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The answer is: discipline, decisiveness, clear targets, conditioning, justice. The narcissist is product of unjust, capricious and cruel treatment. He is finished product off a production line of self-recrimination, guilt and fear. He needs to take antidote to counter narcissistic poison. Unfortunately, there is no drug which can ameliorate pathological narcissism.
Confronting one's parents about one's childhood is a good idea if narcissist feels that he can take it and cope with new and painful truths. But narcissist must be careful. He is playing with fire. Still, if he feels confident that he can withstand anything revealed to him in such a confrontation, it is a good and wise move in right direction.
My advice to narcissist would then be: dedicate a lot of time to rehearsing this critical encounter and define well what is it exactly that you want to achieve. Do not turn this reunion into a monodrama, group therapy, or trial. Get some answers and get at truth. Don't try to prove anything, to vindicate, to take revenge, to win argument, or to exculpate. Talk to them, heart to heart, as you would with yourself. Do not try to sound professional, mature, intelligent, knowledgeable and distanced. There is no "problem to solve" – just a condition to adjust yourself to.
More generally, try to take life and yourself much less seriously. Being immersed in one's self and in one's mental health condition is never recipe to full functionality, let alone happiness. The world is an absurd place. It is indeed a theatre to be enjoyed. It is full of colours and smells and sounds to be treasured and cherished. It is varied and it accommodates and tolerates everyone and everything, even narcissists.
You, narcissist, should try to see positive aspects of your disorder. In Chinese, ideogram for "crisis" includes a part that stands for "opportunity". Why don't you transform curse that is your life into a blessing? Why don't you tell world your story, teach people in your condition and their victims how to avoid pitfalls, how to cope with damage? Why don't you do all this in a more institutionalised manner? For instance, you can start a discussion group or put up a Web site on internet. You can establish a "narcissists anonymous" in some community shelter. You can open a correspondence network, a help centre for men in your condition, for women abused by narcissists … possibilities are endless. And it will instil in you a regained sense of self-worth, give you a purpose, endow you with self-confidence and reassurance. It is only by helping others that we help ourselves. This is, of course, a suggestion – not a prescription. But it demonstrates ways in which you can derive power from adversity.
It is easy for narcissist to think about Pathological Narcissism as source of all that is evil and wrong in his life. Narcissism is a catchphrase, a conceptual scapegoat, an evil seed. It conveniently encapsulates predicament of narcissist. It introduces logic and causal relations into his baffled, tumultuous world. But this is a trap.
The human psyche is too complex and brain too plastic to be captured by a single, all-encompassing label, however all-pervasive disorder is. The road to self-help and self-betterment passes through numerous junctions and stations. Except for pathological narcissism, there are many other elements in complex dynamics that is soul of narcissist. The narcissist should take responsibility for his life and not relegate it to some hitherto rather obscure psychodynamic concept. This is first and most important step towards healing.
Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and searcheurope.com.
Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com