Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Parent Q&A

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder- need therapist & attorney

    (4 replies)

    I am looking for recommendations for a therapist and divorce lawyer who are familiar with narcissistic personality disorder.  I have been with my husband for 10 years and am ready to move on but I would love to get some support from a therapist and talk to an attorney before starting the process.  Also would love to connect with any moms who have been through this.  We have 2 young kids, 5 and 7 so my first priority is to support them and create a safe environment.  Thanks Anon

    I so feel your pain. Divorcing someone that has a personality disorder means you're in for a long fight.  ITA with Altavistamom.  Try to do some ground work yourself.  There are so many resources, but I found that the Nolo Press website and their books were very helpful. 

    Some personal advice to take care of you:  realize you're in for a long battle.  I finally woke up one day and realized that if I just outlasted Mr. BPD, and didn't emotionally react to his crap, I'd be ultimately win.  Best advice I got:  Just let them talk for themselves.  Don't interject, interrupt or add color commentary.  The crazy will display itself, trust me.  

    There is a website called ChumpLady dot com that has a not so common take on divorce and narcissists.  Even if your situation does not involve infidelity (and I'll bet the $13.52 in my purse that it does), it still has useful advice and support for going through a high conflict divorce.

    One last thing:  the mandatory mediators that are part of the Alameda County divorce process are hit and miss.  I got one that couldn't even spell my name correctly as his personal appearance was soooo much more important dontchaknow (sorry, sarcasm off).  If you are uncomfortable or feel that soon-to-be-ex is pulling one over on a weak mediator, stop the process and ask for another.  

    Hoping that your divorce is fast, your settlement satisfactory and you find peace.


     I don’t know any divorce attorneys but I suggest Cindy Blackett as a therapist. I saw her with my narcissistic ex. She definitely gets how they are and what you go through when you’re married to one. Her office is on Solano. (510) 540-5409.

    Lawyer recommendation- hannah sims in oakland. Wicked smart and understands personality disorders

    Greg Silva was my divorce lawyer. I think he was quite good. They are all expensive. YOU need to first learn how to manage an attorney--or manage yourself using the attorney--use attorney as if you were running a business. Otherwise your bill will run up so fast to a huge one. There's a book you should read asap about divorcing a narcissist. I forget the title, but divorce and narcissist is in title so you can find it online.

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Therapist for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

July 2011

Can anyone recommend an effective therapist for my loved one with NPD? Many of them say they work with personality disorders, but are there any who actually help NPD sufferers make changes? anon

I hate to be a downer, but from what I've read, experienced, and heard from other people involved with Narcissists, there is no getting better. I left my Narcissistic husband, after years of trying to get through to him, help myself and our family deal with his ridiculous behavior. What made me realize it was time to bail? I was on a forum for spouses of NPDs and we were bemoaning the lack of progress or real change (fake change abounds when they think you're taking away their narcissistic supply, lying to get what they want is in their DNA), and someone said ''Our psychologist told us that even with hard work, my husband might get 3% better after 20 years of therapy.'' I was stunned.

There's lots of e-books out there saying they have the cure for NPD. My favorite is the one that says ''Give them everything they want!'' In my experience the only way to not be ruined by a Narcissist is to leave. And when you leave, they will try to ruin you.... just keep walking. My NPD ex has now found new blood to suck dry... he barely acknowledges me except as the mother of his child. Fine by me, I've never been happier. Survived NPD Marriage

I would send your loved one to Dr. Lisa Lancaster. She has been incredibly helpful to me. We have talked about issues surrounding a NPD (a family member of mine seems to be a candidate for that disorder) and I have found her knowledgeable and extremely effective. anon

Wow a narcissist that knows he needs help? What IS THAT? A.J. Mahari made a really fabulous podcast called ''inside the borderline mind'' A Borderline personality disorder is similar and she does touch on narcissism frequently. It is WELL WORTH the listen, if you can stand her Australian accent for three hours. She may have something specifically on Narc, but I think you would really enjoy this. She is a ''recovered'' and explains what goes on in her brain, and how she manages it. It was my son's therapist who explained to me that his Dad suffers from Narcissistic Borderline Personality Disorder, and for me, understanding it helps me be more compassionate.

