Updated: Feb 27
Narcissists rarely present for treatment for their NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) because typically they don't think that they have a problem. Usually, the suffering happens to those around them because of the personality symptoms of the narcissist.
However, at times a narcissist will want to change. Recently, I had someone contact me after reading my book saying that they have realized that they are a narcissist, and they want to be able to heal and change.
If you want to know the signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you can read them here:
These signs don't just apply to narcissistic parents, they can apply to anyone who thinks they may be a narcissist. However, remember only a psychological professional can diagnose NPD.
The desire to change
With any kind of psychological problems, the desire to change is a strong motivating factor that can effect your prognosis for the better. Wanting to get well is the first step toward healing for many people.
According to Med Circle,
The narcissist’s willingness and ability to change is in direct proportion to their likelihood of changing.
This means, if you really want to change, and you are willing to work towards that goal, true change is possible. That shows a positive prognosis and outlook is based on the individual and the desire to change, vs. the diagnosis itself.
Anyone can change for the better if that is what they want to do. There is no limit to our capacity as humans to become better people if that is what we really want to do.
According to Julius Bachmann,
in order to effect personal change, you need to have in place the desire, the skills and the conditions to change.
So, the initial desire to change will come from the person wanting to make the change. Then, they can gain the necessary skills to change, and help to create the proper conditions for change.
Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Like most psychological problems, treatment with a therapist is key to overcoming narcissistic personality disorder, and learning to have healthier relationships with others.
According to Bridges to Recovery,
Narcissistic personality disorder is not curable, but it is treatable. The foundation of narcissistic personality disorder treatment will be psychotherapy—often a mixture of individual, group, and family therapies—to help an individual understand the causes of their beliefs and behavior and learn ways of relating to others. Research suggests empathy can be learned, which is promising; understanding the importance of considering the perspectives and experiences of other people is crucial to overcoming the effects of narcissistic personality disorder.
The idea that someone can learn to have empathy for others is key in the treatment of narcissistic personality disorder, since many of the symptoms are caused by a lack of empathy for others and their feelings.
According to The Mayo Clinic,
Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can help you:
Learn to relate better with others so your relationships are closer, more enjoyable and more rewarding.
Understand the causes of your emotions and what drives you to compete, to distrust others, and to dislike others and possibly yourself.
The focus is to help you accept responsibility and learn to
Accept and maintain real personal relationships and work together with co-workers.
Recognize and accept your actual abilities, skills and potential so you can tolerate criticism or failures.
Increase your ability to understand and manage your feelings.
Understand and learn how to handle issues related to your self-esteem.
Learn to set and accept goals that you can reach instead of wanting goals that are not realistic.
A therapist can assist in helping you with these goals, as they are adept at working with anyone struggling with these types of psychological problems. Also, a therapist is impartial and compassionate, and can teach all different communication skills and coping skills for difficult situations.
Bridges to Recovery also suggests that inpatient therapy for narcissistic personality disorder may be helpful, so that individuals seeking help can receive more intensive therapy to get well.
So, the answer to the person who emailed me is, yes, a narcissist can change if they want to. It may just take some intensive effort on your part to be able to do so.