Dear Aunt Alex – 8/28/12




:: Because Aunt Alex gets mail.


Dear Aunt Alex:

I’ve heard that there are therapies, like Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, and Schema Therapy, that work on people with personality disorders.  This gives me a lot of hope. Should I go ahead and make the narcissist an appointment?

    Signed, Beth


Dear Beth:

Yes, I admit it — of course you should!  The sooner the better!  Hang in there, Beth, and best of luck!

OK, now, Beth is going to keep that nincompoop busy for a good while longer, so we needn’t worry about him bothering us any time real soon.  So, for the rest of us, here’s the thing about psychotherapy and narcissists:

1. They probably won’t go to real therapy, ever, unless it’s for some stupid fake reason like, “I want to figure out why I keep settling for such unworthy women.”  Narcissists very rarely acknowledge that there’s anything wrong with them, much less anything as rigid, assclownish and difficult to help as NPD.  Even if they say they’ll go to therapy, that’s still a far cry from their actually going and sticking with it.

2. If they do go to a therapist, it’ll be about three weeks (out of a two-year intensive treatment plan) before they’ll be calling themselves cured and quit therapy.  “I got all I need out of it.  I can self-manage from here.”  They’ll fake all the psychobabble stuff, just like they fake everything else, and be exactly the same as they were before — except a little more smug and a lot more annoying.  (“Look, I went to therapy for you, and the therapist said I didn’t even need it.  Now, what have you done for me lately?”)

3. If the therapist is new, or kinda soft, the narcissist will snow her with little effort and manipulate the therapist into telling him everything he wants to hear — he’s amazing, it’s all your fault, and maybe they should go and discuss this more over drinks.  (OK, therapists don’t say that last part, but the narcissist will think she (or he) did.)

I’m sorry, I really am, but narcissism does not respond meaningfully to psychotherapy, drugs, inpatient care, or anything else psychiatry or behavioral health have to offer.  You can’t treat it with vitamins, an exercise regimen, antidepressants, or herbs.  Meditation?  Great for you, useless against NPD.  Family counseling, an intervention, rational-emotive behavioral therapy, gestalt therapy, an ice bath, a colonic cleanse?  I’m sorry, Cadet.  When Mister Turtle is dead, he’s dead, and needs to be buried.  When Mister Toad is a narcissist, well, you need to let go of him, too, and cut your losses, because therapy bounces right off, drugs can’t sustain, and a girl has gotta get real, and move on.



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16 responses to “Dear Aunt Alex – 8/28/12

  1. Clare Allan

    Oh bless you Aunt Alex tyou are SOOO right! Your post recalled my ex N’s best dinner party story, how he TRIED to sort out his last partner via ‘even the therapist’ told N how great he was, how admirable, and how he should have been a psychiatrist Lordy aren’t they a rare treat…!

  2. Case

    Amen, sista! In the early years, my N agreed to go to therapy as a condition of me letting him move back in. He played along for a few months, then used all the jargon to F with my head and heart more than before. Naturally, in a relationship with an N, I was all nerves and having panic attacks every day. The therapist tried to help me by explaining that just because I “feel” something – it doesn’t make it real, so I didn’t need to react to it. . Makes sense when I’m freaking out about the intangible. BUT – the N manipulated this to his benefit by throwing those words in my face every time I caught him lying and scheming, etc. I certainly benefited from therapy in order to remove the wool from my eyes. I have been NC since Oct 2011 and I am the happiest I have been since before I met the N in 2004. I hung on for a long time, though, so I feel for someone who keeps looking for a magic pill or book to change another person. Like Aunt Alex says, trust your gut and GET OUT and don’t look back.

  3. Sibylle

    I am in the process of running from an N and every time I feel weak and think “well, let’s try to be fair to him” I read your texts. Every time I have to laugh out loud and after having such a laugh, it is easier to stick to my no contact rule. It is hard to see all the mechanisms so exposed since it makes me feel so stupid, but laughing helps with this too.

    The N was the most well-adjusted person. It was me who was seriously disturbed whenever I actually dared to insist on anything like attention, affection, loyalty, simple politeness… He told me once he wanted to study psychology, but this would have been a waste of time since he already knew ALL about it. He could see my problems very clearly. The day I told him that my father was diagnosed with cancer, he told me a long story about how his boss had treated him in an unfair way. He told me that I was emotionally unstable for crying about the illness of my father and I should just get over it. He told me that I would not be a caring person since I told him in direct words that his day at the office is less important to me than the health of my father.

