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Narcissism in Dream Analysis – Where the Nightmare Begins and Ends

(Updated February 6th 2018)


Today I want to share a story about narcissism in dream analysis. First I must mention how pleased and surprised we were to discover that in the first draft of the DSM – V, Narcissistic Personality Disorder has NOT been removed (as we were repeatedly told it would be). Instead the official view has been revised, suggesting treatment options need more research.

After our work having good results with thousands of families for over 8 years now, I would certainly encourage psychiatric researchers to take a look at our program.

Over this time our message has been a persistent (if lonely) voice in the wilderness suggesting people suffering from this disorder shouldn’t be relegated to the scrap heap as untouchable human garbage. So we are certainly relieved to see that perhaps a new era is dawning, where this disorder is better understood by mainstream psychology.

If you want to read a summary of some of what the psychiatrists are now saying about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I will include a few highlights at the end of this article.

But first, I want to offer you the hidden thread that helped me see and untangle my own narcissism and the ghoulish web it had encased my life in, stunting my growth for a time while I was a still a young adult.

Chasing my Own Narcissistic Shadow

Once upon a time I used to suffer from very terrifying nightmares and began keeping a dream journal to figure out where these dreams were coming from and what they were all about.

After nearly a year of keeping this diary diligently, some very interesting data about my own psyche began to emerge.

I became so good at recalling my dreams that eventually I was able to grab onto the very thought that had been in my mind in the dream, just before the path turned downward and the nightmare began.

What I discovered was that the nightmare always began at the point when I had a self limiting thought arising from my own feelings of superiority to other people.

For example, in one of my dreams I was driving around in a car park when I had a thought that I couldn’t tell the person with me what I was thinking, because he wouldn’t understand. Then we went down a ramp – but found ourselves no longer in the car and the dark nightmare part of the dream began.

This thought was a very common for me back then (in my waking hours) – and along with it came the fear that I was doomed to be lonely and isolated because no one would ever understand me.

Finding this thread while analysing my dream, I grasped it and pulled hard, and the whole source of my nightmares unravelled and my night terrors ended.

You see this clue helped me find the courage in my waking life to start making an effort to be understood — even when I feared I might be rejected because people might not understand me or follow my thinking.

And finding that courage changed everything.

My ability to be understood became my own responsibility and I vowed no longer to ‘buy out’ of sharing my true thoughts with the excuse (or fear) that the person I was with wasn’t smart, switched on or cool enough for me to even bother trying to explain things to them, or that it was their fault and not mine if I explained my ideas badly.

Instead I had to start choosing my words carefully, thinking about my timing, considering my listener’s position and working on my length and style of presentation.

Was that easy? No, it wasn’t, but it was the beginning of me starting to grow again.

“NPD manifests as anger triggered by feelings of social rejection and tendencies to derogate those who give [or might give] negative feedback.” (from the Psychiatric Times article highlights below)

When I didn’t know how to relate to people or I noticed they didn’t respect me, I decided I would no longer hide in the narcissistic thought that I was smarter than them and instead I started working on presenting myself in the best way possible to be heard and understood.

Did I always succeed at this? Certainly not and it is something I still struggle with daily. But it also helped me start learning to face rejection. Because communicating with people as equals involves that risk. When people don’t understand me now (and sometimes think my ideas crazy or me a fool) I can no longer shrug it off and simply blame them, but instead I try and remember that I should consider their point of view and try to understand why they don’t see the world the same way I do — as well as continuing in my efforts to improve my own communication.

And while some people will never see things they way I do and will leave my circle if I speak honestly with them, this allows room for more like minded folk around my hearth and in this light I can now even see rejection as the blessing it sometimes truly can be at establishing proper order in my social relations.

But by in large I wasn’t rejected and instead was surprised at how many people did understand me – even people much older than myself that I never dreamed would have heard of some of the philosophies and theories my active mind entertained.

So now not only did I find that I could be understood – but that there was a lot of interesting things to learn from people as well.

“The DSM-5 prototype notes how self-appraisal can swing from hyper-valued to self-derogation along with fluctuations in self-esteem.” (from the Psychiatric Times article highlights below)

Because when we hyper-value ourselves and allow that seductive drug called ego to take us over, the self-derogation nightmare is never far away.

