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Narcissism and Counseling

turbineSomewhere during the time that I left my marriage and discovered Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) I was going to a marriage counselor.  We actually went to counseling as a couple.  My ex didn’t put a lot of stock in counseling.  He’d tried during his first marriage and wasn’t impressed.

(Obviously it didn’t take, since I was his second marriage.)

Things had to get pretty bad before he would agree to go with me.  When he finally agreed, he said he was going to discuss my issues, since he didn’t have any issues, and wasn’t doing anything wrong.  I didn’t hold out a lot of hope that anything would change, since that was his attitude going into the sessions.

Now, after educating myself in all this narcissism stuff, I often wonder how the counselor didn’t catch it.  How come he didn’t see all the signs?  On the one hand, I’m glad I’m not the only one who was dazzled by my ex’s charms.  I’d hate to think that I was the only idiot who was blinded by his charisma.  But I really thought that someone trained in disorders would see through the charm.

During each of our sessions, my ex would speak in his typical condescending, patronizing tone.  It was as if he was saying, “I’m just patiently going through the motions because you will soon discover that there’s nothing that I need to change.  It will become clear that you have all the problems.  You will realize how fortunate you are to be married to me.  You will see that you are making things difficult for yourself.  I will be here for you to adore, once you come out the other side and confess to all that you’ve done wrong.”

After each session, I would feel the divide become larger.  I was going to counseling so that at some point I could tell my kids that I had tried everything.   I didn’t believe counseling could fix our issues.  You can’t expect change or compromise from someone who feels that he is already perfect and has nothing to change.

Even then, I didn’t know I was dealing with a narcissist.  I discovered NPD right before we had our last two sessions.  In a session alone, I told the counselor what I suspected.  I had read enough of the literature to know that all the experts suggested that you would be wasting your time with any kind of counseling.  The very foundation of NPD is that a narcissist is perfect, he does nothing wrong, has nothing to change, and that all others should adapt and learn to function in the shadow of their greatness.

The consensus was that you should pack your bags and run screaming in the other direction.

I was excited about sharing my discovery of NPD with the counselor.  Everything finally made so much sense.  It wasn’t that I was a failure, or that I was inadequate, or incompetent or too stupid to figure out how to be a good wife.  The fact is, no matter what I did, I would never measure up.

The counselor agreed that my husband very likely had NPD.  He didn’t attempt to explain how he could have missed that in our sessions.  He also reiterated what the NPD information said about how counseling  was seldom, if ever, successful in dealing with a case of NPD.  But-and this was big-he had been able to cure an individual of NPD.  My very counselor had been successful in saving a marriage by curing a case of NPD!

Yeah.

Right.

He couldn’t even recognize a case of NPD when it was sitting in his office.

After one more session, I called it quits.

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6 comments

  1. Ditto…

  2. The counselor who I’m interning under & has practiced counseling for 30 years is VERY good at picking up on NPD & other personality disorders. I had asked him at one point if it was just that personality disorders weren’t very prevalent or that some counselors just don’t recognize them & his reply was that some counselors just don’t get them. I tend to agree with him & he also has said that NPD & BPD tend to be very common amongst the personality disorders.

    Between learning from you guys & my supervisor, I’m beginning to feel like I may just be able to work with NPD instead of running screaming.

  3. Jenn,

    IMHO… our culture would benefit from having more counselors (lawyers, attorneys, etc…) who are savvy about NPD, especially when we consider the prevalence of the disorder.

  4. My husband is an Narcissist again the councillor hasnt got it for the first time in 7 years i am speaking up it comes across as me dominating yet i have been found to over empathise…. i understand he understnads nothing ran me into the ground has 100% self investment haas done a runner wirh our money and wonders and disbelieves that our son want a better dad.. He hs done nothing wrong he is perfect… he tpok the car has all thw money and s ultimately crap to us alll…

    How do we fight back why i th ecouncellor so thick… He the abuser comes out on top help…

  5. Corky,

    Thanks for writing. I hear your frustration and anger. It’s SO not fair.

    I had to go through several counselors and lawyers before I could find one who believed me.

    Narcissists are charming, persuasive and cagy. Many, many smart people are duped by them, that includes well-education, trained professionals.

    My suggestion is to keep looking for a counselor that will listen and take you seriously. Literally, when calling a new counselor, come right out and ask them if they have experience with NPD – Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    Keep looking. NPD is becoming more recognized. You’ll find someone who understands.

    Take care,

    Jesse

  6. I was lucky that my counselor was recommended by my pastor. He knew what I needed and knew she could help me. Is there someone that you can ask for a referral, Corky?

    We ALL over empathize, that is why we end up with them in the first place. Try to use your ‘other’ side when talking about/to him. The tough side. It is there…I see it here. Hang in there. It DOES get better. xxx

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