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How to Deal with a Narcissistic Personality

Updated on August 22, 2014

The Legend of Narcissis in Greek Mythology

The young man who pined away for his own reflection was then transformed into a flower that bears his name.
The young man who pined away for his own reflection was then transformed into a flower that bears his name. | Source

Have you had encounters with people with Narcissistic Personality Disorders?

What is your experience with personality disorders?

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It's all about me!

There are several definitions for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In a nutshell, Narcissitic Personality Disorder is a when the individual displays extreme patterns of self-importance. They generally have a sense of entitlement and do not have empathy for others. Personality disorders can start at a very young age and can persist through their lifetime. They can be difficult to diagnose but the American Psychiatric Association (APA) does have clear criterian for health care providers to follow.

While there is much to say and write about diagnosis and the stigma from them in general, this article is about dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder in someone you care about. Probably at this point, you may be thinking, Why do I have to deal with them at all? Truthfully, if this person doesn't play a significant role in your life, you don't. But, what if it is your sibling, your parent, your child? What if you don't have the luxury of walking away? This article will be talking about what we can do when we can't walk away.

The beautiful Narcissis Flower.

Source

Author's note

The author of this hub has worked with high school students with multiple personality disorders for 15 years. In addition, and more to the point, the author has a close family relative who has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality disorder since the age of 16. She has struggled with feelings of inadequacy, frustration and hurt coupled with extreme love.

"I don't care what you think unless it is about me."~Kurt Cobane

Fictional Personalities with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Scarlet O'Hara

Tony Soprano

Dorian Gray

Othello

Darth Vader

J.R. Ewing

Famous People with Narcissistic Personality Traits

Adolph Hitler

Saddam Hussein

William Shatner

Joan Crawford

Pablo Picasso

Lee Harvey Oswald

Kanye West

Source

How to deal with a Narcissistic Loved One

There are several key things to keep in mind.

  • Most Narcissistic people do not have true empathy for others. However, if it suits them or helps them achieve their goals, they will emulate empathy.
  • When a Narcissistic person cares for you, they will try to consider your feelings. They will, more likely, consider how your feelings will affect them.
  • Try to remember, they are giiving what they are capable of giving. You are not going to change them.
  • You will never win an argument with a Narcissist. You may think you have won, but if you go back and rehash it, they are clearly the victor!
  • Narcissistic people can be fun and loving but at the same time, very frustrating and hurtful.

What is the Difference between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and a Narcissistic Trait?

It is important to know the difference between a personality trait and a personality disorder. Narcissistic Personality disorde is one of ten personality disorders cited by the American Psychiatric's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM.) It is characterized by an inflated sense of self importance and entitlement. Because of their extreme self involvement, it is harder for them to find empathy for others.

Someone can have a narcissistic personality without having a disorder. Babies and young children tend to be narcissistic because it takes time for their world to expand beyond just themselves. There are also many people who just feel that they know more, look better and are way more creative and talented. Their confidence and surety does not mean that they suffer from a personality disorder. It simply means that they are proud of who they are.

What to do if you suspect someone you care about has a narcissistic Personality Disorder

Step one would be to seek professional help. Keep notes and document the things that prompted you to make the call. Do not think of anything as insignificant. The professionals have certain signs that they are looking for and know certain traits that will help them in diagnosing a mental illness.

Keep several things in mind:

  • People who have personality disorders may have more than one.
  • Several disorders share traits.
  • Your loved one may not be forthcoming in counsreling sessions.
  • A diagmnosis may take a long time coming.
  • A diagnosis may not come at all if the person does not have enough of the traits.

If there is no diagnosis, it does not mean that your loved one cannot be treated. It simply means that there is no definitive disorder written in their charts. Continue or start to go to therapy, regardless. Something brought you to this conclusion and it still needs to be addressed.

Words of Advice for those Dealing with someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Love them.

Appreciate and enjoy their quirks.

Listen to them. And listen and listen and listen!! (They tend to talk a lot!)

Love them.

Don't try to win an argument with them. You are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Make sure other family members get proper counseling and support, as well.

Don't expect other family members to accept their behaviors or to....

...love them the same way you do.

Try not to get too frustrated or defeated.

Love them.

Join a support group.

Seek counseling. You may need help or at least a place to vent.

Love them!

"When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotions."~Dale Carnegie

Comments

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    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Hi, Randi...This is an important hub with excellent content. Although I've had to cope with other personality disorders within my extended family, the narcissistic individuals I know (as well as some I knew in the past) are not related. It is a difficult and frustrating disorder when you're trying to interact with someone who has it. Your suggestions are very good, and I'll try to keep them in mind during future encounters.

      Just a logistical note: You spelled "narsissistic" correctly all through the body copy, but the last "s" was omitted in the article's title. (This is not criticism--just thought you'd want the opportunity to "fix" the omission in the title. I'm sure you'd do the same for me and shall probably have the opportunity.)

      Voted Up++

      Regards,

      Jaye

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Randi,

      Well written, heartfelt and practical descriptions and strategies for the loved ones of those with a narcissistic personality.

