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Kathy Marshack News

Where on the Spectrum Should Narcissism Fall?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

There are many similarities and overlaps between Asperger’s and Narcissism.Both Narcissism and Autism are on a Spectrum. Narcissism is a personality disorder that ranges from mild to severe. And on the Autism Spectrum, Asperger’s is a high functioning form of Autism. Instead of listing Narcissism and autism on separate Spectrums, should they possibly be classified on the same Spectrum? There is some merit to coming to that conclusion, especially if you’re looking at it through the lens of my Empathy Scale.

I am not alone in seeing the similarities and overlaps between Asperger’s and Narcissism. Dr. Khalid A. Mansoura proposes in an article in the Pan Arab Journal of Psychiatry that narcissistic personality may merit classification as an autistic spectrum disorder.

In her Narcissism or Asperger’s article on Psychology Today, Dr. Susan Heitler concludes, “The bottom line from my perspective is that there is often overlap between these two syndromes.”

Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen suggests that Aspies are narcissistic by the very definition of autism, which means they have Zero Degrees of Empathy, or what I call EmD-0 or Empathy Dysfunction-0. (Read more about Empathy Dysfunction in my new book “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.”)

What does differ is the motivation behind the behavior. The Aspie’s narcissism is not for the purpose of harming you, as is the case for a true dyed in the wool Narcissist. Sure, it feels the same either way, but it’s motivated differently.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to sign up for a low cost video conference on either Tuesday, October 30th or Tuesday, November 6th. It’s entitled: Narcissism - The Dark Side of Aspergers. We’ll be exploring the differences between these two disorders. Your Aspie may never acquire empathy, but they can learn to be polite and gracious and follow social rules. It’s not easy to change ingrained narcissistic behavior, but it is possible with Aspies.

If you’ve wasted too much of your precious life trying to accommodate an ASD narcissist, whether it’s a family member, coworker or neighbor, it’s time to seek professional support in rebuilding the life you’re meant to live. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Do You Know How to Protect Your Family from Bullying?

Monday, August 06, 2018

Do You Know How to Protect Your Family from Bullying? Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. You can’t always go by appearances. A bully might be a sweet-looking girl on the playground, a smiling tourist getting on your tour bus, or a lawyer entering city hall. Yes, children and adults alike are being bullied today.

Bullying is aggressive behavior that is characterized by two basic hallmarks:
1. Repeated and deliberate abuse
2. Exploitation of a power imbalance - preying on those who are weaker

Bullying is divided into four basic types of abuse that often involves subtle methods of coercion, such as intimidation.

Verbal bullying includes:
Teasing, taunting, name-calling
Inappropriate sexual comments
Threatening to cause harm

Social (relational) bullying includes:
Leaving someone out on purpose
Telling other children not to be friends with someone
Spreading rumors about someone
Embarrassing someone in public

Physical bullying includes:
Taking or breaking someone’s things
Making mean or rude hand gestures

Cyber bullying includes:
Posting hurtful or embarrassing comments, rumors, pictures, or videos about someone.
Threatening to hurt someone or telling them to kill themselves.
Creating a harmful webpage about someone.
Doxing - destroying their victim’s privacy by making all personal information public.

Now that bullying is so wide-spread, how are you and your family going to protect yourselves? Bullies don’t play by the rules of good conduct that we learned as children. They register EmD-0 on my Empathy Scale, which means they’ve lost their power of empathy. So we have to learn new rules of conduct to survive their threats. To address this urgent need, I’m writing a series of articles for the US~Observer. The first one is entitled: “Do You Have What it Takes to Survive a Bully?’ In it, I state:

The key to stopping a bully is to become more resilient. Throw out all your preconceived notions of how to stop bullies. Speaking your mind, offering a compromise, hiring attorneys to protect you, trusting that you’ll get your day in court — none of this works. In fact, these tactics make matters worse. Why? Because the psychopath who is after you is fearless. They won’t stop if you prove them wrong. They just double down. They love having you confront them with a “piece of your mind.” If they get you angry, you are off balance and easier to manipulate. Likewise, offers of compromise are viewed by the psychopath as weakness and something to exploit. Lastly, why on earth would you want your day in court? By then (usually two or more years later) the psychopath has totally ruined your life. All you’ll get in court is a stiff legal bill and maybe lose your case despite the truth.

