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Modifying Narcissism


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Research suggests that genetics, childhood trauma and verbal abuse contribute to the development of personality disorders.  Can a narcissistic person change?  Many narcissistic types avoid therapy and have difficulties acknowledging problems.  However, people can change over time if they are motivated and willing to accept their flaws.  Narcissists lack self-awareness and struggle to take responsibility for their issues.  The first step to change is acknowledgement of the problems that keep people stuck in turmoil, trapped in unhealthy relationships, and in constant conflict.  Therapy is one way to raise a person’s awareness of their actions and decisions that affect their relationships.  Obviously trust in the therapist is required before change can occur.  The narcissistic person tends to have distorted thoughts and unrealistic expectations of others which require modification through the therapeutic process.  Many of the narcissistic patients I work with lack empathy and benefit from emotional intelligence coaching.  Patients can learn to identify emotions, regulate their emotions, and express their feelings constructively.  Another way to build on empathy is giving back to those in need both with time and resources.  Serving others through volunteer work can be a valuable activity to focus off their own self-absorption.  Understanding the etiology of their narcissism can further release the need for tremendous admiration, attention, and special treatment.  In my therapy, exploring relationships with parents, siblings, and peers can provide valuable insights.  The focus of the therapy is to help them resolve conflicts from the past, let go of the emotional pain, and recognize that as an adult they have more resources and can choose to respond differently to their insecurities.  Most narcissists overcompensate for their insecurities through arrogance, pride, an inflated ego, and sense of entitlement.  Living with a narcissist can be challenging, but  help is available either through professionals or self-help.  There are several good books on narcissism such as: The Narcissistic Family by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, Trapped in the Mirror by Elan Golomb, Disarming the Narcissist by Wendy Behary, and The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists by Eleanor Payson.

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