What is the Narcissist’s Prayer?

This blog post will explore what the Narcissist’s Prayer is and what a Narcissist is. 

We will also explore what Narcissistic personality disorder is, what are the risk factors of this disorder, and the treatment options and outlook for people who have been affected by Narcissistic personality disorder.

What is the Narcissist’s Prayer?

The Narcissist’s Prayer is one simple verse that describes the cognitive patterns of a person who is a narcissist. 

Though the writer of this verse is unknown and unidentified, it has made rounds on the internet with many people identifying with the way the prayer describes some of the behaviours of a narcissist.

The prayer itself describes many of the unhealthy patterns of interpersonal behaviours of a narcissist such as:

  • Denial
  • Gaslighting
  • Minimising their poor behaviour
  • Blame shifting 
  • Shame Dumping.

The prayer goes like this:

That didn’t happen.

And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.

And if it was, that’s not a big deal.

And if it is, that’s not my fault.

And if it was, I didn’t mean it.

And if I did, you deserved it. (TheLifeDoctor)

Supriya McKenna for The Life Doctor has expanded the underlying meaning of the prayer while connecting it to various unhealthy patterns of behaviour and reasonings that a narcissist generally lives by. 

In the first line that goes “That didn’t happen.” We see the classic denial where someone attempts to rewrite what has happened and undermine the experiences of others which is a classic behaviour in narcissism. 

Oftentimes, this is done to appear perfect and anything that disrupts that is often denied and swept under the rug as they at times cannot accept their own humanness. 

“And if it did, it wasn’t that bad ” is another line that makes a motion towards minimisation where people diminish the concerns of other people as well as the experience of others. 

They do so when various things that people confront them with do not serve them a purpose. This minimising behaviour is also done to cover up their own mistakes, other’s achievements, other people’s problems etc so as to assert control and stick to their imagined idea of perfection and flawlessness. 

Now, Gaslighting is another aspect of a narcissist’s interpersonal behaviour and the line “And if it was, that’s not a big deal” highlights that. 

This line illustrates how they usually deny other people’s reality by making them doubt their own memory and their own experiences. This forces the other people to remain trapped in the ideas and narrative of the narcissist while keeping their own voice of reason diminished. 

“And if it is, that’s not my fault.” Blame Shifting is what this line nods towards which is a special kind of behaviour that is present in narcessfits since they cannot take the blame for anything because if they do then they are prone to mistakes and error. 

Taking accountability is almost like admitting to this flawed existence of human beings, which will disrupt the false persona that they project onto the world so they play the victim so as to avoid fault. 

“And if it was, I didn’t mean it” is a line that powerfully describes how a narcissist cannot bear blame nor can they admit guilt and apologise for their mistakes. It brings shame and humiliation that they cannot bear and to them is like an existential dilemma that they must avoid at all cost. 

Projection is another issue that arises when interacting with a narcissist. The line, “And if I did, you deserved it.” describes how people transfer their feelings of blame, shame, etc, so that they can avoid feeling the same.

What is Narcissistic personality disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is one of the 10 personality disorders that has been recognised by the American Psychological Association in their Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders.

This personality disorder is characterised by an inflated sense of self and an intense need for admiration from others of their own perceived grandiose sense of self.

People with this disorder often struggle with their interpersonal relationships as well as their own perception of their lives and may become genuinely upset when they are not given praise and attention from others because they genuinely believe that they deserve it. 

Other’s often see them as conceited, do not enjoy being around them, and are often observed to be demanding and at times emotionally abusive. 

In the United States, the prevalence rate is approximately 0.5-5% of the US population based on statistics from  community samples. 

However, in clinical settings, it is more prevalent between 1-15% and often has high comorbidity with other mental disorders. 

Narcissistic personality disorder often coexists with other mental disorders such as other personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder which can make the diagnosis of this personality disorder difficult. 

People with this type of personality disorder struggle with various types of Narcissism- predominantly two types are common and arise from different childhood experiences and often dictate how they relate to other people and the interpersonal relationships themselves. 

  • Grandiose Narcissism is the type where people think highly of themselves and tend to be elitist in their behaviour. 

They are often a result of people who were treated as superior or made to believe that they were superior during their early developmental years due to which these expectations were also carried into adulthood.

Those with grandiose narcissism are often observed to be aggressive, dominant, and tend to exaggerate their importance without much to actually show for. 

  • Vulnerable Narcissism is another type that is often a result of childhood neglect and abuse where people with this type often use narcissistic behaviours as a way to protect themselves from getting their feelings hurt. 

These people are often sensitive and they oscillate between feelings of superiority and inferiority when compared to others and often get offended or anxious when they are not treated with high regard. 

What are the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic personality disorder?

