Carl Jung states, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” For an Empath, this quote is one I carry close to my heart. Empath’s possess God’s healing power of love, but before it can be harnessed to help, the Empath must have gone back inside his or her self and made sure that their own darkness has been made concious. I have never helped someone and not received knowledge of myself in the process as an added gift. It is never an accident who we are brought together with in our life’s journey – and in the beginning, sometimes neither are happy about the arrangement at all.
Empaths are emotional conductors. Our intuitive abilities allow us to first recognize the darkness in other’s subconscious mind. Once that darkness has become conscious to the other, the Empath is able to reflect his or her borrowed light into the other’s darkness similar to the way that light bounces off a mirror. It is no different than when the sun gives its light to the moon that, in turn, is independently able to light up the entire night sky. It is donated energy that expects nothing in return. It is a natural process, but the sun is the sun and the moon is the moon. That will never change and Empaths that deal with this type of “Shadow Work” should harbor realistic expectations.
In this context, I will chronicle my healing expierences with suffers of Narcissist Personality Disorder. First and foremost, if an Empath ever encounters a Narcissist, my best advice to you is to run unless you are fully aware what you are getting into. If you can not run as the relationship is not one of choice (a boss or family member for example), and you are in a position to help and so choose it (assuming that the Narcissist is self-aware to talk about the subject), this post can be a stepping stone to understand the complexity of the Narcissist psychology.
Before I delve into the practical applications, it is important to understand how Narcissistic Personality Disorder came into being. Jung provides the structural foundation of NPD, which, in truth, is the brother of Multiple Personality Disorder. More specifically, Jung formulated the Archetypes model of psycology by which our unconscious minds are fragmented and structured into different “selves” in an attempt to organize how we experience reality and others in different social settings. Think of these Archetypes as different personalities if you will. Two of Jung’s major Archetypes are The Persona and the Shadow that play a very big part in understanding the Narcissist.
Distinct from our inner self, the Persona defines an image or identity that we wish to project to others that is either influenced by ideals of social roles or the collective unconscious. In Latin, Persona can be translated as a personality or the mask of an actor.
The Persona is an idealized image of power that if one identifies too much with, leads to inner conflicts and a repression of one’s own individuality (i.e. Narcissism), which Jung claimed could be resolved through individuation.
The Shadow is an archetype that forms part of the unconscious mind that is made up of repressed thoughts that are primordial in nature like instincts and impulses and negative elements such as lustful desire, control, perversions and intense fears. In the shadow, we experience disconnect and a lack of awareness about the self. This darker side of the self represents the primordial ether of darkness, chaos, and nothingness that is guarded from the outside world as it can be a source of anxiety or shame. This is the ultimate unknown of which fear is bread that erupts into an intense terror that can be felt in the heart like an icepick so cold it burns. Jung believed that that everyone possess a Shadow that is a potent source of intense creative, untamed energy: it is raw desire personified. On the flip side, it also includes positive traits, such as empathy, that may not fit into the toughness that a person wants his or her Persona to reveal.
Just like Adam and Eve, we are all born pure and innocent as we were made in God’s image, but some point during our childhood development, the darkness of this world makes itself evident that we are in a fallen state. Thus, the child begins to learn right from wrong from our caregivers. This ornate sense eventually manifests itself into a deeper knowledge that teaches us to separate thoughts and actions as either good or evil.
“We carry our past with us, to wit, the primitive and inferior man with his desires and emotions, and it is only with an enormous effort that we can detach ourselves from this burden. If it comes to a neurosis, we invariably have to deal with a considerably intensified shadow. And if such a person wants to be cured it is necessary to find a way in which his conscious personality and his shadow can live together.” –Carl Jung; Answer to Job; CW 11; Psychology and Religion: West and East; Page 1.
If we relate Jung to the Narcissist, we see a young and helpless child who received conflicting messages from caregivers regarding right and wrong actions – the child was never mirrored properly – conversely, the child learns the power achieved by wrong actions furthers the Shadow which feeds the Persona, thus creating the need for Narcissistic Supply from others. Without this basic foundation of acceptable behaviors, the child reverts to a Narcissistic way of thinking where right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right.
The Narcissist child holds great shame based on his or her fear that lurks in the Shadow. This fear humiliates and shames them. In order to bear the burden of this shame, the Narcissist takes control of others as he or she can not relate with them in a normal fashion as the basic conceptions of right and wrong have become emneshed. As every human needs the interaction of others to be fulfilled in life, the Narcissist child at a young age uses the Persona as its identity that he or she believes is worthy of the approval of others, but secretly fears the Shadow will devour the Persona (i.e. the construct or false self). The Narcissist struggles to conform his or her thinking based around the fear of the Persona (i.e. the construct or false self) being devoured by the Shadow (i.e. the creature or the monster). The Narcissist’s True Self becomes nothing more than an object as a projector for the Persona, which conversely renders the Narcissist’s view of others as objects that he or she is entitled to abuse without remorse or empathy.