Getting out of relationship with a Narcissist

May 2011

This is a long sad story that I don't have the time or emotional bandwidth to relate. I have been in and out of a very challenging relationship with a man I am quite sure has Narcissistic Personality disorder. I am a smart self aware woman who has done loads of inner work- in therapy, books, and 12 step. I have taken long breaks from this relationship. and yet, I always go back. I go back to intense passion, seduction, highs and then extreme lows- in the form of manipulation, withholding, and some level of emotional abuse. I am at a loss of how to fully cut this cord. I wonder if any women out here have successfully gotten out of relationship with a Narcissist and if so- how they did it? It is like a drug in all ways for me- the strongest- I know it has to do with my past- my father, my very imperfect childhood. I see all the connections and yet- this awareness is not enough to make me stop. I am in agony often and know that I deserve so much more. Thank you for any wisdom you may share.

''I know it has to do with my past- my father, my very imperfect childhood.'' I was once involved with a Narcissist and this, too, was my conclusion as to why I got involved. But I also realized that I was capable of participating in healthy relationships, too, so while this might have explained why I was initially attracted to this person, it did not explain why I stayed. After being hurt emotionally countless times, I finally made a commitment to myself to get out to preserve my own sanity. Just like any other relationship, you need to move on! Tell him it's over and make a pact not to contact him.

1. Make a list of all the bad things about this relationship and carry it around with you. When you have a weak moment, read the list again to remind yourself why you're making this positive change.

2. Focus on other things. New hobbies, volunteering, helping other people, animals or plants and making this world a better place are just a few ways to take your mind away from the past and back to today and building a better future.

3. Love yourself. Be okay with being alone. Treat yourself well and you will wonder why you kept waiting in vain for this guy to do this for you!

4. He's not going to change and you can't change him or anyone else.

5. Accept that your childhood may have been not that great, but it doesn't have to hold you back. Your father did what he was able to do and there's no changing it. You may wish to try to make your current relationship with him better if he's still alive. Just say no more!

It took me too many years to get out of a similar relationship. Looking back, I think of those years as years I wasted. I, too, had done the inner work, but it was a bumper sticker that finally helped me leave: ''Don't Postpone Joy''. Then I read ''The Sociopath Next Door''. It's this crummy life or a better life; your choice. I never regretted leaving.

hopefully this is not too racy a response. but some people in the alternative communities desire these kinds of relationships... you seem to like the control he has over you.. or you don't. take the effort to find another lover, a hobby, different work maybe. you have done the inner work. only you can be in charge of you and your actions. it seems like your self esteem is low and you can't say no to him. eyes wide open

Just wanted to offer you the perspective of someone who grew up with a father with NPD. They don't get better. If you have a kid-- the best thing u can do, even if your kid is his, is leave him. I had a terrible relationship wit my NPD dad and he never knew my kids. My mother wasted her entire adulthood, divorcing him after 35years only to have to start life anew at age 60 and try to find a person capable of loving someone other than himself. The only way to leave these folks is to make a clean break. There are support groups on the Internet-- just google NPD

If not for you then for your child-- teach him/ her that they deserve to be loved by someone willing to put the needs of those he loves first. NPD can, and does, tear families apart and damage kids beyond repair. Been there

I've never responded to a BPN post, but I felt moved to respond to yours because I went through a six year on-and-off relationship with a narcissist and I understand much of what you wrote about -- the draw of the intense passion, the constant withholding, the highs and lows, all that. For me, the short answer to your question of ''can I get out'' is yes, you can. But getting the courage to break it off is incredibly hard, as you know, because the compulsion to go back is so strong (I went back a bunch of times before I finally didn't). Know that getting out is hard work, much harder than in a ''normal'' relationship, surround yourself with supportive friends and a good therapist, and then just try your best to get out. And then try again if you don't succeed. In my situation, which I believe is common in breakups with narcissists, the break was particularly rough emotionally because it involved no joint reflection, no discussion of what went wrong; by definition a narcissist can't offer you this. It's a bit like breaking up with a brick wall. What I had to do is completely break off all contact. No phone contact, no email contact, avoiding all places I might run into him. It was hard, perhaps the hardest thing I've ever been through. But then I healed. I've never talked to him since the day I finally broke it off (we lived together at the time, so this wasn't easy!) After it was all over, the great thing was I knew never to fall for another narcissist again; I knew all the warning signs, as will you. I'm now partnered with a wonderful man and we have a very loving and undramatic (imagine that!) relationship. I'm sad that I went through all those years, but I'm proud of having finally left. You are right that you deserve more. I have a hunch you'll be able to leave eventually -- after all, you are asking the right questions -- but be gentle with yourself until it happens. I wish you all the best. Been there

