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Good, let's get started:
I think I explained the basis of my problem.
First, I want you to know that I have had to help so many good people like you in this situation. I know how much it can almost be heartbreaking.
You're seeing your grandchildren suffer like this from improper cares.
Thank you for understanding.
I'm sorry, care.
Our real challenge here is very difficult:
It's really what influence you have:
What is your influence with your daughter?
Not good at the moment. We fell out a couple of months ago.
This is not uncommon. I imagine this is not the first time you and she have had a falling out, correct?
Yes with her disorders, it is something you have to continually be watchful about and often you won't be able to control it.
She will sometimes create situations where it just is impossible to get along with her.
Our goal here, then, is how you can be most of a helpful influence for your grandkids, agreed?
One of the questions I have is should I contact either the School Services in our borough (we live in England) or even Social Services?
This is always an option, one I'm asked a lot.
It is a risk/benefit calculation you have to make:
And what do you usually answer?
Just that: It is a risk/benefit calculation you have to make. Let me explain.
She'll know it comes from me and probably will never want to have anything to do with me again.
The benefit is only if they force one of two things: either that she is required to send them to school and go to counseling/therapy, or they remove the kids from the home.
The risk is what you just said.
Remember: her husband appears to be trying his best not to get on her wrong side.
He's living with her narcissism daily.
And he's had to give up his parents trying to keep her from raging at him.
That's why I usually advise grandparents not to call in the social services folks: the husband won't take your side here; he'll lie for her in order to keep himself from having to take her verbal abuse.
Agreed. And it is terrible. What about the children?
That's our concern. But I need you as the grandmother to remember something. It's crucial:
We can't as grandparents save our grandkids from their situations. That's not the power and capability grandparents have.
just because we can't do 100% of what they need does not mean we can't try to be support for them.
I have adults in therapy sessions in my office so often who grew up with narcissistic parents or abusive parents or dysfunctional parents in some other way. And
they so often will tell of a grandparent who was like a lifeline for them,
someone who was "sane" in their insane childhood.
Someone who loved them and always tried to be positive and take them for an hour to a restaurant or show or park and it was like a lifeline.
Do you know what I mean here?
Yes, I do. Thank you for this advice. However, I have another question. Would it be a good idea to write to her, telling her I love her but that I think she suffers from this mental disorder and try to have treated?
No. Please don't do that. Let me explain:
Narcissism is not like depression or anxiety. Narcissism is a personality disorder.
It is based on her being the center of all reality in her world. Everything revolves around her needs. Thus, if you tell her she needs help, it will be you being against her, she will throw it back on you: you need help because you clearly are sick because you think something is wrong with her.
May I paste in for you something I wrote about dealing with narcissistic daughters and daughters in law?
Give me a few moments to retrieve it from my files.
Okay. I have opened it and pasted the relevant parts for you. Please let me affirm to you again how important you are to your grandkids by just putting up with her for the sake of being able to have connection with them. And whenever you're with them, be as loving as you can. That's what they need most. A loving, listening, normal person. And with her husband, see if you can get him to know that you are on his side. That you can imagine how much effort he puts in just to keep things moving in some normal way in the family. And that you appreciate him for that. He needs the support, I'm sure. Okay, here is the essay excerpt; all the best:\
It is very difficult for people to imagine how pervasive NPD is. They tend to keep doing things with the narcissist as if she's normal. Then they get burned and they are very hurt. You are normal and have a view of personality that we call "whole". But something happened early on to her 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 her 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.
She isn't like that. She has different closed rooms. When she says something to you, it responds to some need and "truth" of a certain room. When she wants something else, it responds to a different room that contains that "truth". They don't have to agree for her to feel she is being okay and truthful. Because they are responding to different needs in her. Like different closed rooms.
You would not be able to feel whole that way. Well she doesn't feel whole. But she doesn't know how to feel whole. And she doesn't know what feeling whole is like.
How, then to live with her:
Step 1. You must accept that you cannot change her. 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 her life. Your job and your goal is to learn how to accept her the way she is and not be affected negatively by her. Yes, this is a tough, big job. But that is what she needs. You cannot be her therapist; you have to accept that this is how she deals with the world and that your job is to be there for her and with her without you getting too hurt by her personality difficulties.
Step 2. You can encourage her to seek professional help. Again, this will have to be only an encouragement. You know better than anyone that even encouraging her will probably not go over well with her, but that is the most you can do in that area. She has to be willing to go to therapy to help herself. No one else will ever be able to get her to stay in therapy and get benefit from it even if they convince him. The chances of her thinking this is a good idea are very slim.
I'm going to prescribe a couple of excellent books you can get on how to live with a narcissist. 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:
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.
Okay, I wish you the very best!
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Thank you very much for this. But I have a last question. Can people with this type of personality disorder get bettet with age?
You are such a good person and I wish so much that I could say yes.
However, narcissism is not like depression and anxiety, which do tend to even out over time even without treatment.
But there is a Bipolar Disorder component here.
And that can even out over time even without treatment.
Though BD does require treatment to get better, over long periods of time, it does often even out.
But narcissism does not. It is lifelong.
Treatment is very long term and not easy.
And narcissists rarely go to therapy, they always blame you, right?
You are right, they are never to blame. Thank you for your help and goodbye doctor.
I wish you the very best!
All the very best. If you could give a positive rating before leaving, I would be grateful. Dr. Mark