By becoming fearless, pragmatic, doing your research, trusting yourself first, and a few other essentials you can become Resilient, with a capital R. If you’d like to learn more about how you can develop this protective quality, please feel free to download the first chapter of my book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS - How to stop those hellbent on destroying you.” Or you can purchase the book on Amazon.

Read a complimentary issue of the US~Observer here:

15 Indicators that Your Parent May Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Too often children think the abuse and neglect heaped on them by their narcissistic parents is normal. This list of 15 Indicators that Your Parent Has Narcissistic Personality Disorder sheds light on abnormal “parenting” behavior. When was the last time you experienced someone’s self-centered and self-absorbed behavior? I imagine it was fairly recently, wasn’t it? Of course, it’s normal for a certain amount of selfish behavior, such as when adolescents are becoming independent from their parents. But when narcissistic behaviors are pathological, it’s a severe empathy dysfunction called, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), 6.2% of the U.S. population has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (7.7% are men and 4.8% are women.) They report that “NPD was significantly more prevalent among black men and women and Hispanic women, younger adults, and separated/divorced/widowed and never married adults.”

But the numbers don’t matter when you’re a child experiencing the brunt of narcissistic behavior. Too often, children begin believing that they deserve it or have caused it in some way. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Because a child’s sense of self can become so distorted by this empathy dysfunction, the first step to recovery is recognizing the inappropriate behavior that triggered self-doubting and self-condemning emotions. Here are fifteen common behaviors displayed by narcissistic parents that a child should not view as normal.

If your parent…

  1. criticizes your choices, minimizes your feelings and ridicules your desires.
  2. gives gifts with strings attached.
  3. punishes you for disagreeing with them.
  4. puts their needs first even when it deprives or hurts you.
  5. uses guilt or pressure to make you put their needs first.
  6. shows “love” erratically – when they want something or it’s convenient.
  7. behaves unpredictably and create drama, often playing the martyr.
  8. is never satisfied, no matter what you do to please.
  9. wants your trust, but they often disappoint you, without compunction.
  10. makes you feel small by blaming, shaming and intimidating.
  11. exploits your vulnerabilities.
  12. needs to be the center of attention, dominating conversations.
  13. acts like a great parent in public but ignores you at home.
  14. ruins happy times with selfish behavior.
  15. lies, holds grudges and rarely apologizes or admits mistakes.

Do you find similarities to what you experienced in your childhood? This list is not meant as a diagnostic tool, but rather as a signal that it may be time to investigate your situation with the help of a mental health professional. You’ll find help in making the connections between their “parenting” and your own undesirable behaviors today. Your past does not have to define your future.

On my Empathy Dysfunction Scale, narcissists are rated as EmD-1. While narcissists may not intend to harm you, they do so anyway, because they feel entitled to do as they please, which makes their children feel trapped, unloved, and hopeless.

I believe that empathy underlies everything we are as human beings. From childhood through adolescence and into young adulthood, empathy is taking shape neurologically, cultivated by a loving family and healthy social interactions. It’s further refined in adulthood by meditation, prayer and commitment to living a passionate life.

To love and heal from life’s tribulations requires being highly aware of empathy’s importance. Are you ready to dial up your level of Empathy to the highest level, EmD-5? You can, with conscious effort. My new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS” outlines the warrior skills you’ll need. It’s available on Amazon in paper or Kindle edition. Click here to download the first chapter for free.

