Can Narcissistic People Change?
The question of whether or not someone can change their narcissistic behavior is one that many people are interested in. Many believe that if they could do so, then it would make them better human beings. However, there are those who feel that this belief is wrong and harmful to others because it causes harm to the person being helped.
If a person cannot change their behaviors, then what purpose does such therapy serve? What good will it accomplish?
In this article we are going to look at some of the issues surrounding the issue of a narcissist changing. We hope that our discussion will shed light on these issues and give insight into why people may hold certain beliefs about a person’s ability to change.
What Is A Narcissist?
A narcissist is defined as “a self-centered, egotistical individual who lacks empathy.” (Wikipedia)
Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by excessive grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. (Wikipedia)
People with narcissistic tendencies tend to:
Have unrealistic expectations of themselves and others. They often see themselves as superior to everyone else.
They have little regard for other people’s feelings or opinions. Their sense of entitlement leads them to expect special treatment from others, which they may not even deserve.
Have a strong sense of arrogance or ego.
Have a tendency to be manipulative or deceitful in order to achieve their own personal goals.
Have little ability to love, often being viewed as selfish and cold. They may appear to have shallow emotions.
These qualities can cause people with these traits to have a myriad of relationship problems. They often do not have meaningful relationships at all.
They may act manipulative or deceitful to gain favors from others. They tend to have little respect for others, so they don’t hesitate to use people.
People who are trying to change their narcissistic behavior often seek treatment. Some narcissists do not realize that there is anything wrong with them.
They may think that they are better than everyone else and expect others to see the same thing.
How Can A Narcissist Change?
There is ongoing debate about whether or not a person can change their personality. There are many people who feel that it is not possible to change who you are at the core. They see personality as something stable and unchanging throughout our lives. This is why psychologists use the word “trait” to describe personality. We all have stable traits that make us who we are.
This concept of personality traits can be confusing because it might seem like our behavior changes over time. What we do and say often changes depending on the situation that we are in.
It can feel like our behavior is different in different settings, but there are always aspects of our personality that remain stable. These are personality traits.
The area of psychology known as personality studies tries to measure these traits in people. The “Big Five” model of personality is one of the more commonly used models to describe personality.
The “Big Five” describes personality in terms of five broad groups of traits:
Openness: This category deals with how original and imaginative a person is. Some examples of this trait include appreciation for art and emotion.
Conscientiousness: This category involves self-discipline, organization, and thoughtfulness. Some examples of this trait include planning ahead and reliability. Extroversion: This category involves how social and outgoing a person is. Some examples of this trait include enthusiasm and talkativeness. Agreeableness: This category involves how people treat others. Some examples of this trait include kindness and empathy. Neuroticism: This category involves how people respond to emotional situations. Some examples of this trait include sensitivity and anxiety
Many people have opinions about whether or not personality is stable. There are many reasons why a person may seem to behave differently over time.
The situation that they are in can change their behavior. In addition, people may also respond differently to the same situation. These differences can change our behavior as well.
In addition, people may acquire new skills and knowledge over time. They may simply respond differently because of this change.
There is ongoing debate about whether or not personality is stable, but many professionals believe that personality is stable in adults. This is why many seek treatment for personality disorders.
Can a Narcissist Change?
Many people have strong opinions about whether or not a narcissist can change their behavior. Some people believe that it is possible for a person to change their personality traits. They point out that people may learn new skills and knowledge over time. This may allow someone to respond differently in a situation because of this change.
Others argue that people who are diagnosed with personality disorders typically do not change. They point out that there is ongoing debate about whether or not personality is stable.
People with a personality disorder do not change their personality traits because the disorder affects how a person acts on a regular basis.
There are some theories that claim narcissists can change over time. One of these is known as the Psychodynamic theory.
This argues that people experience conflicts throughout their lives. These conflicts may be resolved, but this may lead to other conflicts arising instead. The Psychodynamic theory argues that people typically resolve their conflicts throughout their lives.
As a result, a person diagnosed with a personality disorder may change as they experience new conflicts. The new conflicts may be the reason a person’s behavior changes over time.
