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Yes, Narcissists Can Change—Here's How

The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.


The Path to Change

Contrary to popular belief, narcissists can change. They cannot change or heal their narcissism, but they can (and do) change their behavior. The problem has never been that narcissists cannot change. The problem is that the narcissist is generally unwilling to change. Changing a behavior means that the narcissist must admit that their behavior is wrong. Generally, they are unwilling (or unable) to do that. However, depending on the circumstances, the narcissist can indeed be motivated to change.

The process for change involves:

  1. The narcissist's ability to understand that their own actions are creating their negative feelings.
  2. They must hate how the behavior makes them feel so much that they don't want to feel that way anymore.
  3. They must be able to understand that this behavior is a choice they are making.
  4. They must be able to recognize when the choice is being made and make a different one—even when they are upset.

Now, don't misunderstand this. The motivation is always a selfish and internal one. It has nothing to do with other people, which is why appealing to a narcissist generally will not work. Telling them how much they are hurting you or upsetting you does not sway them. It means nothing to them, in practical terms. They're just words, and typically is interpreted as blame which they connect to shame. An important distinction to make here is that we are not talking about remorse—we are talking about shame. Remorse is felt for other people, and narcissists are not capable of remorse because it is connected to empathy, which they generally don't have. Shame, however, especially pathological, unreasonable shame, is an old enemy of the narcissist. It triggers rage in them and puts them on the defensive. Now there's a fight, and an angry narcissist is impossible to get through to. Their disorder specifically prevents this, regardless of what you say or how you say it. So remember: narcissists don't care about your feelings at all. They only care about theirs.

Using logic won't work either, because narcissists believe their feelings are facts. This is illogical and unreasonable, but it is how they operate and you cannot reason with it. There is nothing you can do to create or motivate a change within the narcissist. The narcissist will only change their behavior on their terms, and for their reasons, no one else.

Overcoming Patterns and Impulses

Another big part of the problem is that many of the narcissist's behaviors are deeply-ingrained habits and patterns. They gave themselves permission years ago to act the way they do, and this permission was reinforced by enablers around them. In this way, they are like children: if the behavior is rewarded, it will be repeated. Narcissists that throw fits or become violent have likely been that way their entire lives. It's what they do when they are upset. This behavior is second nature to them by now and it has been reinforced by the fact that it worked in whatever way they need it to work. Because this behavior has been reinforced and repeated so long, it may no longer feel like a choice to them. They may claim it "just happens" and that they are unable to control it. It isn't that they can't control their behavior, but that they don't think before they act.

Narcissists simply react a lot of the time. They are impulsive and careless. Even when they seem to be planning schemes and manipulations, they are simply reacting to a need or want they have without thinking about the consequences of what they are doing. These things don't matter. All that matters is need and want. Because of their magical thinking, they believe it will all work out fine, and because of their denial, they are able to justify everything they do. This all takes place after their impulse though. It is a reaction to their reaction, so to speak.

Narcissists are more inclined to feel shame than remorse, and they do not take the feeling lightly.

Narcissists are more inclined to feel shame than remorse, and they do not take the feeling lightly.

Knee-Jerk Reactions and Consequences

As an example, a former client was married to a very physically-abusive narcissist. The narcissist claimed that he didn't want to be violent because he didn't want to be that kind of person (notice it had nothing to do with the pain he was causing his wife, only shame for himself), but that he couldn't help himself because it was just a knee-jerk reaction that happened when he got upset. This couple adopted a large breed male dog as a pup and as the pup got older, he began to confront the narcissist when the narcissist would physically attack the wife, even biting the narcissist on more than one occasion. The dog got very large, so the narcissist became afraid of him and stopped hitting the wife out of fear of injury.

The interesting thing is that not even a year later, the dog sadly had to be put to sleep (for an unrelated reason) and even though the threat to the narcissist's safety was not around anymore, he did not resume hitting his wife. It seemed to be that the "knee-jerk reaction" of hitting his wife was not a knee-jerk reaction after all, but a choice he was making without realizing it. A habit, for lack of a better word. A pattern. The advent of the dog into the situation forced the narcissist to stop and think before he did something and once he did that, he was able to consider the consequences and make the choice not to do it. As of this writing, he has not been physical with his wife again, and that was years ago. He's still a narcissist of course, but he is not physically violent anymore. He was forced to think before he acted and the pattern was broken. After that, he got into a different pattern and did not go back to the old one. This is a unique situation, but it is one that shows that narcissists can change their behavior if there are severe enough internal and external consequences.

