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Understanding Today's Narcissist

Understanding Today's Narcissist is a podcast dedicated to separating fact from fiction when it comes to dealing with a narcissist in your life. Your host is Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC, a licensed psychotherapist, speaker and author. For more information, visit www.growwithchristine.com Looking for help with dealing with the narcissist in your life? Visit http://growwithchristine.com/narcissism/ to sign up for online support!
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Oct 17, 2018

What is Stockholm Syndrome? Usually the term is reserved for hostage situations referencing a bank robbery that occurred in 1973 in Stockholm Sweden. After spending 6 days in a bank vault, the four hostages refused to testify against their captors and instead raised money for their defense. The term refers to the trauma bond developed between the captor and the hostages in which the hostages feel positive feelings such as empathy for the person that is causing them harm. This allows the captor to not feel remorse for their actions as the hostages don’t hold them responsible.

What are some other examples? One of the most famous cases of Stockholm Syndrome is the kidnapping of Patty Hearst in 1974 who denounced her family name and sided with her kidnappers in assisting them to rob banks. She was given a prison sentence that was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton.  Another example is Jaycee Dugard who was kidnapped at age 11 in 1991 and held hostage for 18 years bearing 2 children by her abuser. In her book, she explains the syndrome and how she formed a bond with both of her captors over the years.

Are there fewer extreme examples? Absolutely. A person currently living in an abusive situation often has this condition. This is the reason why many people don’t leave their abuser but instead, continue to hold onto the relationship. In the case of Bailey, she wanted to believe that her father was telling the truth so much that she accepted his assessment of her mental well-being as being crazy when she was not. Her desire to have a relationship with her father meant that she was ignorant of the different types of abuse, justified his abuse in therapy as the result of his childhood abuse and minimized any impact. The result was she honestly believed that she was the problem and not him.

How do you recover? The recovery process requires identification and awareness. This is one of the few times when googling a disorder is helpful. Hearing and seeing examples of other victims brings awareness at another level. It is often easier to see the problem in someone else’s story before identifying it in yours. Once an understanding has been established, rewriting the abuse needs to occur. This is time-consuming and should be done under the guidance of a therapist. A person with Stockholm Syndrome already has a hard time perceiving things correctly and needs professional assistance until a new, more accurate perception is developed.

How do you help someone with this? It is essential to develop a bond of trust that is based on empathy and not judgment. Those looking at the scenario from the outside in are often highly judgmental and critical of the victim’s behavior. The victim is already overloaded with feelings of inadequacy, shame, and guilt that are disproportionately attributed to their actions and not the abusers. To overcome this, they need unconditional love and acceptance and a ton of patience.

After addressing the Stockholm syndrome, Bailey finally began to do better. She no longer allowed her father’s abuse to impact her. Moving out of the house helped and in a short period she was thriving. Without getting the proper help, she might have never been able to achieve this. Be sure that if you or anyone else is experiencing this syndrome or something like it they seek out professional assistance.

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Oct 10, 2018

The moment Brian first really understood the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a light bulb went off in his brain. He spent most of his life thinking he was crazy, lazy, and stupid – three words his father often said about him to other family members and friends. His father also severely and harshly disciplined him, set-up unnecessary competitions in which his dad was the winner, never apologized, showed no empathy even when Brian was hurt, and treated everyone like they were inferior.

For years, Brian struggle with insecurity, anxiety, depression, and feelings of inadequacy. After his business failed, Brain decided it was time to rethink his life, so he began therapy. It didn’t take too long before the therapist identified narcissistic characteristics in his father. Suddenly, everything became clear that the very issues he struggled to overcome were a direct result of having a narcissistic parent.

But knowing this information and healing from it are two different matters. The lack of self-esteem, obsessive thinking, minimization of abuse, excessive anxiety, fear-based reactions, and heightened survival instincts are common among adult children of narcissists. The distorted perception of reality a narcissistic parent imposes on a child has damaging consequences on the adult at work and home. By addressing the impact of narcissism, a person finds relief. Here are the seven steps:

