How to help a client with narcissim

The following questions were posted to Stephen Johnson, Ph.D -Author of Character Styles and Humanizing the Narcissistic Style while doing a project on narcissism.

The interview was featured in the Barbara Brennan School of Healing Newsletter “In Touch”.


  • How can we identify narcissism in ourselves and in others?
  • What are good guidelines as healers to help heal narcissism?
  • What advice would you give to someone who is dating a person that has a lot of narcissism?
  • Do you have any of the latest research about narcissism or anything else that you would like to share with us?


How can we identify narcissism in ourselves and in others?

A very important thing about the Narcissistic personality or any other personality is that there has to be a congruence of many things that have to go together, you can’t just take one trait, like in the case of narcissism; narcissists tend to be grandiose and grandiosity is a sign of that but that only that does not make a person narcissist, we have to put together things like: The family history, relationship history, the relationship that you and the client have together and if it all fits, then you have character type that you look at.

Donald Trump shows everything, he is almost too classic to be in a textbook, it’s too easy. So what you see in him is a lot of grandiosity about himself, everything he does is the best, he is wonderful, everybody loves him, etc, etc, etc.

The other thing that you find with narcissists is the opposite of that, worthlessness so very often when you see somebody who is grandiose and if you also can get to the worthlessness, then you really have a narcissist.

The basic issue with narcissism is self esteem and if the self esteem is out lack,  it’s both grandiose and worthless, then you have the narcissist style, whether is you or somebody else.

People with this problem are very sensitive to criticism because the criticism hits the worthlessness and they think of the grandiosity as the defense against the worthlessness.

The other thing to remember of all the character structures I’ve written about, is that there is a continuum from the very worst to the very best. The very worst I called character disorders, the very best I call character styles and in the middle is character neurosis.

What you have on the continuum is you have very primitive organization in the personality disorder if people  have not grown up yet, they are still operating in a very childlike level. People who are neurotic specially with narcissism tend to not bother other people, they just tend to be narcissistic-ally worried about their self esteem. They sit more in the worthlessness area of the continuum. At the high end you primarily have people who just have a flavor of narcissism. They are not very pathological but they have sort of treads of narcissism and many people have that even if their dominant character structure is something else.

What are good guidelines as healers to help heal narcissism?

First you diagnose it and you diagnose it by looking at the things I mentioned and then what you need to do at the very beginning of therapy with narcissists is indulge their grandiosity, they will tend to idealize the therapist or devalue the therapist but usually what happens is they start by idealizing. And everybody is uncomfortable with that, everybody normal is uncomfortable with being idealized. If you are very narcissistic yourself you enjoy and belief that idealization, but if you are more normal it makes you uncomfortable.

And so which you have to do on therapy with a narcissist is indulge that, let it be, don’t mess with it. And if they begin to devalue you, let that be too, don’t mess with that either. They are so fragile, that they are really presided disorder. They are very fragile, very responsive to criticism, what you see with Donald Trump again, and so you have to be very careful with them at first and not challenge these things.

And then over time when the relationship builds, you can help them by educating them, and without using the word narcissism, that you may never want to use, certainly not at first, you can help them understand how they developed some of the issues they’ve got. And if you have had a good relationship they may confess to you the bad feelings they have about themselves. And you can help them understand how they come by their problems naturally, that is in the family history they were probably criticized a lot, put down and they developed this worthlessness feeling and then they had to defend against that by the grandiosity.

So you can help them understand it first. It’s kind of an educational process at least the way I do it. I help people understand what’s wrong, where it came from, with the message of you come by it honestly. There is nothing wrong with you, you are a normal human being who just went through this kind of history and this is what happens when you have that kind of history, you come out with a self esteem issue and rather than spend your time in worthlessness, you defend and spend your time in the other side.

That brings up another quality of narcissism which is splitting, is either, black and white thinking: you are really good, very very good or very very bad and there is no room in the middle and so what you help people do is get comfortable with the middle. Get comfortable with being good enough, comfortable with being good in some things, not so good in others; accepting that you are a human being.

What advice would you give to someone who is dating a person that has a lot of narcissism?

If it’s really, really bad you may want to run, because very difficult persons will take a long time to heal and what I have noticed is that very often, people under the age of 40 are much harder to help because they haven’t have enough themes in their life, the grandiosity can hold up, particularly if you are very smart, very successful and so on. It’s not until you have some failures in your life around work, around relationships, that you tend to be more open to therapy or to working on yourself outside of therapy. I think any serious narcissist really must have therapy, they are not going to get better on their own, I don’t think and they may live a narcissistic life all their life.

I think the best thing to do to help a narcissistic date is getting your partner to get some work, I don’t think that we can help each other very much on that level. If you are a girlfriend of a narcissist man I wouldn’t try to change him, I will try to get him see somebody who will help him change.

Do you have any of the latest research about narcissism or anything else that you would like to share with us?

The thing that I’ve noticed more as I have gotten older is that the creation of narcissism or any other issue isn’t just in in childhood. That’s when it tends to be the most powerful, the most unconscious, the hardest to help, but you can develop a narcissistic personality by having the same kind of conditions repeated later in life. Not usually in adulthood but often in childhood and grammar school stage, in high school, even in early adulthood like college age people. So I don’t think it’s quite as exclusive to early childhood as I might have thought earlier.

Interview to Stephen Johnson, Ph. D.

