Working with Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The ACT Counselling Services Team have delivered several 1 day CPD events on ‘Working with Narcissistic Personality Disorder’ throughout 2015 and 2016. Whilst we thoroughly enjoyed delivering the workshops and the feedback received was excellent we did find it a challenge. The challenge lay in attempting to change the public as well as Therapist’s attitudes towards those who are unfortunate enough to have a narcissistic personality type.
They are not ‘monsters’
We found that most workshops at some point became about ridiculing narcissists. This seems to be a very common reaction. In fact, a lot of articles that we have read over the last year in magazines with a psychology focus appear to advocate how awful and damaging narcissists are. Whilst we agree that it may be the case that narcissists can cause a lot of psychological damage, we strongly express that ‘there is no point or value in turning people into monsters.’ Are we not in the profession of care and compassion?
Our team discussions have led us to the conclusion that lack of understanding is possibly a large contributor to the attitudes held towards people with narcissistic traits or indeed the disorder. As a result we hope to provide a little information on what actually lies beneath the disorder with a view to promoting understanding, compassion and a willingness to work with people with NPD or NPD traits.
What lies behind NPD…
The common belief amongst most folks is that people with the way of being associated with NPD have had ‘too much of a good thing,’ or have been ‘repeatedly told how special and wonderful they are,’ furthermore that ‘you are better than others.’ This in our experience is not the case. People with NPD have experienced high levels of emotional deprivation and conditional approval. The reality is actually that they have been given the message by their significant caregivers that they are defective unless they meet with the conditions set by the caregivers. So in other words, ‘you are only acceptable if you are perfect, achieve, gain recognition for the caregiver, be the best, do not show weakness, do not show emotion.’
The reality is that sadness, loneliness, isolation and hollowness sums up the Narcissists existence. We would suggest that this is not something to be mocked and ridiculed but understood and empathised with. A common trait in narcissism is a lack of empathy, unless there is a shift in the public and Therapist’s perception we are treating these people in the same way that we mock them for.
Want to know more?
If this article has been helpful and you want to know more about training or treatment for NPD then please get in touch and we will be delighted to help. You can call us on 0141 554 0838 or email us here.