Aren’t all addicts narcissists? Does narcissism go away in recovery? If the narcissist is your child, do you go along with their delusions to keep the peace, or do you present them with reality even if you become the target of their wrath?
Yes and no. Addicts become narcissistic but many retain the capacity to be honest with themselves and can restore their conscience if they humble themselves and do the necessary work. A pure narcissist lacks the capacity to be honest and is therefore a sociopath. Permanent narcissists have a chip missing regardless of drug and alcohol abuse. They are so shattered, twisted, desperate and depraved, there is no getting better short of divine intervention. Some people are simply evil and lack basic goodness. Pure narcissists or sociopaths fall into this category.
For an addict, narcissistic behavior can certainly go away in recovery if the addict has committed to a life of spiritual growth and engages in rigorous and consistent action. Actions that remove narcissism include service to others, amends to those we’ve hurt, and written moral inventory, which teaches us that all resentment, fear and misconduct is born within. We learn how it arises and by dissolving our false perceptions and our wrongs in a given situation, we become accountable and responsible for everything in our lives. We begin to mature once again and become able to see that what we do has consequences, and that others suffer too. We learn that we are not unique or special, that our lives and our pain are no more important or intense than anybody else’s. We become human again, if we indeed have that fundamental capacity to be honest.
I have great experience with a narcissist and I have seen first hand how going along with their delusions always comes back to haunt and really just perpetuates the narcissism. It is essentially a passive acceptance of their very sick and often very cruel behavior. In my view, boundaries must be set. I agree that there is no point in arguing with a narcissist since they completely lack the ability to see anything or take any responsibility, but we must not allow them to treat us abusively.
Personally, I stood up to a narcissist and was viciously attacked. Every inch of my life was ripped to shreds. Lies, attacks and outrageous stories were told to everybody I know. Sure it was extremely unpleasant but nothing compares to suffering the presence of the narcissist. They are now out of my life and removing this toxic evil is the best thing I could have done.
Where it is your child, you must dig deep and decide what to do on your own, but one thing we can always do short of removing them altogether is to set very strict boundaries around their illness. When they begin to manipulate or become verbally abusive, disengage at once and keep your distance until they forget what they have done, as they surely will, as that’s what narcissists do – hurt people, take no responsibility, and then forget all about it. Not a care in the world.