Behavior Modification and Internal Consequences

Consequences only work if someone understands them and if they care. For example, ending the relationship with the narcissist only matters if the loss of the relationship means something to the narcissist about himself. If it doesn't, this is no threat and therefore, no consequence. The narcissist doesn't care about what you think of their behavior. They live behind Teflon armor and your feelings, accusations and complaints can't touch them. In order for narcissists to be motivated to change their behavior, they have to dislike their own behavior and the way it makes them feel so much that they don't want to feel that way anymore, and they have to be able to remain focused on that even when they are upset. This is the only thing that will motivate a narcissist to change something they are doing: their own feelings.

Because they are experts in justification, denial, compartmentalization and blame shifting, it is very hard for this situation to come about. They have to realize their own behavior is the problem before they can stop doing it. In our example involving the dog, the narcissist was able to justify his behavior for years by blaming his wife for causing it and by claiming it was just an uncontrollable reaction when he got angry. And it probably was, because he had no idea how to go back and rescind permission for himself to behave that way, and no idea how to react a different way than the way he had always reacted. However, once a consequence was introduced to the situation that forced him to stop and think, he controlled himself. He did not go back to that behavior even when the external consequence - the dog - was gone because he did not like the way doing those things made him feel. He did not like thinking of himself as the kind of man who hits women.

While the negative external consequence may have been the vehicle through which the behavior modification was possible, it is the negative internal consequence that made it a true change. If it were solely dependent on external consequences, the change would not have been permanent, and abuse would have started back up as soon as the dog was no longer present.

This is true for most behavior modification and most motivation for change. People have to truly feel it or it won't last. The difference with narcissists is that because of their disorder it is much harder for them to see that their behavior is a problem. Narcissists justify their trouble behaviors in many different ways, and it's very hard to see something is wrong or should change if you feel justified in doing it. How can it be wrong when you have a reason?

Looking again to our domestic abuse example, what took the narcissist so long to change his behavior was that he felt totally justified in hitting his wife. He didn't like the way it made him feel afterward and he knew it was not the right thing to do, but it was her fault for upsetting him and pushing his buttons. She should change, then the problem would be solved and he wouldn't have to feel bad about himself. In this way, narcissists neatly and effectively remove any possibility of seeing a problem with their own behavior. The narrative is, "No, it wasn't wrong because of this." Or "Yes, it was wrong but you made me do it." Narcissists do understand right from wrong. They just don't believe they did anything wrong because they have "reasons" and those reasons are always feelings. The problem is always somebody else causing feelings in them. This is of course, not true. People are responsible for their own feelings and their reactions to those feelings. Narcissists see themselves as simply reacting to things that are happening to them, rather than as someone who is in control of things happening. As long as this is true, behavior is very difficult to change.

Making the Choice to Change

So, in order to change negative or abusive behavior the narcissist must first, be able to understand that their own actions are creating their negative feelings. Secondly, they must hate how the behavior makes them feel so much that they don't want to feel that way anymore. Thirdly, they must be able to understand that this behavior is a choice they are making, and fourth, they must be able to recognize when the choice is being made and make a different one - even when they are upset.

These are all things that are extremely difficult for narcissists to do. Their disorder was created as a way to prevent them from taking unreasonable blame and criticism as children but has deformed and evolved into something that will not let them take responsibility for anything as adults. They also have serious issues with impulse control, controlling their emotions and self-control in general. These are all things that make even just recognizing, let alone changing problem behaviors extremely difficult. In the end, the task is just too great for many of them.

Yes, narcissists can change their behavior. Since narcissism is a spectrum, some may have an easier time than others. But holding your breath waiting for them to want to do so is usually not advisable. It took them years to get into those patterns and it can take years to get out of them. Many never make it. And even if they do change some of their behavior, they are still narcissists. They can no more change this than you can grow two inches by tomorrow. They cannot feel empathy for other people, they cannot love other people. They cannot become someone else any more than anybody else can. Even the best you could hope for from a narcissist is really no hope at all.

Maintaining Motivation by Celebrating Small Victories

Overcoming narcissistic tendencies is about incremental victories. So far, this article has highlighted the importance of balancing the external and internal motivation. Health and wellness expert Caleb Backe recaps what the uphill journey will entail: "one of the key ways that narcissists are able to identify their need to change is through the meaningful consequence of change. There’s needs to be something motivating them, and their own needs that will benefit them if they became less narcissistic. Whether this is the possibility of losing a loved one or the threat of losing their job, there needs to be a trigger for them to see that they need to change their ways." The idea to maintain motivation is inspired by the "bottom-out" process.

