Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 56

Narcissism, Pathological Narcissism, The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), the Narcissist,

and Relationships with Abusive Narcissists and Psychopaths

Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin


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1. Interview granted to the magazine Flare (Canada)

Q. What's the difference between narcissism and selfishness?

A. Pathological narcissism is a pattern of thinking and behaving in adolescence and adulthood, which involves infatuation and obsession with one's self to the exclusion of others. It manifests in the chronic pursuit of personal gratification and attention (narcissistic supply), in social dominance and personal ambition, bragging, insensitivity to others, lack of empathy and/or excessive dependence on others to meet his/her responsibilities in daily living and thinking. Pathological narcissism is at the core of the narcissistic personality disorder.

Q. You've indicated that narcissism is difficult to overcome. Is it true that once you're a narcissist always a narcissist? Kind of like you're
always an alcoholic, even after giving up drinking? Since narcissists are less likely to seek therapy, what other options are there for recovery? Any effective drug treatments? Maybe anti-depressants or anxiety meds?

A. The common treatment for patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is talk therapy (mainly psychodynamic psychotherapy or cognitive-behavioural treatment modalities). Talk therapy is used to modify the narcissist's antisocial, interpersonally exploitative, and dysfunctional behaviors, often with some success. Medication is prescribed to control and ameliorate attendant conditions such as mood disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorders.

The prognosis for an adult suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is poor, though his adaptation to life and to others can improve with treatment. In other words, yes, once a narcissist, always a narcissist.

Comparing narcissists to drug addicts is not spurious.

Pathological narcissism is an addiction to Narcissistic Supply, the narcissist's drug of choice. It is, therefore, not surprising that other addictive and reckless behaviours – workaholism, alcoholism, drug abuse, pathological gambling, compulsory shopping, or reckless driving – piggyback on this primary dependence.

 

The narcissist – like other types of addicts – derives pleasure from these exploits. But they also sustain and enhance his grandiose fantasies as "unique", "superior", "entitled", and "chosen". They place him above the laws and pressures of the mundane and away from the humiliating and sobering demands of reality. They render him the centre of attention – but also place him in "splendid isolation" from the madding and inferior crowd.

 

Such compulsory and wild pursuits provide a psychological exoskeleton. They are a substitute to quotidian existence. They afford the narcissist with an agenda, with timetables, goals, and faux achievements. The narcissist – the adrenaline junkie – feels that he is in control, alert, excited, and vital. He does not regard his condition as dependence. The narcissist firmly believes that he is in charge of his addiction, that he can quit at will and on short notice.

 

The narcissist denies his cravings for fear of "losing face" and subverting the flawless, perfect, immaculate, and omnipotent image he projects. When caught red handed, the narcissist underestimates, rationalises, or intellectualises his addictive and reckless behaviours – converting them into an integral part of his grandiose and fantastic False Self.

 

Thus, a drug abusing narcissist may claim to be conducting first hand research for the benefit of humanity – or that his substance abuse results in enhanced creativity and productivity. The dependence of some narcissists becomes a way of life: busy corporate executives, race car drivers, or professional gamblers come to mind.

 

The narcissist's addictive behaviours take his mind off his inherent limitations, inevitable failures, painful and much-feared rejections, and the Grandiosity Gap – the abyss between the image he projects (the False Self) and the injurious truth. They relieve his anxiety and resolve the tension between his unrealistic expectations and inflated self-image – and his incommensurate achievements, position, status, recognition, intelligence, wealth, and physique.

 

Thus, there is no point in treating the dependence and recklessness of the narcissist without first treating the underlying personality disorder. The narcissist's addictions serve deeply ingrained emotional needs. They intermesh seamlessly with the pathological structure of his disorganised personality, with his character faults, and primitive defence mechanisms.

 

Techniques such as "12 steps" may prove more efficacious in treating the narcissist's grandiosity, rigidity, sense of entitlement, exploitativeness, and lack of empathy. This is because – as opposed to traditional treatment modalities – the emphasis is on tackling the narcissist's psychological makeup, rather than on behaviour modification.

 

The narcissist's overwhelming need to feel omnipotent and superior can be co-opted in the therapeutic process. Overcoming an addictive behaviour can be – truthfully – presented by the therapist as a rare and impressive feat, worthy of the narcissist's unique mettle.

