Dealing with a Narcissistic Family Member
By: Beth McHugh 2007
In previous blogs on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, we looked at common behavioral patterns of the clinical narcissist as well as the diagnostic criteria required to be diagnosed with this disorder. Today we look at a case study of what it means to live with a person experiencing from this condition.
People who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder seldom seek treatment as they do not consider that there is anything wrong with them. Particularly in their early life, they experience little emotional pain as they are so caught up with their own lives, thoughts, plans, and actions that little else can penetrate their psyches.
The principal people who experience problems associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are those whose friends, family members, and bosses suffer from the condition. It is those who must cope with the narcissist who are more at risk of emotional distress than the sufferer themselves.
Today we will look at Elinor, whose mother has been diagnosed by proxy by Elinor’s therapist. A diagnosis by proxy means that the therapist listens to the experiences of a person who is suffering through the actions of another person. It does not necessarily mean that the third party is definitely suffering from that disorder, as the therapist has not personally interacted with that person. A diagnosis by proxy is not a clinically valid diagnosis, but as previously noted, in the case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the person concerned rarely comes for counseling.
However, through Elinor’s descriptions of her mother’s
behavior, it can help Elinor to know that her mother is not normal,
that her actions form part of an identified illness and that Elinor
herself is reacting in a normal way to an abnormal situation. In the
next blog, we will look at some of the anecdotes that Elinor reports
about her mother.