Maintaining motivation is integral in the narcissist's commitment to cultivating a healthy relationship with anyone, especially a partnership with their significant other. They most overcome their own unpredictability that comes with being self-centered and unconcerned with the needs of their partner. Ultimately, these dynamics unbalance the relationship. Psychologically, it’s hard to focus on the other person’s needs when your own needs are screaming out to be cared for. Narcissists unknowingly sabotage the dual nature of the relationship in this way and end up being unapologetic about their priorities.

Acquiring and maintaining the motivation for change comes from understanding what’s at stake if they don’t change and what’s to gain if they do. Setting up boundaries and being more mindful are all ways to enhance their understanding of why this change is so important and necessary.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: I totally believe after reading this article that my only daughter is a narcissist. And it has snowballed into she has to have control of everything. And I mean everything! She makes up lies to defend her bad behavior. And as her mother, she treats me so poorly that it literally breaks my heart. How can I, as her mother, get her to seek help for this?

Answer: You can't, if she is an adult. All you can do is suggest to her that it would be a good idea and decide if this is something you want in your life or not.


John on February 17, 2020:

Most of what I have read makes it look as though Narsicism is a male dominant problem, is this true?

alice on January 24, 2020:

Hi- My comment is for Jane. After 10 years of marriage to a Narc, a good friend decided enough was enough and moved out. She took every measure to truly go no contact with him. After a few weeks he began to beg, cry, plead, go to counseling, etc. She set her very strong boundaries and her Narc husband complied. For an entire year, he went to counseling with her...up to 3 times per week. During counseling sessions he openly cried and did much self reflection. He truly committed to change his narcissistic tendencies and put forth his best the effort to change. Not only did my friend see a huge change, her daughter and siblings, extended family, friends and therapists all observed very positive changes in him and a strong desire to change. That was all until he had my friend back where he wanted her. After 1 year of serious counseling, religious retreats, wonderful romantic trips and heart to heart counseling and conversations, she agreed to move back in with him. Within 2 weeks of moving back in, he quickly digressed and adopted his old patterns of abuse again. He was willing to do whatever it took for as long as it took to gain his position of power over her again. Moral of the story...once a Narc, always a narc. The faster you come to terms with your reality, the better.

Alijane on December 25, 2019:

I understand all the usual advice to leave the narcissist and go no contact, however...

I have been in a relationship with a narc for over 3 years - the first 2 were terrible - over the last year his behaviour has improved greatly, but so have my responses. I totally agree that he cannot change but his behaviour has. I have applied this suggested method of positive reinforcement for his good behaviour and my having to calmly walk away a few times when he has reacted nasty and aggressive. Importantly, I have realised and accepted that I cannot appeal to him through any form of rational argument as you can with normal people, or trying to chastise him when he’s been horrible - it always backfires. I’m lucky as I have a large loving family - he and I don’t live together and I value my independence. I therefore don’t make emotional demands on him or have any expectations beyond him behaving respectfully toward me. You might wonder why I am with him, it’s because I do love and care for him and he gives me what I need - good company and great sex. I am otherwise independent which has been good for me as I’m into my career now after two very long marriages - I’ve finally found myself, as his horrible behaviour actually made me face my own demons - it broke me down and I learned so much through researching the net on how to recover from narcissistic abuse and also address my own issues. Now I have the confidence to rely on the love of myself. What didn’t kill me truly made me stronger...

Sonu on December 11, 2019:

I married 3 years back and have a beautiful son.recently i found that my husband is a narcissistic person for each and every action he used to scold me and my mother and brother.

He has done his m.tech but doesn't work anywhere.he likes to watch tv whole day and doesn't likes to meangal with people.

If i suffering any illness he wont care me.

So i mentally upset and not able to sleep properly worrying of his behavior.

So could you please suggest me that any options to make change him.

ss on October 14, 2019:

I believe I'm the Narcissist. I always gets angry and I tried many times to avoid my angerness and it didn't work out. My close friends left me after some point. But I'm putting efforts to change myself for the better. I hope hereafter I understand other person's emotions. :)

JJ on October 02, 2019:

Pretty good article, but saying "Narcissists cannot love" is ridiculous, especially if narcissism is a spectrum. It's more accurate to say that any expression of love is thwarted by their boxing everyone else out of their own internal world, which is not likely to change

Enlightenment after 22 years on June 23, 2019:

We have been business partners for 22 years with a narcissist. Until recently the narc had been busy in another business, until it bankrupted. We were in the middle of expanding the partnered business which had been going quite nicely, when the narc returned. The narc has run through all the business savings and the spouse has had to take out a loan to keep up with all the frivolous spending. The red flags of the condition are all there, but it is only a couch psychoanalysis. Do you think it would be right to ask for the narc to be diagnosed by a professional and if indeed it is diagnosed that we ask for the spouse to be removed from the business. I think it unconscionable that the spouse enables the narc to hurt so many people. Not to mention that our retirement eggs are sort of in this one basket.