 

Narcissists fall for these transparent pitches surprisingly often. But this approach can backfire. Should the narcissist relapse – an almost certain occurrence – he will feel ashamed to admit his fallibility, need for emotional sustenance, and impotence. He is likely to avoid treatment altogether and convince himself that now, having succeeded once to get rid of his addiction, he is self-sufficient and omniscient.

Q. Say you're a woman dating a guy who is a narcissist, what are the early warning signs that he may be a narcissist?

A. Perhaps the first telltale sign is the narcissistic abuser's alloplastic defenses – his tendency to blame every mistake of his, every failure, or mishap on others, or on the world at large. Be tuned: does he assume personal responsibility? Does he admit his faults and miscalculations? Or does he keep blaming you, the cab driver, the waiter, the weather, the government, or fortune for his predicament?

Is he hypersensitive, picks up fights, feels constantly slighted, injured, and insulted? Does he rant incessantly? Does he treat animals and children impatiently or cruelly and does he express negative and aggressive emotions towards the weak, the poor, the needy, the sentimental, and the disabled? Does he confess to having a history of battering or violent offenses or behavior? Is his language vile and infused with expletives, threats, and hostility?

Next thing: is he too eager? Does he push you to marry him having dated you only twice? Is he planning on having children on your first date? Does he immediately cast you in the role of the love of his life? Is he pressing you for exclusivity, instant intimacy, almost rapes you and acts jealous when you as much as cast a glance at another male? Does he inform you that, once you get hitched, you should abandon your studies or resign your job (forgo your personal autonomy)?

Does he respect your boundaries and privacy? Does he ignore your wishes (for instance, by choosing from the menu or selecting a movie without as much as consulting you)? Does he disrespect your boundaries and treats you as an object or an instrument of gratification (materializes on your doorstep unexpectedly or calls you often prior to your date)? Does he go through your personal belongings while waiting for you to get ready?

Does he control the situation and you compulsively? Does he insist to ride in his car, holds on to the car keys, the money, the theater tickets, and even your bag? Does he disapprove if you are away for too long (for instance when you go to the powder room)? Does he interrogate you when you return ("have you seen anyone interesting") – or make lewd "jokes" and remarks? Does he hint that, in future, you would need his permission to do things – even as innocuous as meeting a friend or visiting with your family?

Does he act in a patronizing and condescending manner and criticizes you often? Does he emphasize your minutest faults (devalues you) even as he exaggerates your talents, traits, and skills (idealizes you)? Is he wildly unrealistic in his expectations from you, from himself, from the budding relationship, and from life in general?

Does he tell you constantly that you "make him feel" good? Don't be impressed. Next thing, he may tell you that you "make" him feel bad, or that you make him feel violent, or that you "provoke" him. "Look what you made me do!" is an abuser's ubiquitous catchphrase.

Does he find sadistic sex exciting? Does he have fantasies of rape or pedophilia? Is he too forceful with you in and out of the sexual intercourse? Does he like hurting you physically or finds it amusing? Does he abuse you verbally – does he curse you, demeans you, calls you ugly or inappropriately diminutive names, or persistently criticizes you? Does he then switch to being saccharine and "loving", apologizes profusely and buys you gifts?

If you have answered "yes" to any of the above – stay away! He is a narcissistic abuser.

Then there is the narcissist's body language. It comprises an unequivocal series of subtle – but discernible – warning signs. Pay attention to the way your date comports himself – and save yourself a lot of trouble!

Abusers are an elusive breed, hard to spot, harder to pinpoint, impossible to capture. Even an experienced mental health diagnostician with unmitigated access to the record and to the person examined would find it fiendishly difficult to determine with any degree of certainty whether someone is being abusive because he suffers from an impairment, i.e., a mental health disorder.

(continued below)


This article appears in my book, "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"

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Some abusive behavior patterns are a result of the patient's cultural-social context. The offender seeks to conform to cultural and social morals and norms. Additionally, some people become abusive in reaction to severe life crises.

Still, most narcissistic abusers master the art of deception. People often find themselves involved with a abuser (emotionally, in business, or otherwise) before they have a chance to discover his real nature. When the abuser reveals his true colors, it is usually far too late. His victims are unable to separate from him. They are frustrated by this acquired helplessness and angry that they failed to see through the abuser earlier on.

But abusers do emit subtle, almost subliminal, signals in his body language even in a first or casual encounter. These are:

"Haughty" body language – The narcissist adopts a physical posture which implies and exudes an air of superiority, seniority, hidden powers, mysteriousness, amused indifference, etc. Though the abuser usually maintains sustained and piercing eye contact, he often refrains from physical proximity (he maintains his personal territory).

