For Therapists and Recovery Seekers On Narcissism

This article by Gudrun Zomerland, MFT summarizes the condition of Narcissism and the effects that a Narcissist has on a close target, especially over time (child. partner). Gudrun mentions "mirror neurons" at the end of this well-written post, and explains briefly the large benefit a good therapist can give to a patient simply by paying attention to their inner self.
IMO, this subject can not be spoken of enough, and frankly is not talked about nearly enough. A person who has endured close "relationships" with Narcissists have been given skewed feedback, false feedback, or zero feedback, often over a very lengthy period of time. A child growing up in a Narcissist dynamic, (for example if one parent is a "Narcissist", or both, or other relatives are, or there is an ongoing situation such as severe illness that distracts the adults from raising the child properly, etc) has been given little or no accurate or positive feedback for a very long time.
Accurate and positive feedback are essential for ANY person to develop properly. It's much like playing catch with a person who either catches when you throw and then throws it back to you in the same friendly, calm manner, compared to playing catch with a person who isn't paying attention when you throw it half the time, or stands there with their glove on but their back turned, or feigns missing the ball in order to make it appear that you can't throw it straight, or misses it and blames you for throwing it "wrong", or catches it and whips it back very hard at you, or regularly throws it over your head and laughs or shakes their head.
After living in the second scenario for a very long time, a therapist who actually treats the patient with genuine respect, empathy, and accurate feedback, who does not condescend, who does not have a superiority complex, who does not see a patient as "lower" than themselves can, in itself, be one of the most effective healing "salves" there is. Being treated like a REAL person who belongs on Planet Earth, who's not some kind of insignificant person, who has a regular working brain in their head, who's ideas and words are actually HEARD and UNDERSTOOD by the another person (the therapist) and not judged, dissected, spat back out and used as evidence for their "instability" or "unworthiness" is what every human being needs and deserves. Targets of Narcissists have not received this basic respectful treatment that most others take for granted, and have been conditioned to believe, using skewed feedback, that they others PERCEIVE THEM AS less worthy, less intelligent, less capable, and undeserving of a normal (nevermind good) life. How much they have bought into this projection of unworthiness and incapability that has been thrust at them for so long is unique to the individual, and must be worked through over time. However accurate and positive feedback is essential to this process (which does not include attitudes of "I call it like I see it" on the part of the therapist... the patient has had quite enough of cold, unempathetic, arrogant, ego-based "tough love", don't you think?)  
Be sincerely respectful, be genuinely interested, treat them with true integrity the way you would treat a colleague you admire if they came in for a therapy session, or don't treat them at all. And if you don't understand that statement, or why it's important, then you need to find out, and quickly, if you want to be an effective therapist who actually helps clients heal.

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Narcissism and Co-Narcissism

by Gudrun Zomerland, MFT More than anything else in my almost 20-year practice of psychotherapy, I have found that parental narcissism and the resulting lack of empathy and attunement with the child is what brings people into psychotherapy later as adults. In order to survive a narcissistic parent, children learn to tune out their own vulnerability, their own needs, and their own emotional world that would direct them toward their needs. Children learn to be close to the parent by either imitating the narcissistic parent and becoming like him or her (a narcissist), or by tuning into the parent's bottomless need for positive self-reflection (co-narcissist). Children who have adopted the latter survival mechanism will later on in life choose other narcissists or other people with strong narcissistic tendencies to bond with in order to fulfill