How to Cope When a Narcissist Is Running the Family Business

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

If a narcissist is in charge of your family business it can be incredibly difficult to deal with, but there are things you can do to copeThere are narcissists everywhere and they fall on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum is the charismatic leader who, besides an inflated ego, isn’t that hard to manage. On the other end is an individual who genuinely has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This person is manipulative and easily angered, especially when they don’t get what they consider to be enough praise and attention.

It’s one thing to deal with a narcissistic boss at work. Theoretically, at the end of the day you can leave him behind and focus on your own life and family. Things get trickier when the narcissistic boss runs the family business. You can’t just leave that work and enjoy your family – they are your family.

So how can you cope when there is a narcissist running the family business?

Assess if the person truly is narcissistic. Narcissists have an egotistical preoccupation with themselves, their preferences, their needs, and their successes. But just because your family member in charge demands respect or sometimes enforces policies you don’t like, it doesn’t make them a narcissist. However, if they are completely absorbed in themselves, especially to the detriment of others, you are likely dealing with more than just high self-esteem.

Look for the root of the problem. Did this person have to overcome extreme trauma or hardship to get where they are today? Often a “survivor entrepreneur” will manifest narcissistic tendencies born from their circumstances. They had to depend on themselves to such an extreme degree to overcome poverty, lack of parents, illness, or disabilities that they have trouble giving other people a role in their success. Sometimes this quality is an extreme reaction to feelings of vulnerability. If you look honestly at a person, you will likely be able to find something that contributed to the development of their me-first attitude.

See the good. The traits that make a narcissist difficult to handle are likely the same traits that drove their success. Appreciate the good things they do and the ways in which they are making the company succeed. If you can re-categorize their traits as positive instead of negative it will go a long way toward making them easier to deal with.

Communicate openly and honestly. I say this regularly, but it bears repeating. When you work with your family, unresolved emotions can complicate the business relationship. Families in business together need to take the time to communicate regularly, openly, and honestly. You may need to express how their actions make you feel. Even if they don’t respond well, it will help you feel better to take a stand for yourself. (If you’re too afraid to speak up, then it’s time to get professional help from a therapist.)

Focus on yourself. You can be happy if you keep your focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. You can’t make your family member change their personality. But you can continue to work on yourself. It’s not easy when it comes to a family business but remember that sometimes the healthiest choice is to walk away. You can work elsewhere!

Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder has severe Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). This is characterized by an “all-about-me” attitude. It manifests as thoughtless, self-absorbed behavior, and rends contemptible harm. My upcoming book delves into Empathy Disorders and what you can do to protect yourself from people who can’t or won’t demonstrate empathy. To stay up-to-date on it’s release sign-up for my newsletter.
If you are dealing with a person with extreme narcissism, you would greatly benefit from therapy, as an individual or as a family group. Please contact my office. I have an office in Jantzen Beach and offer online therapy if that’s a better option.

Autism or Narcissism – How Can You Tell?

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Autism or Narcissism – How Can You Tell?Autism and Narcissism have something in common. They are both empathy disorders, the result of the individual not having a Theory of Mind. What this means is that they don’t recognize that another person has beliefs, desires, intentions, feelings and perspectives that differ from their own. Empathy is a complex system that requires the brain to connect Emotional Empathy and Cognitive Empathy.

Since Narcissism and Autism display similar traits, how can you tell the difference between Narcissism and Asperger’s?

  • First, Autism is a diagnosis and narcissism is only a trait of many disorders. 
  • Second, not all Autistics are the same since it is a spectrum disorder. 
  • Third, all Autistics are narcissistic since a defining characteristic of Autism is lack of empathy.

It’s important to know that it isn't narcissism per se that defines the Autistic. It is how the Autistic works with their tendency toward narcissism, self-absorption and lack of empathy. If the Autistic takes responsibility for their narcissism and truly wants to repair the rifts that their unempathic behavior creates, then there’s hope for the relationship.