Recommended reading:

NPD, a compassionate approach, Salome Torres

Character Styles, Stephen Johnson

Humanizing the narcissistic  style, Stephen Johnson


Thyroid Health

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located near the base of the neck.  Some of the thyroids functions are:

–      To control how well we sleep

–       To regulates heart rate, breathing and body temperature.

–       Affects the ability of a woman to become pregnant

–       Relates to how our skin looks and how fast our hair grows

–       Relates to metabolism

If we have an under-active thyroid, we will have slow metabolism and therefore gain weight easily. If our thyroid is over-active, we will have fast metabolism and become too thin.

When we lack minerals and nutrients, the thyroid has trouble making its hormones. Our thyroid needs iodine, selenium, zinc, iron and copper appropriate levels of Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.


Here are some foods that support the thyroid:

– Superfoods like maca, spirulina, goji berries and blue-green algae are helpful for thyroid imbalances. Spirulina, goji berries and blue-green algae contain B vitamins.

– Brazil nuts contain selenium, which helps regulate thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism.

– Coconut oil and coconut butter stimulate the thyroid and support proper thyroid function.

– Kelp has the crucial trace element for thyroid function: iodine. Our thyroid can stop functioning well just because of an iodine deficiency. If you are iodine deficient, taking at least 2 tablespoons of kelp per day can help. You can add it to your salad and mix it with a bit of sea salt. Always consult with a doctor before making diet changes.

When we don’t have enough healthy iodine in our body; iodine-131 (avaporous gas) is breathed in and it gets into our thyroid and other glands. Iodine-131 is not healthy and it doesn’t leave our body. That’s why we need to make sure that we have enough of the healthy iodine.

Exposure to bromines depletes our body’s iodine. Bromines can be found in pesticides, plastics, sodas (BVOs = Brominated vegetable oils), flour (potassium bromate), and personal care products, so it’s better to use chemical-free ones.

– Cranberries also contain iodine. You can juice them with an apple and lemon.

– Radishes.  According to Dr. Mercola, radishes contain a sulphur compound that is a regulator of calcitonin and thyroxin. When we have enough of this sulphur compound the thyroid is less apt to over-produce or under-produce these hormones. You can juice radishes with cucumber, carrots and lemon.  Radishes contain goitrogens. Some doctors recommend not using them when someone has hypothyroidism so it really depends on our individual needs and beliefs around food.

– Green Vegetables are rich in Vitamin A.  These include Swiss chard, collard greens, and dandelions. Avoid raw cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, turnips and Brussels sprouts because they contain goitrogens that interfere with iodine uptake; other foods that contain goitrogens are millet, coffee and soy. Maca is a cruciferous vegetable as well, but it has a balancing effect on the endocrine system and supports the thyroid.

foods to

Here are some foods that slow the functioning of the thyroid:

– Seed oils, soybean oil, canola oil and corn oil

– Margarine

– Table salt

– Conventionally grown foods with pesticides

– Goitrogen containing foods: soy, coffee, cruciferous vegetables, millet, pine nuts, peanuts and mustard.

– Refined Grains

– Sugar

thyroid health salome

Natural ways to support the thyroid:

– Letting your skin receive sunlight

– Laying down or walking barefoot on the beach or the grass

– Swimming in a lake, ocean or waterfall basin

Synthetic Hormones:

If you take synthetic hormones like Synthroid, Levoxyl or Levothroid you may want to ask your doctor about Armour thyroid, which is desiccated thyroid since synthetic hormones like Synthroid have side effects. Please, read more about Armour thyroid by clicking here.

Fluoride and Mercury

Avoiding fluoride and mercury as much as possible is beneficial. Water contains fluoride. Using a good filtration system for water or drinking spring water is a good alternative. Use fluoride free toothpaste and if you have amalgam fillings that contain mercury it will be good to have them removed from your mouth.

The power of grounding

The Earth contains healing energy. Science has described this energy as free-flowing electrons which are constantly replenished by lightning strikes and solar radiation. These electrons can be transferred up throughout the body when we have direct contact with the ground which helps discharge electrical stress from the body and restore our natural rhythms.

How to get grounded?

– You can use grounding technology: earthing mats or sheets which naturally connect you with the energy of the earth.

– You can also get grounded energetically. Here is a simple exercise to get grounded:

1. Stand up straight and feet wide apart. Bend your knees a little and feel your feet on the ground. Imagine a golden ball of light melting inside of you starting with the head, the shoulders, the arms, belly, hips, and legs until you reach your feet.

2. When you reach your feet, imagine roots growing down and reaching the center of the Earth, feel the safety of this connection.  You can envision yourself as strong tree with big long roots.

3. Now bring the energy from the Earth up to your feet and legs with your intention. At this point you may feel more relaxed and supported. Let the Earth hold you.

Grounding helps relieve stress, fear and anxiety. Every disease in the energetic perspective is caused by disconnecting ourselves from the energy of the Earth. We do that by closing our first chakra and shutting off our life force.

Grounding energetically has been something that I have learned and practiced for more than four years during my training at the BarbaraBrennan School of Healing. To give a healing I need to be centered and connected with the energy of the Earth. It brings deep relaxation to the person that I am healing, exactly as the Alpha waves.

Supporting Your Thyroid with Energy Healing

With Brennan Healing Science I work on the thyroid gland and balance the endocrine system. Healing the thyroid gland is about helping the glands in the body to communicate with each other to function properly.


Please leave any comments or questions below and enjoy this thyroid tonic recipe:

thyroid tonic