Another possible explanation is that the person learns new strategies to deal with conflict as they age. Both of these theories suggest that some change is possible for a person diagnosed with a personality disorder.
Do Narcissists Want to Change?
Whether or not a narcissist wants to change is another common question. There are some theories that argue if a person wants to change then they can. One of these is the Social Learning theory. This theory argues that people can learn from their mistakes and change their behavior based on these new experiences.
For example, a person may become depressed after a breakup. At first, they may be angry and upset about the situation.
Over time, they may realize the need to change their perspective. They may start thinking about what they can do to improve their situation and learn from the experience.
As a result of this experience, they may start to wonder how they act towards others. They may start to seek out new friends and experiences that make them happy.
This is an example of how someone may change in response to conflict or difficult situations. This is why some believe a person can change because they can learn from past experiences.
Others argue that a person cannot or should not try to change. One of these is the Psychoanalytic theory.
According to this theory, people do not have complete control over their behavior. The theory states that our behaviors are developed at a young age and reinforced over time. These behaviors become part of a person’s personality.
For example, a child who is given everything they want does not learn the consequences of their behavior. As a result, this may lead to them becoming an adult that acts in the same way.
This behavior may be reinforced when people give into the child’s desires as they are growing up. This means that they will rarely experience any conflict or difficulty throughout their life.
The Psychoanalytic theory argues that a person does not have complete control over their behavior. Furthermore, this theory claims that a person should not try to change.
The theory states that if someone changes their personality or tries to learn from their mistakes, then they will be less happy. Instead, the person should embrace who they are and learn to deal with any conflict or difficult situations they experience.
Does Human Nature Change?
Another common question is whether human nature changes over time. According to the Social Learning theory, human nature does change over time. This theory argues that our environment shapes who we are and how we act. For example, a person living in a rural area may be more inclined to shoot a gun. This is because guns are necessary tools for hunting in their area. In comparison, a person living in a city may be less inclined to shoot a gun. This is because guns are not necessary for their day-to-day life.
The Social Learning theory argues that our environment determines how we act and shape our personality. As a result, our personality can change over time based on the environment we are exposed to.
For example, a person may become less trusting of others after being betrayed by several close friends. On the other hand, a person may become more trusting of others after being betrayed by several acquaintances.
The Psychoanalytic theory argues that human nature is unchanging. This theory claims there are events that happen during our childhood that shape who we are.
As we grow older, these events do not change and remain with us for the rest of our lives. Furthermore, this theory claims that people should not try to change who they are. Instead, people should embrace who they are, which includes their past experiences.
The Nature vs Nurture Debate
For years, the debate of whether human nature is changeable or not has been a topic of discussion among scientists and psychologists. This debate falls under the heading of the “nature vs nurture” argument.
The “nature vs nurture” argument states that a person’s behavior and personality are determined by: nature (biology), or nurture (environment).
In other words, are we born a certain way or do our experiences shape who we are?
According to the Psychoanalytic theory, our personalities and behavior are determined before birth. As a result, personality and behavior cannot be changed because it is a result of something that happened during prenatal development. In other words, our personalities and behavior are set in stone.
The Social Learning theory states that our behavior and personality are shaped by our environment. In other words, our behavior is a result of the experiences we have throughout life.
As a result, our behavior and personality can be changed because they are determined by external factors.
The Humanistic theory takes aspects from both the Psychoanalytic theory and Social Learning theory. According to this theory, our personality is determined before birth.
However, our behavior and mannerisms are still shaped by our environment.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Narcissistic leaders by MF Solomon – 1992 – WW Norton & Company
The long-term organizational impact of destructively narcissistic managers by M Maccoby – Harvard business review, 2000 – academia.edu
A philosophical critique of the concept of narcissism by R Lubit – Academy of Management Perspectives, 2002 – journals.aom.org
The impact of pathological narcissism on psychotherapy utilization, initial symptom severity, and early-treatment symptom change: A naturalistic investigation by ET Gendlin – Patologies of the Modern Self, 1987 – focusing.org
Narcissistic leaders by WD Ellison, KN Levy, NM Cain, EB Ansell… – Journal of Personality …, 2013 – Taylor & Francis