I am also in one and in a position that i cannot leave. I am married to him and have a child with him. He has told me that if i leave, I can not leave with my daughter or he will call the police and file kidnapping charges and that is legal and he could do that. I am in no finacial position to leave either. I can not afford a lawyer and do not have much income coming in. It is also hard to leave because my daughter adores him. So if you are in a position to go live your life without, please do it for me. You maybe holding yourself back, thinking that you do not deserve anyone better. Good luck

Sister with Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Oct 2007

My sister, the eldest of four and now aged 69, has always been extremely difficult to deal with: grandiose, unsympathetic, and rude. It is important to her to be looked up to and to be treated as an expert on any number of topics. She regards my brothers and me with contempt, and maintains that she is the only one who cares about our widowed mother. (She also owes us and various other relatives thousands of dollars, debts which date back to the early '80s. I don't know when she last held a permanent job or what she does for money.) Based on her behavior, I would guess that my sister has a personality disorder of some kind, and my therapist agrees.

Our mother lives with her and has, to some extent, abetted her behavior for decades, if only because my sister is so unpleasant--i.e., verbally abusive--when crossed. (I usually manage to be calm and civil with her, but it's not easy!) My sister now refuses to let me speak to our mother on the telephone, saying that the latter doesn't want to talk to me. They live 450 miles away; if this continues, I'll drive down and see what's going on. In the meantime, I have been reading about narcissism and discussing the situation with my brothers. Assuming that my sister does indeed have a personality disorder, does anyone have some advice or perspective on how best to cope with her? Anonymous

I feel your pain! My father has NPD. For help in dealing w/ folks w/NPD, go here: What I also really want to say is that I'm worried about your mom's safety. Please find a way to check on her, either yourself or call a friend who lives nearby. If you think your sis is incapable of caring for your mother, I'm sure there are legal steps you can take. Good Luck! Best, Been There

I have some experience with people close to me with NPD. The best you can do is create boundaries that protect you from her way of being, as well as tactics to put out any fire as quickly and easily as possible when you do have to interact with her. You may want to figure out a way to communicate with your mother that doesn't go through her. From my experience, there is no chance of change or reasoning with someone with NPD at all. The whole point is that anything other than saying exactly what she wants to hear will be met with complete disdain and disbelief. Good luck. Jenny

If your sister is refusing to allow you to speak with your mother, you may need to contact Adult Protective Services. It will be important to have an elderly advocate check on your mother. My sister has a narcissistic personality and broke my father's heart with her cruelty towards him before he died. Do not allow this to happen to your dear mother. Step in and stand up to your sister! Buck the family culture and become the brave family member who challenges your sister's judgement. Start documenting all communication and forwarding it to APS. Good Luck! kathleen

It certainly does sound like a personality disorder. And figuring out what kind may help you manage the situation. I would advise reading ''The Sociopath Next Door'', a very short book that was a sea change for me. Good luck. Not free, but feeling less crazy now.

Dealing with my narcissistic mother

Nov 2006

In trying to understand my mother's behavior, I've come to suspect that she might have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Our relationship seemed manageable, though completely one-sided (hers) until I had a baby three years ago. Now, I no longer have time for a weekly hour on the phone in which she monologues her current illnesses/problems/feuds with neighbors/imaginary ''boyfriends'' and never once asks how I'm doing. In fact, since my daughter's birth my mother's ''problems'' seem to have escalated in scope, culminating with a trip to the emergency room when she thought she was having a stroke, though her doctors found nothing wrong and characterized the episode as a delusion. I dragged myself and my toddler to the hospital that time, a five hour car trip, only to find her relaxing in front of the hospital TV in apparent comfort. I was frazzled from dealing w/a crying toddler during a 5 hour car ride, and concerned about her health, though as soon as I saw her it was obvious nothing was physically wrong. She seemed to have no qualms about asking me and my daughter to make the trip and focused on her fears about her health which her doctors tried to tell her were imaginary.

Since this episode, I have gradually decreased contact with my mom to emails only. I'm home with my now three year old, I can't cope with extra drama, and I feel like mom's self-centeredness is a threat to my wellbeing and to my daughter's. However, I feel guilty about how my relationship with my mother has changed. She is calling my friends (which embarrasses me) and telling them that something is wrong with me because I won't talk to her. She can't understand my point of view at all and I feel it would be a waste of breath to try to explain it to her.

