim. She thought that I would feel sorry for her as she was crying profusely. That didn’t happen, as I saw right through her. And as she was crying, she would sling insults at me every chance she could get. I have had to deal with N’s in the past, but never one as bad as this one. I was totally blindsided by her, but once I saw what she was, she didn’t get anywhere with me. One of the people that witnessed some of her behavior before it all blew up, is now getting some of her animosity. That is why I asked the above questions. I left the church so that there would be less division and problems for the church. But I am seeing now, that it doesn’t really matter if I am there or not. She is starting to pick on someone else now. But, I had hoped also that if she started to do this to someone else, she would be confronted by several people and realize she needs to change or she would leave altogether. And Narcissis Spouse, yes, I absolutely agree. My ex-friend has two cats and she hates them both. And when she would come over to my house, my two dogs would steer clear of her. I guess I should pay better attention to my dogs!

    • Hurttohealing

      I have seen my N husband do exactly the same. He’s constantly trying to find out who my friends & advisors are. He seems to want to blame them for me growing a spine instead of realizing I’d just finally had enough. He takes my words out of context so why not my friends as well? He’s smeared anyone who supports me including friends, family, and counselors. We’ve been to 4 different counselors & it’s amazing to hear what he tells the next one about the previous one. He always twists what they counseled us into something else. I started writing notes during sessions just so I’d be able to combat his revisionist history. I’ve finally come to the point where I can just not engage…most of the time!

      • Hurttohealing

        Forgot to say several friend’s husbands tried the intervention thing. They’ve gotten nowhere. He just argues til they give up. And I read the book “Disarming the Narcissist” and found myself laughing just trying to imagine saying those things. He’d be furious, not disarmed!!! Felt “Why does he do that!”, “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” & “Enough about you let’s talk about me” by Les Carter (a Christian therapist) were much more realistic.

  26. Penny

    Kathy~you’re hilarious & made me laugh out loud: “My N’s “trauma” occurred when he met someone (me) who actually said “No, that won’t work.” It was downhill from there.” which made me remember Anna V’s short post about saying “No”. Behary’s approach is a whole lot of work (for the victim) and leads to the same conclusion as this brilliant approach. It’s worth a read for everyone here:
    http://narcissists-suck.blogspot.com/2006/10/fail-safe-narcissist-detector.html

    • Kathy

      I love Anna V’s blog. She bid it farewell several years ago, and I’m happy for her. I hope it’s a real sign of her freedom to know move away from anything having to do with Ns, including her own blog. She is fabulous!

  27. Penny

    Repol~I agree and I am still so affected by your story. But so proud of you for getting out. I know it’s hard….but it was harder staying, yes? I pray for you at nite, and for your kids…..I don’t pray for him b/c I don’t believe the Lord requires that of us:
    http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/02/29/still-more-thoughts-on-wolves-hiding-among-the-flock-by-jeff-crippen/

    Be safe, my friend. Be at peace. Eyes on Him…. Love you–

  28. Narcissis Spouse

    This is a little off, guys, but have you ever noticed that N’s do not bond with pets?

    • UnForsaken

      Yes! But I do believe they could, in some cases, if they needed emotional affirmation at that moment. I have seen this with one N who does this ‘bonding’ thing with her kids whenever she needs to be comforted. Tools. She is touchy-feely, but no heart. Treating kids like pets and pets like kids, just to devalue them and boost herself?!

  29. Narcissis Spouse

    Unforsaken…….your insights are so close to mine…….we have watched people all our lives, haven’t we? That does not mean we have been all successful though because we are human. I wish I had time to tell you all what my cat finally did to my N-Spouse when he rejected him! It left me laying on the floor because I was laughing so hard! You can’t tell me animals are not intelligent! Maggie, I admire your decisions….you are strong, aren’t you!

    • UnForsaken

      N. Spouse, no human revenge intended, but I love your cat already! I’m allergic to cats, but happy to send a cyber hug to her…and you!

  30. Trying To Understand

    I had a look at the Narcissists Suck blog and the author refers regularly to Malignant Narcissists. Do any of you know if there are non-Malignant Narcissists? If it is a spectrum disorder, there must be people less severely affected, don’t you think? The reason I ask is my mother is a Narc (zero empathy) but despite the suffering this has caused me, I’m not convinced she wishes me ill. The pain and loss is just a by-product of her narcissism and selfishness as opposed to her intention, or at least that’s what I think. Any opinions on this? Thanks,

    • Valerie

      TTU- its my understanding (and I may be wrong) that someone who takes narcissistic qualities to the level of enjoying others’ suffering is actually what’s termed a Sociopath. There is a difference between not having empathy (not caring if you hurt someone) and willfully wanting to hurt others and gaining enjoyment of it. A narcissist behaves the way they do in order to protect their false self. A sociopath enjoys people’s pain. Just my understanding.

