Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT explains the realities of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
(VIDEO – 21 mins) Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and expert on relationships and codependency. She’s the author Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You and Codependency for Dummies and six ebooks, including: 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits, Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People and Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness, also available on Amazon. Ms. Lancer has counseled individuals and couples for 30 years and coaches internationally. She’s a sought after speaker in media and at professional conferences.
For more about Darlene’s work:
AUDIO PODCAST VERSION:
Or look for us on your favorite podcast provider:
HACKIE REITMAN MD (HR):
Hi, I’m Dr. Hackie Reitman. Welcome to another episode of Exploring Different Brains. And today, we’re so lucky to have coming all the way from California, Darlene Lancer, a family therapist, a marriage counselor. And she’s got two big specialties, narcissism and codependency. She’s written books. She’s all over the place. She really knows a lot, and she’s going to share it with us, Darlene Lancer, welcome.
DARLENE LANCER JD LMFT (DL):
Well, thank you very much for inviting me. I like to share what I’ve learned and research with more people. So I appreciate the opportunity.
Why don’t you introduce yourself properly to our audience and tell them all about yourself?
Okay, well, I’ve been a marriage and family therapist for about 30 years. And I’ve written several books on codependency and shame and all kinds of tools for recovery, such as, how to raise your self esteem, how to learn to be assertive, how to forgive yourself. And I have a couple meditations, self love meditation, which I think is the key to transformation and recovery. And I just published a soul alignment meditation, as you know, and many people get strayed from their path. And that’s what makes them unhappy in life. They may be in destructive relationship, or just a profession, or just some way that they’re not feeling fulfilled. And a lot of codependents are perfections. I have a book on how to overcome perfectionism. And many of my followers are in 12 step programs, and I have a handbook on working. That’s called spiritual transformation and 12 steps on how to work the 12 steps. And it’s from a psychological spiritual point of view, not a religious one. So I’ve been doing this for a number of years, coming out with a new book, the end of the year, dating, loving and leaving a narcissist. And I know that’s the topic of our conversation today.
Well, let’s start with — tell our audience: What does narcissism mean? Give us the definition.
Well, there’s criteria that the diagnostic code consensus, consensus of psychologists have come together and created a symptomatic definition. So it’s based on symptoms. And the major required says symptoms are that person lacks empathy, that they indulge in grandiosity. So sometimes it’s just their fantasy of what they think they should be doing, not necessarily bragging about what they should do. But they have big dreams of being a celebrity or making millions of dollars, and they dream and talk about it or other people brag about it, or lie about it. And that there’s a constant need for admiration.
So those are three of the core requirements from the American Psychiatric Association for narcissistic personality disorder. So a lot of people and there’s more traits that are required for full diagnosis… I want to depart for a minute is just to say that a personality disorder is an enduring condition that starts to exhibit itself in young adulthood, or maybe even as a teenager. And unlike a mood disorder, like anxiety, depression, bipolar, where a person has a normal personality, and then they depart from it, when they have these mood swings, or depression. A personality disorder, this is what you see is what you get. This is who they are. And because that’s how they’ve always been, that’s how they see the world. And they don’t think that anything’s wrong with them. They think other people and this is also it’s not a required trait, but it’s what happens when you have a narcissistic personality that you don’t see other people as separate from yourself. So there’s a lot of projection. So half the time the things that the narcissist is saying about other people is a reflection of how they feel about themselves, and it may be unconscious. So getting back to the this redefinition of the disorder, you would need those three characteristics and then at least two more. So that would be because you need five altogether.
So there was The three basic ones, and then a feeling that you’re special or unique, that you only want to associate with high status people, or people that you consider special, like only people that go to Ivy League school or celebrities or rich people, you know, the, the class may differ. But in the narcissist mind, they’re superior and special. And that entitlement, and this is one of the traits that causes the most irritation relationships. So there’s a sense that the Narcissus deserves special treat. Like I talked to one couple, and the husband thought that his wife should listen to him and be interested in him and his interest in his work. And when she asked for the same, he saw no need a reason why he should be interested in her. And this is he said, a very matter of factly with no shame. So, you know, he was entitled to just this favorable treatment, they don’t like to stand in line. I’ve had clients that think like the laws don’t apply to them, that they’re ridiculous. So they’re above the law, things like that. They’re special and outside the rules for other people.
