If you’ve ever worked for a “toxic boss” the following should sound familiar: Your boss repeatedly criticizes you, blames you, compares you (unfavorably) to others, discounts your contributions and worth, and is hostile or passive-aggressive. You can’t always put your finger on why, but you end up tied up in a knot, frustrated, angry or demoralized with each interaction. As a result you – and most likely your colleagues – experience an underlying feeling of anxiety, distrust, negativity, helplessness, lack of energy…even despair.
I was recently interviewed by Allure magazine for a piece on Narcissism. The interviewer wanted a professional to explain in lay terms the ways to spot a narcissist and whether it’s possible to stay in a relationship with one. Here are some tidbits from the interview.
We’re all a little narcissistic:
Most of us have some quality of narcissism. It’s important to understand that narcissism is a trait that varies from person to person and describes a set of behaviors on a continuum. For example, narcissistic qualities peak in teenage years and decrease in severity with age. A study from the National Institutes of Health determined that 9.4 percent of 20- to 29-year-olds exhibit extreme narcissism, compared with 3.2 percent of those older than 65.
Healthy narcissism is a useful defense mechanism when you need a small dose of entitlement, for example, when you're asking for a raise or being unfairly treated. The number of people who carry an actual clinical diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder is estimated to be around 1 percent of the population. People with NPD display pathological traits such as grandiosity, self-centeredness, and a constant need for attention and admiration. Their relationships are unhealthy and destructive as a result of impaired empathy. Additionally, they rely constantly on others for endless ego boosting and reassurance to shore up the distorted belief that they are better than others.
If you are wondering if someone you know is NPD or has narcissistic traits, here's a helpful question to ask yourself: "Is this a trait or a state?" Are they situationally exhibiting NPD-like behaviors in front of peers or on social media (state) or are they consistently demonstrating NPD- behaviors in most areas of their life with little insight? (trait)
Be aware of the vulnerable narcissist:
For most people, when they imagine a narcissist, they immediately conjure up the stereotype of a chest thumping, charismatic, cult of personality. On the contrary, you would be surprised how subtle narcissistic personalities can be. A good example is the vulnerable narcissist. They easily express neediness and helplessness to seamlessly suck you into their drama with feigned fragility. In reality, the helpless narcissists have a habit of externalizing blame and project their responsibility onto others. They are not interested in how their neediness and demands impact others. They are always the victim and it’s never their fault.
5 Red flags you're dealing with a narcissist:
- They rarely ask about you unless they have something to gain.
- You feel special in their presence but feel exhausted after
- They seem to have little regard for your boundaries
- Low frustration tolerance: minor disappointments turn into rage, temper outbursts or stonewalling.
- History of short term relationships or infidelity. The narcissist seek caretakers, sensitive or empathic personalities whom they can manipulate.
Is it possible to be in a relationship with a narcissist?
People with NPD have difficulty in intimate relationships because successful relationships require the following traits:
- Low selfishness
The nature of their disorder limits them from genuinely engaging in any of the listed healthy relationship behaviors. It’s possible with therapy to help them understand their impact on others if they're motivated to learn and change. Typically, true narcissists stay out of the therapy office because they rarely see themselves as the problem. The exception is during big life changes such as a divorce, major illness or job loss. If you are the care-taking, empathic type in a relationship with a narcissist, the best step toward health is to focus on taking care of your own needs, setting clear limits and seeking therapy.
*Stay tuned for 5 ways to handle the narcissist in your life.
On May 20th - 21st 2017, I was invited by the Carolinas Group Psychotherapy Society as the featured presenter to lead their spring conference event at the UNC Friday Center. The topic was Race, Sex + Power. I was blown away by the level of skill, insight, and compassion demonstrated by the participants. It was a powerful and healing weekend for all!
An excerpt from my plenary at the CGPS weekend conference:
"As group therapists, it is part of our job description to create a safe, inviting container for our patients. This takes a tremendous effort from the group leader. In order for the therapist to help others heal, the therapist has to understand, own and accept their own unconscious feelings. What this means is that the therapist must have empathy for themselves. They must willingly expose themselves in a controlled manner to their own unconscious beliefs, feelings, and thoughts"
Stay tuned for the full write up.
Tom Thorsheim, Ph.D. interviews Yoon Kane LCSW, CGP as the featured presenter at the Carolina Group Psychotherapy Society Spring Conference Event, May 20 - 21, 2017.
Yoon will be presenting on the topic of Race, Sex & Power and Group Psychotherapy. The Spring Workshop will be held on May 20th - 21st, 2017 at the Friday Center - Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
More Info on the Workshop >>
According to a 2001 Gallup poll, 40% of adults have some degree of stage fright. Do you?
One way to address performance anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. “CBT” is a type of therapy that seeks to change unhelpful thinking and behaviors. Although behavioral strategies are an important part of CBT, I will focus on the “cognitive” or thought-related aspects today.
Yoon Kane, CEO of everbliss, founder and director of Mindful.NYC presented at the 75th Annual American Group Psychotherapy Association conference in NYC. Yoon's Women, Sex +Power event was a full house. Yoon will be presenting Race, Sex + Power at the Carolinas Group Psychotherapy Society May weekend conference. Stay Tuned!
Most New Yorkers I know are so caught up in their hectic Big Apple lives that they don’t have time to enjoy all the city has to offer. The solution? A “staycation.” It sounds great, but for some, staying at home with no structure can be confusing…even anxiety provoking!
There’s the paralysis that can come from having too many options, the concern that you’ll waste your time off by not doing anything out of the box, and the ungrounded feeling of not knowing what to do with yourself when you wake up to an empty schedule. How can you minimize these difficulties and maximize the chances of spending an amazing time on vacation at home? Practice Self-care.
When we talk about healthcare, rather than focus on cost and disease, we need to target prevention. I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone here when I say to you that a healthy body is directly correlated to healthy behaviors which is strongly influenced by the communities we connect with.
The quality of our connections has tremendous impact on our physical and mental health, and like it our not, technology has changed the way we relate to one another. There are approximately 7 billion users on the internet now. Presently, more than half of you, through the next 5-15 minutes of this talk, will notice yourself drifting in and out. You will find yourself mindlessly reaching for your mobile device to check your email or your Facebook feed.
As a Manhattan-based psychotherapist working with a high functioning adult population, I am always surprised to encounter a repetitive theme in my office. People no matter how smart, successful and savvy, find it impossible to break up with their toxic jobs, relationships, and friends. Clients repeatedly walk into my practice frustrated with their life-draining, dysfunctional relationships or jobs.