Mathilde lives with a narcissist: can he be cured?

Mathilde lives with a narcissist: can he be cured?

Mathilde has been reading a lot about narcissists lately, and not without reason. “I've been with Tom for many years. When we first met, we were madly in love. As in any relationship, the first tempers and cracks arise after a while, so too with us. But what I've discovered is that I might be living with a narcissist. “If I put a checklist next to Tom’s behavior, I can check off almost every trait of a narcissist.”

Mathilde now finds her relationship “hard work.” “This is not a problem. I love Tom and despite the difficulties, I can see a future with him. I would like to know if it is possible to 'cure' a narcissist? And if so, how? Will he be able to change his personality or will I really have to To live with it?

“‘Cure’ is a difficult word,” says healthcare psychologist Bjarne Timonen. “You can certainly change your behavior, but not your personality. But one of the positive things about a narcissist is that he will realize very quickly that he is a narcissist. And I must say that you have not reached that stage yet. A narcissist can realize that he is a narcissist. Or she deserves that label, but what Whether he sees it as a problem is another matter. Often others – partner or colleagues – in the narcissist's environment have difficulties with him, but he does not see it as a problem.”

Furthermore, according to Timonen, it will first be determined whether Tom suffers from so-called “narcissistic defence” or actually narcissistic personality disorder. “In the first case we also talk about 'front-yard narcissism' versus 'back-yard narcissism,' where in the backyard means it's deeply rooted in his personality. If there's a narcissistic defense, you have to deal with people who feel incredibly insecure in their Their essence, but try to hide this insecurity by acting arrogant.You can see it clearly.

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Start with your own behavior

In his practice, Timonen often sees narcissistic people who are controlled by their partner. “But therapy is only useful if the person also realizes that his or her behavior is causing problems. He or she must have a fundamental need to work on his or her behavior.”

If the latter is the case, a healthcare psychologist recommends planned treatment. Timonen: “This is a therapy that examines how you were programmed at an early age and how this now leads to problems in your interactions with others. Then the blind spots become apparent.”

“The narcissist considers themselves better than others; they engage in self-aggrandizement. For the person, this is a coping mechanism, but this self-aggrandizement is not in line with reality and can lead to major problems. Both in their work and in their relationships “They consider themselves great, but in reality they are They achieve nothing. They live as if they were in a fairy-tale world.”

Always give up space

Timonen fears that Mathilde will not have an easy time if Tom really has a disorder. “The other person in the relationship always has to give up space. If they don't want to help and you stay with them, you will pay dearly.” Furthermore, the narcissist will end up having less respect for his or her partner if she stays with him. “And the strange thing is that this is how it works with narcissists.”

However, Timonen would also like to point out that recently the label “narcissist” has been attached to someone very quickly, fueled by all the reports of narcissists being accused of transgressive behaviour.

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Hint of narcissism

“Not everyone experiences a disorder right away. In fact, a touch of narcissism doesn't have to be unhealthy at all. Everyone can use that. You often see in relationships that one person can bring themselves down and the other can bring their partner down with them.” “His narcissistic touch. It can help them be more confident. Then they can learn from each other.”

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