Now, someone listens to this, and sees this and says, You know what, I think I may have a narcissistic personality disorder. What does that person do? What do you advise them to do?
Well, first of all, you can’t really self diagnose. So some people are worried about that. And usually if they are, likelihood is they’re not a narcissist. Because, again, the dullness is considered ego syntonic rather than dystonic. So it’s synchronistic. It’s like feels Okay, and they’re not really motivated to get treatment, usually, unless a spouse demands it, or they lose a business, or suddenly their health fails. And then they can’t just write on their laurels anymore. But if they do, really are concerned about that, and if it’s affecting their relationships, I would recommend getting psychiatric treatment by a psychoanalyst. More than just once a week and someone who’s really experienced, experienced in treating the disorder, because it’s not just your average talk therapy. And a lot of therapists don’t want to treat a narcissist because it can be very difficult. They get subjected to attacks, the anger and the entitlement for the Narcissus. So it takes us special training to know how to deal with. So that’s what I would recommend. So it could be Marriage and Family Therapists or social workers, psychologists or psychiatrists, but they have psychoanalytic training. So it’s just a different category.
On my website, I have a blog about treatment for Narcissus. And I list some of the different modalities and what the treatment would look like. And how you would help that person see the consequences of their behavior. That’s one of the ways I emphasize that partners deal with a narcissist because to them, relationships are transactional. So they want to know what’s in it for them. They’re usually not too interested in your feelings, even if they hurt you. Only how it impacts them. So you have to communicate a little differently than you would in a normal relationship. So if you say, well, you’re hurting my feelings, I feel like Well, so what I didn’t get my needs met. So you have to point out to them that when that relationships are two way street, and when you do XYZ, where I don’t feel that my needs are getting met, I don’t feel like meeting your needs. For whatever that might be. You have to know where you have leverage. Usually a narcissist wants attention, they want sex, maybe other things if it’s a woman she might not might want support, or praise about her looks or things like that. Is it more common among one of the genders? Yes, there’s definitely more men that are narcissistic. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t women. There are plenty of women who are but I’d like to go over a couple more of the traits, the symptoms.
So I mentioned Okay, thinking you’re special and only one of associated with high status people entitlement that you are entitled, because you’re so special to special treatment and unique treatment that more than other people. And another really, trait that causes problems in business and relationships is many Narcissus. Not all, but one of the traits is exploiting and taking advantage of others for your own personal gain. So they might dishonor or contract or use information or in some way or exploiter, a girlfriend or a boyfriend to be supported or to have sex or to get some special advantage. And then envy is very common. So they think that people are because they’re so great that they’re being envied, and they envy others because they want to be the best. And they can’t, they’re very competitive. They’re always scanning the room, the situation to see who has the power, and who’s getting the most attention, and they want to be sure to them. So they assume that people are envying them. And I remember, you know, I had a narcissistic mother. And I one time when I was a young girl, I was complaining about feeling hurt by my girlfriends, or something, and my mother would just dismiss and say, Oh, they just envy you. But that didn’t feel good. It didn’t help at all. So that was her projection of how she would deal with it. And envy, by the way, is a defense to shame. So if people are ending me because I’m so great that I don’t really have to feel what’s underneath, it’s that maybe I’m less than them. I’m envying what they have. So I’m gonna assume they’re ending me. And then the final one would be arrogance that they feel better and superior to other people to other races, other religions, other political views, whatever. They’ve had this era superiority of arrogance. So you need five traits altogether, including the three that I mentioned above, the lack of empathy and the need for admiration and grandiosity. Now there’s something called subclinical narcissism. So people throw around that term. Oh, he or she is such a narcissist, look at all their selfies selfies, you know, on Facebook, or they’re so selfish. They only think of themselves. That’s not enough for someone to sound arrogant. Because, you know, they think they’re better than everybody. That’s not enough to be a narcissist. The key thing is, do they lack empathy? Do they have this insatiable need for admiration? So those are some of the core and then there’s four different types of narcissists too, it can manifest in different ways.
What are the four different types?