Retiree on June 22, 2019:

Last night and this morning my wife used vulgarity language towards me and vulgarity about my brain. There was no passive aggressive acts, or vulgar exchange or physical contact. I really did not know what to say, not knowing if it would fuel the argument fruther. All I could do, silently, is to forgive her. What do you think?

Retiree on June 21, 2019:

My wife has called me narcissist and full of pride. Compares me to my parents. That I do not take initiative on things, nor start any coversation with her, she feels that she has to be the man so I can be the man. I am a introvert and many times I internalized my thoughts. Was diagnose with perifial brain trauma that was accumulative. The neuroradiance dr.mentioned to me and my wife within 2 yrs. I would see signs of dementia or alzheimer's if not treated. During my youth I was bullied, humiliated and many times felt I was not good enough. During my long career I have seen trauma of all ages, and had compassion to those that were having a bad day. At times, I had flashbacks, even when retired I can still recall incidents and see faces.I was diagnosed PTS, not knowing I had it. I was good at my job and my wife acknowleges that I am a good hard worker. Many times I become sensitive to criticism and sarcasm, mainly when she states it. At times when these comments are made I get into my world and internalize what was said and become numb.

She feels that I am in a feel sorry for myself world, at times I do. On rx for the perifial brain trauma injury and it will take sometime for it to take its effect. It will take time for the trauma to heal from the neuroradiance treatments. Currently she does not like what she sees, she is hurting. I want to heal from this, I want to heal from being a narcissist and for my wife to see a big change. Any help from viewers, it will be much appreciated.

I did it again..... on June 17, 2019:

I was with him for three years and I blamed myself for all the things he did to me.....first, he loved me, the perfect boyfriend and I fell in love with him. We got engaged, he broke off the engagement, made me give him the ring back, never a reason or explanation, already had someone else, abusive, nothing like the person that made me fall in love with them. Then the relationship ended and I found someone else, divorced after 18 years, not sure what to do so I called Mike. Since I always felt the reason he acted the way he did was because of me so starting over with him seemed like a good thing. Almost verbatim, he did the exact same things that he did the first time around. The only way to tell the first one from the second time are the names of the women, he paraded in front of me. Everything else is identical and my life will never be the same. I have changed everything about me to survive this relationship....I do not have a family so I am alone and he controls everything so I am trapped here until one of us dies. I spent a great deal of my time wishing he were dead...my only way out alive.

Ms-Treated on May 19, 2019:

This article is so enlightening. I am married to a narcissist. He has actually been diagnosed by medical and psychological professionals as being a narcissist with an addiction to adrenaline highs. We are currently in counseling and this article has put my life with him in perspective more than anything else I have read or heard in therapy.

He has changed his behavior twice. Both times were when I made him move out. He was crushed because nobody had ever told him NO before. He is a charmer and changes his behavior to suit his situations. I guess that for whatever reasons, I am his anchor and he needs me to thrive.

He is currently living outside of our home due to his extreme need of attention from other women. He can not stand for any woman to be my friend. All women must be only his friend and also he needs them to feel sympathy for him. I have just found out that this is called triangulation and is a real narcissist characteristic. We are working on this in therapy and in him setting boundaries.

I don't really have a question except to question myself. Would I be better off without my spouse and partner for 35 years and the father of my 2 adult children in my life? I love him so much but he is also causing me great distress. My 31 year old daughter is done with him. She is sickened that I am falling back into the trap that is "him".

Jane on March 14, 2019:

Hi everyone....... i just wanted to post and share my experience with you all.

I have been in a mildly narcissistic marriage for over 5 years. My husband has eventually agreed to counselling.

It’s been 6 months now since he’s been in therapy........... its one thing to call out that someone is a narcissist but equally its far more important for whoever has the traits of a narcissist to admit they have these traits.

My husband has been broken and truely admits to his issues...... this for me was a major step forward and a turning point.

I am seeing now a massive change in his behaviour which is amazing. He’s still on a journey but I do believe that with continued support and counciling that improvements can be made.

Our relatinship is blossoming and we have found a new real connection. Our children equally are seeing a different father and its a real blessing to see just how much things have changed.

To all those that are doubting I would say until the nasrcissist see’s the need for change and acknowledges he or she has traits then there wont be change. But remember when they do acknowledge there can be real improvements for all involved.