On the other hand, if the Autistic believes that their singular narcissistic worldview is all that matters, then it’s probably irrelevant that they’re diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). This person tips toward narcissism and that's how they need to be treated.

If you’ve wasted too much of your precious life trying to accommodate an ASD narcissist, whether it’s a family member, coworker or neighbor, then I invite you to join our Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup. We have monthly discussions that will help you deal with this crazy making life.

Our next free international teleconference: How is Autism different than Narcissim? will be held on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 2:30 PM. You’ll find out how to distinguish whether it’s narcissism or Autism that you’re dealing with. That makes all the difference in how you’ll respond.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and you need some 1-on-1 with me to discuss your situation privately, please feel free to contact my office and we’ll schedule an appointment to discuss ways to improve your situation.

Diagnosing Asperger’s – Is It also Pathological Avoidance Disorder, Narcissism or OCD?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Those with Aspergers may also be diagnosed with Narcissism, Pathological Avoidance Disorder and OCD, yet it’s wise to focus on treating the Empathy DisorderAs we seek to understand our friends and family who have Asperger’s Syndrome (a high-functioning form of Autism Spectrum Disorder), we discover a myriad of potential diagnoses that could fit, such as Narcissism, Pathological Avoidance Disorder and OCD. But before you wander down the Rabbit Hole with these variations on the theme of Autism Spectrum Disorders, it’s important to pay attention to the underlying problem for all of these disorders. . . namely an Empathy Disorder.

People who lack empathy are unable to step outside of themselves. They can’t tune in to what other people are feeling, thinking or believing. This self-centeredness often results in personal conflict, communication breakdown, and an adversarial attitude.

Research shows that empathy is "hard-wired" through a variety of neural pathways, some of which have mirror neurons. Regions of the brain actually light up in when you become aware of another person's emotions. Literally, you do feel what she’s feeling.

In the normal course of events, a person can lose his (or her) ability to be empathetic by becoming too self-absorbed, or he can increase his ability to be empathetic by retraining his brain.

However, the brains of people with ASD don’t function in the same manner. They can, however, develop other ways to navigate the world of personal growth and social interaction. Interestingly, research shows that when we find ways to manage our anxieties, we actually reduce our narcissistic and OCD behaviors. So too with Aspies.

If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD, please join our free international teleconference on Thursday, November 17th, 2016 at 1:30 PM. We’ll discuss “Is it Pathological Avoidance Disorder, Narcissism or OCD?” In this teleconference, we will discuss the challenges to empathy-disordered individuals. Regardless of their diagnosis, or the way they choose to adapt to their anxiety and empathy disorder, we want to speak to the underlying empathy issue, not just the symptom.

And if you’ve been putting off getting a copy of Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) because you thought it was just about parenting, don’t wait another moment. It also explores the science behind Asperger’s. It will help you understand your Aspie better. Get a free chapter by clicking on the image below.

Living with an Aspie – How to Find Freedom from Blame and Shame

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

We often feel shame when dealing with our Aspies, because they can't put themselves in our shoes, they tend to find fault or blame us for misunderstandings.When you’re living in an Asperger home, you may often end up feeling that it’s all your fault, that you should have better control of your home life and family relationships. We often feel shame when dealing with our Aspies who lack empathy. Because they can't put themselves in our shoes, they tend to find fault or blame us for misunderstandings.

Why do those with Asperger’s Syndrome blame others?

This is a natural byproduct of an empathy disorder, unless the Aspie develops a strong moral code. It’s harder to take responsibility for a misunderstanding (or other interpersonal breakdown) when you don't have empathy to compare yourself to another. As a result Aspies can become quite manipulative, narcissistic and engage in the Blame Game.

Furthermore, we NTs may also be blamed for overreacting to our Aspies. I know I used to be called on the carpet for not "controlling" my Aspie daughter's public meltdowns. I was accused right on the spot of being a "bad" mother.