    • Kate

      Plus, I believe the term “malignant” is used to denote a progression — that the behavior gets worse over time.

      • Valerie

        George Simon describes malignant this way in one post: Narcissism becomes particularly “malignant” (i.e. malevolent, dangerous, harmful, incurable) when it goes beyond mere vanity and excessive self-focus. Malignant narcissists not only see themselves as superior to others but believe in their superiority to the degree that they view others as relatively worthless, expendable, and justifiably exploitable. This type of narcissism is a defining characteristic of psychopathy/sociopathy and is rooted in an individual’s deficient capacity for empathy.

        It seems there isn’t a definite criteria for this- other sites list a M. Narc simply as one who meets the criteria for NPD. In that sense it is a kind of progression. I know several people who have narcissistic traits (some quite strong!) but they don’t meet all the criteria for NPD as defined in the DSM-5 list.

        Sites such as Psychopath Free lump Narcs, Psychopaths and Sociopaths together since they do share many common features. To add to the confusion, the DSM-5 changed their criteria and names for some disorders.

  31. Kitkat

    Trying to Cope, as I read through your posts I want you to understand that you are NOT worthless and neither is any other victim of a Narc! I think that N’s look for ways to destroy our self image. Do not take anything they say as the truth. “Therefore put on the whole armor of God so that you can withstand the fiery darts of the wicked.” We are the children of God and we are more valuable to Him than many of us think. We see our flaws, they are ever before us. Day in and day out we know we aren’t perfect. And that is how many of us still see ourselves even after we came to the saving knowledge of Christ. However, that is not how God sees us. And as a matter of fact, it is also not how the devil sees us. The devil knows our potential, he knows how God can work wonders in our lives and in the lives of others because we have the love and power of Christ in us. So I believe, that some of these N’s are thrown into our paths to try to disrupt the work that God is doing in and through us. What better way to keep someone from doing God’s will than by destroying them emotionally from the inside out. I know it is hard to cope with what they do, but I believe we have to stand up in the full knowledge of God, confident of who we are, and say NO to the abuse, say NO to the accusations and say NO to anything that tries to destroy your self image. Don’t accept what they say about you, it is NOT who you are! You are a Child of the Almighty God, Creator of all things. And He is stronger, bigger and more powerful than all. And you get to call Him Dad!

  32. Valerie

    It occurs to me after reading these posts that there is a faulty assumption many people have in dealing with the narcissist- that the problem for the N is a lack of insight. If only he/she were given insight and could realize what is wrong and how they could have a better life that this would be their “light bulb” moment. Raise your hand- how many of you tried ad nauseum to give insight to your N in hopes that if only you said it just right they would get how destructive their behavior was and look for alternatives?

    How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? One.
    But the light bulb really has to want to change.

    No change will happen for anyone with any disorder (that is not physiologically based) without the person first DESIRING change. Narcissists do not suffer from narcissism. Their targets suffer from narcissism. The N is perfectly content going on with business as usual and people getting in the way by doing this annoying confronting and holding accountable are merely speed bumps for them to hop over before continuing on down the road.

    Perhaps recommendations given within this book (I have not read it) might be aimed more at people who have narcissistic tendencies but not full blown NPD.

    • I don’t even know where to start on some of these posts. Everything I read is so indicative of what I have lived! And what I was so innocently blind to, all the while making excuse after excuse for his behavior, yet having some hope that he might mature, grow up, have some sense of how much he was hurting me and waiting, just waiting for some real moment between us. It doesn’t happen….. It NEVER happened….. I kept hearing, reading, seeing quotes about “love doesn’t hurt” and wondering where I had gone wrong, where had we gone wrong. There is no WE with a narc – it is really ALL about them and how they can plan, calculate and carry out hurtful acts on us to make themselves feel superior and in control, caring nothing about what it does to us. I can’t believe much of it, still, it is as if I have been living in an alternate universe, a painful one at that. I know for a fact that they do know exactly what they are doing, no question. He is an exemplary human being and Christian in public. Helpful, caring, so kind it wold make you sick, even musters up compassion and empathy albeit fake, but others don’t know that, they soak it all up and think what is wrong with her, she should be so grateful and thankful to be married to such a great guy! My answer was always the same, “you don’t live with him” then laugh with misery behind it, and just pass it off. Exasperating doesn’t even begin to describe it! I now know the truth, wish it had come sooner, but wishing doesn’t get you anything. During one of our last arguments I said something I had never said before, “There is someone out there who is going to love me like I know I deserve to be loved, I just hope you live to see it!” I hope I was speaking prophetically!

      • Valerie

        So true Cathy! I remember a time when we were at the point where he barely tried to hide his abuse from me (the last year or so before I moved out). We were walking to church and he quickly walked ahead of me, opened the door for another woman then let it shut behind him before I got there. So sick.