Does mom sound like a narcissistic person? Is it usual for such people to escalate when a new baby comes into the picture--even if it's a grandchild? Any advice on coping with and/or communicating with her would be appreciated. Should I just give up on wanting her to understand where I'm coming from? What about the guilt I feel for cutting back on our relationship? anon

I sympathize with you-I have a narcissistic mother-in-law, and and somewhat narcissistic mother. I think you are doing the right thing-you need to set boundaries, focus on your child and yourself. Narcissistic people are bottomless, never satisfied,and can quickly eat up your energy. I think it is totally fine for you to take care of yourself by having less contact with your mother. And of course she is not going to like it, and talk about you to her friends-but that's part of being true to yourself, that people are not always going to like it. But that's really okay. You are not being cruel, you just need some distance. It is hard to see people we love hurt by us, but sometimes that is what's needed. It's like with kids- sometimes we set limits with them that they do not like at all, but it's the right thing to do. anon

I highly recommend Trapped in the Mirror, by Elan Golomb. I too have narcissistic parents and have to deal with the guilt on a daily basis...but this book helped me to understand more about them. Good luck! Deanna

Yes, she sounds narcissistic. My mother is very similar. After putting up with her ''center of the known universe'' behavior all my life, I finally did something she didn't like, and she became permanently angry & abusive, both to my face and to my kids. After a number of years of this,I finally cut off all contact. Now I'm wondering why I didn't do it long ago! The guilt is hard, but just keep reminding yourself that this kind of person will never ever be satisfied, even if you sacrificed everything for her--it would only be a palliative until the next time. And google Mary Oliver's poem ''The Journey.'' better off an orphan

My mother has such a severe case of narcissistic personality disorder that I had to cut all contact with her to protect myself and my family. Fortunately, she has no one to call to pressure me like your mother has. To get to the point where I was able to cut my mother off and not feel guilty about it took quite a bit of therapy. It is understandable that you feel guilty since it is only natural for you to want to communicate with your mother, just like I once wanted to talk to mine. My advice to you about how to deal with your friends receiving calls from your mother is to ask them to stop talking to her. Tell them why you're not talking to your mother and how their taking her phone calls is hurting you. If they are truly your friends, they will stop talking to her. Do not bring it up with your mother since that's exactly what she wants. She is using your friends to get you to talk with her. Once again, if your friends are truly your friends, they will stop talking to your mother. My other piece of advice to you is to find a therapist you can talk to about this.

You need to work through your feelings of guilt as well as find new ways of coping with having a mother like this. You will also need to find ways of explaining your mother's absence to your child as well as to others. As for giving up on your mother, it is way too early to do that. This is another reason for seeing a therapist, so you can decide if it is worth building a conditional relationship with her. Sometimes it is possible, but it takes a long time, sometimes years, and you must be very cautious. Also, it is normal for a narcissist to want see a grandchild, but, remember, it will always be in a narcissistic way. In other words, if allowed to visit with her, she will more than likely treat your daughter the same way she treats you Knows What it's Like to Have a Narcissistic Mother

It sounds to me like your mom is at least somewhat narcissistic. I would focus on setting limits with her and not waste time trying to get her to understand your point of view. From what I've read, it's also a waste of time to try to get someone with NPD to understand and/or admit that they have a problem. Just focus on your needs and setting boundaries that you feel comfortable with and don't engage in the struggle with her. Once you get a little practice at this you will probably feel more comfortable engaging with her and may not feel that you need to totally cut her out. Also read the wikipedia entry: Good luck

Today in our therapist's office i read an article in Psychology Today that addresses your ambivalence about your mother. The article was about Severing Ties with your Relatives, when to do it.

It suggests that the reason one feels ambivalent is because No ONE is ALL bad - every human being has some good in them and that is what we respond to. Although you would like to see her as all bad (and that would make a break easy) you don't for all the good things she may have done for you or the good feelings (like daughterly love) you project onto her.

The article talked about one tactic, that is, setting boundaries. For example, you could say ''Mom, I would like to chat with you but I only have 20 minutes'' or share with her your feelings about her ignoring your child.

