Narcissism is a widely misunderstood condition. In an article on Psychology Today titled “Meet the Real Narcissists (They’re Not What You Think)” Rebecca Webber breaks down common misconceptions and stereotypes and explains what labeling someone a narcissist actually means.
The term narcissist has been widely deployed to describe not only a passel of difficult relatives and regretted exes, but also both nominees for president and the entire generation known as Millennials. Is narcissism really so widespread or on the rise in the general population?
Read the article here
Although not all of the following titles reference narcissistic personality disorder specifically, they all feature toxic relationships, manipulative dynamics and unhealthy patterns which can be helpful to see as you familiarize yourself with the impact of the narcissist in your life.
Emma in the Night: A Novel by Wendy Walker
Three years earlier, teenage sisters Emma and Cassie disappeared. When Cassie returns home without Emma, Dr. Abby Winter, the detective working on the case, realizes the girls’ mother exhibits extreme narcissistic behaviors. As she investigates Cassie’s version of the events, Abby pieces together the disturbing truth.
The Goddesses by Swan Huntley
Nancy hopes that a move to Kona, Hawaii will be a fresh start for her family. But immediately she meets Ana, an enigmatic yoga teacher. Soon, the two women become inseparable. Nancy is drawn to Ana’s free-spirited lifestyle and adventurous ways. As Nancy begins to disregard her responsibilities to spend time with her new friend, she finds herself caught up in Ana’s manipulative web.
White Oleander by Janet Finch
After Astrid’s mother, Ingrid, is sentenced to prison for killing a man, Astrid bounces through foster homes in Los Angeles, encountering countless hardships as she attempts to carve out a life for herself. Although she tries to move on, the ties she has with her enigmatic, manipulative mother remain impossible to sever.
Dead Letters by Caite Dolan Leach
Two years ago, Ava fled to Paris in an attempt to escape her chaotic upbringing. When she learns that her reckless twin Zelda was killed in a house fire, Ava returns to her family’s failing vineyard in upstate New York. While caring for her critical, alcoholic mother who is suffering from dementia, Ava begins to receive clues and riddles from Zelda and begins to doubt that her sister is truly dead.
Once you determine that you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you might consider asking yourself the following questions.
- Can I accept the relationship for exactly what it is right now, without trying to change it, and am I willing to live this way?
- Can I accept the other individual for exactly what they are right now, without trying to change them, and am I willing to live this way?
- Do I expect the other individual to change, to want to change, to be on board to change?
- Do I expect the other individual to work with me to change our relationship?
- Do I expect the other individual to do it for me?
- Am I trying to change for the other person?
- Am I living in the past, daydreaming about how nice things were at the beginning?
- Do I measure the relationship in happiness/peacefulness or pain/anxiety?
- Do I use much of my own time trying to figure things out, trying to find easy ways to help the other individual change to make our relationship better?
- Is the other person engaging in other relationships that are undermining our relationship?
- Why does it seem that even if I am seeking to change or better the relationship, the n seems to be seeking to change or “better” (meaning criticize) me, anything to keep the focus or responsibility off of themselves?
- If I leave this person, do I worry I’ll end up with another n?
Think, meditate or write in response to these questions. See what your answers reveal.
Adapted from Narcissism: Surviving the Self-Involved
From peer support to breathing techniques, there are a variety of apps geared towards helping mental health. An article from The Guardian titled “Staying appy: mental health apps deliver mixed results” by Kim Thomas goes over the pros and cons of these apps, as well as what to look for when selecting an app for yourself. Thomas quotes Eve Critchley, head of digital at mental health charity Mind who says:
“For people who are socially isolated or less able to engage in face-to-face support, it may be preferable to use something that you can use privately or anonymously.”