The abuser takes part in social interactions – even mere banter – condescendingly, from a position of supremacy and faux "magnanimity and largesse". But even when he feigns gregariousness, he rarely mingles socially and prefers to remain the "observer", or the "lone wolf".

Entitlement markers – The narcissist immediately asks for "special treatment" of some kind. Not to wait his turn, to have a longer or a shorter therapeutic session, to talk directly to authority figures (and not to their assistants or secretaries), to be granted special payment terms, to enjoy custom tailored arrangements. This tallies well with the abuser's alloplastic defenses - his tendency to shift responsibility to others, or to the world at large, for his needs, failures, behavior, choices, and mishaps  ("look what you made me do!").

The abuser is the one who – vocally and demonstratively – demands the undivided attention of the head waiter in a restaurant, or monopolizes the hostess, or latches on to celebrities in a party. The abuser reacts with rage and indignantly when denied his wishes and if treated the same as others whom he deems inferior. Abusers frequently and embarrassingly "dress down" service providers such as waiters or cab drivers.

Idealization or devaluation – The narcissist instantly idealizes or devalues his interlocutor. He flatters, adores, admires and applauds the "target" in an embarrassingly exaggerated and profuse manner – or sulks, abuses, and humiliates her.

Abusers are polite only in the presence of a potential would-be victim – a "mate", or a "collaborator". But they are unable to sustain even perfunctory civility and fast deteriorate to barbs and thinly-veiled hostility, to verbal or other violent displays of abuse, rage attacks, or cold detachment.

The "membership" posture – The narcissist always tries to "belong". Yet, at the very same time, he maintains his stance as an outsider. The abuser seeks to be admired for his ability to integrate and ingratiate himself without investing the efforts commensurate with such an undertaking.

For instance: if the abuser talks to a psychologist, the abuser first states emphatically that he never studied psychology. He then proceeds to make seemingly effortless use of obscure professional terms, thus demonstrating that he mastered the discipline all the same – which is supposed to prove that he is exceptionally intelligent or introspective.

In general, the abuser always prefers show-off to substance. One of the most effective methods of exposing a abuser is by trying to delve deeper. The abuser is shallow, a pond pretending to be an ocean. He likes to think of himself as a Renaissance man, a Jack of all trades, or a genius. Abusers never admit to ignorance or to failure in any field – yet, typically, they are ignorant and losers. It is surprisingly easy to penetrate the gloss and the veneer of the abuser's self-proclaimed omniscience, success, wealth, and omnipotence.

Bragging and false autobiography – The narcissist brags incessantly. His speech is peppered with "I", "my", "myself", and "mine". He describes himself as intelligent, or rich, or modest, or intuitive, or creative – but always excessively, implausibly, and extraordinarily so.

The narcissistic abuser's biography sounds unusually rich and complex. His achievements – incommensurate with his age, education, or renown. Yet, his actual condition is evidently and demonstrably incompatible with his claims. Very often, the abuser's lies or fantasies are easily discernible. He always name-drops and appropriates other people's experiences and accomplishments as his own.

Emotion-free language – The narcissist likes to talk about himself and only about himself. He is not interested in others or what they have to say. He is never reciprocal. He acts disdainful, even angry, if he feels an intrusion on his precious time.

In general, the narcissistic abuser is very impatient, easily bored, with strong attention deficits – unless and until he is the topic of discussion. One can dissect all aspects of the intimate life of a abuser, providing the discourse is not "emotionally tinted". If asked to relate directly to his emotions, the abuser intellectualizes, rationalizes, speaks about himself in the third person and in a detached "scientific" tone or composes a narrative with a fictitious character in it, suspiciously autobiographical.

Most narcissists get enraged when required to delve deeper into their motives, fears, hopes, wishes, and needs. They use violence to cover up their perceived "weakness" and "sentimentality". They distance themselves from their own emotions and from their loved ones by alienating and hurting them.

Seriousness and sense of intrusion and coercion – The narcissist is dead serious about himself. He may possess a fabulous sense of humor, scathing and cynical, but rarely is he self-deprecating. The abuser regards himself as being on a constant mission, whose importance is cosmic and whose consequences are global.

If a scientist – he is always in the throes of revolutionizing science. If a journalist – he is in the middle of the greatest story ever. If an aspiring businessman - he is on the way to concluding the deal of the century. Woe betide those who doubt his grandiose fantasies and impossible schemes.

