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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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I am trying to understand a very distructive person so that

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Hi - I am trying to understand a very distructive person so that we can address a difficult situation. She is a gymnastic trainer, 34, from Romania, with power over 90 girls and who has Head Trainer responsiblities, only because she was first when we started.
Problem description:
She cannot take any hint of criticism - she reads into every word, expression, as a hidden message - criticism. she either defends herself violently, or more likely, cuts all contact, - will not speak to you, and might even ignore or not speak to your child.
She assumes a smile from one of the older gymnasts is disrespect and laughing at her behind her back.
If a child dares (and this is scary for them) to say what is wrong, why they are not happy, or what they really meant (when they are blamed for something that they did not do, or mean, or say), she will not listen, but tell them that they must show respect - she will talk them down, cow them, and hold them captive while she lectures them. Not one child dares tell the truth to her. They don't dare wear makeup, or nail polish, or suits that she says are unattractive, because she will attack them for it. If they manage to say something about how they feel they have been treated, she will make fun of them about it later, in a not so nice way (though she will say to the that she was teasing, and they are too sensitive, or have no sense of humour).
If the elite girls have a bad competition, she has been known to go off and cry, or glare at the girls for their failures, point the out to the others, and maybe not speak to the team for a week. She takes it very personally in other words.
The older girls push her buttons most, because, while they are cowed and obedient in her presence, she is sure they have opinions about her, and this she cannot take.
She is taking often the victim role. She has a story for how much she has sacrificed, done and that no one has any idea how much.
She also doesnt trust other trainers, and has alianated a large network of trainers from Romania and refuses to have any contact with them, or any other trainer close to them.
She hides her own background, is very private- leads people to beleive she is truly the most knowledgeable and better than other trainers- and if anyone has more knowledge or experience in her field them her, they have to be vary careful how they demonstrate it as she will instantly distance herself, reject them, or even hate them.
She is volitile, and I am sure also depressed, but her pride is too great to show any weakness to anyone.
She explains that everything she does is because she has high integrity and cannot do, say or behave in any way that does not reflect her values. Anything else would be faking it, she says.
At this point we are in a situation where she is tearing the club in two, blocking our developement, hurting the girls, rejects all forms of interference, and has threatened to quit if we bring in trainers with leader qualities (and we can't afford that crisis - we would rather a nice transfer of responsibilities while she steps down and consentrates on younger girls, or leaves - after we are settled).
What is this we are dealing with (Narcissistic PD?) What is the best way to deal with her? What is the best way to help all of us, including her?
Thank you for helping! (PS - labour laws in this country are very strong .. not as in the US, so we have to tread carefully, and in addition, it is a small country with an even smaller gymnastics environment which can be a challengs, and the last point ,we are a foundation, with managment by parent committees...)
Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend

Thank you for your very clearly detailed and articulate description of this 34 year old coach who wields a great deal of power and influence over the lives of 90 girls, and evidently over your entire organization.

She is evidently getting good performance results, by her persistence and dedication, but there are other equally effective approaches that would not be so damaging to the psyches of these young lives in her charge.

It seems clear that she has a disordered personality. There are ten classified personality disorders, and sometimes they can occur in a spectrum involving more than one personality disorder.

I agree the narcissism is part of her problem. It is a less severe form of psychopathic behaviour and contains aggressive, borderline, and paranoid features, particularly a highly rationalized sense of entitlement, an overblown sense of self, lust for power, greed, and envy. Narcissists lack empathy for others and use others for their own benefit or pleasure. They systematically devalue those they control, and can be cruel and destructive. They may idealize the few that are a positive source of narcissistic supply, but denigrate the others.

This woman also has features of Paranoid Personality Disorder, another one of the 10. She has unfounded suspicions that others are deceiving her, are disloyal, are attacking hr reputation or character, laughing behind her back, and threatening or demeaning her with hidden actions or words that she sees in ordinary events. She will not confide in others because she is afraid the information will be used against her. Although these "threats" are unjustified, she responds quickly with anger or counterattacks, and bears grudges. These are the diagnostic criteria for PPD which she seems to suffer from, comorbidly with NPD.

Most people with personality disorders are full of anger, sometimes most of the time, and keep it locked inside of them until it suddenly emerges. It is not really created by external forces but comes from within her.

If could come from childhood abuse or the inability of expressing anger at the appropriate targets, when she was a child, but this is not the place to discuss this.

This coach has the aggressive style that is a blend between Paranoid (provocative, attacks pre-emptively, believes in vengeful retribution powered by delusionally paranoid thinking, and ultimately vindicates herself) and Narcissistic (demeans others, is also somewhat delusional, and exploits others. Anger is often an outcome.

You may feel that it is your responsibility to help her. Perhaps a long course of psychotherapy or psychoanalysis might help her. Chances are that she will not accept therapy, and she will not change (except in the rarest of instances). Having the position that she is in, and not being challenged only reinforces her disorder. Perhaps if she sees that her approach was dysfunctional and in the end caused her to fail, would she be willing to accept help.

Your overriding responsibility, it seems is to protect your club and the young girls who are in it. This could only be done if she is eased out of her position, and reassigned to a position where she could not hurt others.

You understand your labour laws and the limits of power that your organization and its various committees and subgroups hold. You will have to work that out. I am sure that it will not be an easy task as she probably has (and cultivates) her supporters who do not see the problem, but only the charming side of her personality, which as a narcissist, she is probably adept at portraying.

For the good of the organization, and for the girls who have to suffer her abuse, it would be best. Your team performance might be affected, but it could even be for the better, in the end.

I urge you to consider moving her out of her ability to cause continued emotional harm to these girls, which should be your primary concern.

I wish you,and the team, great success.

Warm regards,

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for your answer. I know she is building alliances, and telling her "story" to those who haven't really seen her actions. Its tricky and by taking a stance, I take a risk, but enough already... while I want the best for her, I want more for the club, and the girls who suffer 20 hours a week of her erradic and confusing, and often hurtful behaviour.

Thank you again,


Dear *****,

This is not going to be an easy battle. Narcissists do not give in easily. They form alliances and they are the best liars in the world. They can fool a lie-detector machine.

You many want the best for her, but she also wants the best for her. She does not care about anybody else, not you, and not her allies. However, she can be the most charming and convincing person in the world. Sociopaths, however have no empathy, but do know how to act as if they do.

If the cowed girls are too afraid to step forward, and if other parents will not act, then she will continue to do as she does. Anonymous letters from some of the girls or parents, or any proof of any physical abuse might be enough to bring her down. Changing her job roles and taking away her power over others will also bring her down.

The objective, of course, is not to punish her, but to stop her from abusing others. If she is hurt in the process (and any narcissist is hurt when they are devalued or challenged) then it is not your place to protect her feelings any more than if she were Genghis Khan or Idi Amin.

Her paranoia may be enough to do her in, however.

If I have helped you, please remember to give me positive feedback so that JustAnswer can credit me for my work. This is my livelihood and I am most grateful to you. Thank you so much.

Be courageous and work cautiously towards your goal. I wish you great success.

Warm regards,

Elliot Sewell, LPCC,NCC, CCMHC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Dear *****,

Thank you so much for your positive feedback and generosity.. I wish you great sucess.

Warm regards,