  1. Recognize. The first step in the healing process is to admit that there is something wrong with a parent’s behavior. A person can’t recover from something they refuse to acknowledge. Most narcissistic parents pick a favorite child, the “golden child,” who is treated as if they walk on water, this was Brian’s older brother. In comparison, Brian was treated as inferior through belittlement, comparing, ignoring and even neglect. Occasionally, his father switched his favoritism depending on the performance of a child. When Brian received a football scholarship, his dad treated him like the golden child; but when he lost it due to an injury, he was inferior again. The key to remember is that narcissistic parents see the child as an extension of them so they take credit for the successes and reject the child who fails.
  2. Study. Once the narcissism is identified, it is essential to gain an education about the disorder and how it affects the entire family system. Narcissism is part biology (other family members likely have the disorder as well), part environment (trauma, abuse, shame, and neglect can draw narcissism out), and part choice (as a teen, a person chooses their identity and what is acceptable behavior). Since there might be other narcissists or personality disorders in a family, it is easy to trace the pattern. The environment and choice factors can further draw out the narcissism in a child which is cemented by age eighteen.
  3. Recount. This next step is comfortable in the beginning but becomes more difficult as the impact of the narcissism is realized. For each sign and symptom of narcissism, recall several examples in childhood and adulthood when the behavior is evident. It helps to write these down for reference later. The more time that is spent doing the step, the more significant the impact of the healing. Each of these memories needs rewriting with a new dialogue of, “My parent is narcissistic, and they are treating me this way because of that.” This is very different from the old internal dialogue of “I’m not good enough.”
  4. Identify. During the previous step, it is highly likely that some abusive, traumatic, and neglectful behavior on the part of the narcissistic parent becomes evident. Abuse for a child can be physical (restraint, aggression), mental (gaslighting, silent treatment), verbal (raging, interrogating), emotional (nitpicking, guilt-tripping), financial (neglect, excessive gifting), spiritual (dichotomous thinking, legalism), and sexual (molestation, humiliation). Not every event requires trauma therapy but some of them might, depending on the frequency and severity.
  5. Grieve. There are five stages to the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Brian struggled to believe at first that his father’s narcissism impacted him – this is denial. Anger is a natural response after the dots have been connected and the abuse has been identified. It is hard to believe that a parent who should be loving and kind would do the things they have done – this is part of the bargaining process. Whatever glorified image a person had of their narcissistic parent is now wholly shattered – this is depression. Sometimes anger is projected on the other parent for not adequately protecting their child from the trauma. Or it is internalized for not realizing or confronting sooner. It is crucial to go through all of the stages of grief to reach acceptance.
  6. Grow. This is an excellent place to step back for a while to gain a better perspective. Begin by reflecting on how the narcissistic parent’s distorted image of the world and people shaped current beliefs. Then drill downwards towards the vows or promises that were made internally as a result. Counteract the distorted images, vows, or promises with a newly gained perspective of reality. Continue this process until a new perspective is fully formed and now is part of the inner dialogue going forward. This essential step frees a person from the narcissistic lies and false truths.
  7. Forgive. The past cannot be changed, only understood. When forgiveness is genuine, it has a powerful transformational effect. Remember, forgiveness is for the forgiver, not the offender. It is better to honestly forgive in small chunks at a time, rather than granting blanket forgiveness. This allows room for other future or past offenses to be realized and worked through thoroughly. Don’t force this step, do it a comfortable pace so the benefits will be life lasting.

After completing these steps, Brian found it easier to identify other narcissists at work, home, or in the community. No longer did the narcissistic behavior trigger Brian and escalate his anxiety, frustration, or depression unnecessarily. Instead, Brian was able to remain calm and as a result, the other narcissistic person was disarmed because their behavior no longer had an intimidating effect.

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Sep 20, 2018

Christine reviews the tips and techniques for coping with an adult narcissist child.

 

  • Live in the present. One of the biggest temptations is to look backwards and wonder, “what if,” or “if only”. Second to that is to look too far ahead and try to predict the action of the ANC. Neither of these is productive. Narcissism is part biology, environment, and choice, so as circumstances change, so can the shape of the narcissist. Living in the present requires a bit of disciple but it is worth it. Even when the ANC has chosen the silent treatment, that is likely to be modified when they find they need a different response.
    • Avoid over or under complimenting. As a general rule, parents like to praise their children. Normally narcissists love to admired but when the ANC receives compliments from their parent, it seems belittling to them. Rather, extend applause for only the things which the ANC brings to light. For instance, if shown a letter of recommendation, praise them for that. Just be careful not to take any credit for their accomplishments.
    • Love or respect. A wise counselor once told me that when it comes to narcissists, the choice is to have either their love or respect, but not both. However, knowing which is more significant, is an individual decision. To earn their love means the parent watches their ANC’s mistakes and does not highlight them. Winning their respect means the parent achieves something the narcissist values.
    • Patience is a virtue. Nagging the ANC does not work. It only frustrates them and causes unnecessary friction. In time, most ANC’s return to the nest especially when life has failed to glorify them and they need the unconditional support of their parent. Waiting them out with open arms is difficult and likely one of the toughest tasks of parenting yet. There is no guarantee reward at the end, but it is worth the effort.
    • Don’t expect remorse. Part of the definition of narcissistic personality disorder is the inability to demonstrate any real form of remorse, sorrow, or forgiveness. This is especially true when it comes to the relationship between the parent and the ANC. The ANC will not admit to wrongdoing, flawed thinking, an error in judgement, or poor decision. To expect such awareness is to not recognize the limitations of the disorder.
    • Be careful of significant others. When the ANC finds a mate, it is essential that the parent show happiness for them regardless of the quality of the decision. Any indication of disapproval will be met with swift isolation that could last for years. At all costs, this should be avoided.
Sep 20, 2018
  1. Understand what a scapegoat is. The purpose of a scapegoat is to pass responsibility onto someone else. Usually this person is unsuspecting at first and agrees because they are trying to get along with others. This technique of passing the buck is very common with narcissists, sociopaths, and addicts. Narcissists can’t allow their ego to be tarnished by an error. Sociopaths do it for the sport of it. And addicts do it because accepting fault in one area of their life means being accountable in another.
  2. Don’t accept liability. Looking back on the two events, Monica had an opportunity in both events to be honest with her level of responsibility. Instead, she chose to take on things that were not her fault. This did not improve her relationships as the two individuals just saw Monica as a pushover and someone they can continue to take advantage of in the future. Had she refused to be their scapegoat, a level of respect would be achieved instead of contempt.
  3. Review past experience. Her feelings of frustration over being a scapegoat ran deep. Upon further examination, Monica realized that her brother used to get her in trouble for his offenses all the time. Her parents, trying to be impartial, told the kids to “work it out.” Her brother’s idea of this was to threaten harm to her if she didn’t agree to take blame. As a demonstration of his determination, he even lit her stuffed animals on fire. Her willingness at work to make excuses for her boss and assistant was subconsciously rooted in the fear her brother instilled.
  4. Stop being the scapegoat. Once Monica separated out trauma from past events, she was able to set new boundaries. She began by issuing a written warning with her assistant about her late arrivals and notified Human Resources of her suspicious behavior. Then she researched narcissistic bosses and found other ways to feed his ego. This pacified her boss and neutralized her assistant. Despite a couple of attempts to thwart her boundaries, Monica remained firm.
  5. Expose the abuser. Monica knew that eventually she would need to expose the scapegoating technique to prevent other employees from damage. But doing this too soon would mean jeopardizing her job, so she waited and watched. When she saw another employee taking the fall for yet another blunder by her boss, Monica spoke to that person and advised them not to take on the blame. This frustrated her boss, but by then, Monica had established a good enough relationship with Human Resources that her job was secured. Once Human Resources caught on, it was only a matter of time before her boss was removed.
Aug 5, 2018