That's where the shame comes in. If you are blamed long enough, and you have made a mistake or two in the relationship, you might take on responsibility for too much and feel Shame. Shame is also a natural byproduct of living daily with a blaming spouse or partner or acting out Aspie child.

What can you do?

If you’re a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, you’re invited to the next free TeleConference where we’ll be discussion: Freedom from Blame and Shame. It will be held on Thursday, May 12th at 2:30 PM PDT.

Please join us for a rousing discussion on how to free yourself from Shame by breaking up the Blame/Shame Game. It's not enough to understand what's happening to you. You need strategies to take back your life and to know how truly wonderful you are!

Are you a neurotypical (one who doesn’t have Asperger’s) and you’re living in an Asperger home and haven’t joined Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD yet? It’s a free worldwide Meetup where you find support and understanding. Why not join us today?

Another option available to you: If you would like more one-on-one counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Does Your Aspie Also Suffer from a Personality Disorder?

Monday, March 07, 2016

Those with Asperger’s Syndrom may also be suffering from Schizotypal Personality Disorder or other personality disorders that require additional treatment. A personality disorder occurs when a person has rigid, unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior. They have trouble relating in social situations. Whereas, those with Asperger’s want to have friendships, those with some personality disorders don’t care. They’re more comfortable with their loner status.

What are some of the personality disorders that may be misdiagnosed as Asperger’s or may be present along with Asperger’s?

Previously we’ve discussed how someone with Asperger’s Syndrome may also have ADHD and/or Narcissism. Another personality disorder that many are not aware of is Schizotypal Personality Disorder. (This is not the same as Schizoid Personality Disorder or Schizophrenia, although it can be mistaken for schizophrenia at times).

Schizotypals look a lot like they have ASD in that they have extreme levels of anxiety, often learn to mimic appropriate social behavior, have a number of low grade health issues, and are extremely sensitive to criticism. They also tend to be loners because they misread people and develop suspiciousness because they can't properly read the motivations of others.

Here are 10 symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder as listed by the Mayo Clinic:

  1. "Being a loner and lacking close friends outside of the immediate family
  2. Incorrect interpretation of events, feeling that they have personal meaning
  3. Peculiar, eccentric or unusual thinking, beliefs or behavior
  4. Dressing in peculiar ways
  5. Belief in special powers, such as telepathy
  6. Perceptual alterations, in some cases bodily illusions, including phantom pains or other distortions in the sense of touch
  7. Persistent and excessive social anxiety
  8. Peculiar style of speech, such as loose or vague patterns of speaking or rambling oddly and endlessly during conversations
  9. Suspicious or paranoid ideas, hypersensitivity, and constant doubts about the loyalty and fidelity of others
  10. Flat emotions, or limited or inappropriate emotional responses"

Because Personality Disorders cause a person to lack empathy, similarly to our Aspies, we just think the thoughtlessness or negativity is an Aspie trait. While it’s difficult enough to find appropriate treatment for Aspies, it's nearly impossible to treat Personality Disorders because they think they’re normal and are not motivated to make changes.

If you suspect that your Aspie also suffers from a Personality Disorder, then be sure to sign up for our next Video Conference entitled: Is it just Asperger's or is it something else too? on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 8:00 AM or Thursday, Mar 24, 2016 at 4:00 PM We’ll be specifically discussing Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome – Can You Tell the Difference?

Monday, January 18, 2016

narcissistic personality disorder or aspergers syndrome which is itIf you met someone who has poor self-awareness, who doesn’t show remorse, who doesn’t learn from mistakes, who can’t empathize, appreciate others feelings or even reciprocate those feelings, and he treats people like objects, would you think the person suffers from a Narcissistic Personality Disorder or from Aspergers Syndrome?

It would be a tough call wouldn’t it? It’s difficult to distinguish between the two without a clinical evaluation. Both disorders lack empathy as a guide.

