At the risk of over-simplification, a willingness to give-and-take is one of the hallmarks of healthy people (e.g., what restaurant to visit, which movie to see, where to go on a vacation, or what we talk about in a conversation). People deemed “narcissistic” are almost exclusively “takers” in a give-and-take relationship – at least insofar as they perceive others as having something to provide. In addition, they are skilled manipulators at attracting and maintaining others in their sphere of influence. Narcissists exhibit grandiosity, a need for admiration, a sense of entitlement, and a lack of empathy. They believe themselves to be unique and require that others view them similarly.
In the world of psychotherapy and specialized coaching, what is given to the narcissistic individual is called “narcissistic supply.” If the narcissistic tendencies are extreme, pervasive, and disruptive in a major way, we consider these individuals to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Their sense of entitlement, manipulative tendencies, and lack of empathy can, over time, be severely injurious to those on the receiving end of this toxic behavior (i.e., those who provide the narcissistic supply). This is particularly true for children, for whom the narcissistic parents are the only game in town.
When the narcissist is one’s employer or one’s parent, sibling or spouse, the victim’s options are limited – especially if the person on the receiving end of the narcissism is vulnerable and dependent (e.g., they need the job, the marriage, or they are too young to disconnect by moving out). The person with NPD is a skilled manipulator, and the recipient of the abuse can be compromised for months, years, or decades by the talented narcissist, who drains them of their spirit, authenticity, and vitality.
If the recipients of the abuse are to become fulfilled, self-actualized, and healthy in their own relationships, the narcissistic abuse must be brought to an end, and, in virtually every instance, this entails achieving and maintaining emotional distance from the person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Professional help can be of considerable value in helping the victim recognize the features of the territory in which the narcissist and victim move about and achieve release from the pattern of narcissistic abuse.
If you see yourself in this description of NPD and you want professional help, call 804-435-6777 discuss arranging an appointment via an in-person session or via Skype or FaceTime.