Individuation and Free Association
In short, Jung believed that the cure to restoring the true self, one must integrate the archetypes from the collective unconscious into one consistent unification to form the True Self. Analytical psychologists may encourage this integration through therapy known as free association.
While merging all personalities into one is often what psychologists recommend in Multiple Personality Disorder, Narcissists have a different form of Multiple Personality Disorder that involves a trinity of three persons in one. Typically, in my experience (which is not in the mental health profession), Multiple Personality Disorder results in some form of trauma where the personalities are created to shield the child from pain. In short, I am of the opinion that Individuation and Free Association can have the opposite intended effects whereby the Narcissist praises himself even more where becoming self-aware i used to further his grandiosity.
In truth, this knowledge is also a cover for how criticized the Narcissist feels by the treatment process as he or she savagely tries to defend the Persona. Naturally, the Persona is not real; therefore, you can understand why the Narcissist is so sensitive about it – there is no self or foundation built on rock.
However, the Narcissist is reliant on the opinion of others. Therefore, if the opinion of others is that they are evil, the Narcissist’s Persona may be unable to recover from the multiple boughts of Narcissistic Injury and may eventually adopt the title of evil and use it as an excuse to inflict more manipulative mind games on unsuspecting people.
Who Cures the Narcissist?
1 John 4:8: God is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
As we have talked about in this post, the Empath that undertakes this mission (which should not be taken lightly), should know he or she is God’s agent.
But in order to start changing the behaviors of the Narcissist, you must love the Narcissist for who they are. That includes them being self-aware about their predicament (which is a journey unto itself). They will hoover you. They will harass you. They will devalue you. In some cases, you even may fear for your life. Is it worth it? I can’t say that I think it is, but that is not my choice to make: I just warn you of the realities.
From Child to Man
1 Corinthians 13: 9-13 describes the Narcissist to a tee and tells us the answer.
However, the Narcissist is a child with the power of the adult. They talk, think and reason like a child, but with the power of an adult. Most children become a man, but in the Narcissist’s case, that never happened.
The Empath must begin to parent the Narcissist. I pre-warn you that this is not easy even in a child let alone an adult.
How to Parent a Narcissist
Incredibly, when you peel off all the onion layers of a Narcissist, one of the main issues, if not the main issue, is Narcissists lack effective problem solving skills. Their entire way of thinking is flawed. For some reason or the other in most cases, a parent either did nothing or trained the child how to think this way and no one questioned it. The older the Narcissist, the harder for change. However, even if you are dealing with a twelve-year old suffering from being trained in the way of a Narcissist, I assure you that you are still under no less stress other than physical safety is hopefully not as big of a concern.
Choices Have Consequences
The Narcissist must learn that choices have consequences. If they do something manipulative in order to gain attention, you can not reward them by providing them attention. You state: “You chose to treat me that way, and I will not talk to you until you choose to treat me better.”
You never reward negative behavior, but you do reward positive behavior. As Narcissist’s are highly manipulative, you also have to be very smart and diligent with enforcement. The Narcissist will fear that you are abandoning him or her, but because you have chose to stay, you tell them that is not the case, but you also inform them through actions that they are in control of their own actions, but their choices have consequences. There is more that goes into it, but you never try to control or shame the Narcissist, but just stand your ground. You must remain emotionally detached, but firmly state: If you _____, then I ______. This starts teaching them how to problem solve in a more effective manner. However, you must follow through. Narcissist’s are trained manipulators when it comes to manipulating boundaries. You must not let them.
Remember, that your energy will become intertwined with the Narcissist’s emotions, which are dark and turbulent – you will receive their energy and they will receive some of yours. Their energy is intense but fleeting; however, it is a huge burden to bear. Just remember to proceed with caution. This might be something you are sure you want to do and even then, with a Narcissist, there claim to be unable to fully let you go. As your choice is not to abandon them, you may have trouble changing your mind if the Narcissist latches (which he or she will as no one wants to be around them for pro-longed periods of time).
Carl Jung states: “For two personalities to meet is like mixing two chemical substances: if there is any combination at all, both are transformed” – without prayer, mediation, support, and many other things, you will struggle, but if you wish to achieve it, this begins the way. I do not recommend Empath’s who engage in “Shadow Work”, but we too make choices, but please weigh the gravitational effects of such choices for yourself before you take the plunge to try to make the Narcissist’s darkness conscious. In many cases, most efforts will be ineffective, and you could easily get pulled down to the darkness.
However, the darkness we always must seek to overcome is always our own. You cannot defeat your own darkness unless you are faced with it. It is a choice.