Christine introduces the concept of "NAG" with a story of her own client, Sam. She unpacks the symptoms and the 6 stages of NAG which all need to be faced and understood.

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Aug 3, 2018

Chistine makes suggestions -

What You Can Do If Your Teen Seems Narcissistic

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Jun 26, 2018

Christine talks about "shame-based" parenting.

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Jun 26, 2018

Christine explores the challenges facing parents of narcissistic children, and how to cope.

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Mar 28, 2018

On this edition, Christine unpacks the Passive-Aggressive Personality Traits - they are much like a personality disorder and often show up similar to narcissism

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Mar 15, 2018

Christine covers trauma bonds, what they are, how to identify them,  and how they can effect us in a relationship with a narcissist.

 

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Mar 7, 2018

Christine visits with her colleague Nate Webster to discuss dating apps and narcissists, the relationship between this social technology and the behavior of them, and what to watch out for if you are using these apps to find a mate.

 

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Mar 6, 2018

Narcissists use shame to control people around them. It is a very real form of emotional abuse. By recognizing these tactics (there are 11 different examples) you will be better equipped to manage through these tactics.

 

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Feb 27, 2018

How does a narcissist control you? Christine covers the 5 ways, the tactics they use in a relationship to smear you - understanding these tactics can help you out-maneuver the narcissist.

 

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Feb 20, 2018

Hidden shame can show up in the strangest ways, and at unexpected times in any relationship. Christine shares how an individual might lie to cover up their own hidden shame, bury the truth in an effort to protect themselves.

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Feb 8, 2018

In this ongoing series, Christine Hammond reveals the toxic ways that narcissists can be abusive in relationships and how you can protect yourself from these tactics.

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Feb 1, 2018

In this ongoing series, Christine Hammond reveals the toxic ways that narcissists can be abusive in relationships and how you can protect yourself from these tactics.

www.growwithchristine.com

Jan 25, 2018

In this ongoing series, Christine Hammond reveals the toxic ways that narcissists can be abusive in relationships and how you can protect yourself from these tactics.

www.growwithchristine.com

Jan 18, 2018

In this ongoing series, Christine Hammond reveals the toxic ways that narcissists can be abusive in relationships and how you can protect yourself from these tactics.

www.growwithchristine.com

Jan 6, 2018

In this ongoing series, Christine Hammond reveals the ways that narcissists can be abusive in relationships and how you can protect yourself from these tactics.

 

www.growwithchristine.com

Jan 6, 2018

In this ongoing series, Christine Hammond reveals the ways that narcissists can be abusive in relationships and how you can protect yourself from these tactics.

www.growwithchristine.com

Jan 6, 2018

In this ongoing series, Christine Hammond reveals the ways that narcissists can be abusive in relationships and how you can protect yourself from these tactics.

www.growwithchristine.com

Jan 6, 2018

In this ongoing series, Christine Hammond reveals the ways that narcissists can be abusive in relationships and how you can protect yourself from these tactics.

 

www.growwithchristine.com

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