Narcissism, Mental Health, and NLP

July 10, 2021
Emmanuel F. Silan, PhD
Understand that individuals see the world differently,their map of the world is different from yours

1.    What is narcissistic personality disorder?

The description of narcissism given to some people who seem to be too self-centered is commonly heard these days. However, in the mental health world, it is technically referred to as “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”(NPD). It is characterized by a repeated pattern of behavior that involves arrogant behavior and thinking, self-centeredness, a lack of genuine consideration and empathy for others, and an excessive need to be popular and admired by others. Self-admiration is also a distinguishing aspect of NPD.

Most often, the narcissist appears aggressive in communication and, if the conversation does not result to the expectation of the narcissist, it may result to a physical show of aggression, from shouting, to cursing, to door slamming, even to physical altercation. Basically, the narcissist always wants to get what he wants, usually through bullying.  Most often though, the narcissist actually wants to be loved and cared for by others. But his way of doing things, his wayo f behaving, actually pushes away the people around him – both his family and friends. Usually, he comes out as manipulative, selfish, and demanding.

2.    Predispose to be unable to change

Unfortunately, those with narcissistic personality disorder show a usual tendency to resist positive change. They don’t take accountability for their thinking and behavior, and, instead, tend to blame others for their own state. To make matters worse, they are sensitive to the comments and feed back of others, and react negatively to comments and feedback. They perceive these comments and suggestions for their own development not as a tool for self-growth but as an attack on their person. It results to paranoia via trust issue, aggression, pushing away of people, and in some instances, actualphysical violence. Thus, a self-sustaining, self-sabotage form of behavior predominates.

3.    Standing up to a narcissistic person

The coping mechanisms of people around the narcissist can take the form of the following:

1.    Just get along to avoid arguments with, tantrums from, and/or anger of the narcissistic person;

2.    Ignoring the negative behavior of the narcissistic person; or

3.    Walking away from the life of that person.

Very few will have the courage and the skill to argue with the narcissistic person on a toe-to-toe manner. Narcissistic people have grandiose thinking and behavior, vanity, and for some, a messianic tendency. The self-concept that only they can save the world of others. On the other hand, evolved narcissistic persons can turn out to be one of the best leaders who both care and protect.

4.    Changing behavior

Can narcissistic people even change their negative behavior?  Yes, they can, but only when they really want to. Narcissistic people are very difficult to process through coaching, mentoring, and even counseling because of their sense of self-importance and self-grandeur. This self-image prevents them from seeing their problem, and enables them to continue their self-destructive behavior.

In addition, narcissistic people live in their fantasy world and have a distorted view of themselves. They are manipulative, are usually without shame and guilt, and have an extreme sense of self-entitlement. They see themselves as the only people who are brilliant, attractive, strong, and smart.Anything that threatens to put any of this self-concept is met with hostility and derision from the narcissistic person. No wonder that many of them end up living alone, unloved, and, in the end, with their own realization, bitter.

5.    NLP  and Narcissism

Although it is truly difficult to engage with people who seem to exhibit NPD, or just being narcissistic per se, the knowledge and practice of NLP can be of big help. As always, NLP practitioners can rely on presuppositions and basic techniques. Some immediate examples are:

A.             Work on your personal development and be clear about your own sense of identity. Hold on to your own beliefs, values, and perceptions. Be clear about your own “frame” of mind and“state of being”. If you are not clear with how you see yourself – an independent thinker, an autonomous decision-maker, a person who can firmly stand against manipulators – then you can easily be manipulated and coerced into being and believing something that you are not.

B.              Model the Behavior That You Want. Narcissistic people are usually bullies. And how do we deal with them? Be firm, talk deliberately, express what we want to happen clearly, and as much as possible, get their commitments in writing. Without this last one, they can easily turn the table on us. They may shout and we can simply stand our ground firmly. When they know that they can’t “move” us but still see that we give them a modicum of respect, they’d modify their behavior in our presence. That alone is a big step for both parties.

C.             In a subtle yet direct manner, show them that “the meaning of your communication is the response that you get.” Unpacking the ultimate consequences on the narcissistic people and the people who walked out of their lives somehow give the “narcis” an opportunity to clearly recognize the consequences of their behavior and why most people walkout on them. Can they change then? Yes, but only if they want to.

D.            Remember “embedded commands”that you can integrate in your everyday conversation with them. These are positive words about them and your expectations from them.

E.             Look for intent rather than the behavior. Remember, all behavior has positive intent, regardless of the outcome.Focus on the positive intent and nurture it, whenever you can.

F.             However, Manage Your Expectations.Years of manipulating others will make it difficult for them to live up to the positive expectations of others.

G.            Map of the world. Understand that individuals see the world differently from each other. Their map of the world is different from yours. Ultimately, you can simply let them live in their own world, and set your own agenda, firmly, when engaging with them, without being suctioned into their world of overt and covert manipulation.

About the author

Emmanuel F. Silan, PhD

NLP Coach and Counselor/ Human Behavior and Communications Specialist/ NLP Master Trainer (IN) and Coaching Master Trainer (ICI) / Organization Development Consultant/ Highly Experienced Team Building Facilitator/ Certified NLP Instructor and Master Practitioner/ has MA in Instruction Development and Technology/ PhD in Organization Development/ and currently taking Master in Counseling Psychology at  Ateneo de Manila University.