Join us on Mental Health News Radio as we discuss Narcissism and Narcissistic Abuse with Dr. Linda Martinez-Lewi. She is a published author and behavioral health provider specializing in the treatment of narcissistic abuse. We leave no stone unturned regarding this topic. Get ready to take notes and enjoy the show!
Narcissistic personalities affect the lives of everyone around them, especially their children, spouses and siblings. This is a growing field of study. There is an epidemic of narcissistic personalities in our current culture.
It is essential that we learn to identify narcissists quickly, to develop a strong sense of self, to sever these relationships and learn how to heal and recover.
What was the impetus to writing a book about narcissism?
I studied the narcissistic personality as part of my clinical training and became fascinated with the true nature of the narcissist. In my private practice I noticed that many clients were having serious issues with family members—spouses, parents, siblings—who fit the pathology of the narcissistic personality. They were being manipulated, exploited, lied to, demeaned, humiliated and felt like they were to blame. I also became aware the growing prevalence of narcissistic personalities in our society today and decided to put the spotlight on the damage that they cause their spouses, children, ex-spouses and all of those who get close to them.
We can talk about the narcissist as a “Master of Grand Delusions—The narcissist lives in an intricate world of his making, dominated by inflated illusions of self-importance. His style is grandiose—like some peacock or wild turkey with feathers in full display.” (Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life)
Going No Contact we make a commitment to not engage with the narcissist on any level. This provides the individual with psychological and emotional space to become grounded. Narcissists are demanding, overwhelming, manipulative and controlling. Not contacting them in any form allows the person who is healing to begin a program of self care and psychological self protection.
When children are involved contact needs to be civil. A procedure can be set up for children going back and forth between one home and the next. The narcissist is always changing the rules since they have a strong sense of over-entitlement. It is very important that the parent learn to maintain a sense of psychological grounding and self control at all times. This takes practice and patience with oneself. Rules of civility and appropriate behavior must be made clear and abided by. The narcissist always tries to break rules. This is where your calm emotional detachment and mindfulness are essential in dealing with children who must be protected and cherished.
Why does recovery take so long?
Each person recovers at his or her own pace. When we grow up in a home with a narcissistic parent, with psychological and emotional abuse, maternal deprivation, etc., we have low expectations of how we deserve to be treated. Becoming involved with narcissists can become a life pattern in relationships since we have low expectations of how we are entitled to be treated. “The future partner of the narcissist was often the child of an arrogant, demanding, narcissistic parent. From his earliest days he was conditioned to respond to his parent’s arbitrary rules and whims. The narcissistic mother or father conducted himself as a dictator, without a conscience, immune to any outside authority. From the time they are very little, these children become experts at catering to the idiosyncratic needs of the narcissistic parent.” (Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life)
There is pattern that can re-occur after we have left the narcissist and feel pressured to go back to them. Each time the individual returns to the narcissist the psychological enmeshment with them gets stronger. Cutting the final cord with a narcissist takes a lot of work and patience with oneself and self acceptance.
Every survivor we’ve spoken to thinks at some point they are the narcissist and that they are insane. Why is this part of the healing process?
The narcissist has a way of getting under our skin. They are often very charming and highly convincing and manipulative. They play on our emotions. At times they tell us that we are narcissists and selfish and self absorbed. The victim begins to believe this lie and becomes very confused and thinks they are the crazy one. The narcissist projects his volcanic rage and self hatred on to his victims. Victims of narcissists are vulnerable and often highly sensitive human beings and believe them.
There is a time of insight when we know that the psychopathology is that of the narcissist not with us. From this point on the true healing can begin.
Many survivors believe they were targeted by their abusers. Is there any validity to that statement?
Narcissists often choose those whom they can easily charm and manipulate and who look up to them. They make empty promises that are very believable. It is very difficult to say “No” to a very gifted high level narcissist. From his point of view why wouldn’t a narcissist choose someone who could be completely used up and then replaced.
How long have you been working with victims/survivors of Cluster B personality disordered people?
I have been doing the work of helping victims of narcissistic abuse since my book was published in 2008. (Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life)
Can a narcissist recover? Why not?
Narcissistic personality has a very fixed psychic structure which begins to develop when a child is young. Narcissists believe that they are perfect and that the fault is with everyone else. They feel completely entitled to make outrageous demands of others and to expect perfection from them. The current society handsomely rewards narcissists with financial and worldly power. Being narcissistic in some high level work circles is considered essential to success. The narcissist blames others when something goes wrong. It is not his/her problem. It is theirs. With this kind of attitude there are no personal issues to bring to therapy or any other healing modality.
Being the victim of a narcissist over time is very painful but highly familiar. It can be a psychological pattern repeated from a childhood that was mentally and psychologically abusive. The person who remains in denial about the true nature of the narcissist keeps making excuses for him or her and is unable to break through and recognize that this pattern is thwarting his growth, potential, creativity and pursuit of inner peace.
What happens to survivors when they do break contact, heal, and move on with their lives?
Their real selves are renewed. They develop a sense of inner peace and the use of their many creative gifts. They recognize that their lives belong to them—often for the first time.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D. is a clinical expert on the narcissistic personality. She is a licensed psychotherapist with many years of professional experience working with those who are suffering from psychological and emotional abuse from narcissistic personalities: narcissistic spouses, narcissistic mothers and fathers, narcissistic siblings, narcissistic ex-spouses. Dr. Martinez-Lewi is the author of Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life. She helps her clients to recognize and understand the narcissist in-depth and learn the practice of self care to recover from psychological and emotional abuse. Through her international telephone consultations Dr. Martinez-Lewi offers specific strategies and essential tools for healing, recovering and thriving. She has an extensive Blog that addresses multiple facets of the narcissistic personality.
*Examples given regarding Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Psychopathy, or Sociopathology may be related to the guest or host’s experiences over vast interactions in their field. An amalgamation of experiences may be described but may not represent any specific entity. Should any listeners resonate with the information discussed or written, a list of licensed professionals will be made available upon request.