Our Christian Therapist meets a Narcissist
Written by George Hartwell M.Sc. a Christian counsellor and registered psychotherapist
What defines a Narcissist? Are they more than an introvert?
I encountered a full-blown narcissist doing three days of marital therapy with a couple. We did six hours per day and, yes, it was be exhausting.
The man was the narcissist but I did not know this until it was all over. The woman had serious issues with obsessive compulsive traits.
First clue: before I even met them he told me about her issues but not his. That sends the message, 'She is the main problem not me. I am okay. She is not.'
As we met he talked without a break. The main things he talked about were him and her. The part about her was what was wrong about her. There never was anything wrong about him.
Her complaint about him was that he would not give her a break. He talked too much and refused to give her a break from his intensity. He did not honour her request for time outs. She did not feel safe in that situation.
She was clear about the main request she had of him. She needed him to honour her time out signals and give her a break when requested. She had that one simple request.
So what made me think he was narcissist? One he talked without stop and monopolized the time. Two, he always talked about himself positively and about her negatively. Three, he did not hear or acknowledge or agree to her one simple and important request to honour her time outs.
By the way, this has nothing to do with introvert or extravert. This has to do with someone who thinks he is good, important and morally superior to others and sees others as inferior, unimportant and bad. This attitude was persistent even toward his marriage partner and even for 18 hours with a professional counsellor.
That, my friend, is narcissism.
Why do people with a narcissistic personality disorder get away with lying, manipulating and abusing people?
I would think the narcissistic personality disorder is so completely wrapped up in their own perspective, as well as thoroughly discounting the other’s perspective, that others may feel like they are going crazy. The narcissist is so confident and so demeaning that it becomes hard to stand up to the barrage of self-centered propaganda.
A person needs a lot of self-confidence to stand up to this very consistent barrage of verbiage by the narcissistic personality disorder. They just don’t stop. In fact, I once had to yell at the narcissist to get them to shut up and listen. I imagine, some people can’t mobilize enough aggression to stop them.
There is no acknowledgement of your feelings, needs or perspectives and that can leave you questioning yourself.
The narcissistic personality is so beyond our past experience that we have no preparation or defence from their way of being. They never acknowledge you and you seem to fade away. If you have any shame issues, this will feed them.
This is like the shame message that says, “Your voice does not matter. You don’t matter.”
I am not even sure that the NPD is actually lying, manipulating and abusing people in the way it sounds. They are just so completely centered on themselves that others do not really exist in their psychological reality. Others are not significant. It is a case of ‘I am ok; You are not ok.’
This is not so much intentional evil as inescapable self-centeredness.
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Does a narcissist ever confide their intimate feelings in someone who is the victim?
First of all no narcissist thinks of others as their ‘victim.’
No narcissist thinks of themselves as a narcissist. People do not think in these terms.
The narcissists I know share their feelings all the time. They think that is their privilege. They are hurt when someone does not give their feelings enough respect.
Narcissists sincerely feel that they are good people in fact superior to others. They express that by sharing negative feelings they have about others. Others are always to blame for what is wrong. They are never to blame and will refuse to do anything about if if you have a problem with them.
Intimate feelings develop when we submit to one another. That may involve being authentic and sharing our feelings. No narcissist is going to submit to another and so are unlikely to be in a position where ‘confide their intimate feelings with another.’ It just does not happen like that.
The intimate feeling a narcissist has about you is that ‘you are there for them to satisfy their needs.’ If you do not do that, then their feelings is that ‘there is something wrong with you.’
Why are narcissists such lonely people?I experience the narcissist as unable to listen to, acknowledge or value others. All the narcissist sees is himself or herself.
One narcissist who I counsel hates it when I want to make a comment. She would be happy if the whole sessions was just her talking about just her stuff with nothing but full agreement from me of her every point. I find it boring and draining.
A couple I saw for an intensive three days had a husband who I finally figured must have been a narcissist. He talked about himself and his agenda and interrupted my attempts to clarify goals and procedures.
His wife need assurance from him that he would respect her time out signal and let her leave if she needed a break. But with 18 hours spent together he acknowledged this only once.
On our final day together I started a score chart for his talking. One column was for when he talked about himself. A second column was for when he blamed or spoke negative about his wife. The third column was for times he acknowledged and responded with a listening statement to his wife. This third column received not a single observation.
Gottman’s research on couples found that couples that stay together have 4 acknowledgments for every disagreement or blame statement. According to this research this couple does not have a chance.
This inability to recognize or acknowledge the other in a positive way is sufficient in itself to explain why narcissists end up lonely.
Written by George Hartwell M.Sc. a Christian counsellor and registered psychotherapist with a masters in clinical psychology and 40 years experience.
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