This self-misperception is not amenable to light-headedness or self-effacement. The abuser is easily hurt and insulted (narcissistic injury). Even the most innocuous remarks or acts are interpreted by him as belittling, intruding, or coercive slights and demands. His time is more valuable than others' – therefore, it cannot be wasted on unimportant matters such as social intercourse, family obligations, or household chores. Inevitably, he feels constantly misunderstood.

Any suggested help, advice, or concerned inquiry are immediately cast by the abuser as intentional humiliation, implying that the abuser is in need of help and counsel and, thus, imperfect. Any attempt to set an agenda is, to the abuser, an intimidating act of enslavement. In this sense, the abuser is both schizoid and paranoid and often entertains ideas of reference.

Finally, narcissistic abusers are sometimes sadistic and have inappropriate affect. In other words, they find the obnoxious, the heinous, and the shocking – funny or even gratifying. They are sexually sado-masochistic or deviant. They like to taunt, to torment, and to hurt people's feelings ("humorously" or with bruising "honesty").

While some narcissists are "stable" and "conventional" – others are antisocial and their impulse control is flawed. These are very reckless (self-destructive and self-defeating) and just plain destructive: workaholism, alcoholism, drug abuse, pathological gambling, compulsory shopping, or reckless driving.

Yet, these – the lack of empathy, the aloofness, the disdain, the sense of entitlement, the restricted application of humor, the unequal treatment, the sadism, and the paranoia – do not render the narcissist a social misfit. This is because the abuser mistreats only his closest – spouse, children, or (much more rarely) colleagues, friends, neighbours. To the rest of the world, he appears to be a composed, rational, and functioning person. Abusers are very adept at casting a veil of secrecy – often with the active aid of their victims – over their dysfunction and misbehavior.

Q. What's the best way to cope with a husband who is a narcissist? You've suggested that divorce might be a good idea. What if there are
kids and the woman isn't in a position to make it as a single mom, for example? What are the key coping strategies for living with a
narcissistic partner? What coping strategies can you suggest for an adult child of a  narcissistic parent? What can you do to get along with a boss or superior who is a narcissist?

A. You should use the same coping strategies to tackle all the narcissists in your life: parents, children, bosses, colleagues, neighbors, "friends", and service providers. Narcissists will be narcissists regardless of gender, age, cultural background, financial status, or social and educational achievements.

In the workplace, here are a few useful guidelines:

·        Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him;

·        Never offer him any intimacy;

·        Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on);

·        Never remind him of life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity. You can aggrandize even your office supplies, the most mundane thing conceivable by saying: "These are the BEST art materials ANY workplace is going to have", "We get them EXCLUSIVELY", etc.;

·        Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on the narcissist's self-image, omnipotence, superior judgement, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence. Bad sentences start with: "I think you overlooked … made a mistake here … you don't know … do you know … you were not here yesterday so … you cannot … you should … (interpreted as rude imposition, narcissists react very badly to perceived restrictions placed on their freedom) … I (never mention the fact that you are a separate, independent entity, narcissists regard others as extensions of their selves)…" You get the gist of it.

Manage your narcissistic boss. Notice patterns in his bullying. Is he more aggressive on Monday mornings - and more open to suggestions on Friday afternoon? Is he amenable to flattery? Can you modify his conduct by appealing to his morality, superior knowledge, good manners, cosmopolitanism, or upbringing? Manipulating the narcissist is the only way to survive in such a tainted workplace.

Or, consider marriage to narcissist that has gone awry.

First, you must decide:

Do you want to stay with him - or terminate the relationship?

If you decide to stay:

FIVE DON'T DO'S – How to Avoid the Wrath of the Narcissist 

The EIGHT DO'S – How to Make your Narcissist Dependent on You If you INSIST on Staying with Him 

In any case, Insist on Your Boundaries – Resist Abuse.

·        Refuse to accept abusive behavior. Demand reasonably predictable and rational actions and reactions. Insist on respect for your boundaries, predilections, preferences, and priorities.

·        Demand a just and proportional treatment. Reject or ignore unjust and capricious behavior.

·        If you are up to the inevitable confrontation, react in kind. Let him taste some of his own medicine.

·        Never show your abuser that you are afraid of him. Do not negotiate with bullies. They are insatiable. Do not succumb to blackmail.

