Can narcissism be cured?
Better yet, can a person’s love cure the narcissist?
It’s an interesting and tantalizing question. Can there be a cure to the absurd and devastating insanity so many partners and their families experience?
A cure sounds so lovely, doesn’t it? So promising and so beautiful. With just X, Y, and Z, you can save your marriage!
By golly, you can simply change the way you approach things and – like magic – make the narcissist “bring the tenderness, thoughtfulness, and admiration that every partner craves and deserves!”
Simply follow a magical road map and become the adored partner that you’ve been dreaming of! You can rebuild your sanity, and the narcissist’s toxic behaviors just melt away- like a distant memory. Even more, you can become “ridiculously happy” in the process!
Let’s Slow Down
Let’s talk about the general landscape of mental health for a moment. Have we ever found a cure for depression? For addiction? For eating disorders? Have we located a complete treatment for anxiety or complex trauma?
The answer is no. No reputable mental health professional would ever cite that there is a cure. Management, maybe. But a complete cure? Not a chance.
A cure is a lofty promise built on dangerous and false hope. It’s a promise that maintains people in sickness, holds marriages toxic, and keeps families dysfunctional.
Mental health doesn’t operate on a problem-cure basis. Mental health lies on a continuum of ebbs and flows. A cure doesn’t exist because a singular reason for mental health problems doesn’t exist, either.
Furthermore, personality disorders, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, are notoriously challenging to treat. That’s because personality disorders encompass deeply ingrained, inappropriate behavioral patterns that often stem in childhood or adolescence.
Can Narcissism Be Cured?
This is not meant to be entirely dismissive. People can change- when they want to change. They can change when they are willing and desperate and hungry to do the work to change.
That said, this change requires multidimensional work. It requires an honest examination of self, of internal flaws, and of how individual behavior impacts other people. It also requires tremendous time, patience, and diligence.
Do you honestly believe the narcissist in your life can do that? Beyond their manipulation of telling you that they’re going to change for the thousandth time?
For one, most narcissists do not identify with having any valid problems. Instead, they interpret the rest of the world as problematic. Other people have the issues, and the narcissist becomes a victim to those alleged issues.
At some point, narcissists may become aware of their deceptive and manipulative tactics. However, unlike most people, instead of becoming embarrassed or ashamed of their behaviors, they react with indifference or even pride.
The mindset is along the lines of, why should I need to focus on self-improvement? If the world wasn’t so incompetent, if YOU weren’t so X, Y, or Z, I wouldn’t need to do resort to those tactics.
Are Change And Recovery Possible?
These are tricky questions. Most well-intentioned targets of narcissistic abuse desperately want to believe that their loved one can heal. They want to save their relationship and their family. But it’s like holding onto hope that an abusive batterer will stop hitting his or her spouse.
We would never advocate that a battered spouse “stick it out” in the hopes that the situation changes. Instead, we would direct this spouse to crisis hotlines and shelters. We would talk about safety plans and coping skills for leaving. We would never encourage one waits it out to see if things change.
Realistically, we know that they won’t.
Even with therapy available, most narcissists won’t seek sustainable treatment. Sure, they may agree to a session or two. Often, this is out of perceived obligation or as an attempt to “dazzle” the professional with their twisted ways.
In fact, therapy can be a fantastic resource to continuously flatter a narcissist’s ego- especially if he or she can lie and manipulate the clinician (which many can).
Remember that narcissists don’t believe they need to change. Instead, they believe the world around them needs to change.
Tricksters And Their False Claims
Googling ‘cure for Narcissistic personality disorder’ displays 735,000 results. As society becomes more aware of narcissism and its devastating impact, this number will continue to climb. This notion of a cure is a toxic rabbit hole.
Many “online sensations” capitalize on the vulnerability of mental health by offering false claims of so-called cures. They offer expensive courses and fancy “premium secrets” promising the answer to all your problems.
These promises are not only a waste of your time and money. They can wreak havoc on your emotional well-being. They can create unfair expectations and crashing disappointment when those expectations (inevitably) don’t get met.
Don’t put your faith in an online sensation because they have 100k followers or call themselves an expert. Don’t listen when they say their spouse changed back into a loving person by following some road map or because they claim they’re a reformed narcissist (and that your narcissist can heal, too, if you just get them enrolled in ABC program!)
If you’re still asking, can narcissism be cured, it’s time to stop focusing on changing the narcissist and instead focus on your narcissistic abuse recovery. Seeking your own growth and freedom is the closest semblance to a cure you’ll find from this hellish nightmare.