      Nursing students have a most difficult time adapting and caring for this type of person...this piece has great value for caregivers as well.

      Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Jaye, thank you so much for your generous comments. It was a bit hard to write and keep from hurting or insulting anyone who may read this!

      I truly appreciate your letting me know about the missing "s." I definitely would let you know! It's kind of like having spinach in your teeth. Please tell me!!! Thank you for your votes!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Maria! I think it is hard to recognize at first. I also think that, what I should have stressed here, is that no matter how much you wish it away, it is still here. Thank you so much for the votes up and hugs right back to you!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good information, Randi, and I am very impressed with the empathetic approach you took to this subject. Well done!

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 3 years ago from Hudson, FL

      You ended this article with the perfect quote. It's difficult for most of us to deal with narcissists because we allow their actions to stir up our own emotions. We think that they "should know better", but their disorder doesn't allow them to. I will keep your tips in mind. Thanks for sharing!

    • Abby Campbell profile image

      Abby Campbell 3 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      We definitely need to speak out more about personality disorders and mental illness. You have done well with this hub, Randi... very informative. It's very difficult dealing with these disorders (have a 25 year old daughter with some), and they are extremely hard to love. Patience is definitely a virtue.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Very nicely considered hub. Like you say, sometimes people with narcissistic personality disorder are not coworkers, friends, or others that we can ignore or cast off when the going gets rough. Instead they are family members and we must choose to love and be patient. Voted up and more.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      I was married to one for 20 years.... Although he seldom adored himself in a mirror. He simply 'knew' he was supposed to be a god....

      Excellent!

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thank you for this wonderful and informative hub Randi.

      I know someone very close to me and one that I love who has all the signs of narcissistic behaviour. I was in denial in the beginning because we are blood related but finally accepted the truth in order to stop the pain that the behaviour had caused it. It was hard but only then I could free myself and move on. The damages were irreparable but they're behind me now...not looking back.

      Very interesting topic everyone should be aware of.

      Love from the sky~

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 3 years ago from south Florida

      One of the difficulties dealing with a person who displays a genuine narcissistic disorder is that individual's firm belief that he or she is perfect and does not need to change.

      Excellent information, Randi. Thank you.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Bill!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Liz! I appreciate your comments!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Abby! You are so right. They can be very difficult to love and it undermines everything we know that defines us as mothers. Patience is definitely a virtue ans one, that I don't always have enough of.

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, FlourishAnyway! I do appreciate the comments and votes!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Aw, Martie! I am so sorry. 20 long years, huh? Thank you for sharing!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, Cris! Your comments are always appreciated! xo

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      drbj, that is true and another thing I forgot to write is that they are manipulative. Thank you so much for commenting!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A wonderfully interesting hub which I vote up. Have a great weekend.

      Eddy/.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Fascinating hub here Randi.

      How interesting that you have worked with high school students with personality disorders, and I would have thought it was just their age, so you have explained this disorder very well here with kindness.

      I love how you included the famous persons and fictional characters with this disorder. That quote by Kurt Cobane is truly telling.

      Thank you for including the useful information as to how to cope with loved ones who may have this disorder. I love how you really expressed the importance of loving them.

      Voted up ++++ and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • cherylone profile image

      Cheryl Simonds 3 years ago from Connecticut

      Great content for this hub, it is informative, detailed and done in "laymen's" terms. Thank you for the information as well, I didn't know a lot about this subject, but I do now.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Very interesting hub, Randi! I suppose that it's easier to understand the behavior of a person when it's diagnosed; at least there is an explanation behind the behavior and it's easier to deal with the person affected by it!

      Thanks for sharing! Enjoy your weekend!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      Randi, This is a very good hub with such valuable information. I was married to a narcisist to and it was miserable much of the time. I do love your suggestions because sometimes the person is a close relative or someone you love. I'm glad you treated this problem with such dignity. God bless.

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Eddy! I hope you have a wonderful weekend as well!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Faith! Your kind and generous comments are truly appreciated!

      I like what you said about high school! It is rather synonomous with narcissism!!

      Thank you for the votes and share!

      I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Cherylone and welcome to my humble hub page! You r comments and visit are much appreciated!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Yes, Joelle, it would be easier with a diagnosis. Unfortunately, many people go undiagnosed or don't fit into all the parameters making it just that much more frustrating. Thank you so much for your comments! You have a great weekend, as well!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Pamela. Yes, they are difficult! At least you are out of that now! Thank you so much for your comments. Much appreciated! Have a great weekend!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. Haven't had experience with this so it was a fascinating and informative read for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Gypsy Rose Lee! I hope you do not need to experience it first hand!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 3 years ago

      Thank you Randi, this came at a most opportune time in my life, sadly!

      i have dealt with 2 narcissistic personalities - since birth - both of whom are extremely damaged - and damaging.

      i have heard that there are more and more and MORE narcissists growing up every day..

      all i can say is - DUCK!