·        If things get rough- disengage, involve law enforcement officers, friends and colleagues, or threaten him (legally).

·        Do not keep your abuse a secret. Secrecy is the abuser's weapon.

·        Never give him a second chance. React with your full arsenal to the first transgression.

·        Be guarded. Don't be too forthcoming in a first or casual meeting. Gather intelligence.

·        Be yourself. Don't misrepresent your wishes, boundaries, preferences, priorities, and red lines.

·        Do not behave inconsistently. Do not go back on your word. Be firm and resolute.

·        Stay away from such quagmires. Scrutinize every offer and suggestion, no matter how innocuous.

·        Prepare backup plans. Keep others informed of your whereabouts and appraised of your situation.

·        Be vigilant and doubting. Do not be gullible and suggestible. Better safe than sorry.

·        Often the abuser's proxies are unaware of their role. Expose him. Inform them. Demonstrate to them how they are being abused, misused, and plain used by the abuser.

·        Trap your abuser. Treat him as he treats you. Involve others. Bring it into the open. Nothing like sunshine to disinfest abuse.

Another powerful technique involves mirroring. Mirror the narcissist’s actions and repeat his words.

If, for instance, he is having a rage attack – rage back. If he threatens – threaten back and credibly try to use the same language and content. If he leaves the house – leave it as well, disappear on him. If he is suspicious – act suspicious. Be critical, denigrating, humiliating, go down to his level.

Or, you can choose to frighten him.

Identify the vulnerabilities and susceptibilities of the narcissist and strike repeated, escalating blows at them.

If a narcissist has a secret or something he wishes to conceal – use your knowledge of it to threaten him. Drop cryptic hints that there are mysterious witnesses to the events and recently revealed evidence. Do it cleverly, noncommittally, gradually, in an escalating manner.

Let his imagination do the rest. You don't have to do much except utter a vague reference, make an ominous allusion, delineate a possible turn of events.

Needless to add that all these activities have to be pursued legally, preferably through the good services of law offices and in broad daylight. If done in the wrong way – they might constitute extortion or blackmail, harassment and a host of other criminal offences.

Not everyone is cut out for conflict and confrontation. Instead of facing him off, you can always lure him.

Offer him continued Narcissistic Supply. You can make a narcissist do anything by offering, withholding, or threatening to withhold Narcissistic Supply (adulation, admiration, attention, sex, awe, subservience, etc.).

If nothing else works, explicitly threaten to abandon him.

You can condition the threat ("If you don't do something or if you do it – I will desert you").

The narcissists perceives the following as threats of abandonment, even if they are not meant as such:

But what if you have common children?

(continued below)


This article appears in my book, "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"

Click HERE to buy the print edition from Amazon (click HERE to buy a copy dedicated by the author)

Click HERE to buy the print edition from Barnes and Noble

Click HERE to buy the print edition from the publisher and receive a BONUS PACK

Click HERE to buy electronic books (e-books) and video lectures (DVDs) about narcissists, psychopaths, and abuse in relationships

Click HERE to buy the ENTIRE SERIES of sixteen electronic books (e-books) about narcissists, psychopaths, and abuse in relationships

 

Click HERE for SPECIAL OFFER 1 and HERE for SPECIAL OFFER 2

 

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook (my personal page or the book’s), YouTube

 


Q. What are the good qualities of having a narcissist as a partner/parent/boss/brother/friend?

A. None. If you like rollercoaster rides, a relationship with a narcissist would be your thing. Otherwise, stay away.

Can the narcissist be harnessed? Can his energies be channeled productively?

This would be a deeply flawed – and even dangerous – "advice". Various management gurus purport to teach us how to harness this force of nature known as malignant or pathological narcissism. Narcissists are driven, visionary, ambitious, exciting and productive, says Michael Maccoby, for instance. To ignore such a resource is a criminal waste. All we need to do is learn how to "handle" them.

Yet, this prescription is either naive or disingenuous. Narcissists cannot be "handled", or "managed", or "contained", or "channeled". They are, by definition, incapable of team work. They lack empathy, are exploitative, envious, haughty and feel entitled, even if such a feeling is commensurate only with their grandiose fantasies and when their accomplishments are meager.

Narcissists dissemble, conspire, destroy and self-destruct. Their drive is compulsive, their vision rarely grounded in reality, their human relations a calamity. In the long run, there is no enduring benefit to dancing with narcissists – only ephemeral and, often, fallacious, "achievements".