I don't think my parents are narcissistic, but I do know that they are not ''into'' grandkids, either. When I think about it, I realize that they weren't into their kids, either. I have slowly begun to take the good from them and forget about expecting more.

You could also speak with a therapist about this. Good luck! Neglected,too

I can't tell you whether your mother is narcissistic or not, because I don't really believe in labeling people with every disorder under the sun. However, I did want to respond to your post, because my mom could be related to your mother! When my son was 3 weeks old, she came to visit us for two weeks. She didn't want to help me. She was on vacation and wanted to go out every day to visit places in the Bay Area. Recently she accused us of having our own porn site. They are learning how to use the computer and the internet and they googled my name. They didn't realize that every Google result did not necessarily belong to me. Somehow a porn site was on the list of results, so they were convinced that we owned the site. My sister had to go over to their house and explain the entire process in detail, but to date they haven't contacted me. Though it is kind of funny, it is also very insulting that your parents accuse you of such nonsense. And they would NEVER apologize.

I have talked to my friends about this and I have come to the conclusion that most of us have slightly crazy parents. Life is about them and about them alone! Literally all my friends have issues with their parents.

Like this is hard on you, this has also been hard on me. The family bond that I believed we had no longer exists or is, to say the least, changed completely. I find comfort in sharing similar stories with others and I realize that this might just be a part of ''growing up'' (I'm almost 40, so I hadn't expected this at this point in my life).

I think that you are doing the right thing by taking distance from your mother. I hope that your friends know you well enough to understand that your mother is a bit out there and that you're keeping your distance for a good reason. When I look at my other siblings I realize that they have all gone through something similar with my parents. A year or so later the relationship has adjusted itself accordingly and things return to ''normal''. I'd give it some time and let things unwind a bit. Before you know it, you will be back in touch with your mother. You will probably not have the same relationship as before, but you can still HAVE a relationship anon

I really feel for you! My mom is a a narcissist, as are my sister and father. I'm the only one who didn't get it! Since narcissists didn't get the attachment they needed, I asked my therapist why I am not one. She said something to the affect of: ''Oh, you can't have a whole family full of narcissists! They have to make sure one is an empath so that the others can get their narcissistic needs met!''

Your mom absolutely sounds like one to me. It's not normal to be uninterested in your own daughter's life. And there is virtually nothing that can change one. My therapist also explained this to me. They don't seek out therapy or growth because their n-ism is based on a very, very deep and hidden sense of complete emptiness and worthlessness. They build up stories around themselves that make them appear to be what we in grade school called ''conceited,'' when in fact they have created a whole construct to protect themselves from their inner feeling that they are 'nothing.' They cannot dig deeply into themselves or examine their self-importance or delusions because what's underneath if far more terrifying than what's underneath for most of the rest of us doing growth or healing or self-examination work.

I have had to limit my relationship with my mom, and it used to make me sad but I'm okay-ish with it now, because I tried everything and there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

I'm sorry because I know it hurts. Healing yourself and raising your baby to break the chain is the best thing you can do, I think. Good luck! Oh, some good books on n-ism are something about evil by M. Scott Peck (Christinan orientation but light touch -- very good but very dark picture of these types) and Why Is It Always About You? Jenny

I don't have enough information know if your mother is narcissistic or not (try googling: narcissistic dsm criteria), but she certainly sounds selfish. My mother is the same way, and I've also had to limit my contact to e-mails! My mother has also had more crises since my child was born -- maybe because of the shifting relationships, maybe because she is getting older.

As for how to deal with her, I can only tell you what works for me: making myself unavailable. I don't answer her phone calls anymore, and I don't return messages or e-mails if they are too demanding or intrusive. I just say no to unreasonable demands. I rely on her local doctors to deal with health problems, although I will talk to them on the phone. I don't feel guilty about it because I have WAY too much going on in my own life and it is a matter of survival for me. I also feel that it is important to keep my own child away from her negative influence.

Good luck in dealing with your mom during this new phase of your life, and be glad she is 5 hours away! anon

I feel tremendous compassion and understanding for you. I've been in your shoes and continue to deal with a narcissistic mother. I certainly don't know if your mom is narcissistic however, I would venture to say she excudes characteristics and traits of that personality disorder.

My mom has always been self centered, controlling and completely 100% absorbed in her own, albeit small, little world. Once I had children (I now have three), it only continued to get worse and much more disruptive to my personal life. For me, the only solution that worked was to keep my distance (she lives only 30 minutes away)both physically and phone wise too. The drama in her life just never seemed to cease and I simply no longer had the time or energy to deal with her. The few times I would allow myself to get sucked in, I was always frustrated and angry at myself afterwards.