Good luck all


Julia Purdy on March 13, 2019:

As long as it keeps working for them - and they never seem to realize that it is NOT working - there is no motivation to change. They just move on to the next sucker, a decent but yes, naive empath who has a rescuer complex or a romantic fantasy about the tragic poet.

My narcissist friend just finished berating me for being so naïve and "gullible" about being requested to bring a friend - him - to an audiologist. I can't understand why he flew into such a rant, but for a good 15 minutes he ranted about my stupidity, gullibility, how he would never have fallen for that, he wasn't gong to be a shill so some quack could try a hard sell on him etc. etc. It was pointless to point out that 1) I made the appointment because my friend commented I seemed to have a harder time hearing the TV and wanted it turned up higher than he needed; 2) he got the number of the hearing aid place off the TV and made a point of me calling them; 3) and a familiar voice was part of the test. But he was right: gullible, naïve I have been up to now about what we might share together in a loving relationship, while he was just love-bombing me. I finally shut him up by walking up to him in mid-sentence, taking his chin in my hand, looking him in the eye, and said: "You can stop with calling me stupid." For a second his eyes blazed back, then he looked away. The rant came right out of the blue. If I knew him better I would have ignored it and let him blow, but it became so offensive I couldn't take it. We were going to watch a movie that night at home but then I got a note (we live across the hall!), "not tonight" and "we do need to talk" - then of course the "talk" was him telling me what he absolutely needed - privacy- and more or less made me feel guilty for ever asking to see him - even though we had had great sex and conversations and a lot of warm, enjoyable feelings … or was he just "accommodating" me so as not to "hurt my feelings?" and finally ran out of hospitality?

Detox is what I need - I plan to start seeing a counselor tomorrow.

Karl on March 09, 2019:

In rely to Josh/Emma post

Josh i feel totally with you, I equally have some of the traits of a narcissist and having recognised that throughout the recent tough time I’ve had in my marriage. Feel desperate and on the edge of life with all the pain i have caused.

The disappointing fact I’ve found on reading articles etc is the fact that most appear to suggest change cant happen, therefore if you are in a relationship with someone who has these traits, there is basically no hope and you should RUN and leave!!!

Now this feels hard.... is there truly no hope? Can there truly be no change?

I myself have done so much sole searching and am extremely depressed by the thought we cant change, the desire is there and stronger today than it has ever been.

My marriage is broken and we are living apart but my hope and prayer is that i can change.

Josh my thoughts are with you and Emma's post is reassuring.

Thank you

Venefica123 on February 03, 2019:

I have an interesting narcissistic pedigree by virtue of my father being the poster child for the disorder, and my mother suffering a high degree of reactive symptoms meant that she was on the figurative boat as well, which left me very little in terms of healthy role models and obviously I was pretty well screwed from 'go' with regards to the genetic component. That said, getting any needs met required a degree of selfishness on my part, and this never escaped the notice of either of my parents, whether it was realistically true or not. I became somewhat focused on myself in grade school years through high school, but finally realized how much it turned people off. I never lacked compassion, quite the opposite, when I was able to notice the needs of others, at least. I was able to break myself of odious social habits like overzealous self interest by forcing myself to be ULTRA KIND, sort of a "fake it til you make it" kind of deal. Lo and behold, it became habit, and I'm known to the people around me as the kindness/caretaking type, although I find myself sometimes resenting the situations that it gets me in to. I also like to joke that I was cured of my own narcissism by seeing just how godawful it could be in someone else, to say nothing of the patience that being with that person required of me. For the last 8 years, I was with a man so self-obsessed as to be almost childlike at times, to such a degree that I was able to feel pity in the midst of his worst tantrums, although the abuse reached extremely damaging degrees in every sense. We still live together, actually, because he claims to want to make recompense for the considerable abuse I suffered at his hands, but I suspect it has actually more to do with the fact that he is so dependent upon me, and he knows that it would cost him a hell of a lot more if I went to an attorney and tried to level the playing field that way. In fact, considering that I didn't go to the legal extremes that were easily at my disposal earned some kind of weird trust, like I had passed a test with him, and after years of making me out to be the very devil to everyone we knew because he was doing such horrible things to me, I am now his closest confidante and feel more like his mother than anything, despite being 20 years younger. He has finally become comfortable enough with me that he isn't really easily triggered by me the way that he used to be- he knows that I'll still be there at the end of the day, and that I forgive, so he is much less anxious. I've been trying to sort of exploit this unusual window to help him to be a better person, if that's even possible, by frequently pointing out to him how much BETTER it feels to be nice. He loves being generous because of the reactions it gets from people, but he can only bring himself to be like that when it doesn't actually cost him very much, just his company or me or whomever. In the time that we were together, he got me flowers maybe once or twice, but would take flowers to the ladies at his bank at least once a month. That always killed me- I'd be hobbling around on crutches from some bone that he had broken, helping him find vases and cards so the bank ladies would know what a nice guy he was. The irony of that was always lost on him, of course, and also at the times in which I discovered letters and emails from him to some woman that had caught his eye, who was herself in an abusive relationship, begging to help her. Arrgh. Anyways, I have come to understand that a good deal of this awful behavior at the very least seems to be involuntary, to the narcissist anyways. All the ones I've known have no impulse control and live for one sensation to the next one and on from there. If you're able to crystallize that fleeting moment in which they are starring in their own fantasy of being the greatest wonderful altruist of all time because someone was grateful for some stupid, small kindness shown by them, capitalize on it, Praise them shamelessly, refer back to it, like you're trying to teach an idiot child, because in some ways you are. The more positive feedback their greedy little reward systems receive, the more likely they are to repeat the behavior. And at the end of the day, who cares if they're being nice because it feels good or because it's the right thing to do, as long as they're doing it?