Q. How do the people who live or work in close proximity to a narcissist end up feeling about themselves? Are they destined to always feel
inferior compared to the narcissist who thinks he/she has it all together?

A. Living with a narcissist is not a beauty contest or a quiz show. It is a harrowing experience. It very often involves recurrent and extreme abuse.

Repeated abuse has long lasting pernicious and traumatic effects such as panic attacks, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, flashbacks (intrusive memories), suicidal ideation, and psychosomatic symptoms. The victims experience shame, depression, anxiety, embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, abandonment, and an enhanced sense of vulnerability.

In "Stalking – An Overview of the Problem" [Can J Psychiatry 1998;43:473–476], authors Karen M Abrams and Gail Erlick Robinson write:

"Initially, there is often much denial by the victim. Over time, however, the stress begins to erode the victim's life and psychological brutalisation results. Sometimes the victim develops an almost fatal resolve that, inevitably, one day she will be murdered. Victims, unable to live a normal life, describe feeling stripped of self-worth and dignity. Personal control and resources, psychosocial development, social support, premorbid personality traits, and the severity of the stress may all influence how the victim experiences and responds to it… Victims stalked by ex-lovers may experience additional guilt and lowered self-esteem for perceived poor judgement in their relationship choices. Many victims become isolated and deprived of support when employers or friends withdraw after also being subjected to harassment or are cut off by the victim in order to protect them. Other tangible consequences include financial losses from quitting jobs, moving, and buying expensive security equipment in an attempt to gain privacy. Changing homes and jobs results in both material losses and loss of self-respect."

Surprisingly, verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse have the same effects as the physical variety [Psychology Today, September/October 2000 issue, p.24]. Abuse of all kinds also interferes with the victim's ability to work. Abrams and Robinson wrote this [in "Occupational Effects of Stalking", Can J Psychiatry 2002;47:468–472]:

"… (B)eing stalked by a former partner may affect a victim's ability to work in 3 ways. First, the stalking behaviours often interfere directly with the ability to get to work (for example, flattening tires or other methods of preventing leaving the home). Second, the workplace may become an unsafe location if the offender decides to appear. Third, the mental health effects of such trauma may result in forgetfulness, fatigue, lowered concentration, and disorganisation. These factors may lead to the loss of employment, with accompanying loss of income, security, and status."

Still, it is hard to generalise. Victims are not a uniform lot. In some cultures, abuse is commonplace and accepted as a legitimate mode of communication, a sign of love and caring, and a boost to the abuser's self-image. In such circumstances, the victim is likely to adopt the norms of society and avoid serious trauma.

Deliberate, cold-blooded, and premeditated torture has worse and longer-lasting effects than abuse meted out by the abuser in rage and loss of self-control. The existence of a loving and accepting social support network is another mitigating factor. Finally, the ability to express negative emotions safely and to cope with them constructively is crucial to healing.

Typically, by the time the abuse reaches critical and all-pervasive proportions, the abuser had already, spider-like, isolated his victim from family, friends, and colleagues. She is catapulted into a nether land, cult-like setting where reality itself dissolves into a continuing nightmare.

When she emerges on the other end of this wormhole, the abused woman (or, more rarely, man) feels helpless, self-doubting, worthless, stupid, and a guilty failure for having botched her relationship and "abandoned" her "family". In an effort to regain perspective and avoid embarrassment, the victim denies the abuse or minimises it.

No wonder that survivors of abuse tend to be clinically depressed, neglect their health and personal appearance, and succumb to boredom, rage, and impatience. Many end up abusing prescription drugs or drinking or otherwise behaving recklessly.

Some victims even develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Q. Why have so few widespread medical studies been done on the topic of narcissism? It seems like a common problem – one that warrants in-depth research.

A.
There are three main reasons for the paucity of research:

(1) Very few narcissists attend therapy or even acknowledge that they have a problem. Clinicians and scholars rarely gain access to narcissists in sufficient numbers practice and laboratory.

(2) It is reasonable to assume (though utterly unproven) that many psychologists and psychiatrists have narcissistic traits and a narcissistic style (as do many medical doctors, politicians, and people in the media and in show business, for instance). They would be averse to "looking in the mirror" by studying their own pathology.

(3) Many cultures and societies encourage narcissistic traits such as individualism, competitiveness, ambition, and inflated self-esteem. Narcissism would not be considered either pathological or exceptional or negative in such milieus.

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