Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse through a Spiritual Lens: Who is in Charge?

“Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism” [1]. There are untold numbers of people who have been effected by, to varying degrees, by a narcissistic person. Simply put, the term “narcissism” refers to a psychopathology of self-centeredness. It is important to acknowledge that the term “self-centeredness” is often used in a negative capacity – a character defect to be banished from self. Self-centeredness is a part of the human condition, and to a degree, it is required for healthy functioning. This can be observed in young children, expressing their needs. Assuming healthy adults are the caretakers, the caretaker meets their needs, and one can say that the little child is the center of their world – their needs are the priority of the caretaker. As the child ages and matures, this self-centeredness is disciplined and tempered to include “the other”,and a more mature way of advocating for one’s needs. For a person to function well in life, have meaningful and productive relationships, and maintain accurate self-esteem; concern for others is a crucial ingredient. There are those people, however, that operate based on their belief that the world does, and SHOULD, revolve around them. This is evidenced by how they relate to people, and what they withhold from others: close family, friends, co-workers, the world in general. Their level of demand for constant admiration, approval, gratification, and subservience of “other” to meet all their needs, are frozen in time and in front of the mirror. Such people are referred to as narcissists. The narcissist is known to pursue only what serves him/her, and has little genuine regard for the needs and/or suffering of the other. The focus of this paper, is on providing both empathy for the victim of a narcissistic relationship, and some thought-provoking questions and exercises, for which the survivor can utilize for their recovery and growth.

Author(s): Rivka A. Edery