Michelle on January 04, 2019:

A narcissist CANNOT and DOES NOT love you, so you have to make a choice of whether you want this type of relationship or not. I chose not and I divorced the narcissist in my life. If you are struggling with your feelings for the narcissist (like I did), may I suggest that you watch a few of the YouTube videos from The Royal We. The guy's name is Kevin and he even leaves his phone number if you need to talk about the abuse that you have experienced. God bless you all!

Tina on January 03, 2019:

I recently came out of a relationship with a narcissist. We got married very fast (5 months) at his pressure. We only lasted 6 months until I was feeling like I was going crazy. We separated and tried counselling for 9 months with no change. The same cycle repeated over and over again. I have given up on him unfortunately. We will be divorced in March. Terrible spiral of fear, losing trust and pain. I can't fix him because he doesn't accept his actions. So much of what was said here is true. Thank you for the info.

Laurencia on December 15, 2018:

Learning about narcissism enabled me to filed for divorce after thirty years. Now he is trying to convince me that things can change for the good after marriage counselling, which he refused in the past. The counseller is also convince that if I give him a chance, I will see a good man. Must I tell her that he is a narcist who is playing a game? How is it possible that she cant see through it?

sushma on November 26, 2018:

my mother gets angry easily and shouts at my father and me. when we speak back to her words she gets tempted and hits her head to the wall and hit her head with the things like scissors, bottles and whatever is near to her. she falls down and shouts loudly and cries. she always says that my father doesnot work every thing in my home and our business is done by only my mother. she always insults my father by saying that he is irresponsible bt actually not. my father works alot more than my mother. she degrades everyone that she is very talented hardworker etc. is my mother suffering from narsiccist behaviour??

Emilia on October 25, 2018:

For Josh,

The fact that you are able to critisize yourself and see the faults in your behavior already shows, that you are most likely cabable in change and not "true narc", but perhaps one with several narcissist traits of personality. Believe me, I know, have been on a realtionship with narc for years now, and trying to fight myself. He is a typical narc and will never be able to see himself or his behaviour in realistic light. (Excuse any mispellings, writing this from a far away country, while seeking for help and trying to understand)...Just try to grow compassion on others and yourself.And be honest.

Josh on October 25, 2018:

I am starting to realize that I am somewhere on this spectrum of narcissism, and it’s absolutey terrifying and extremely depressing to realize. It also makes complete sense when I look at my home life and how I was raised, my past relationship, my job, my relationships with my family. I don’t know if I’m one of those “rare” cases or not where you can break the habits but not the condition. I sincerely hope so. Most of the stuff I’ve read online this week says to turn tail and run from a narc, which I think is partly the problem. I think there is absolutely value in trying to understand the behavior better. That’s not to say it’s a reason to stay with a relationship with a narcissist.

Anyways, not in a good place right now..

