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I Think My Friend Has Narcissistic Personality Disorder

by Anonymous

I think one of my friends has a narcissistic personality. I have known him for over a year and he has often struck me with his "peculiar" reactions to events and to my own behavior, to the point that I began wondering if I was normal. Fortunately, my other friends confirmed that they would feel the same as me, if they were in my shoes. I tried telling him how much I was feeling let down by him but all I got was "calm down for your own sake". So I decided to end our friendship.

I then came across an article on narcissistic personality disorder and now most of his reactions make sense. He was hypersensitive to criticism, a perfectionist (which he showed with unconcealed pride) and always constantly telling me about his achievements. The thing is, I now feel a bit sorry for him and wonder whether I should try helping him. I am aware I will get nothing out of it (my other friends say I am playing the good nun!); but no longer being his friend will teach him nothing and only add to his problems. What I would like to know is, how can I best help and support him. Thank you for your help.

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Considerations to Keep In Mind
by: Steve Walsh

I appreciate your concern for your friend and your willingness to understand and support them. However, assuming your friend does have narcissistic personality disorder (having narcissistic traits doesn't automatically mean a person has narcissistic personality disorder), it's important to approach this situation with caution, as dealing with individuals with narcissistic traits or narcissistic personality disorder can be complex. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

Self-Care First: While your intention to help is admirable, it's crucial to prioritize your own well-being. Narcissistic individuals can have a significant impact on the emotional well-being of those around them. Make sure you establish healthy boundaries and ensure your own emotional health is not compromised.

Seek Professional Guidance: Narcissistic personality traits can be deeply ingrained and challenging to address without professional help. Encourage your friend to seek therapy from a mental health professional who specializes in personality disorders. However, remember that individuals with narcissistic traits often have difficulty recognizing their own issues and seeking help.

Empathetic Communication: If you choose to engage with your friend, approach them with empathy and compassion. Use "I" statements to express your concerns and feelings. For example, say, "I've noticed that our interactions have sometimes felt challenging for me, and I wanted to talk about it."

Avoid Blame or Criticism: Narcissistic individuals can be highly sensitive to criticism. Focus on sharing your observations rather than blaming or accusing. Keep in mind that they may not respond well initially.

Set Realistic Expectations: Changing narcissistic behavior is a long and complex process. Be prepared for resistance or denial. Your friend may not be ready to acknowledge their behavior or seek help.

Educate Yourself Further: Understanding narcissistic traits and behaviors can help you approach the situation with greater understanding and patience. It can also help you manage your own expectations and emotions.

Focus on Positive Qualities: While narcissistic individuals may display challenging behaviors, they often have positive qualities as well. Acknowledge and appreciate their strengths when you can.

Encourage Self-Reflection: If your friend is open to it, encourage self-reflection. Ask open-ended questions that might lead them to consider their behavior and its impact on others.

Support from Afar: You mentioned that you've ended your friendship with this person. If you decide not to re-establish the friendship, you can still provide support from a distance. Send well wishes, share resources, and let them know you care about their well-being.

Understand Your Limits: It's important to recognize that you may not be able to change your friend's behavior. People can only change if they themselves recognize the need for change and are motivated to do so.

Remember that your primary responsibility is to yourself and your well-being. Offering support is admirable, but it's also important to recognize when your efforts are not having a positive impact. It's ultimately up to your friend to take the initiative to address their own behaviors and seek help if needed.

Related Information on The All About Psychology Website

Narcissists: There's More Than One Type – And Our Research Reveals What Makes Each Tick. Insightful article by Nikhila Mahadevan, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Essex.

How Many Types of Narcissist Are There? A Psychology Expert Sets the Record Straight. Excellent article by Dr. Megan Willis.

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