I would suggest that you check in with her (hopefully catching voicemail when you can)occasionally on the phone and more frequently via email. Send her pictures of your child and you together doing fun things. When she does trap you into a tangent of ranting and raving, disengage from the phone call.

Tell her there is someone at the door or you have a meeting to attend (narcissistic personalities will only relate to emergencies). Take control of the situation and be firm, direct but polite. Continue to try and turn the conversation back to you, your child, your needs and desires.

Lastly, as a good therapist once suggested, you cannot change people (especially narcissistic types). What you can do is change the way you respond to her. Tell your friends to do the same and warmly suggest to your mom that she not discuss mother/daughter personal matters with your friends. You will have to remind her time and again that your life is quite full right now and that you simply do not have a lot of extra time.

You are not responsible for how other people act. You are however, responsible for yourself and your daughter and that should be first and foremost, your primary concern. Remember, your mom has already lived a lot of her life already, you and your daughter have a long way to go...make it a beautiful journey Been There

My mother is very self-centered, extroverted, opinionated. She is intentionally provocative and controversial to get attention, and says outrageously offensive things to be noticed. She exaggerates her accomplishments and speaks with authority on any and all topics. She uses information like a weapon, saving up knowledge of her childrens' personal weaknesses for vulnerable moments later when it will hurt the most. When they first meet her, people often think her charming - she is very direct and engaging. But no one can take her for very long, except for small children, who find her entertaining. My children adored her until they got to be 8 or so, and then stopped giving her the attention she craves. At that point, she got mean and nasty, calling them names, accusing them of crazy things. Once she came over when my son, then 9, had a friend over. As soon as she saw them, she said Your eyes are red! You've been sniffing glue, haven't you! One time at dinner she laid into my 20-year-old son, who dresses in an unconventional way, accusing him of using drugs and all sorts of perversity. Another time at a family 4th of July picnic, completely out of the blue, she began to berate my teenage son about his posture, told him he was spineless and has no backbone, what kind of man is he? etc. This went on for several minutes while he hunched lower and lower. He was devastated. My mother does not have any friends, not a single one. She has 5 children who can't bear to be around her. All of us had left home by 18 and never went back. I'm the only one who now lives within driving distance. I try to see her every week out of a mix of obligation and pity, and also so that my children can have a grandmother.

So ... what works for me is to limit interactions, and to be very straightforward with her. She is also a very suspicious and paranoid person, so I find it is better to be completely honest and blunt with her. I will only see her in my home, not in public. When she attacks my kids, I tell her that I can't see her for a while because she hurt them and I need to protect them. I don't engage in arguments with her and I don't try to explain WHY I am mad. I just let her know that my feelings were hurt, or my kids' were, or that we don't use those words in our house. She frequently makes comments about my weight, my clothes, my complexion, my health, even my sex life. I just let her know that I'm not going to discuss these things with her. This is not easy. Oftentimes she makes me so mad I have to leave the room and take deep breaths and then come back. I don't participate when she tries to engage me in a mean-spirited conversation about one of my siblings or another relative. I just say ''Sorry, I am not going to talk about that'', and repeat as many times as necessary. This seems to work and she has learned now that when I say that, there is no point in pursuing it.

Good luck on this - it is very difficult. But it is good for your children to see you taking the high road.
signed: Daughter, not so loving

Dealing with an ex with narcisistic personality disorder

Oct 2006

I am wondering what is out there in terms of support for dealing with an ex with narcisistic personality disorder. I am needing good legal advice for custody and financial issues, as well as coping strategies and advice on how to separate and begin a healthy life for myself and my kids--to the extent that we can do that with the NPD parent still in their lives. I am understandng that I need to develop clear boundaries, but am also seeking wisdom from folks who have been through this. Good lawyers that understand the issues? Support group that deal with issues of parenting? other ideas? Thanks! anon

The thing that has been most helpful to my psychotherapy work with Narcissistic clients is remaining acutely aware of the fact that their hostility covers up a deep sense of shame. While this doesn't excuse the narcissist's hurtful behavior, it does help me navigate communication with them so that I can avoid triggering their defensive responses and they are more receptive to reasonable limits and hearing what I have to say. Sorry I can't offer the practical resources you asked for -s.

