My books have helped thousands to step back, and away, from the damaging effects of a narcissistic person, whether it’s a present-day relationship or one that has haunted them from the past. Now, they may help you, too.

Narcissist ruining your life?

Maybe you love one. Or work for one. Maybe you’re related to one. Or were raised by one. Whatever the relationship, you’ve likely been hurt by the narcissist in your life.

Several years ago I appeared on Alisa Bowman’s former site, Project Happily Ever After. The site is no longer—though she does have a book of the same name—and yet I wanted to share some of the dialogue Alisa and I had about narcissism and union. I will be posting snippets in the coming weeks that might help broaden the way you view what narcissism is.

Alisa had asked, back when Narcissism: Surviving the Self-Involved (the first book in the Surviving Narcissism series) launched:

“Just about everyone thinks they know someone who is a narcissist. I’m guessing, however, some of the people that we think of as narcissists are just your common everyday jerks. How can you figure out if you’ve accidentally married a narcissist?”

And I had answered:

“Though a common everyday “jerk” is not necessarily someone who is great to be in a relationship with, what might set him (or her) apart from the narcissist is that, despite the stupid things they do or say, a particular “jerk” might still be able to feel and express empathy for others. If one feels the protracted absence of empathy in a relationship, and feels a cold frost in its place, this could indicate that narcissism is present.”

It’s important to be able to differentiate between someone who gets on your nerves and someone who is unable to truly express or feel empathy or compassion. This doesn’t mean a person has to be gushy; personality style varies from person to person. But if the compassion/empathy chip is missing, that is a problem that only the individual with the missing chip can decide to work on. Remember that the next time you attempt to fix something that doesn’t belong to you. It might preserve your sanity just a bit…or maybe more.

Toni Bernhard, author of the Buddhist-inspired How to Be Sick, How to Wake Up, and How to Live Well, interviewed me sometime back over at Psychology Today about caregivers and narcissism. Here’s an excerpt and link to Is Your Caregiver Self-Absorbed and Manipulative?

Toni: What are some of the signs that someone who is the caregiver for a person might be narcissistic? What is the difference between a narcissist and person who can’t stop talking about him or herself? Why does it matter?

Meredith: While narcissism can present itself in different ways, and is made up of a variety of traits, given the focus of your blog, it seems appropriate to discuss empathy, or rather the lack thereof. For example, the DSM IV, published by the American Psychiatric Association, indicates that people who are narcissistic are generally unable or “unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.”

This would be of concern in a situation when one requires care, as illness, chronic or acute, can make us feel more vulnerable, more in need of support, acknowledgment and kindness, even in passing. This is natural. But a person who veers toward truly narcissistic, especially when experiencing the deepened or exacerbated needs of another, will likely not be able to deliver the empathy. Oddly enough, they may demand empathy from the person who needs the care, as the narcissistic person’s own feelings of abandonment, rage, emptiness and anxiety are triggered. (Another facet of narcissism is projection, meaning that  uncomfortable feelings are relegated to the other person – you!). Keep in mind, this does not happen on a conscious level, so if you point it out, the other person might say you are the one doing the attacking, just when he or she needs you most. Some narcissists might appear to care at first, but then go cold. Interactions, in my experience, can be very confusing and crazy making.

On the other hand, a person who is rough around the edges, bossy or curt, or who can’t stop talking about themself might be anxious, nervous, inconsiderate and annoying, but might still be able to express empathy and caring, and follow through appropriately and consistently to provide the care another person needs. This might be the case with some family, hired caregivers, neighbors, healthcare professionals, and others.

Visit Toni’s blog Turning Straw Into Gold at Psychology Today.

I’m in a kind of pleasant shock to realize that my first two ebooks about narcissism have sold more that 10,000 copies (going on 11,000 now).

I often hear from readers. Your heartfelt emails mean so much, as does knowing that what I’ve written has helped foster your journey of healing.  I also want to thank the many therapists and attorneys who have written, letting me know my ebooks are a resource they share with their clients.

I am in the early stages of a second book of meditations. More to be revealed…soon.

Again, thank you.
Meredith

As we move toward “The Days” (Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) I wrote a piece for PsychologyToday.com about looking back across the family life cycle as a way to understand, holistically, the narcissist/narcissistic dynamic.

