A Narcissist Won’t Ever Believe They Are a Narcissist
That’s why their stories live through the voices of those who have survived them
I just read an article that questioned why we only hear stories told by the victims of narcissists.
The writer felt it was unfair. She believed narcissists should have a voice. And ironically, that we should have empathy for them because they suffer from a mental health disorder.
I’ve often said anyone who writes about narcissistic personality disorder bears significant responsibility. It’s a complex topic and a dangerous disorder.
There is a reason we never hear stories from the narcissist's point of view.
An individual who actually has a narcissistic personality disorder does not believe they are a narcissist. Therefore, it would be extremely rare to hear the story of a true narcissist as told by their own voice.
The person the writer interviewed who described himself as a narcissist, likely had narcissistic characteristics. Not narcissistic personality disorder. There is a huge difference.
I wrote at length about this difference in the following piece, “Narcissism Is a Serious Word.”
Narcissism Is a Serious Word
If you’ve loved one you understand the desperation and disorder
Additionally, because this topic has gained popularity it isn’t always written about accurately.
What do I mean?
Writers have a responsibility to their readers.
Many theorize they were with a narcissist. This does not necessarily mean their significant other was diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder.
There are many abusive personalities who are not narcissists.
This is a horrific and abusive personality with little help for those who survive it.
Therefore, readers need to know they are getting accurate information. Especially since the resources on this topic are extremely limited. And many can’t afford to go to counseling.
Survivors of this type of abuse are trying to make sense of their relationship.
Are they with a narcissist? What are their characteristics? Who can help them? Can a narcissist be reformed? Can a narcissist change?
Also, this serious mental health disorder can be missed by many counselors. Or labeled by some who are not qualified to make the diagnosis.
In my case, we went for a year to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) for marriage counseling. He never recognized the disorder. Later, we went to a marriage counselor who was a psychologist. He diagnosed my husband.
I wasted all of those years struggling to make sense of my husband instead of leaving.
As a journalist, I believe anyone who writes of their narcissistic experience, should have been with someone who was diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder by a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Or a LCSW or mental health professional who is highly, highly specialized in the field of narcissistic personality disorder.
Not only because many emotionally abusive individuals are not true narcissists, but because it is severely complex.
There are definite traits of those with a narcissistic personality disorder; however, not all narcissists behave the same. Some are physically abusive, some are overt, some are covert. If you read the above article I delve into this more.
As a journalist, I also believe another aspect must be taken into consideration.
The writer of that piece may have actually experienced someone with a true narcissistic personality disorder in her life. But either did not receive counseling or enough counseling to understand the topic fully.
Her extreme empathy towards the narcissist and hope the narcissist will change illustrates this.
Narcissism is not considered a treatable illness. And the reason lies in the disorder itself.
Does that mean there aren’t potentially a few rare cases? Possibly. Maybe divine intervention or something extraordinary.
But hugely unlikely.
Because the most distinguishing trait of an individual with a narcissistic personality disorder is their lack of empathy. It is a severe deficit. Because of this, the narcissist is missing something. It precludes them from feeling the pain of others. It is what makes them horrifically abusive and frightening.
It also is what ironically, makes them incapable of believing they have this mental health disorder. And thus, why they do not seek treatment. They are unable to see outside their own world.
A narcissist lives in their own perception of reality. Not actual reality.
That is why so many who have unknowingly fallen prey to these emotionally corrupt beings feel crazy.
I worry when I read stories like this.
A hopeful writer wanting to believe that narcissists can be treated is misleading. It instills false hope in those who still want to see the best in the narcissist and have been unable to free themselves.
The type of overly caring people who already find it nearly impossible to walk away.
Because just as the narcissist possesses a dangerous lack of empathy — those who love them possess extraordinary empathy.
Again, most who have experienced an individual with a narcissistic personality disorder feel crazy for a reason.
This abuser does not deserve empathy let alone their point of view. Especially, since the nature of this disorder means their world view is distorted and not reality.
There are so many things to consider when writing about narcissism.
Not just the topic itself.
The reader is the most important.
They are the ones who have suffered and experienced a mental health disorder with little societal support. They are the ones who wonder why their significant other is acting this way as if they are two entirely different people. They are the ones who are desperately seeking resources to help free themselves from the abuser.
And just like narcissists have common threads and differentiating behaviors…
So does the reader.
They are at varying levels of identifying and escaping emotional abuse and/or physical abuse, and financial abuse.
The reader could be someone who is still caught in abuse, someone learning about the topic and discovering it’s the type of abuse they are suffering from, someone who is just now brave enough to leave, someone who is still trapped in divorce and fighting for freedom, someone finally recovering and healing.
Or a naive and trusting soul like I once was.
Who even when a psychologist urged me to understand this was not a treatable illness…still wanted to believe the man I loved could change.
Had I read an article promising hope from the voice of a narcissist I might have believed it.
Fortunately, I left and my voice is one of the survivors.