    Why did I not walk out of the door that very minute? Probably because it was just too bizarre to be processed by me in an appropriate way. I probably thought that it would be impossible that I was having such a conversation and this kept me from a proper reaction. Being fully absurd seems to be a very efficient weapon of the N to avoid apropriate reactions. The thought “it is impossible that he just said that” protects the N. Figuring out whether he really just said such a thing was taking the energy that should have gone into a direct reaction. The absurdity of it (and putting time and energy into trying to figure out whether it is possible he said this or you misunderstod him) is efficiently stunning your rationality which would tell you to get up and walk away. High Absurdity Weapons (HAWs) should be banned by the UN. With a HAW, a moderatly intelligent N can overpower more intelligent peopel.

    Do not allow anyone to stunn your rationality with a HAW.

    It feels good to laugh about it to cope with the grief and the hurt. And yes, no therapy will ever help him to change. First step in therapy is to accept that something has to change and in his eyes the something that needs changing would always be another person.

  4. christine

    Absolutely true. I went with an ex-N for marital therapy; the therapist was supportive of me, and would correct the ex when he saw us together. Miraculously, during the sessions my ex had alone with the therapist, my ex would emerge telling me the therapist said that I was “trying to control him”, “trying to change him”. When I asked why he didn’t tell me that, I’d get no answer, haha! The ex also went to a psychiatrist to get a script for meds, and came back telling me, “She said you’re trying to control me, she said you’re trying to change me…” I just want to mention this because it’s funny: During one session with the therapist, he told my ex to “get your butt off God’s throne”! He was a good therapist, but even the greatest therapist CAN NOT change anyone, and can’t help someone who doesn’t think they need help. To change an N would require a kind of therapy that would be illegal in this country… 😀

  5. Yes, I second that Amen and Bless you. However, if I may, you also forgot that even if the N goes to therapy, if he is a N who has read lots of Pyschology books, he will say the counselor is “crazy” and “a Quack” and quit going. Especially if she pegs him right off the bat as a bully and a jerk with no empathy!! He will use all the correct “babble” to his favor and try to tell the counselor that YOU are crazy, you are lying to her, and that he is perfect. Even if you are sitting on the couch beside him in counseling WITH him!!! Right in front of me! Assclown. Thank goodness it didn’t work and I am now N free. Or at least as free as I can be with an 8yr old together and the divorce not final.

  6. Christine, EXACTLY what happened to me!!! So funny!! That’s when he gave up and said she was a quack!! He refused to go back, but I continued and the counselor was a KEY player in the custody battle and my N couldn’t dispute her because my N’s own lawyer had (and still does) use her in some of his cases with children!!! Oh, also, my counselor gave me a copy of the song, “Who made you King of Everything” to help remind me that he is NOT always right!!

  7. Excellent comments, Ladies.

    @ Sibylle: High Absurdity Weapons — LOVE that.

  8. I think “High Absudity Weapons” should make it into your next book!! That is such a good description!! Like the day after I found out through a doctor’s visit and ultrasound (alone of course) that the baby I was carrying no longer had a heartbeat and I would need a D&C. We scheduled it for 2 days later. The next afternoon however, I asked my N husband to watch our 3yr old while I took a nap because I felt bad and was cramping. He SHOUTED from the bedroom (where he was already napping), “Do NOT try to pull any of that “Pity Party Crap” on me, Lori!! I won’t stand for it!” I had no response! I let him go back to sleep and 4hours later, he woke up, came out into the living room and asked what was for dinner!! I should have left then but it took me 5 more years of stuff like that. Stupid.

  9. Michelle

    I was married to pathological narc for 20 years. He dumped me for OW, then after that didn’t work out, sucked me back in. During that unfortunate reconciliation, I insisted he go to therapy. He went three times, then announced that the therapist “wasn’t on the same spiritual wavelength” as him, so that was the end of that.

    We are divorced now, and sometimes I am stunned when I look back at what I went through for two decades.

  10. Anna

    I told my N he had to go to therapy or else leave. He went once and came back saying the therapist said there was nothing wrong with him. Our family doctor had said the same according to him. After that he kept saying, in just about every argument we had after that, “someone once told me I was crazy” whilst glaring at me. I finally kicked him out 12 years later and when asked if he would try couples therapy by someone, he stated that his personal life was no ones business. We were married for 25 years. NC for 4 months now. I will never try therapy or go back to that jerk again. Getting happier by the day.

