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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5110
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Hi Rafael, I spoke to you a couple of weeks ago about a borderline.

Customer Question

Hi Rafael, I spoke to you a couple of weeks ago about a borderline. Things have improved slightly but im now feeling bad about some treatment for mutual friends/ not sure if it is me of them/ can you help
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Relist: Other.
didnt reply
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.

Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.


I was able to read some of your communication with Rafael, but let's make sure I understand the situation well so I can help you effectively. My first question: you refer to him as "borderline", which I assume means Borderline Personality Disorder. What I read from your previous discussion with Rafael, you describe him very much as narcissistic. Do you see the problem being that he's borderline or that he's narcissistic?

What is your relationship with him currently?

You're concerned about his interactions with your mutual friends. Are you concerned about how to help them deal with him?

Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.


Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Dr Mark he-s a narcissist with borderline traits/ the problem was the narcissistic traits/ he did all the usual things, played games, devalued, control / i backed off and started to feel better / we have the same group of friends/ my concern is that i have been left somewhat traumatised by the whole situation and my reactions seem to be very intense so I am more concerned about how i am feeling now. He has subsequently had a breakdown and been hospitalised for 2 days/ he came out for dinner with some mutual friends the other evening and we had a chat about being friends and we seem ok for the moment but i feel i had been quite damaged by him and other people here/ im living in a small place in italy.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Dr Mark, will you be chatting to me about this_

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.



First, let me say that you are living in a small community makes the situation much more difficult. You have now experienced the relief that being out of the orbit of a narcissistic person can give. That relief is not yet complete. And the concern I would have is that by staying friends you expose yourself to the possibility of again becoming enmeshed in his difficult and unhealthy personality. Because narcissists have the ability to be very charming and charismatic. But that you're in a small community makes your cutting off any contact perhaps difficult to accomplish.

And so you have to be very careful and watchful for yourself to not be overly involved with him. Because narcissists usually never believe the problem is in them. The problem is always in YOU.

The first rule, then, is to always keep in your mind and heart the need to understand that he is not going to change because of your giving nature. Your goodness is not going to one day make him see the beauty of also being a good person. Narcissists don't change like that. It takes years and years of therapy. And so all he sees is someone to use as part of his internal processes.

Let me remind you of what you know within yourself is true because you've experienced it:

It is very difficult for people to imagine how pervasive narcissism is. They tend to keep doing things with the narcissist as if he's normal. Then they get burned and they are very hurt. He will alternate charm and invective. You will be hurt. You are a normal person and have a view of personality that we call "whole". Your view does not allow for what has happened to his personality: it has become "fractured". What do I mean?


Let's use a parable of a house. You understand personality as being an open plan. There is the main big room where everything in the personality is and there are some smaller rooms off the main room, but they all have open doorways so that there is a unity there. If a person reacts from one of those smaller areas in his personality, it is coherent with the rest of the house, it fits into the decorating scheme of the main room, etc. It's all unified.


He isn't like that. He has different closed rooms. When he says something to you, it responds to some need and "truth" of a certain room. When he wants something else, it responds to a different room that contains that "truth". They don't have to agree for him to feel he is being okay and truthful. Because they are responding to different needs in him. Like different closed rooms.


You would not be able to feel whole that way. You would feel rather creepy. Well he doesn't feel whole. But he doesn't know how to feel whole. And he doesn't know what feeling whole is like. And this by the way is part of what makes him charming to women: they get their "I can fix him" module all tingling because they and you can sense that broken aspect. But....you would be messing with locked rooms that are protected by fire breathing dragons...


That's why I'm concerned about the discussion about being friends again. I hardly ever work in therapy with narcissists because, as I said above, they don't think the problem is with them. But I work often in therapy, either in my office or via Skype, with people who have been in relationships with narcissists and are recovering, trying to feel whole in their "selves". So again, I'm concerned the friendship will be an introduction back into that situation of loss of self for you.

If you can and choose to cut off contact, I am going to recommend a wonderful book that you need to read even though it is geared toward pure narcissism that is available online:

It is called: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life by XXXXX XXXXXez-Lewi.

But if you decide to continue with friendship with him, what can you do? Well, I am going to give you two step program that has had success in my practice for loved ones of people with personality disorders. And you might consider having therapy to counsel you.


Step 1. You must accept that you cannot change him. This is the heart of the matter: what you see is what you are going to get for a long time (see step 2) if not for the rest of him life. Your job and your goal is to learn how to accept him the way he is and not be affected negatively by him. Yes, this is a tough, big job. But that is what he needs. You cannot be his therapist; you have to accept that this is how he deals with the world and that your job is to be there for him and with him without you getting too hurt by him personality difficulties.



Step 2. You can encourage him to seek professional help. You know better than anyone that even encouraging him will probably not go over well with him, and he won't go, so you have to go back to step one!

So, that is your situation. Acceptance is the key. Making sure not to get too wrapped up in his personality and his rigidness is vital. This is the way you will be able to continue in your relationship with him if you decide to stay.

I'm going to prescribe a couple of excellent books you can get on how to live with a narcissist. What I wrote to you above is even more what you must stick with. But these books WILL help you as they have been tried and I've seen them have good effect if you follow the suggestions of the authors. They are both easily available online:

1. The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship by Eleanor Payson. This is a great book that will help you with the lack of self-esteem that living with a narcissist or being close with a narcissist will do to you.

2. The Object of My Affection is in My Reflection: Coping with Narcissists by Rokelle Lerner. This book is newer but is extremely clear and insightful and has helped people since it came out 3 years ago.

I wish you the very best and support whatever you choose to do in this difficult situation!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5110
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Dr. Mark and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Dr Mark, many thx for your reply and I will look at the books you suggest. Yes, I know I am in dangerous territory with him. I have been keeping away but I felt so sorry seeing his suffering and thought it would be ok to be friends/ I will have to back off again now.


The main problem is that my own self has suffered and I cant take any sort of stress from people any more. Last night at dinner someone i thought was a friend didnt want to sit opposite me and moved so i was left sitting on my own at the end of the table. It-s really made me feel rotten today/ but my reaction was so intense/ i felt so angry and upset, i was a bit taken back. im not sure whether the reaction was right or not/ any advice


 

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.
It's very difficult to determine when you're emerging from "under" a narcissist's influence what is what. You must take things slowly. In therapy, I take an outside in approach. Because it's easier to see some immediate gains.


We work on projecting the "self" you want to be. That is, if lighthearted and smiling, then focus more on what that would look like from the outside rather than what you are actually feeling.


And then if people don't react the way you expect, a lot will depend on the relationship with those people. If it's close enough and you can go to a cafe and have an informal discussion, then we would work on bringing up that dinner party casually and asking what they thought you were like and how you seemed. To begin to get some idea again of what you are projecting to the outside world.


And then slowly at the same time we work on feeling actually more lighthearted and smiling on the inside.


So, if this is possible with this friend, give it a try. If not, then remember: the best antidote to narcissistic influence is humor. Take it with humor. Well, you're starting out again being your free self and no one actually left the table because you were there...


And use humor to build up your sense of self and normalcy and not to be too sensitive as well, okay?


I wish you the very best!


My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, Dr. Mark

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