  33. Fellow Survivor

    Val, I know this sounds really simple, but your posts pretty much sums it all up. There have been hundreds of moments over the last 15 years where i tried to encourage “insight” or ” understanding” but they just don’t care.

    Two of the most memorable instances were as follows.

    She was doing something really horrible and I told her ” you either know what you are doing is wrong and continue to do it, which makes you evil, OR you don’t know what you are doing is wrong which makes you clueless.” all I got was a blank stare and no response.

    Second, I asked her ” If our daughter marries a man that treats HER the way you treat ME, will you be happy with him” If she answers YES, then she would condemn her own daughter to hell. If she answers no she would condemn herself to hell. So again, a blank stare and not response.

    • Valerie

      A counselor once encouraged me to seek the answer to whether he was clueless or cruel. I saw way too much evidence of me telling him exactly and specifically what I wanted or what hurt and my scientific charting revealed both a consistent increase in the hurtful behavior and an absence of the desired behavior after making him aware. The big clue for me that he wasn’t clueless was that he was never looking or asking for ways to make things better. The amount of work you put into maintaining something is proportionate to the amount of importance. In fact I once told him how much it hurt me that never one time in the marriage had he ever asked what he could do to make it better. As you can imagine that statement also did not inspire him to ask that very question.

      No, not clueless. Not one bit. A narcissist isn’t emotionally challenged, he’s empathetically absent.

      • Penny

        Valerie: George SImon writes a lot about the fact that they know, they just don’t care. Simon says “they see, they just disagree”, which means you and I and every other decent, caring person out there will spend countless hours and energy trying to get them to “see” the light, but they don’t care. THEY. DON’T. CARE. They already know what they are doing, they just disagree that it is wrong, abusive, selfish, aberrant and/or cruel. They want what they want when they want it…and that is reason enough [for them] to use, abuse, discard, devalue, denigrate, demoralize, demonize, lie, cheat, steal, slander, manipulate, and destroy. Any questions???

      • Valerie

        Penny, yes, I wholeheartedly agree and understand that. I was responding to Fellow Survivor’s post where he confronted the N and referenced being clueless. It sounds like he was on to the N and was laying it out for her. I wanted to address that for anyone else reading these posts because I think that is a common misconception not just by the N’s targets, but also by uninformed counselors. I was aiming my post at those who are just starting to see the light or are questioning their situation…the N is a master at making you feel so crazy you don’t know what end is up. In that turmoil a litmus test is very difficult to create.

      • So very true! All of it, I remember a long while back, going to church on Mother’s Day, always a horrible day for me as I lost my own Mother when I was 26. That doesn’t matter to a Narc, he never said Happy Mother’s Day to me all morning or on the drive to church, but as soon as we got there and he saw some of our friends, he would put the big smile on and jubilantly proclaim Happy Mother’s Day to every other Mother he saw! It was so hurtful & heartless, I just could never understand it, what did I do or not do now? Sometimes I get alone and just scream, to get stuff out. Now, there would not be breath enough to scream loud enough and long enough to satisfy all the times I think back on knowing that it was a sick game just to hurt me and promote himself! I love that last line, Valerie! It is the proverbial nail on the head! Keep in touch, girlfriend!

  34. Kathy

    You know that they know because of how accurately they hit their target, how accurately they can read you and hit you where it hurts.
    My N and his Nwife were angry that my husband and I asked them to please not come when he had first been diagnosed with cancer. We told them our daughters were in school and we needed to speak with them, help them through this time. School would be out in 6 weeks, please wait and then they could stay with us OR if they do come now, please go to a hotel.
    They were angry and told us they were coming right away and they would stay with us and they could not afford a hotel. My husband was too weak emotionally and physically and psychologically to fight them (he had a year left to live).
    So they came and stayed with us and the kids had to double up.
    Sounds like my husband and I didn’t understand their grief??

    When the time got closer for him to pass away, the N and Nwife paid the hotel bill for themselves and 4 HEALTHY, EMPLOYED SIBLINGS of my husband’s. And N made sure I knew it.

    They knew how to say “We know what you want and we’re going to give it to someone else.” That was the pattern.

    They KNOW. And I don’t think they disagree. And I do think they care — they care they get all they want and everyone else’s too.

  35. Hephzibah

    Pastor Dave, Thanks for this post. I did read Disarming the N several years ago, and didn’t find it practical. But reading this post now makes me wonder if you have seen the recently released book by John Townsend, The Entitlement Cure. It claims to have helpful advice even for those who live with “entitled” people that are not interested in changing. Have you read this book? Do you think it could it be helpful for those living with true NPD sorts? Any other comments?
    Thanks,

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