First I want to say that I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this. I have a family member with NPD and the boundary setting has been a continuing struggle. I suggest you check out, which is a great resource for information on narcissistic personality disorder, along with any other mental health issue Anon

Husband with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Nov 2004

After 10 years of pain and frustration, I've come to learn that my husband suffers from NPD. I've decided not to leave him in the short-term because our children are quite young and sharing custody with him feels akin to sending them off with a drunk driver. I understand his prognosis is poor and I am now marshalling all my energy towards my own financial and emotional recovery, as well as modelling healthy emotions and behavior for my children. I am wondering if other people have stayed with spouses with NPD and what advice they might have. I am working on setting boundaries against his abusive behavior (without assuming he'll understand why his behavior is inappropriate), but am wondering if the best course of action (to maintain a peaceful household) is to continue to act as a supply for his needs (i.e., be as supporting, affectionate, and adoring as I can, although I don't feel very adoring right now) or to refuse to supply that (for my own sake). I read on one web site that being abusive/ condescending back is the best way to deal with narcissist--that seems extremely perilous to me, as it just triggers his underlying rage. (Been there, done that.) We are in couple's therapy , but I'd love some advice from others who've experienced this. Relieved to have ID'd the problem

It's very hard to overcome the influence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It's my understanding that that's one reason that many people leave the NPD spouse - to provide an entirely healthy environment for the child(ren). I completely sympathize with your desire to avoid unsupervised time for your husband with your kids: I didn't ID the problem until post- divorce, but I do remember that nobody believed that my ex- husband was anything but charming and loving, even when there was ample evidence of neglect (ignoring the child's needs in order to fulfill the adult's need for constant ''supply''). So maybe waiting awhile is a good idea . . . but not a long time.

The thing is, your kids will model your behavior (in response to your husband) without understanding the reason for it - that you're compensating for an ill partner. That, combined with the NPD itself, gives them nothing healthy to imitate. To the extent possible, you need to give them a healthy emotional model, something positive enough and consistent enough to counter the pervasive influence of the NPD. That will give them a base from which to understand that their dad isn't entirely well, that his perspective isn't the only valid world view, and that his behaviour isn't necessarily the way that they should behave themselves.

Good luck! anon

I have a sibling with NPD, and I can tell you that ''feeding their needs'' or trying to ''appease'' them to maintain the peace has the same long term effect that Chamberlain's attempt to appease Hitler had. In other words, it's a disaster!

You must set clear limits. You don't need to be abusive, but you must make it clear that abuse will not be tolerated. This is also a very important example to set for your children. If you are loving and supportive when your spouse is abusive, it sets your children up to repeat the pattern as adults. Not a good idea!

You can work out the best way to set limits with your counselor (alone if necessary). But please, please do not get trapped in the cycle of appeasement! Been there, done that too

I have first-hand experience with a husband with NPD. We were in couple's counseling for 8 years and he was in an anger management group for 5 of those years. We have two beautiful children (now ages 1 and 5). I found personally that being with a narcissist was destroying me and I was exhausted most of the time. It was like caring for three children and believe me, the negative modelling has already had a harmful effect on my 5 year old who is now in therapy. Our family and relationship was fine as long as I overfunctioned and took care of everyone. This went on for years. Earlier this year, my mother became critically ill and I needed to help care for her. I obviously could not maintain my previous level of functioning at home and the support just wasn't there, in fact, the sarcasm and abusiveness worsened during a time when I most needed a supportive partner. We stopped having sex which triggered a lot of negative, abusive reactions. As my mother was dying, I realized that I could no longer live like this...that my children & I all needed a better, healthier life and leaving an abusive partner was the most powerful modelling I could provide my kids. I left the month after my mother passed away (in June of this year), and despite the challenges with visitation, I am so much happier. The kids are adapting well and with the advise of a great attorney, there are some clear parameters around visitation that make me feel more comfortable. I'd be happy to pass on a referral for a good attorney, if you need one. I also have a wonderful therapist who has helped me tremendously with individual work that I'll be needing for a long time. Being apart has given me great perspective. I found that the couples work was more like a temporary band-aid when I really needed surgery. Be very careful though. I found that the best way to deal with a narcissist once you've left is firm limits and boundaries which can cause rages. When we were together, the only way to have a peaceful household was to cater to his needs, be adoring/loving, overfunction which made me internalize a lot of negative emotions and as I said earlier, gradually started to destroy me. It wasn't really a marriage. Best of luck to you in this very difficult journey. Jennifer

My mother suffers from NPD. The poor prognosis is accurate, unfortunately, and from what I've seen, it worsens with age. You sound like you have your priorities set and are clear about what you can handle. I really wish you the best, and recommend that you continually reassess this situation.