Per the DSM-5, NPD criteria for diagnosis includes:

  • A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (fantasy or behaviour), high need for admiration, and at times a lack of empathy, This often manifests at the beginning of early adulthood.
  • They often have a grandiose sense of self-importance and tend to exaggerate achievements and expect to be recognised as superior with or without the actual achievements. 
  • They are often preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, perfect love, or beauty. 
  • They believe that they are special and should associate with people of the same “specialness” since they believe that they can only be understood by people of this calibre. 
  • They require excuses admiration in their relationship and have a sense of entitlement, 
  • They are often exploitative and take advantage of others to meet their needs and wants. 
  • They are unsympathetic and are unwilling to recognise the needs of others, 
  • They are often envious of other people. 
  • They are seen to be arrogant and haughty. 

These criterias are often observed long term from young adulthood and persist over carious settings and context, 

They often cause interpersonal problems and can hinder their personal and professional lives while also leading them to develop an unhealthy sense of self. 

What are the treatment options available for Narcissistic personality disorder?

As of recent years, there are no approved psychological and pharmacological treatments for Narcissistic personality disorder. 

However, most of the treatments that are being followed consist of psychotherapy where the individual learns how to empathise with others and manage their interpersonal relationships. 

In talk therapy, the individual and the therapist collaborate to develop skills and awareness so as to improve one’s professional life, and personal relationships and needs. 

Effort is also made to help individuals recognize their strengths and assets so as to be able to tolerate failures and limitations and cope with self esteem issues. 

Often, it takes time- sometimes even years- to be able to see  improvements in therapy. 

At the moment, there is no medication that directly treats the disorder however if NPD occurs alongside depression or another mental health condition, then appropriate medications may be used to treat the other disorder. 

Another form of coping with this particular personality disorder is to make lifestyle changes such as 

  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and other substances that trigger negative behaviours.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Set boundaries in relationships.
  • Learn how to be mindful.
  • Seek out support groups of people with the same issues.

For this disorder, the prognosis differs depending on the severity of the symptoms and the commitment of the individual for treatment. 

In general, the symptoms of NPD usually improve over time provided there is effort to continue and persist with treatment and make lifestyle changes that allow for healthier ways of maintaining a relationship with others and oneself. 

Conclusion

This blog post has explored what the Narcissist’s Prayer is and what a Narcissist is. 

We have also explored what Narcissistic personality disorder is, what are the risk factors of this disorder, and the treatment options and outlook for people who have been affected by Narcissistic personality disorder.

FAQ related to Narcissist prayer

What can you say to disarm a narcissist?

Here are some things you can do to disarm a narcissist:

  • Do not argue with them about who is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. 
  • Empathise with them but do not take blame. 
  • Use ‘we’ language to include them in whatever happened. 
  • Don’t expect an apology from them.
  • Don’t take the bait when they try to use anger to stress their needs and wants. 
  • Remember to put yourself first no matter what the situation might be.

What happens when you give the narcissist the silent treatment?

The silent treatment is a passive-aggressive behaviour where the individual actively chooses silence to communicate a message. 

It is usually an ineffective way to communicate and move past conflicts as it conveys a negative message to the other person. 

When it is used on a narcissist it is highly likely that they will become more aggressive and push to assert their points of views and when they do not get the reaction they expected, they might become even more anxious and agitated.

How do you break a narcissistic ego?

Ten things you can do to humble someone who appears to be narcissistic is:

  • Accept them and their flaws actively.
  • Speak up against their behaviours that are harmful.
  • Set boundaries and assert your own needs.
  • Expect pushback when you set boundaries.
  • Find support from other people who can empathise with you.

What do narcissists fear the most?

Narcissists are afraid of realising that they are ordinary and flawed like everyone else. Beneath their grandiose behaviours, ways of thinking, they are often extremely insecure of their own sleeves and their own lives and often go out of their way to deny and suppress the fear of being ordinary and flawed.

What happens when a narcissist knows you figured them out?

When a narcissist feels that they are exposed or when the narcissist knows you have figured them out, they will go to various lengths that will help them avoid accepting their truths no matter how blatant the truth is. 

They will deny, gaslight, shame, blame, and even accuse others of something else that they believe will help them avoid reality and the truth of their own lives. 

References

McKenna.S. Narcissist’s prayer. The Life Doctor. Retrieved on 26th December 2021. https://www.thelifedoctor.org/the-narcissist-s-prayer

Narcissism: Symptoms and Signs. WebMD. Retrieved on 26th December 2021. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/narcissism-symptoms-signs

Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Healthline. Retrieved on 26th December 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder

Mitra P, Fluyau D. Narcissistic Personality Disorder. [Updated 2021 May 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556001/

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