Narcissism can have a wide range of effects on people suffering from the disorder, complicating their lives and the lives of those around them.
We have all seen narcissists in the real world, but some of us may even have narcissists in our families. This can make life challenging and uncomfortable. A lot of things get worse as we get older. We tend to get weaker, have less energy, and must go to the doctor more.
If you have a narcissistic person, you may wonder if narcissism progresses as people age. In this article, we will explore the relationship between these two topics.
Does Narcissism Get Worse With Age?
Yes, narcissism tends to get worse with age. However, how much narcissism increases will vary from person to person because every situation is unique. Most personality disorders are stable patterns of behavior that tend to affect individuals for a long period of time.
It’s worth mentioning that aging can also bring about personal growth, self-reflection, and increased awareness of one’s behavior. Some individuals with narcissism may develop insight into their patterns and work on changing their behavior and developing healthier coping mechanisms. In such cases, the severity of narcissistic traits may not necessarily worsen with age.
Unfortunately, the personality traits of a narcissist that cause so much trouble for themselves and the people around them do seem to progress as the individual with narcissistic personality disorder grows older. They don’t ever seem to fade away without a lot of intervention.
Here are some of the ways narcissism tends to get worse with age:
Narcissists Become More Entitled
As narcissists age, they become more demanding and expect others to cater to their needs. They believe they deserve the best and may become angry and abusive if they don’t get what they want. They think they deserve the best in all aspects of life and are willing to go to great lengths to fulfill their desires.
They Become More Manipulative
As narcissists age, they become more skilled at manipulation. They use tactics like gaslighting and gathering supporters to further their agenda. Narcissistic parents, in particular, become adept at manipulating their children by creating divisions between them.
They also exploit their age, sharing stories of suffering from guilt-tripping others into doing what they want. They may share stories of physical ailments and emotional hardships to sway those who attempt to establish boundaries or make choices that don’t align with the narcissist’s wishes.
Narcissists Become More Controlling And Paranoid
As narcissists age, their paranoia worsens, leading them to believe everyone is against them. They become hypersensitive to criticism and may exhibit controlling and intrusive behaviors, such as spying on their partner’s communication. Additionally, they may control various aspects of their victim’s life, including social interactions and clothing choices. This escalation of controlling behavior contributes to a toxic atmosphere, impacting everyone involved.
They Become More Self-Centered
As narcissists age, they become more self-centered and obsessed with their appearance and lose opportunities. They feel envious of others’ success, including younger individuals. Their fragile ego struggles to accept that they are no longer in their prime, leading to bitterness and resentment. Unfortunately, they often direct these negative emotions toward those around them.
Narcissists Become More Close-Minded
As narcissists age, they often become more closed-minded and prejudiced. They hold onto outdated views, refuse to consider new information and choose scapegoats to blame for their problems. Their need to feel superior leads them to target specific groups, such as women, and they become even more challenging. They mistakenly believe insulting others will boost their self-worth, but this tactic only deepens their negative behavior, making them even more difficult.
They Become More Critical
Narcissists tend to criticize their victims a lot more in old age. They will pick things to criticize you over, no matter how insignificant. Their expectations become even more ridiculous, and everything upsets them.
They Isolate More
With age, narcissists become more isolated, distancing themselves from family and friends, including their children. Their inability to cope with the reality that others have lives independent of them contributes to this isolation. Moreover, they struggle to accept differing opinions and values held by others. As they grow older, their thinking becomes more rigid, and they develop a black-and-white worldview, further deepening their isolation.
Narcissists Become More Dependent
As narcissists age, they become more dependent on others but struggle to accept help. Due to their declining ability to care for themselves, they require assistance with basic tasks like cooking, cleaning, and managing finances. This dependence can frustrate narcissists, leading them to lash out at those who try to help. Their growing paranoia also contributes to the situation, as they may accuse their caregivers of theft or deception.
Unfortunately, it seems narcissism tends to worsen as the narcissist ages. The personality traits that make dealing with a narcissist uncomfortable all seem to progress. However, with the help of a professional, individuals with NPD can reduce these negative behaviors and learn to live healthier lives.
Does Narcissism Ever Go Away?
No, unfortunately, there is no cure for narcissistic personality disorder. NPD is a lifelong mental health disorder that profoundly affects people in every aspect. As discussed in the previous section, narcissism tends to get worse, not better, as time passes.
Like other personality disorders, Covert narcissism is considered a stable and enduring pattern of behavior. While it is difficult for narcissistic traits to disappear completely, individuals with covert narcissism can experience varying degrees of improvement and growth through therapy, self-reflection, and personal development.