So what’s the difference between the two disorders?
The difference is that those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder intentionally manipulate others, because they’re self-absorbed and see others as useful tools to achieve their goals, not as people with feelings. They’re often described as “vicious”, “malignant” or “malicious” because they stop at nothing to get what they want. On the other hand while the Aspie is focused on achieving a goal and is self-absorbed, it just doesn’t register that others would feel differently than he does. A person with Asperger’s doesn’t intentionally set out to hurt anyone. He wants to be loved, have a family and a home, but he just doesn’t know how to connect.

One of the key traits in people with autism is that they lack what is known in psychology as a ‘theory of mind’, which is also known as ‘mind-blindness’. Theory of mind (T.O.M) means you have the ability to understand that other people have thoughts that differ from your own. People with Asperger’s see things from their own point of view, and can’t imagine how something may affect someone else, which makes them seem self-centered.

It’s not fair or reasonable to treat someone who is unintentionally being insensitive as if they were someone who is doing it on purpose because they don’t care about your feelings. Neither is it fair for you to simply take it.

Under the increased pressure of the recent holiday season, those prone to narcissism may have become even more narcissistic. And even if your Aspie usually sticks to a responsible code of conduct, they may be inclined to dip into narcissism as they find it difficult to regulate emotions.

You need to be prepared so that you don't collapse under the pressure. Let's discuss how to stay strong in the face of narcissistic manipulation. There are some simple tools to stop this destructive type of communication. Most importantly it is about being true to yourself. Trust your instincts. If your Aspie makes no sense, or seems overwhelmed, or makes you feel crazy, they just might need a break. And so do you.

I invite you to our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with AS International Teleconference where we’ll discuss the topic: Narcissism and the ASD Adult on Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 2:30 PM. Come and learn how to distinguish between a "normal" ASD communication snag and truly selfish narcissistic manipulation and what you can do to cope.

Leaving or Divorcing Your Narcissistic Spouse? Be Prepared

Thursday, September 10, 2015

divorcing or leaving a narcissistCan you imagine going through a high conflict divorce where your spouse successfully convinces friends, neighbors and government officials that you’re dangerous and crazy to the point where you’re arrested multiple times? Not only that, you lose your professional standing in the community and your children are alienated from you? While this may sound like a bad movie, this is actually happening to countless people across the United States.

How can one human being treat another so horribly? In many cases it’s because of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is a very real brain disorder not just a personality flaw. Narcissists view everyone else as inferior and feel they are entitled to the best. People who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don't value themselves more than they value others.

Leaving a narcissist is dangerous and no one has the right to tell you to leave such an individual. The Well Book Club of the New York Times recently opened up a discussion based on the book “Will I Ever Be Free of You: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce From a Narcissist and Heal Your Family” by Karyl McBride. It has the following advice (although we refer to the narcissist as a he it can apply to women as well):

  • Plan ahead and thoroughly consider the risks to yourself and your children.
  • Have your resources lined up (copies of essential documents, money, an established support system in family/community who won't believe him when he says terrible things).
  • Be prepared to get a restraining order. Even if he hasn’t hit you yet, risk increases when he realizes you’re moving away from his control.
  • Document the abuse – keep a journal in a safe place, take pictures of the bruises, confide in a trusted friend or health care worker.
  • Find out about pet safety.
  • Find a therapist trained in domestic violence.
  • Check bulletin boards in places like health care centers, grocery stores, libraries, or the internet for a complete safety plan before you act.

If you choose to remain in a relationship with someone you suspect is a narcissist, get counseling for yourself immediately. A trained mental health professional can help you navigate this difficult relationship so you don’t sink into a dangerous cycle of codependency.

Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be helped by psychotherapy if they’re willing. In the short-term psychotherapy would address issues as substance abuse, depression, and relationship issues. In the long-term, it would help them to gradually reshape their personality so they create a healthier self-image.

If you need a diagnosis or counseling related to narcissism in yourself or a loved one and you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington, please contact my office to make an appointment.

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