Submitted by CuriousFellow on
Printer-friendly version

I'm posting some messages sent to me with the author's permission. This was in response to the thread at

Hello CuriousFellow,

I was reading your blog and reflecting on something I've been studying lately, human developmental levels. I could not explain it to you though, but you can read all about it at the blog I'm linking you to below.

A little tidbit from the blog:

"Can you have a relationship with a narcissist? It depends on how you define “relationship.” I was in quite a few ”relationships” during my narcissist days, but none of them really worked. In fact, they were a constant source of suffering–for me, and for those in relationship with me. Narcissists don’t really have a defined sense of self because they have no perspective on themselves–despite the ironic fact that they are very self-focused. A true sense of self, along with the ability to see and appreciate the perspective of another, is necessary for a relationship.

Narcissists have little if any ability to see the perspective of the other person, so their associations with others aren’t relationships so much as they are opportunities to meet their own needs, or dependencies (as a child is with his or her parents). They are busy trying to meet their own needs, and are only willing to meet those of the other person to the degree that doing so helps them get what they want. This does not make for intimacy or real love.

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, however, you have to realize that there’s a reason why you chose that person. You may be one yourself, or you may have some other psychological problem that led you to that person. If, for instance, you’re afraid of intimacy (perhaps your first intimacy, with your parents, was painful, or you were in some way abandoned, and you’re guarding against getting close to keep that pain from happening again), you’ll probably choose a partner who also can’t be intimate. This protects you from what you’re afraid of–getting too close and then losing the person, or being hurt in some other way."

Another tidbit:

"The failure to differentiate body and mind–being stuck in the body (being it rather than having it)–results in narcissistic or borderline disorders, which pretty much always continue into adulthood. Another potential pathology at this stage (if certain traumas happen) is at the opposite end of the spectrum. If, instead of a failure to differentiate mind from body, there is too much differentiation, it can lead to dissociation from the body. Instead of transcending and including the body (the healthy form of the developmental shift at this point), aspects of the body are repressed (for instance, sensuality and emotional-sexual feelings).

This repression creates neurosis. Repressed physical urges return in a disguised form, called neurotic symptoms: anxieties, depression, obsessions, etc. Healing of these symptoms happens only as the repression is relaxed and the person recontacts and befriends the body and all its impulses and urges. Being stuck in the body (being it rather than having it), then, results in narcissistic or borderline disorders, and repressing the body results in neurosis.

(By the way, just as an aside, a general rule about developmental pathologies: the earlier the trauma, the more difficult it is to heal–psychosis is more difficult to heal than are narcissism and borderline disorders, which are more difficult to heal than neurosis, which is more difficult to heal than still later traumas)."

If you do feel inclined to read the blog (there is MUCH more to it than it may seem from the excerpt), you may find it a little bit hard to "navigate" (to read all about the developmental levels you have to read many of the posts Bill's written and not all posts are entirely on topic - you can skip the parts that aren't, but skim through so you don't miss anything on the developmental levels incorporated into the posts), but don't let it discourage you - you'll figure it out and it will be worth it. :)

I hope this will help you make sense of things, and see why Zoe is acting the way she is.

You deserve the best.

I replied,

I greatly appreciate your note. My thought about it is, yeah, there might be some narcissism in me and/or Zoe. But I'm not sure that simply hanging a label on the condition is very useful. The question I'm interested in is, is there a way to repair our relationship? Can we get to a point where we can express love and affection for each other most of the time?

She replied,

Glad to hear you liked my note. There's a narcissist in all of us, that wasn't really my point. And it takes some time to study the subject I suggested so I understand that you might want to save it for another time. It just makes a lot of sense to me now after having studied it why people act in the different way they do, and this takes away a lot of stress for me internally. I am still integrating what I've learnt though.

A suggestion would be to get one of Gay and Kathelyn Hendricks books, either Conscious Loving or Lasting Love, and give a copy to Zoe. OR, if you don't think she'll appreciate that or read it, just read it yourself and apply it to your relationship. It's supposed to work even if only one of the partners do it. Go figure... :)

Wishing you the best!

That part about "It's supposed to work even if only one of the partners do it" is intriguing to me. I've observed that myself about Morita marriage therapy - there are benefits even when only one partner practices it.


Everything I've read about NPD says that there is no cure. A split between real self and false self occurs very early in the development of the child who develops this personality disorder. They will go through life desiring true connection but are fated to never achieve it--it would require reliquishing the false self, which by the time they are adults, functions well, and is an integral part of the structure of their psychology. People with NPD tend to attract co-dependent types who have an inordinant tolerance for bad behavior, as well as a desire 'fix' the other. Being co-dependent *is* curable, though. If the goal is to experience life as an authentic self in relationship to another authentic self, this is possible to achieve with the right partner, and with some rewiring of old ineffective relationship habits developed in childhood. -Galileo