narcissistic personality disorder and parents - how the hell do you deal?
March 4, 2010 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Can you direct me to some books, online resources, forums, or other tips to deal with an aging parent who has narcissistic personality disorder?

My dad is in his late 60s. He very clearly has narcissistic personality disorder. He has never officially been diagnosed, but my three siblings and I - and those of us in the small circle who are prone to his behavior, all agree he fits it to a T (this is way, way beyond a pride and ego thing for him). He would never go to a therapist or even regular doctor because in his opinion, they should be coming to him for advice. - so this is out of the question.

He has always been judgmental, angry, manipulative, critical, mean, selfish, and concerned only with himself and how other people treat him. He does seem to possess a moderate amount of empathy for total strangers or people he reads about, but possess little to none when it comes to actual people in his life.

My siblings and I have always had a very hard time reasoning with him, and we are all in agreement that we are frustrated beyond belief, in trying to work with him as he faces new challenges in getting older. We've sacrificed a lot of time and energy - and we are often exhausted.

We worry about his driving, his ability to take care of himself (he is living in the same house alone, that once housed 6 + pets). We worry about his sanity, and possibly spiraling down a lonely self-destructive path. He has pushed everyone in his life away from him, and my siblings and I have often been on the brink of completely shutting him out. But we support each other, we vent to each other, and despite our differences, are total allies when it comes to dealing with our dad.

He is getting to a point where possessing the ability to take care of himself with day-to-day things is challenging. He has the financial ability to re-locate to a more suitable house, but will not. Having him move in with one of us would be horrible - he is toxic not just to us, but to my siblings' spouses. He is envious of their spouses and in-laws, and isn't afraid to tell us what horrible and selfish people we are because we have other people and commitments in our lives. He can also be extremely manipulative; we are the only people in his life still in regular contact with him, as he has pushed away all other friends and family. We know that deep down my dad does have a loving and caring side, and that he is mentally ill. But from what I understand about NPD, it's virtually impossible to change, especially as they get older.

We worry about just letting him spiral further into self destruction, but feel helpless as he gets older. We honestly don't know what to do, and it's only recently that we've looked into NPD and discovered that this disorder is exactly him. What kinds of tools and resources are there for dealing with things like this? Other stories, suggestions, or books in dealing with a parent with narcissistic personality disorder?
posted by raztaj to Health & Fitness (2 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry - what a challenge.

I don't have experience with NPD, but with a parent with a brain injury that resulted in a lot of similar challenging behaviors. It's terribly hard.

I would suggest getting some outside experts on your team, if you haven't already. Talk to his doctor, get a recommendation for a good psychiatric MD in your area, maybe a social worker or counselor. This will take the burden off of you and your siblings and you'll get the wisdom of people who are experts in this kind of thing.

You may not be able to change him, but if you can have a concrete plan to handle his inevitable blow ups, and his declining ability to take care of himself, it will help tremendously.
posted by pantarei70 at 10:32 AM on March 4, 2010

Hi raztaj, yesterday, when you favorited that old post of mine, Narcissist-narcissism, I wondered what troubles you were likely dealing with, hoped you were ok. Dealing with one narcissist in one's life is typically just the tip of the iceberg of misery. A fellow Mefite just now gave me a heads up to check out this thread, as detaching from enmeshments with pathological narcissists is my field of knowledge. Disclaimer: I'm not a therapist. No degree of any kind. All opinions that follow are just that, opinions.

What might be most useful to you at this time: the list of resources and links from the wonderfully helpful Controlling Parents site.

I'm so sorry you've had to survive a narcissist father. But am glad you're alive and kicking, looking for constructive, practical solutions and understanding.

You're welcome to join my online support group: Adult Children of Narcissists.

An aged narcissist father is a specific set of problems as compared with a middle-aged narcissist parent. My armchair diagnosis is that due to his reclusiveness, your Ndad is probably suffering from geriatric depression as well as, possibly, Schizoid Personality Disorder traits.

Since he doesn't want to move, then it seems like it might be practical to hire somebody to look in on him daily or every few days, buy groceries, house clean, do laundry, get medications. Waste of time/effort/energy to try and get him to do what you think is sensible. Keep your distance and try to complete your filial obligation with as much emotional detachment as possible. Be aware that, in my experience, narcissists become more malicious, more devious with age, not less. Protect yourself emotionally when you have ANY interaction with him.

Narcissists are, imo, intrigue addicts and will create labarinthine dramaramas, pitting one child/neighbor/relative/person against the other.

At some point he will likely need to be taken to a nursing home, when he is not competent to take care of his own basic needs. He will be furious with this decision, will be a cranky patient and may not live long after being put into a nursing home.

He will never be happy anywhere, nothing will ever be good enough. Accept that.

Narcissists, imo, often outlive many of their other relatives, in spite of their constant complaining and expressions of despair. Be prepared for a very long haul.

After his death there will likely be beyond-the-grave abuse with his estate. Narcissists usually make a huge, manipulative mess after they die, creating post-death divisions and mayhem with any money or property they leave to their children or others. It may be wise for you and your siblings to speak with a probate lawyer in advance.

Narcissist parents typically pedestalize one child and demonize another, creating emotionally painful factions and 'sides' as part of their idealize-devalue cycle, using one child as Primary Narcissistic Supply (the Golden Child who is usually at a distance) and another child as Secondary Narcissistic Supply (the scapegoat, valued-as-devalued child who is paradoxically the 'closest' to the Nparent).

It sounds like you are, in fact, ok. You have other siblings who are on the same page and with whom you can vent. Most importantly, you can 'see' your narcissist father (a "nada" is the detaching name often given to a narcissist father, or Ndad) for who he is. You have already externally detached and have started the arduous process of internally detaching.

A comment about the toxic ray of hope when it comes to detaching from a narcissist but also lots of practically useful links for you in dealing with an Ndad.

My ACON, Adult Children of Narcissists site. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the username and password for access to the control panel and have been unable to update the site, of which it is in desperate need.

Grieving a narcissist ("an N"), written about emotionally detaching from an adult/romantic enmeshment but also useful in relation to an Ndad.

The Axis II Cluster B Personality disorders (NPD, ASPD BPD and the rarely discussed HPD) have, imo, NPD as a default condition, as a root state of being. Reading about any one of the Axis II Cluster B disorders will give you information about the related disorders; ie reading about ASPD will give you some insight into NPD. Often a person with one of the Axis II Cluster B disorders will have co-morbid traits of one of the other Axis II Cluster Bs or other disorders (OCD, compulsivity, depression, mania, any number of addictions, hoarding etc) or other personality disorders (Schizoid Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder etc), as well as any number of other chronic issues, like compulsive spending and/or deep stinginess.

ASPD being discussed on MetaFilter. Possibly pertinent to your 'father' is the topic of partial empathy, or what I call sadistic empathy.

Another mefi thread about dysfunctional family Axis II Cluster B personality disorder issues

As I've said before on MetaFilter I do charge $40 bucks per hour for telephone support/info/education.

Hope something there is useful to you. My loving good wishes to you in your recovery process.
posted by nickyskye at 4:58 PM on March 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

« Older How to label electrical in basement?   |   Puff, puff, dismissed? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.