Tony Brown, a man diagnosed with NPD who was cured and went on to help other people with this disorder find hope and healing through a therapy called “attitudinal healing,” in which the patient learns to replace fear with thoughts of love, wrote this article explaining what factors affect recovery and get in the way of it.
Tony Brown died suddenly in 2008 of a heart attack, not long after he was healed. Although his forum, HealNPD, is no longer active, all the original information is still there. According to one source, Brown said he still felt a certain “pull” to act in narcissistic ways, but was able to recognize when this happened and not act on that pull.
I disagree with him that all people with NPD “without exception” can be healed. If self awareness and willingness (which is contingent on self awareness) are both absent, a person with NPD is incurable. I also don’t think narcissists high on the spectrum or those who have malignant narcissism (NPD with ASPD or psychopathic traits) have much hope of healing (and probably wouldn’t want to anyway).
Some of the Factors that Affect NPDers Chance at Recovery
By Tony Brown
Healing is possible without exception for all persons who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Having this condition is not an excuse not to take responsibility for yourself or justify destructive acts simply because that is what NPDers do. In this article we will look at some of the factors that may influence how successful those with this condition may be in achieving healing.
The first variable is whether you are in a crisis. It is common for persons to seek therapy either during or in the aftermath of an emotional crisis, i.e., divorce or end of a relationship, being terminated from work, substance abuse, or death of someone close to you. It is common for a person going through such a crisis to see how they have limited access to their feelings and have acted in destructive ways throughout their life.
Coming to this place of awareness is an important step as it often leads persons to seek some form of treatment. Working through the crisis is essential though it is just the beginning of the healing journey. Very often a person will believe that they never had these feelings, or lack of feelings, or never acted destructively prior to this crisis. They may believe that resolving this crisis is the entire work of healing when in reality it is just the beginning for those of us who truly have NPD. If you stop looking and working on yourself once the immediate crisis is over there is a very good chance another crisis will come, and another one after that until you allow yourself to look at the whole picture of your life.
In reality it is almost impossible to do the actual work of healing until you have been able to achieve a peaceful or productive resolution to your crisis. A person in crisis often believes that their pain is so overwhelming that whatever their crisis may be it defines everything about their true identity. They are unable to step back and look at the good points in their life or see how their pain is not all consuming. If you truly have NPD it is essential to keep working on yourself after the crisis has passed so you can free yourself from this seemingly endless cycle of one crisis after the other.
Another important factor in your being able to recover is whether you have a support network of family and friends. It is emotionally draining to face yourself at the level required to recover from NPD. Having persons around you who can offer support away from therapy can be helpful in relieving some of the stress that is almost guaranteed to come along with therapy. Your therapist will expect you to not become overly dependent upon him and begin developing a life where he is playing less of a role in daily living. These persons don’t have to be well versed on NPD. You might be able to begin developing such a network among family, friends, perhaps coworkers, ministers of members of real world support groups. The most important thing is they are compassionate listeners who are not judging you as flawed or evil. Once such a network is established you need to allow yourself to trust these people and to call upon them both when life is feeling painful and when things are going well and you just want to establish more of a connection with other people.
The matter of paying your therapy bill can in some cases be a factor in the overall success of your recovery. Accepting responsibility for your own bill is an essential step in becoming a functional adult. Sometimes a well intending friend of romantic partner may offer to pay all or some of your bill thinking this will help you get passed your emotional dysfunctions. If this is for a short period with a clear understanding you are going to pay them back and than assume full responsibility for all further costs this is probably not a problem. However, if you are making no effort to find a job or do whatever is needed to get yourself in a position of responsibility this has a very high risk of stalling rather than enhancing your healing.
This is a point that is as important for your friends and family to understand and accept as it may be for you. They may believe that whatever it takes to get you into therapy is worth it to them, including paying for your sessions. Once again if this is a short term solution it may not be harmful. However, the sooner you are paying for your own therapy the sooner you will have a personal investment in the process. Such an investment will, hopefully, inspire you to work harder and get the most of the therapy you can afford. You are entitled to heal but you are not entitled to a free ride where others are paying your way. Addressing feelings of entitlement is one of the areas many NPDers face and this is just one of the areas where it plays out in your practical daily living. If you are serious about your therapy and appear to be making progress you may find your therapist is willing to make payment arrangements. If you fail to honor such arrangements or if they become aware someone else is paying your therapy bill they may decide to terminate the partnership.
Arguably the biggest variable in your recovery is how much do you want to heal? Are you only in therapy to appease a spouse, family, or maybe a coworker or boss? If so the chances of your therapy bringing any true healing ranges between slim and none. You may be able to develop some new skills, but in all likelihood true recovery will remain elusive. Therapy will require you to experience extreme pain, view areas of your life that will make you very uncomfortable, and will drain you at physical and emotional levels. Being able to sustain yourself and do this work will require a deep commitment unlike any you’ve likely ever made at any other juncture in your existence. It most definitely can be accomplished but you have to want it almost more than you have ever wanted anything before. You will have to push yourself to keep going even when you want to stop. How well you are able to experience and resolve conflicts, depression and other events throughout your therapy will depend to a large extent on this single question: How much do you really want it?