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What to do if Your Friend has Narcissistic Personality Disorder

written by: LotusSnow • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 9/26/2010

Friendships are tough enough to maintain and nourished let alone friendships with people who have personality disorders. When your friend has narcissistic personality disorder, it is hard on both you and them. It can be tough but they are still people and we need to find ways to help them.

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    How to help your friend who has NPD

    Maintaining friendships are not always easy, so when your friend has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) it makes the task even harder. You need to have much empathy and compassion to help your friend.

    1) You need to identify their needs and then address them. Remember actions that may appear spiteful and malevolent are actually your friend’s way of trying to cope with what is happening around them. Narcissists feel bad but they do not know how to do things differently.

    2) When you perceive your friend’s behavior as benign, it will also make you less angry and thus more able to help them problem solve in different situations that they encounter.

    3) Be as neutral as you can to help your friend.

    4) Treat your friend as a person who needs help learning social skills. They do not know how to deal with people; their low self-esteem makes them appear insensitive and unsympathetic as friends, often putting down others so they can appear superior. When experiencing a loss, in their eyes the world is always at fault.

    5) Give your friend feedback by focusing on your feelings only. It will help them focus too. For instance, when you are having an argument, don't focus on “who’s at fault" instead say “I feel perhaps I am not able to communicate properly right now, I need a brief break to gather my thoughts and cool down. I will be back and we can calmly discuss this".

    6) If there are support groups nearby, you can help your friend by encouraging them to join and perhaps you can accompany them too.

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    How to manage your own feelings so you can better help them.

    1) Boundaries are very important when dealing with a friend with NPD. You have to decide how much you are willing to bend. They require excessive admiration in terms of praise, compliments that may demand much of your time and energy; in short they are “high maintenance" friends. They want to be constantly reassured that everything they do is better than others. So set your boundaries and make sure you stick to them.

    2) NPD people are also fond of talking about themselves all the time; their problems will always surpass yours in importance. They are good at making mountains out of molehills. Learn to say “no" and terminate their one-sided conversations. Set time limits on how much of your time are you willing to listen to their “problems". This will help you help them maintain the equilibrium of your friendship.

    3) NPD people are also good at making others feel guilty for not being “good" friends (e.g., being there in their time of need). They have a sense of entitlement, expecting automatic compliance from the people around them. They would not hesitate to emotionally blackmail you into doing something for them. Remember do not succumb to feelings of guilt. In order to help them you have to maintain your sense of self worth.

    4) Avoid getting into arguments with NPD friends; they are usually highly intelligent people and can easily manipulate an argument to favor themselves. Anger will not help you help your friend; it will just lead to frustration. It will not help you or your friend solve problems.

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    Don't Give Up!

    When your friend has narcissistic personality disorder, it is hard on both you and them. Patience is much needed in great quantities.

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    References

    1) What is a Personality Disorder? http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/dsm-iv.html

    2) National Institutes of Health –Narcissistic Personality Disorder http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000934.htm

    3) The Mayo Clinic - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652