Can narcissism be treated? Most people will tell you no, narcissists cannot change. We at the Emotional Abuse Institute know that is not 100% true because we have been treating people for narcissistic behaviors for years. We are not claiming to have a 100% success rate because not everyone wants to change, and that is the key.
Cannot and will not are two different things. They have to want to change, or at least they have gotten to the point where something MUST change. Dr. Hawkins talks about the three primary areas that we address in our treatment program.
Can Narcissism Be Treated?
Narcissism is a complex personality trait that often brings with it a slew of challenges in personal and professional relationships. While the concept of narcissism has gained considerable attention in recent years, the pressing question remains: Can narcissism be treated? Dr. David Hawkins from the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute offers insights into this intriguing topic. In this article, we’ll delve into the possibility of treating narcissism, exploring the three main categories of issues that need addressing and the potential for meaningful change.
Understanding the Three Key Issues
Dr. Hawkins highlights three primary issues that need to be addressed in the treatment of narcissism: profound selfishness, an inability to tolerate distress, and emotional immaturity. Each of these areas poses significant challenges to individuals with narcissistic traits and requires tailored treatment strategies.
1. Profound Selfishness: Abuse of Power and Control
The first and perhaps most glaring issue associated with narcissism is profound selfishness, often leading to an abuse of power and control. Individuals exhibiting narcissistic behavior patterns tend to prioritize their own needs, desires, and ambitions above all else. In a therapeutic context, treatment must involve encouraging these individuals to lessen their self-focus and shift their perspective towards the well-being of others in their lives.
Key aspects of treatment for profound selfishness include:
- Confronting entitlement and grandiosity: Narcissistic individuals must recognize and take responsibility for their tendencies to feel entitled to abuse, overpower, or dominate others.
- Balancing relationships: Achieving a balanced and equalized relationship dynamic is essential. This requires the narcissistic individual to relinquish their need for control and acknowledge their partners’ autonomy.
Dr. Hawkins emphasizes that this type of treatment typically occurs after a significant intervention, often prompted by a breakdown in the relationship. The path to change begins with a recognition of one’s actions and their consequences.
2. Inability to Tolerate Distress: The Road to Crazy Making
Narcissistic individuals often struggle to tolerate distress, leading to defensiveness and what Dr. Hawkins aptly terms “crazy making.” Treatment for this issue focuses on helping individuals develop the capacity to handle discomfort, tension, and conflict in healthier ways.
Key aspects of treatment for distress intolerance include:
- Learning to tolerate distress: Therapeutic interventions aim to teach narcissistic individuals how to sit with discomfort and avoid reacting defensively when faced with challenges or criticism.
- Challenging thinking errors: Narcissistic individuals frequently employ thinking errors such as blame shifting, excuse making, minimization, rationalization, justification, and playing the victim. Addressing these cognitive distortions is crucial in their journey towards change.
The inability to tolerate distress and the subsequent propensity for defensiveness can have a destructive impact on relationships, making this aspect of treatment essential for personal growth and improved interactions.
3. Profound Emotional Immaturity: Overcoming Emotional Disconnection
Emotional immaturity often characterizes narcissistic individuals, leading to emotional disconnection in their relationships. This emotional immaturity manifests through childish behavior, withdrawal, temper tantrums, argumentation, sulking, passive aggression, and retaliatory actions.
Key aspects of treatment for emotional immaturity include:
- Identifying immature behaviors: Treatment necessitates a deep dive into the ways in which the individual displays emotional immaturity. This involves recognizing and addressing behaviors that hinder healthy emotional connections.
- Encouraging growth: Narcissistic individuals must undergo a process of emotional maturation, which entails leaving behind childish behaviors and developing healthier emotional responses.
Is Treatment for Narcissism Possible?
In summary, the question of whether treatment for narcissism is possible is met with a resounding “yes.” Dr. Hawkins’ extensive experience in the field demonstrates that, when individuals with narcissistic traits are willing to engage in treatment, meaningful progress can be achieved.
Treatment for narcissism encompasses addressing profound selfishness, distress intolerance, and emotional immaturity. While not all individuals with narcissistic tendencies may be willing to seek treatment, interventions and therapeutic approaches can pave the way for transformative change.
It’s essential to recognize that treatment often follows a significant intervention prompted by a relationship breakdown. As the saying goes, a broken heart can lead to an open heart, creating an opportunity for personal growth and healthier relationships.
In conclusion, the treatment of narcissism is a nuanced and challenging journey, but it is one that holds the potential for positive change and improved interpersonal dynamics. By addressing the core issues associated with narcissism and fostering emotional growth, individuals can embark on a path towards greater self-awareness and healthier connections with others.
Also read: What Does the Bible Say About Woman Worth?
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.