Mary on October 23, 2018:

I have read a lot of information on narcissism through the years. This article was so helpful to me today, as I've once again been on the other end of a narcissist- my own son. His father is a narcissist and unfortunately our son began showing strong signs around the age of 11. I know it will never get better, it has been one heck of a painful almost 15 years of great heartache with my son. He is so evil, callous and without a trace of empathy or heart. This article describes both my son and my ex-husband perfectly. It's so sad for those of us who love them. I feel my son died long ago and resurrected into the devil himself. :(

Cathy on October 06, 2018:

I recently was discarded by what I guess is a Narcissist...I didn’t even know they were capable of what they have done to me until they discarded me without an explanation or give me answers to all my questions....I don’t understand how they could tell me everyday that they love me and then just throw me away like a piece of trash and not care what it did to me...and they did it through a break up text message..we were together for 20 months and engaged and ready to be married...and then he broke up with me 2 weeks before we were suppose to be married...and will not talk to me or explain...and I have found out that he is getting involved with another woman already...that he says he is in love with them...and I think he is going to ask her to marry him already...I can’t understand any of this cause I have never dealt with anyone like this before in my life...it has devastated me so much that I feel so worthless now and that it was all my fault because he is telling everyone that I was too controlling...that I am to blame...so I hate myself for causing this to happen...I don’t want to be without him...I don’t know what to don’t know what to do anymore...

Renea on September 23, 2018:

Ive been dealing with a narcisist for 3 yrs now i'm really coming to terms that this is just who he is and he will never change. We have 1 son together and another on the way. He chooses to wkrk and be around people that give him validation than to be around his own family. I believe mostly because he feels ashamed of the things hes done and feel inadequate that he can change. It hurts because he wasnt there for me when i had my first son znd hes not been here during this pregnancy. He comes around when its convenient for him. However at this point ive thrown up both my hsnds I have lost hope in him and the relationship or lack there of. Im healing for myself and my kids. Im sure hes off with other women says hes out of town now visiting his daughter he just lies and lies but i domt even question his behavior anymore. Its a waste of time and energy that is better used somewhere else. I will definately have my guard up when dating again which will be sometime from now. Healing my heart...Healing my soul

Ana on September 15, 2018:

I am in a similar situation and understanding Narcissism is a "disorder" makes it clear there is some screws missing on these people. I guess the last advice is valid: dont have hope.

Anne on September 14, 2018:

I think my partner is a narcissist, and I am an empath. He rarely tells me he loves me, but I think he needs me, so no matter how many times he would cheat, lot of times without being caught, he couldn't find someone else to like or choose over me. It's too painful. But somehow, lately, he would agree to my requests, without telling me of course... Maybe because I compliment him a lot. Yes, he loves compliments, sometimes he would forget about earning when there's an opportunity to be complimented. I urged him to be a speaker, because he's good at it and when he wouldn't do what should be done for the family, I would sometimes tell him, he considers himself a leader yet he wouldn't practice what he teaches. I don't tell him to his face, he avoids personal talks, he loves to talk about his work but never cared to ask about my day. I usually text him, and he learned not to read them. So when he tells me somebody texted him, I'd tell him he's always busy for everyone else except me. He hates to see me cry, he would blame me, but I'd learned that the best thing is to throw back his own words. It's so hard, sometimes I just want to disappear so that he might know what I really mean to him.

Cheree’ on August 26, 2018:

Sad! Truly sad.

Kaye on May 14, 2018:

My husband the narcissist. Nearly killed me, with my own meds in my morning coffee he made for me everyday. It was super scared once I figured out what he was doing. He did this to me for 2 years. Once away from him for a weekend I wasn’t sick anymore.

Deepak Bhatia on April 29, 2018:

If a Narcissist genuinely realise that he has a problem and he would like to change. Are there any recommendations for him which will help him change and make it permanent change in his core personality. Please

Trusted on April 21, 2018:

Totally agree that Narcisst will change for them. I'm married to one. Things went way south after my daughter was born. But I also learned to be more confident before him. When he throws his rants, I look into his face and won't move from where I'm right in front of him. After he is done shaking up, I used to sum up why he is upset and always added "I thought you can better handle this small problem than this way " . That caused shame on him and he slowly changed. Every single thing he did I reminded him even before the situation occurred , please remember I'm not capable of doing this(what ever that is in question), you better do it yourself. Slowly but steadily he doesn't hurt me anymore. He doesn't love me for sure.

A nony mouse on March 22, 2018:

They only change if they want to change and whether they are genuine about wanting to change is probably difficult for a therapist to figure out. For the therapist, they have little idea if the client is just making the right noises to buy themselves time in another manipulation game and it is probably quite concerning that they could find themselves drawn into one of these psychodramas by the narcissist.

As the article said the narcissist will only change out of concern that their behaviour will somehow damage themselves rather than out of concern for the recipient of their bad behaviour. This is probably because this sort of malignant dynamic has been modelled to them as children and they have not identified with the target of the abuse, but with the abuser, who almost always gets what they want by behaving in this way. To a narcissist, this is the way that the world works.

