Narcissism and Capacity for Change (Narcizmus a potenciál pre zmenu)

Various forms of narcissism have differing implications for therapy.

It is not unusual today for individuals to be labeled as narcissistic by family members, friends, or co-workers. It has become a popular concept and, according to some experts, a more common problem among today’s Generation Y than among prior generations (Twenge, 2006). Other experts disagree about the change in prevalence. Most notably, Dr. Craig Malkin has written comprehensively on the subject of narcissism (Malkin, 2015) and has concluded that the prevalence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (a specific diagnosable form) remains unchanged at 1% of the population. The contradictions are head-spinning, especially when you take into account all of the various forms of this personality style and all of the labels given to these forms.

It is somewhat helpful to know that most of the experts at least agree that there are different forms of narcissism. The most basic difference is that between what most have called “grandiose narcissism” versus “vulnerable narcissism” (Wink, 1991; Dickinson and Pincus, 2003). The grandiose narcissist is described as arrogant, entitled, exploitative, and envious. He maintains his own self-esteem by self-enhancement, denial of weaknesses and demands of entitlement. He may become angry and aggressive (at least verbally) when his needs are not met. In contrast, the vulnerable narcissist is overly self-inhibited and appears modest, but actually has grandiose expectations for himself and others. The failure to meet his own high expectations as well as the failure of others to meet his expectations often leads to anger, disappointment, shame, and social withdrawal. Both types feel entitled, lack empathy, and exploit others to meet their own needs.

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The Communal Narcissist: Another Wolf Wearing a Sheep Outfit (Komunitný narcizmus- ďaľší vlk v ovčom rúchu)

In his book Rethinking Narcissism, Dr. Craig Malkin distinguishes between three types of narcissists—the extrovert, the introvert, and the communal.

The extrovert is the easy-to-spot kind whose grandiosity is presented in Technicolor, the preener and the manipulator we’re most familiar with. The introvert (also called the “covert” narcissist) is somewhat more confounding because he or she lacks outward braggadocio and may have a self-effacing or vulnerable manner which belies the way he or she feels superior to everyone. But the communal narcissist is entirely something else. I hadn’t heard of this category until I read Malkin’s descriptions, and perhaps you haven’t, either. This third type of narcissist is a relative newcomer to the party; the designation is only a bit over a decade old.

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Common Questions Asked by People Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

I work daily with people who have experienced narcissistic abuse. Some grew up in a household with a narcissistic parent. Others are married to someone with narcissism. Still others may simply have a close relationship with a person who is emotionally abusive and has traits of narcissism.

Despite their unique personal circumstances, they are all are seeking help to address and heal from the effects a narcissistic relationship has had on their lives. They generally come to therapy looking not only for help, but also for answers to their questions. In this article, I address eight of the most common questions I am asked by people seeking support for narcissistic and emotional abuse.

1. How do I get my parent/partner/best friend to change?

You cannot change another person. You can only change your own actions and responses, and that can be hard enough! Instead of trying to get someone else to change, I encourage you to simply let that person be who they are. A person who does not want to change will probably not change. Your job is to take care of yourself.

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Spiritual Abuse (Duchovné zneužitie)

There are several ways in which abuse can be spiritual abuse. People use this term with a variety of meanings and it is quite important to keep track of which definition people have in mind.

There is a sense in which all abuse can be spiritual abuse. For example any form of child abuse can do damage to a child’s emerging spirituality. The fact that the damage includes damage to the spiritual self is what makes it spiritual abuse in addition to what ever other kind of abuse is going on.

Some abuse is spiritual abuse because it takes place in a spiritual place/context. Sexual abuse by a priest or pastor, for example, is clearly a form of spiritual abuse in addition to sexual abuse.

The use of spiritual truths or biblical texts to do harm is another form of spiritual abuse. Sometimes battered wives are told that God wants them to be submissive to their husbands. Sometimes children who are being molested by their parents are told that God wants them to be obedient. Sometimes people quote “do not think of yourself more highly that you ought” to suicidally depressed people. These are examples of abuse–even if what is said is a quote from the Bible, even if ‘submission’ and ‘obedience’ are in a general sense virtues. It is the twisting of good things in order to do harm that is so disturbing about this kind of abuse.

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Spiritual Narcissism (Duchovný narciszmus)

Although narcissism is a broad subject, it is marked by an exaggerated self-importance and perceived superiority, abnormal levels of selfishness and entitlement, and extreme self-centeredness. Generally speaking, a narcissist is a person who thinks too highly of themselves and continuously feeds on the egotistic admiration from others, typically rooted in unresolved and exaggerated feelings of inferiority and shame. As a result, they often manipulate and exploit others to fuel their delusions and fend off the ever-looming threat of severe depression. People who pathologically display these characteristics may be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Narcissism Is Everywhere

Today, in the business and political world, narcissistic behavior is often celebrated, encouraged, and even taught to some degree. In fact, it can be argued that narcissistic behavior even contributes to their success (as they define it). But it is not only limited to the business and political world. Narcissism affects every area of culture because it affects people. Therefore, it affects churches, ministries, and families as well.Narcissism is not a church issue—it is a human issue.

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