Well, the first is that the one that you think of, like who’s in the public eye, or brags a lot and boasts a lot Babies love the life of the party. That’s the grandiose Are they the narcissist or the exhibitionistic narcissist. Those are like your stereotype. And they’re usually very bold. They exhibit a lot of confidence, and they’re very interested in power. Their arrogance is on display. And then there’s something called the vulnerable narcissist is other names for call the closet Narcissus popular now is the term covert narcissist used to be called introverted Narcissus so it’s someone they can be just as obnoxious and exploitative, aggressive, self absorbed and title and the empathic, and manipulative because narcissists are very manipulative, and aggressive. However, they shy away from attention. That’s why sometimes they’re called introverted Narcissus. And, but they have the same feelings of self alienation from their self. And their what’s more different. What’s different, though, is that they suffer for more neurotic behavior, guilt, anxiety, depression, they’re very insecure and unhappy.
The grandiose narcissist may not be aware that they’re insecure, obviously are when they have to pump themselves up and bully other people that it comes from insecurity, but often it’s unconscious. So the covert or introverted, Narcissus can be sometimes even more difficult to live with, because they’re very hypersensitive. And they have these, they don’t have these skills that a grandiose narcissist has to pump up their ego. So they’re more distrustful and threat oriented, they might withdraw from people. They don’t can’t insulate themselves. So the defensive inflation for grandiose narcissism helps them to, you know, feel good about themselves. So then they’re happier. often they’re happy in their relationship and happy with their lives. That’s why they don’t seek treatment. But the introverted narcissist is more unhappy and grouchy, and you know, hypersensitive, their insecurity is more visible, and they’re just more neurotic, or they’re not interested in growth at all. Then there’s the malignant narcissist, which is like the worst, because they’re the most aggressive and cruel. They like to create chaos. They take pleasure in, in taking people down, and retribution psychopathic tendencies, which means they’re more aggressive, and there’s more malice involved. Often for a lot of narcissists don’t realize they’re not intending to be malicious. But the more aggression there is the the worse the narcissist. The more traits there are. Not all narcissists are exploited. That’s not a required trait. And they’re not all aggressive. But the more he tends to lean over towards psychopathy, then it’s like a malignant narcissist, and they can be very dangerous.
Then there’s a fourth kind that’s rather new, is called the communal narcissist is very similar to the grandiose narcissist. The only thing is, what they value is not so much power over people. But being the most trustworthy, the most supportive person, no, so the most giving person, the most helpful person. So you would could get really confused. Sometimes they’re in the clergy, or they’re philanthropists. And they are community that they want to be very helpful. But it’s still all about them and their ego. And their motive is still this sense of power, but in an indirect way, because they’re being so helpful. And they’re going to get attention that way. And they’re going to get praise for how much they give other people or how supportive they are.
Is there a general prognosis or many statistic on? We took 100, Narcissus, we put them into treatment, and X percent of them got better. Is there any such statistic?
I don’t know, there might be I don’t know. But you have to understand someone who goes into treatment is not — is usually not representative of the population at large. Because they might be able to be introspective, they’re interested in learning about themselves, they may be able to take responsibility, or force regret. So those are good. That’s a good prognosis. Okay. Most or many narcissists, don’t. But what I was going to say is that in the dynamics and it’s really any abusive relationship, not just with a narcissist, but often someone who puts other people first and wants to please someone who’s codependent will buy bond with a narcissist, or just someone abusive could be with an addict.
How can our audience learn more about you and your work
Okay, well, my website is whatiscodependency.com. You can also find me at Darlenelancer.com. And I’m all over the internet. And I write for Psychology Today and medium. And you could subscribe to my monthly blog on my website. And what else I’m on Twitter, and Instagram. I have YouTube’s up on my YouTube channel. And I have a lot of podcasts on clip it, there’s some awesome SoundCloud, and there’s links to them on my website. And of course, I’m on Facebook, and Pinterest. And those are the ones where you can find me all over. If you just Google my name, you’ll find a lot of stuff.
Darlene Lancer, thank you so much. This has been very enlightening. It’s been great to have you thank you for being with us here on Different Brains.
Oh, you’re very welcome. It’s been a real pleasure and I enjoyed our conversation.