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.

Click anywhere below for the article:

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

Narcissism and Dismissing Causality

One of the things that is either difficult, or uninteresting, for most Narcissists (but not necessarily sociopaths) is the concept of Cause and Effect, or Causality.
Why this is so may be a combination of things, from a lack of instant gratification and supply, to avoidance and denial, to simple boredom, to cognitive confusion and discomfort.
Finding out why and how things really happen may seem like a waste of time and energy to them, or may just be too confusing. 

The Narcissist does not want to know why their partner was late, and it's never a good enough reason anyway~ they are just angry that he or she was late, and now they feel uncomfortable. The "why" their partner was late is irrelevant to them because it didn't happen TO THEM. The "why" they now feel uncomfortable and angry is also uninteresting (or confusing), and therefore in the "avoid exploring" category.

The Narcissist does not care about the reason their partner or child is upset, he or she is just annoyed that this "mood swing" is "wrecking" their personal atmosphere and expectations. 

The Narcissist doesn't care about why their relative is having trouble with depression, it's just assumed that they're "crazy", and must be either hidden from others finding out, or the relative must be smeared/slandered so no one thinks the Narcissist is anything like them ("crazy"...).  (Narcissists will do this even if they know full well that the relative suffered trauma, neglect, or abuse, and even moreso if the Narc. was one of the perpetrators).

The Narcissist does not care about the bakery staff who makes the elaborate cake for their celebration, or the painstaking process, or the hundreds of things that could go wrong in that process or on the way to the event.

The Narcissist does not care how much work the artist put into a painting, how long it took, how much process was involved, or how difficult it actually would be for HIM or HER to do such work; the only thing that enters their mind is whether they like it or not personally~ which they interpret as objective fact. (The other thing that might enter their mind is envy toward the artist.)

The Narcissist does not care how or why a person is not as financially successful as he or she is~ they just ASSUME that they aren't because they're a "lower" kind of person; they're not as smart or capable. Finding out about the actual life events the person has lived through is completely uninteresting to them, and they will dismiss it all anyway, favoring their "loser" theory. (Funny how they don't apply this to themselves when someone else is more successful than they are~)

The Narcissist who is not successful assumes that those who are wealthy, successful, or educated were all just born into it, that they did nothing to earn it or keep it, that they did nothing to earn anything they have or have achieved. They just ARE the 'wealthy/educated KIND of people", and they don't "deserve" what they have. (But apparently the Narcissist would deserve it if he or she had that wealth or success~ apparently he or she would be the only one who deserved it, since no one else does who already has it...)

The Narcissist does not even apply causality to themselves; not in a realistic way, anyway. They will often ignore, dismiss, and delete most of the help and support they received from others while reaching a goal, and actually believe that they did it ALL themselves, every step of the way. Learning new skills and information also reflects this glitch in their processing; they will learn a skill from a teacher, and upon gaining confidence in this new skill, they will immediately seem to believe that they are a long experienced "expert", that this skill is "natural" to them, that no one really "taught" them, and that anyone who doesn't know this skill is stupid and ignorant (once again, "lower" than them). 

Any certificate, degrees, and recognition they earn are seen as badges proving their "superiority", and they will often claim superior intellect, experience, and knowledge over any person who does not have the same "level" of degree, (while at the same time usually diminishing and downplaying the degrees, certificates, and recognitions of those who have more or higher degrees than they do. In fact, if a Narcissist is reading this paragraph right now, they are probably arguing "but that IS what degrees and certificates mean! That I'm smarter, more experienced, and more knowledgeable!" Explaining why it doesn't would take another blog post.)

They seem to mentally DELETE 'process' and causality:
The girl who is a prostitute in the street was born that way~
The old man who lives only with his dog is alone because he's crazy, or old, or no one likes him~
The wealthy developer in town is just a better KIND of human being than the rest of the townsfolk~
The child who won the State Spelling Bee is just a brainiac freak~
The homeless woman downtown who sits on the bench was just born to be that way~
Their own career is successful because they are just that good KIND of human being.
Etc., etc.

Nothing happened to CAUSE anything, everything just IS because it IS. 

Rain just falls, the sun just shines, people are just stupid or ignorant if they don't agree with my exact point of view, people just drop out of the sky the way they are, and the way their lives are.

Creepy Monkey Judging

I have found more women to judge others as "inferior" or "superior" based on height and size, instead of actually finding out about the person, although I've met plenty of men who do this as well. It also seems that the very tall and the very short are much less likely to have this affliction, presumably because they know it's ridiculous and baseless. It's extremely creepy to me, frankly. I have seen with my own eyes countless times where people will assume to an absolutely SILLY degree (not just toward myself) that a taller person is UBER capable and a short person is clueless and practically disabled, and that's about ANYTHING at all~ and a heavy person is clueless and silly compared to a "physically fit" person who they treat as (again) UBER capable, and very thin (especially thin, tall people) get treated like they're unstable, stupid, and/or about to break like a twig compared to a heavier or average height person. Phenomenal ignorant and SCARY, frankly, and evidence that many humans are much less sentient and aware of reality than they seem to believe.

The REALLY interesting thing about it is how they don't apply this to THEMSELVES. They will project "incapable", "frail", "weak", "clueless" or "childlike" onto a person who's shorter than themselves, but mysteriously forget ALL ABOUT THAT when a person who is taller than THEY ARE are talking to them. Interesting how that works...
(Oh and please don't defend yourself, or defend people who do it, it just gives it away that you do it. The meaning of Sentience is Self Aware, if you're sentient, you can CONTROL your monkey instincts and NOT DO THEM, in the same way I control mine by refraining from knocking out the teeth of those who are blatantly disrespectful to my face because they think it's "okay" because I'm smaller than them.)