It's true that harsh behavior generates the best responses from persons with this disorder. Since you have a good sense that being abusive back to him doesn't work in your situation, you would be wise to avoid it. Not to mention itUs not great behavior to model for your children.

What I have done is to set up some fairly rigid boundaries with my mother, maintaining a peaceful, helpful (helpful as different from caring) facade with her while protecting myself emotionally by not investing in her or letting her in to my personal life. (thousands of miles between us don't hurt either) But I find that when I deviate from those boundaries and let her in to my personal life or respond to her in a caring manner, the demon rears its ugly head. She always finds a way to punish me for genuine acts of kindness towards her. Her behavior goes from that of borderline, functioning adult to young, spoiled child.

It sounds shallow, but it's really the most humane way to deal with a narcissist, while protecting yourself emotionally. I would suggest that you get help for your children from a counselor, they aren't going to understand what's going on in the same way that you can. Anonymous

Being abusive may or not work, but I doubt if it would feel good to you in either case. Who wants to behave that way! It doesn't make you feel good about yourself, or good inside.

My mother had NPD, along with other problems, and I left home knowing all too well how to fight abusively, since it was the only way she knew how to deal with conflict. It took me many years to undo that and to learn other choices. That is the tricky thing about staying with him for the sake of your kids, once they are old enough to become objects of his abuse (if they are not already).

It is indeed a disorder with an extremely poor prognosis- people with it are very guarded, and defensive if crossed, and have virtually no insight into their behaviour. Although on a deep level my mother knew that there was something wrong with her, she would never let anyone close enough to her for them to be able to actually help her.

It is very lonely to be close to someone with NPD, since they can never truly relate emotionally, and I feel for you. You have to make your own plans, but I would suggest being neither phony or abusive in any case. Keeping your own spirits up and finding as much satisfaction for yourself in other ways is really the best, and only, defense- even though he probably won't like it.

Good luck. anon

I grew up with a mother with NPD and a sister that shows signs of it. It is an extremely difficult life that DOES get more difficult with age. I feel for you. The only way I learned to cope is to move 2000 miles away. Set boundaries in a strong and firm voice and know that others have gone/and go through this. Sometimes I think I should form a NPD Survivor's Group. -- Carrie

I feel for you. My mother has NPD, and it is hell to live with. To exarcerbate the sitation, she was also an alcoholic. And I can also tell you, yes, it does get worse with age. I will be direct here: your husband will probably not change, and your children will live with the impact of his behavior. I would cut my losses and go. In the long run, both you and your children will gain from the happiness you can achieve as a healthier unit. Been there

I also was married to an NPD with small children. When my husband (now ex) decided he was entitled to do whatever he wanted he decided he should have an affair with one of his employees. He wouldn't give the other woman up unless I promised to get back with him. I said no deal. So he didn't give her up. He picked a woman who didn't even care to be with her own child. His affair gave me all sorts of things, an STD, a lower bank account as he bought her gifts, he sued me for spousal support (I made more money). In the end, he basically got eveything he asked for except getting back with me. An NPD doesn't care about anyone but themselves. Yet, underneath it all they don't have the capacity to love themselves. Without that capacity they can't truly love anyone else. Yet, they force the outside world to demonstrate that they are lovable. It is a quest with no end. They lie, they lack remorse, they are an unfortunate role model for your children. They question you need to ask yourself is what modeling are you showing your children by staying in an unhealthy relationship? Are you demonstrating that relationships are meant to NOT work? That one person is less valuable than the other in a relationship? At some point you won't be able to take it. Or worse, the toll will be upon your children. They know that something isn't right even if they can't verbalize it. They will try to compensate or try to replicate that relationship since that is what they've been taught. Although my life has new hardships, like paying bills and juggling schedules I have peace of mind that an NPD can not control me anymore. There is no winning with an NPD, whatever you do will never be enough. I have peace of mind and I'll never go back. Good luck to you and know that people like me are out there in your corner. I have walked in your shoes