I started thinking about the issue of aging, and how the individual roles shift as family members get older. And I started thinking that age and intellect do not alone make the pain go away. In a way, as I write over at PsychologyToday.com, it’s actually feeling the sadness and synthesizing it that can help make what feels like ingrained pain begin to finally subside.

I go into more detail about it in the book, When Your Parent Is a Narcissist, using Erikson’s stages as a framework for exploration. In the meantime, have a look at the post if you are so inclined.

This article by Eleanor Stanford in the New York Times titled 13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married is simple and terrific.

I receive a lot of letters from readers. Many are from spouses of individuals they say are narcissists and most are filled with heartache. It’s not uncommon (at all) for people not to realize the depth of the disease until after a union. While these questions and their answers are no guarantee that the person in front of you won’t cause heartbreak, looking for clues in their answers–and how you feel receiving those answers–can be a good start in determining if the union should move forward.

Read the article by clicking here.

 

To get attention, the narcissist parent says whatever it takes, often contradicting him/herself and leaving the young child confused. These are things that a narcissist parent might say to a child–not only an adult child but to a young child as well (parentheses indicated unsaid thoughts):

  • No one loves me (you better).
  • I’ll always be alone.
  • You constantly disappoint me.
  • You never disappoint me. You’re the only one who doesn’t.
  • No one appreciates me.
  • You don’t appreciate me.
  • At least you appreciate me.
  • You’re so greedy. You take everything for you. What about me?
  • This is not the life I wanted.
  • Grow up (and pay attention to me).
  • All the hard work is mine.
  • We’ll always have each other (but what I really mean is…you better not leave me).

Book #3 is…finally here!

When Your Parent Is a Narcissist: Uncovering origins, patterns, and unconscious dynamics—to help you grow and let go

Thank you, readers, for all your emails asking when it would be here (and your patience).

In this book I set out to explore, distill, deconstruct and demystify the complex and convoluted relationship between the narcissist parent and child. The examination of the dynamic starts at birth (yes, birth) and extends into older adulthood.

This book is as much about examining obvious patterns as it is about exploring “un-textbook” manifestations of the dynamic.

Every parent is different. Every child is unique. But when the parent is a narcissist, there are patterns and behaviors that are particular to how they relate to their child and can set the stage for how the child’s self image develops. The dynamic is convoluted. As with my other books, I’ve tried to make the explanations as clear and direct as possible, using simple, ordinary language…to help you grow and let go.

During any political season we see MANY personality traits on parade.

In this New York Times piece, Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry and the director of the bioethics master’s program at Columbia University, ask if therapists should analyze and publicly “diagnose” these candidates.

He begins when a journalist asks him what he thinks (from a psychiatrist’s POV) of one of the leading candidates and goes on:

“Many psychologists have been quick to offer diagnoses, calling him and other presidential candidates “narcissists,” and even providing thoughts about possible treatments.

I wondered what, if anything, to say. I’ve watched [the candidate] on TV like everyone else, but never met him. So, I hesitated — for ethical reasons. The American Psychiatric Association (A.P.A.) prohibits its members from giving professional opinions about public figures we have not interviewed.

Read the rest of: Should Therapists Analyze Presidential Candidates?

 

There is a fascinating discussion about narcissist spouses and divorce over at the New York Times Well blog. The title of the article is Divorcing a Narcissist. The article and interview is quite interesting, too. Once of the questions that Tara Parker Pope asks of author, therapist Karyl McBride, author of Will I Ever Be Free of You? How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family is:

Q: In a divorce, everybody is hurt and angry. How is a divorce from a narcissist any different?
A: The narcissist doesn’t get over it. Other people are hurt and angry and go through their own divorce adjustment, but they tend to move on and get over it. The narcissist will continue to try to blame their partner and harm their partner. They do it by these long, extended, contentious divorce cases that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The answer is painful and it’s very very true. Knowing the truth, being dedicated to the truth can help a person cope more effectively.

The comments section of this brief interview are filled with chilling remarks. Hundreds of individuals recount the lengths they went to deal with the divorce of the narcissist. Reading the comments alone may be helpful to some because they reinforce the feeling that you are not alone.

Here is the link to Well: Divorcing a Narcissist [NYTimes].

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