The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
Can narcissism be cured?
It's an understandable question; people want to know if they can help their loved one - especially when the answer to the narcissist's problems seems so easy to the people around them. A narcissist's loved ones can see where the narcissist is going wrong, where they are in error and how they are sabotaging themselves or creating problems out of nothing for no reason. The answer seems easy, right? Just stop doing that. But for them, it's not that easy. They can't see the problems the way that you can. Many times, they can't see them at all. That's why the answer to the question of whether narcissism can be cured is no, it cannot be.
Now, narcissism is a spectrum and there is a huge grey area of behavior and levels of narcissism on that spectrum. People who simply have narcissistic traits are often very successful at retraining their minds to react differently. They are often able to change their behaviors and control their emotions. The more narcissistic a person is, the more trouble with these things they are going to have. When a person believes that feelings are facts, when someone denies their feelings or believes their feelings are coming from somewhere outside themselves, when someone is pathologically unable to be wrong, when someone cannot disagree without attacking the other person, when someone's perception is so distorted that they believe things have happened which have not, or that people have motives that they don't have... it is very hard for this person to even understand there is a problem, let alone accept the problem and work on resolving it.
In order to reach a pathological narcissist, you would have to first get past their initial defense which is often anger, hysteria, blaming, projection and gaslighting, along with their talking in circles and illogical accusations, or perhaps the silent treatment and simply shutting down. After you did that, you'd have to penetrate their 2nd defense, which is absolutely iron-clad, pathological denial. If you got through both of those, you'd then have to address and break through all of their cognitive distortions, their skewed perceptions and their chronic, almost delusional negativity and paranoia, their pathological self-hatred and their illogical fears. If you got through all that, you'd then have to somehow convince them that the way they are seeing things is totally wrong and the way you are seeing them is right. Then you'd have to get them to address the probable traumas and pain that caused every single one of these things, if traumas in fact exist and if they can even remember. You'd also have to have years and years of your own to dedicate to this and somehow convince them to stay around while you dismantle the defense mechanism they spent their entire life building. And most importantly, you'd have to accept the fact that even if you did all of that, it probably still wouldn't work. They may change some of their behaviors if you stopped reacting, but even that is not guaranteed.
It's very sad when we see someone we love suffering - and make no mistake, they are suffering - but sometimes there are things we cannot fix. Most people do realize inside that they cannot help their narcissistic loved one, even though they still want to and may continue to try. Others may feel - and be told by the narcissist - that things are unfair because the narcissist is suffering and in pain while others are not. However, it is unhealthy to want something for someone more than they want it for themselves, and suffering yourself does not help the other person. It just creates another victim. It would be like seeing someone drowning and realizing that you cannot save them so you jump in the water and start drowning, too. What is that going to do?
Allowing someone to abuse you because they are hurting is not helping them. It is just devaluing yourself and is an unhealthy way to be. If a person will not engage in an appropriate way to express themselves where they don't hurt others, or if they think hurting others is justified because they are hurting or upset, then they are toxic and that's all.