What Is Involved in Recovering from Narcissism?

Esther Ejim

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental problem that can be treated by determining the depth of the disorder in order to decide whether to apply counseling or psychotherapy. People with this disorder, which is sometimes simply called narcissism, usually have a misplaced feeling of superiority and importance, as well as a deep desire for admiration, and often act with little regard to the feelings of others. Recovery involves identifying and accepting a diagnosis of the disorder, uncovering the causes of the condition, and establishing a treatment plan.

Narcissistic personality disorder causes feelings of unreasonable intense humiliation and rage when a person suffering from it is even mildly criticized.
Narcissistic personality disorder causes feelings of unreasonable intense humiliation and rage when a person suffering from it is even mildly criticized.

Recovering from narcissism involves first of all admitting that such a problem exists, and recognizing the symptoms of the disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder causes feelings of unreasonable intense humiliation and rage when a person suffering from it is even mildly criticized. This person has an overly exaggerated sense of self-importance and worth. He or she is often preoccupied with fantasies of intelligence, success, beauty or his or her own version of ideal love. The person is self-serving and only seeks to satisfy his or her own interests, even at the detriment of others.

Narcissism may develop as a result of neglect in early childhood.
Narcissism may develop as a result of neglect in early childhood.

Some of the causes of narcissistic personality disorder are quite complex and may include a combination of a person's environment, genetics and upbringing. Those who had a dysfunctional childhood or were abused or neglected may develop the disorder as a defensive response to the feelings of low self-esteem fostered by the trauma of their childhood. Some people may have been excessively pampered, leading them to believe that they are better than everyone else. Other people may simply be physiologically disposed to such an attitude.

One of the first steps in recovering from narcissism is recognizing the symptoms of the disorder.
One of the first steps in recovering from narcissism is recognizing the symptoms of the disorder.

The main treatment to help those recovering from narcissism is therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps them recognize the negative attitudes and misconceptions that are the direct result of the disorder. Recognizing these signs will help people recovering from narcissism to replace such negative attitudes with more positive ones. Group therapy is also effective because it brings together a group of people with the disorder so that they can find out more about the disorder and receive support from the group while recovering from narcissism.

Having honest communication with loved ones is one step in recovering from narcissism.
Having honest communication with loved ones is one step in recovering from narcissism.

Family therapy may also help by bringing together a family to address any feelings of inadequacy stemming from old childhood hurts that might be the root of the narcissism. If the narcissism is accompanied by feelings of depression and anxiety, then some medication prescribed by a physician may help the person better manage the condition. Counseling may also be of benefit to those with mild versions of the disorder.

Group therapy is one option for individuals struggling with narcissism.
Group therapy is one option for individuals struggling with narcissism.
Victims of narcissistic abuse might turn to a support group as part of their recovery.
Victims of narcissistic abuse might turn to a support group as part of their recovery.
Dealing with emotional issues is part of the recovery process from narcississm.
Dealing with emotional issues is part of the recovery process from narcississm.

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Discussion Comments

SarahGen

Family therapy sounds like a great idea. I think I'm a narcissist because of the abusive treatment of my parents growing up. I'm not the only one who needs therapy.

ddljohn

@ZipLine-- Yea, criticizing and judging a narcissist usually backfires, it doesn't usually cause self-awareness.

I think a narcissist has to understand that narcissism is destructive on his or her own. I think this is the only way that a narcissist will seek help, if he or she realizes that narcissism is damaging to one's own life. Because narcissists care about themselves.

ZipLine

Encouraging and helping a narcissist to recover is harder than it seems. I agree that recovery starts with admitting that something is wrong, but most narcissists will never admit it.

It's not difficult to get someone with realistic views about themselves to accept that there might be something wrong with their thought patterns and behavior. But how do you make someone who is in love with himself get to accept it?

I've been trying to get my boyfriend to seek help for some time about his narcissistic tendencies. But he thinks that he is perfect and he becomes very aggressive even at the mention of this. I don't think he can ever recover.

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