Read the article here
In a blog post titled “The Narcissistic Personality: How They Think” featured on PsychologyToday.com, Joe Navarro M.A. provides helpful insight into how narcissistic and toxic people operate. Navarro writes:
“In doing the research, in talking to the victims and listening to story after story of stolen childhoods, destructive marriages, and burdensome relationships, I heard the same tragic refrain: narcissists see themselves as being so special that no one else matters. No one. Over time, the behavior resulting from their defining pathological traits will cast a wide debris field of human suffering.
Read the post here
The child of a narcissist may have unwittingly absorbed their parent’s anger and internal rage. But because these things truly belong to the parent, the child cannot heal, fix, or change them. The only thing that can help undo the dynamic is when the child detaches from the narcissistic parent.
The adult child of a narcissist may feel that releasing the anger will:
—destroy and annihilate everything around them
—destroy the parent from whom they desperately want attention and love
—reveal the extent to which they are supposedly damaged and out of control
This occurs below the level of consciousness. These intense feelings seem to push from behind, like a masked robber holding a gun to your back. When this happens, try asking yourself:
- What part of this issue is really mine?
- How long have I been engaged in this issue—and why did I start?
- What do I expect to gain from this issue if I continue to carry it?
Adapted from When Your Parent Is a Narcissist
In an article titled “Why Getting Angry Can Make You Happier in the Long Run” featured on time.com, Amanda MacMillan describes the results of a study on happiness conducted at the University of Jerusalem. The study reveals why negative and unpleasant emotions lead to greater happiness in life. MacMillan quotes lead researcher Maya Tamir, a psychology professor, who explains:
“What my research shows is that happier people are those who experience the emotions they want to experience…if I am a person who finds anger desirable—for instance, because anger helps me fight injustice—I am likely to be happier if I feel some anger than if I don’t.”
Read the article which includes a link to the study here
“I understand that my focus on the person with narcissism also meant I was neglecting myself. I recognize that self-care is simply another way to help me practice keeping the focus on myself and I am grateful for that.” Surviving the Narcissist:
30 Days of Recovery
In an article from TIME magazine titled “9 Easy Ways to Get More Grateful,” Ellen Seidman explains how honing in on gratefulness can impact our health in a variety of positive ways. Seidman writes:
“As I grow older, I’m getting more appreciative of the people and creature comforts that make me feel loved and contented. One study estimated that for every 10 years of life, gratitude increases by 5%. And that, the research suggests, is beneficial to our bodies and minds: People who are regularly grateful—who acknowledge the goodness in life and the sources of it—are generally healthier and happier.”
From writing letters to loved ones, keeping a gratitude journal, and simply saying thanks, the article offers several science-backed and psychologist-suggested ways to become more grateful.
Read the entire article here
“Some souls are like sponges. You cannot squeeze anything out of them except what they have sucked from you.”- Kahlil Gibran
Reverse projection: hang around a narcissist enough and, soon, you’ll be projecting, too. Only in this case, you’ll find that you project all your assets onto the n. (The actual asset, creativity, for example, stays with you; but you are convinced the n is the creative one, and wish you had the skills they did when in fact you are the one with the talent.)
This is one of the ways the non-narcissist contributes to the ongoing dysfunction of the relationship. It is also one of the ways the non-narcissist fuels their own insecurity.
This happens particularly with those who were raised by narcissists. A narcissist can suck us dry, so much so that we find ourselves giving up our claim to that which is ours.
These patterns can play out in your adult life and will come to the fore in a long-term or even a work relationship. Understand that the patterns of communication are complex and never actually about what they appear to be about. Adapted from
These simple steps can help break open the obsession cycle with the n. Practice may be necessary.
Recognize. Recognize that the obsession with the n is something you have grown accustomed to, and understand that removing it will be uncomfortable. Don’t let that stop you from moving on.
Regroup. Bring the focus back to you, your life and your needs. Ask: What do I need to do to take care of myself just for now? Try to get used to focusing on yourself, without blame or pity.
Replace. Make a short-term commitment to focus on yourself and fill your mind with healthy thoughts. Dedicate yourself to reality.
And remember: Let Go or Be Dragged—American Proverb