A nony mouse on March 22, 2018:


You have my sympathies. I too was married to a guy like this, his DV started around the time of the birth of our son, very little obvious signs before this. It resulted in divorce, he hid £250K in a trust fund which left me having to pay him £80K.

The divorce was hell. Unfortunately, the judge ordered unsupervised child contact and he used pick ups and drop offs to further his abuse. He bad mouthed me to other people, also. In the end, I had to abandon my career as a research scientist and move over 100 miles away and go no contact with anyone that we knew in common to stop the problems reappearing in my life. Fortunately, as he was unhappy that we had moved he put the matter of child contact before the courts again. This time the courts put a stop to child contact.

In December 2015 the police turned up on my parent's doorstep concerned about my safety. My parents told them that I lived in hiding because of my ex's abuse. My parents 'phoned me and the police asked me to contact another police force on the other side of the country with regards to my ex.

This other police force asked me about our marriage so I detailed to them how our marriage disintegrated into a mess of abuse upon the birth of our son. They told me that 90% of what I had described he had perpetrated on his new wife. She is foreign and had 4 children that were living in an African country, she had bought 2 of them to this country 6 months previously and this had precipitated a deterioration of their relationship.

He had been held in a police cell overnight, DNA samples were taken and computers were taken from his workplace. He was initially bailed, but new evidence came to light, bail was rescinded and he was remanded into custody, he spent Christmas in jail; Karma.(Just hope he got a big, hairy cellmate by the name of Ben Dover!)

Back to you. Sorry to say your guy will not change, you need to use any respite you have whilest he is in jail to get as far away from this guy as you can. He knows how to press your buttons by writing the romantic poetry, that, sad to say, is it. He does not mean it or he would not have 7 DV felonies to his name.Those occasional selfless acts you see him perform are nothing more than an act to maintain the facade.

I have no idea how you came to see so little of your son, but your relationship has been modelling some very dangerous behaviours to him. You need to make your son your number one priority, so if not for your own sake then for the sake of your son you need to get this guy out of your lives. It will not be pleasant and it will require sacrifices on your part, if you are able to do a disappearing act then do so. I live in the UK and I have given up my home, my friends and my career as an Oxbridge scientist to escape. To make my escape complete, I am not on the electoral roll, it means that I can no longer vote or have credit cards or loans. It does mean that even the police found me difficult to find, I take some relief from that, because if they had problems, so would my ex. Things have not worked out for my ex and I know that he has moved away from the stink that he has caused. He is now on the look out for wife number 3, but by not being to easy to locate, he hopefully has the message that I will not tolerate his shit and he will move on to some other poor hapless woman who will fall victim to his empty patter and shallow charm.

Good luck

Mara on February 15, 2018:

I TOTALLY agree with everything said in this article. My husband is a narcissist. He is currently serving a 5 year sentence for raping his friend (The charge was originally Rape 3,which in Washington state, is the "least violent" form of rape one can be charged with. Eg: Rape 1 involves using a weapon and the victim is usually physically abused/hurt as well; Rape 2 involves the victim being hurt/threatened also, without a weapon and are usually held against their will. Rape 3 (not to minimize the seriousness AT ALL) is like date rape, statutory rape, etc. I was raped by my husband also, which I didn't even realize until I spoke with a DV Advocate. Anyway, he pleaded to Assault 3 with intent to Rape. He has been arrested 44 times and has 7 DV felonies. My point is, when he is in jail, he is ALWAYS sorry for how he treated me, he is ALWAYS going to change. He becomes the romantic poet, the beautiful man I thought he was when he was first lovebombing me. It's absolutely INSIDIOUS because I truly start to doubt myself every time. This is DEFINITELY the worst. The longest he's ever been away was 3 months. This man has ruined my life. I am a shell of who I once was. I have nothing left monetarily either. No car, no home, nothing. I haven't even seen my 12 year old son but twice in 2 years because of him. Physically, my body is even falling apart. I don't know how to stop taking care of him. I think he BELIEVES he loves me although he has no idea what love is. As said in the article, NPD is a spectrum disorder. Nothing is black and white. I constantly try to place him low on the narcissistic spectrum because it seems I have witnessed him showing occasional selflessness or empathy(literally a couple of times) where I believe it was real. I tend to focus on those rare instances rather than how awful he was(that WAY outweighs the good). I am an addict also and it feels the same as when I want drugs, knowing logically and intellectually how detrimental they are, but do them anyway. It's maddening. I know this is my chance to get my life back with him locked up, but I don't know how to get the will, the desire to change. To realize im worth it. What do I do?

Mike on February 08, 2018:

Run like Hell from the narc. Words don't work ,honesty means nothing. Run boy run...

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