  11. Never Again

    I consider myself lucky that I only lasted 6 months. It started with love-bombing, and even though I’d seen some evidence that he had the discernment of a doorknob, I let myself be sucked in to the pretty word world. I have offered countless hours of listening to friends in bad relationships and the two things I always tell them are: Never make someone a priority who’s making you an option, and Pay attention to what people do, not what they say. My biggest regret is not having loved the man. My biggest regret is having forgotten to love myself enough to employ those rules when the love-bombing was abruptly halted and suddenly everything, minor issues that turned into three-day battles because he couldn’t simply offer the little bit of attention I needed in between accomodating his episodes of wild mood swings, outbursts of rage completely out of proportion to any real or imagined cause, grandiose (and completely irrational) plans, negative rants blaming everyone and everything for his life not being what he felt entitled to, and meaningless psycho-spiritual babble, everything was my fault. He’d say something completely inappropriate and I’d call him on it. I was being “co-dependent.” He’d do something completely unreliable and I’d call him on it. I was being “controlling.” He’d tell me the problem was I didn’t express my feelings and needs directly enough. I’d do so only to be told my feelings were invalid and that I was a “black hole of neediness.” This started two months in and I stuck around the next four trying desperately to find that wonderful guy from the beginning…and I’m not generally a desperate gal. It’s taken me nearly a year and a half to get over a 6-month relationship because I allowed some head-case to play Twister with my heart and psyche. I used to be one of those people who didn’t understand how any woman could ever put up with bad behavior in a man. I guess I needed that lesson. To my face, he accepted full responsibilty for the failure of the relationship, only to turn around and trash-talk me to his friends and family in a way that absolved him of all blame. To top it all off, he began grooming his next bed-buddy before we ended things, not telling her about me or me about her – a woman he walked away from 20 years ago without a word, who wasn’t even legally divorced when he began convincing her she was the one who got away (even though she didn’t even merit a mention when he recited his romantic history to me) by making the same empty promises he made to me – sometimes in exactly the same words. A year later, they’re still together, if “together” can be interpreted as one weekend a month visits across five states. God help her – and God love my awesome friends in low places who brought me Truth.

    And the Truth set me free.

  12. Never Again

    Oh…and therapy. I signed up to try and find out how I was contributing to the issues. He refused because he “knew more than those people did, anyway.” At the end he went exactly twice, on his own, and came back with “He says I’m not healthy enough for a serious relationship.” I know of no credible counselor who would say this based on two visits with one half of the relationship. It was barely a month later that he was out trolling for his next “serious” relationship. Don’t bother trying to get one of these guys into therapy. Get some for yourself if you need a sounding board or a reality check to help you get yourself out of harm’s way. And trust me, harm is the ultimate result you get from this kind of person. Fortunately, I have a lot of good, decent men in my life to remind me that not everyone is like this. And I thank them, too, for being lights along the path.

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  14. vivigive

    My ex N told me he went to therapy once with a direct student of Carl Jung–even his therapist had to be the best! Then he said about his cheating that the therapist said he did not have to abide by “me OR the other women” but should be able to follow his own desires and have “me AND other women (and men)” yuck!

  15. Christine

    Hahaha! “Best” therapist-yeah, if you think your therapist scores points for sleeping with his patients, like Carl Jung did! So that “advice” sounds spot on for a student of ol’ Carl, and just what a narcissist would want to hear. N’s deserve one thing: to be left alone to live the disgusting life they choose, all the way to it’s lonely, ugly end.

  16. Christine

    I just wanted to comment on the “HAW”s. What a helpful idea, and it really helps us so much when we have a name for something that is hurting us. No matter how strange it may sound, identifying a behavior or action helps us to come out of that “stunned” state and do something about it. I hope all you good people fighting your way out of an N relationship use this info for your protection. When I started finally recognizing “HAW”s for what they were (though I didn’t have a name for it), I got to the point where I would use “HAW”s back against my ex, and it was very effective at keeping myself safe as I worked toward a place where I could go NC, When my ex N would lob one of those HAW’s at me, I’d come right back with something as ridiculous and emotional, leaving HIM quiet and trying to figure ME out! It saved me from many episodes that would have escalated into violence or spiraled into depression for me. Aunt Alex and the people here are geniuses-I refer people to this site often!

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