Oct 29 2009

Narcissistic Jerk- Ouch!!

By admin

In the service of not judging and labeling our clients.

I recently read an article in the New York Times, written by a psychiatrist, which concerned me.  It was about  his client – it seems that the client’s husband of 30 years told her that he felt stalled and not self-actualized—so “he began his search for self knowledge in the arms of another woman”—it wasn’t that he didn’t love her – he just didn’t find the relationship exciting. The author goes on to describe his client’s husband as a “narcissistic jerk.”

We live in an age in which crass epithets are in vogue.  It’s also fashionable to mock others and bandy about the N (narcissist) word in a careless fashion. The therapist and writer of the article makes an automatic assumption that a married man’s (or it could have been a woman) affair was a search for novelty and thrill.  He then proceeds to note that the more he learned about his client’s husband, the more he saw that the husband had always been a “self centered guy” – “a garden variety case of a middle aged narcissist.”

I believe we therapists have to be careful not to make judgments about our clients – in so doing, implicitly putting ourselves on a pedestal – Of course, we make judgments (appraisals) every day. It’s part of being human to engage in the process of evaluation— we must, in order to survive and thrive.

But if I engage in the process of labeling my clients or their spouses like “he’s a self-centered guy” or “narcissistic jerk”, how will this affect the way that I perceive them and relate to them? How will it affect the coaching process if I am full of opinions, judgments or even contempt? Will I be able to support them and help them to make the positive changes that they want to make?

More on this topic to follow very soon.

What do you think?  Any questions? Call me, Dr. Audrey at 602 762 7117 for a complimentary telephone session. I can also be contacted  at audrey@draudreygoldman.com and I would love to hear from you.

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