Seeking a professional can help narcissists manage their symptoms and minimize the effects that narcissism has on their lives. However, the narcissist needs to be ready and willing to change.
The extent of improvement also depends on factors such as the individual’s motivation, commitment to therapy, and overall willingness to challenge and change their narcissistic tendencies. Continued self-awareness and ongoing personal growth efforts can lead to significant improvements in managing covert narcissism, allowing for more healthy and fulfilling relationships.
Even though there is no cure, there is still hope. Suppose the narcissist seeks professional support and puts in the hard work needed for behavioral change. In that case, they can see improvements in their narcissistic personality disorder and lives.
What Is The Treatment For Narcissism?
Yes, treatment is available for individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder. Different treatments are available to aid the individual with NPD, such as therapy, self-reflection, and personal development. All of these treatments can positively affect the narcissists’ lives.
The different treatments for an individual with narcissistic personality disorder explore what is happening underneath the narcissistic symptoms and address underlying issues while providing healthy strategies to deal with the struggles of being a narcissist. We can see positive growth when these therapies are combined with a willingness to change.
Let’s explore how each of these treatment options can have a positive effect on narcissistic personality disorder:
Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral or psychodynamic therapy, can help individuals with covert narcissism gain insight, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and foster empathy and self-awareness as they mature.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) assists individuals in recognizing and addressing unhealthy or unhelpful thought patterns. Through this therapy, people gain awareness of these patterns and actively engage in modifying them. Alongside practicing skills with their care provider, individuals undergoing CBT treatment typically receive assignments to complete between sessions, fostering continuous progress and skill development.
- Gestalt therapy
Gestalt therapy is a present-focused psychotherapy that emphasizes current life challenges. In sessions, individuals often role-play social interactions to enhance conflict resolution skills.
- Schema therapy
Schema therapy combines psychotherapy and CBT to assist individuals in recognizing and altering their internal schemas, which are learned patterns of thoughts and behaviors. Individuals with NPD often develop unhealthy schemas early in life. By gaining awareness of these patterns, individuals can actively work towards changing them.
- Transference-focused therapy
Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP) is a structured psychotherapy approach that involves individuals transferring their feelings about someone or something onto their care provider. This provides a safe and guided environment to work through those emotions. TFP can support individuals in changing their perspectives of themselves and others.
- Mentalization-based therapy
Mentalization therapy encourages individuals to reflect on their thinking processes, focusing on how they think. It aims to help individuals recognize the link between their thoughts and behaviors. MBT can also assist individuals with NPD in gaining a better understanding of others, which can be particularly challenging.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a specialized form of CBT that focuses on enhancing emotional regulation, relationship skills, and distress tolerance. While originally developed for borderline personality disorder, DBT has proven effective in treating narcissistic personality disorder. It commonly involves a combination of group and individual therapy sessions.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
There is research indicating a potential connection between NPD and early childhood trauma. EMDR therapy, known for its effectiveness in trauma processing, can be beneficial in treating NPD. This therapy involves guided eye movements while discussing traumatic or negative experiences with a therapist, gradually reducing the distress associated with these events.
- Metacognitive interpersonal therapy
Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy (MIT) breaks down maladaptive behaviors and thought patterns. By increasing self-awareness of these behaviors, individuals with NPD can develop effective coping strategies to bring about change. Therapists in MIT also address any obstacles that may hinder successful treatment.
Like any mental health disorder, progress is slow and takes tremendous effort. However, the covert narcissist can develop the skills necessary to live healthier with the right therapist. There is some light at the end of the tunnel if you are a narcissist or have a narcissistic individual in your life.
In conclusion, narcissistic personality disorder, including covert narcissism, significantly impacts individuals and those around them. While covert narcissism tends to worsen with age, the extent of this progression varies among individuals.
Aging can bring personal growth and increased self-awareness, which may lead some individuals with covert narcissism to develop healthier coping mechanisms and reduce the severity of their narcissistic traits. However, narcissism worsens overall as narcissists become more entitled, manipulative, controlling, self-centered, close-minded, critical, isolated, and dependent.
There is no cure for narcissistic personality disorder. Still, treatments such as therapy, group therapy, boundary setting, self-reflection, emotional regulation, and addressing underlying issues can help individuals manage and mitigate the effects of covert narcissism.
Seeking professional support and actively working towards change can provide hope for individuals with covert narcissism to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.
A resilient writer who has emerged from addiction, depression, and anxiety with a renewed sense of purpose and a powerful voice. His journey has shaped his writing, allowing him to explore the complexities of the human condition intimately. Also blogging about mental health at www.medium.com/@Patrickmeowler