GET ADVICE: Ask Jason – My Therapist is Name Calling! Working Through a Therapeutic Rupture

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Ruffled_Feathers asks:

Should you be offended if your therapist tells you that you are a narcissist?


Therapeutic Rupture:

Moments in therapy when there is a strain or breakdown in the alliance between a client and therapist.

Dr. Holland’s Reply:

I can see why you would be offended by such a label. A label like “narcissist” is pretty stigmatizing, and if I were going to talk with a client about it, I would probably talk more about problematic thoughts and behaviors, which can be modified. For many, the label “narcissist” implies that one is and will always be a narcissist. That is not a particularly empowering place to be.

If I were in your shoes, I would do some research on Narcissistic Personality Disorder. See if any of the descriptions fit for you. Ask yourself honestly: Do I have difficulty stepping into other people’s shoes and seeing their perspective? Do I have thoughts that I’m better than other people? Do I often seek attention and admiration from others? Take a self-inventory and go back to talk with your therapist about it in a non-defensive way.

Talk about the aspects of narcissism that you believe fit and don’t fit for you. I also think it would be fair game to talk about the label itself and your comfort level with it.

And ultimately, if you still feel unsettled on this issue, a second opinion with a psychologist could be useful. If it comes to that, you may find our article on ‘Finding a Therapist That’s Right for You’ helpful.

This question and response were originally published on Quora.