      (not kidding neither...)

      sharing on my friend..

      so nice to read you again!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Leslie! Yes, after reading some of the craziness going on at your end, I imagine you have had some experience! I am sorry. It sucks! Duck is a great word! The problem in my case is that when things are going well, I drop my guard and forget to duck. Then, bam, it hits me right in the face! It's always good to have you here, Leslie! Thank you for the vote and share!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      it must have been a challenged to have worked with folks with N.P.. and Willima Shatner? LOL I felt educated here with your hub and I thank you for that.. Maybe now I could recognize the symptoms

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Frank! It'll be better for you if you don't meet anyone with it or at least, anyone you care about! lol

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 3 years ago

      A very good hub. If it's a family member that you live with, then don't engage in verbal arguments. The stress is not worth it because you're not going to change the person like you said and you might think that you won the argument, but in reality nobody really wins if you come to think about it. You made a good point. Narcissists can only give what they're capable of giving. I know what you mean about loving them but they can be difficult to love. I don't really like arrogant men so if I spot any of these signs, I just walk away.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, lovedoctor. These are all valid points. I, too, walk away from arrogant men. I would rather be alone than to be treated like that. Unfortunately, I can't (or don't want to) walk away from this and having been a part of his therapy for most of his life, I simply love him and try really hard not to engage!

    • savvydating profile image

      savvydating 3 years ago

      A good, succinct summary. The word narcissist is thrown around quite a lot. In fact, I have used it a few times right here on Hubpages... but I worry, as I don't want to give the impression that there is a narcissist hiding behind every bush. My understanding is that the disorder itself is quite rare.

      I know a narcissist. This person uses entrapment as a communication weapon. Such people are incapable of change. At the very least, their behavior can be modified, but not much. Furthermore, they do not seek counseling because they honestly believe there is nothing wrong with them. The #1 thing is that they lack empathy, which is why they are so hurtful towards others. They wield there words like a knife, slashing deeply.

      But the good news is that in knowing what we're dealing with, we can actually come to a degree of acceptance/forgiveness because these people don't know who they are. Perhaps they have a brain glitch. My point is that I have gained a sense of freedom in knowing that their hurtful words are lies. They wouldn't know the truth if it hit them in the face, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change them. So I don't even try. I can even feel sorry for them (the one in my family).

      I admire that you can keep on loving. If my son were a narcissist, for example, I would do the same. He could end up in prison and I would still love him. Luckily for me, my son is balanced and kind, but you get my point, which is that I admire your strength.

      Thank you so much for clarifying this highly misunderstood disorder.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, savvydating! I appreciate the visit and great comments!

      Not all narcissists refuse treatment and by the same token, while they are not empathetic, they are not all uncaring. If your expectations don't exceed their capabilities, you can maintain a loving relatonship. I am talking about blood relatives here, not romantic ones. If I met a man who is a narcissist, true or otherwise, I'd hightail it far, far away!

    • savvydating profile image

      savvydating 3 years ago

      Good to know, brtbell... about the caring thing. I know the family member I've dealt with does have some limited caring qualities, but they come with a price. At any rate, I've been ostracized for making a tiny misstep, and it is easier for me this way, not having to walk on eggshells anymore.

      And as for the romantic relationship thing, for sure - we must always avoid those men like the plague.

      Thank you for responding and clarifying yet more points about this subject.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      I don't blame you for backing off. Dealing with people with personality disorders can be difficult, at best. When it is rebuked, that's not a while lot left to do. Thank you so much for your comments and votes. I hope you don't need to have more than limited contact with the family member you are speaking about.

    • savvydating profile image

      savvydating 3 years ago

      You are very kind. I will only write this last comment. I just wanted to say that I did try to talk to this person again and "work things out." It was important for me to do so, so that I could look at myself in the mirror and know that I tried. He wasn't interested...

      Frankly, I also believe that if this person were my child, I would continue to try. But he is not, and he has a support system through his wife. He will be OK. So for the sake of my mental health, I will move on. At this juncture, I do have to see him often, but I will change this as soon as I can. Things will be fine. I've always been good at keeping my soul intact, come hell or high water. Thanks for listening AND for writing this fantastic article, which will help many!

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      picklesandrufus 3 years ago

      Really enjoyed reading this hub and I learned a lot. thanks for the good information!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, picklesandrufus! I appreciate your comments!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

      People with this disorder can be so destructive - they're like being caught up in the vortex of a storm. And they suck the life from you. Outstanding hub, with excellent information.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Marcy and welcome to my hub! Yes, it can be a daily struggle, especially when it is family.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      You say love them when most say stay away from them. An interesting thought. lol Really. I noticed you thanking someone for telling you about leaving out s's was it? Well in your next to last sentence you have one you shouldn't and people always seem to get mad at me for telling them errors but like you I want to know! So there you go! Maybe a year late but better than never!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 2 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hi Jackie! I only say love them if they are family. It also helps if they are loveable! In my case, it is my child and he was diagnosed fairly young. He has made great strides through therapy and is a very sweet, generous young man. But.....he has his moments. It is still very hard for him to see beyond himself, at times.

      Thank you for letting me know about the typo. Like you, I prefer to be told. I must have been having a run on S's when I wrote this!

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