Where do you cut yourself off from other people because you tell yourself you are superior? Hunt down the thread in your thoughts and pull hard to unravel it and may all the nightmares in your life end.


Are you are looking for a more peaceful & loving home life? To get started, come do our free intro tutorial on our website at providing online support to families for over 10 years.


The excerpts below are from the article …

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Rethinking What We Know
Psychiatric Times. Vol. 29 No. 7
(this article is available by professional subscription only)

By Giancarlo Dimaggio, MD | July 18, 2012

Symptoms Highlights …

* The DSM-5 prototype notes how self-appraisal can swing from hyper-valued to self-derogation along with fluctuations in self-esteem.

* NPD manifests as anger triggered by feelings of social rejection and tendencies to derogate those who give negative feedback.

* Persons with NPD often feel hampered in pursuing goals and blame others for being inept, incompetent, or hostile.

* States in which the self-image is extremely negative are important but are so hard to bear that fighting with others and blaming them for any personal flaws is a more suitable defensive manoeuvre. When shortcomings are impossible to deny (e.g., being fired from work, breaking affective bonds), persons with NPD are likely to become depressed; as they age, the risk of suicide increases.

* Following the lead of the psychoanalysts Kohut 3 and Modell, 4 states of emptiness, emotional numbing, and devitalisation are now included in NPD models. Such states are quintessential to the disorder, but they are not included in the current DSM-5 prototype and have been overlooked by researchers. Other prominent narcissistic states include an inability to forgive and feelings of shame, guilt, and envy at others’ success.

Other highlights …

What is already known about narcissistic personality disorder?

■ Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is characterised by complex self-experiences, including grandiosity, anger, self-derogation, and emptiness or apathy. Lack of empathy is a feature of the disorder. Frequently, there are impaired romantic and professional outcomes as well as co-occurring disorders.

What new information does this article provide?

■ Impaired ability to recognise inner states is a feature of the disorder. Evidence for affective but not cognitive empathy is presented. An agency deficit is a core characteristic of the disorder, with typical oscillations between diminished agency and hyper agentic behavior. Structured options for psychotherapy are succinctly offered.

What are the implications for psychiatric practice?

■ Persons with NPD are amenable to treatment. Understanding that underlying feelings of vulnerability, impaired self-reflection, and diminished agency are core features of the disorder may lead to refined psychological treatments, keep these persons in therapy longer, and promote structural personality change. The need for testing the effectiveness of manualised treatments for NPD is called for.


Are you are looking for a more peaceful & loving home life? To get started come do our free intro tutorial on our website at providing online support to families for over 10 years.

Kim is the author of seven books on the topic of relationships and emotional intelligence.

A prolific multi-media content innovator, Kim has created and shared a library of articles and multi-media educational tools including radio shows,
movies and poetry on 'The NC Marriage', and 'The Love Safety Net'.

This Post Has 44 Comments

  1. Hey Everyone!
    Make sure you check out Kim & Steve’s updated home page. They add things periodically to help us. I’ve just viewed an added video/movie and it really helps me with my current dilema. Plus it helps remind us when we may forget somethings.

  2. Thank you for this blog. It’s the only place out there that I trust talking about overcoming NPD. However, I find myself genuinely confused about the difference between NDP and psychopathy. As in this blog post:

    It seems to refer to both NDP and psychopathy as the same thing. Therefore, if there’s a cure for NDP, does that mean that psychopathy, if tended to in the same way, can be at least managed? I have never heard of a real cure for psychopathy.


    1. Psychopathy and NPD have totally different motivations, a person with NPD craves love and attention while a psychopath wants to be feared. A lot of the information online about NPD has been written by a known psychopath so please be careful.

  3. Also, I want to say that I’ve been in an on/off relationship with someone whom I believe is a psychopath, and definitely has NPD. We were married two years ago (after dating 3 months) and I divorced him last year after he became physically violent towards me. He’s been in jail for the last 5 months accused of several white collar crimes. The girlfriend he had while we were separated also accused him of assault and uttering death threats related to these crimes. He denies that anything bad happened between him and her, but I don’t believe him. Since he was arrested, I decided to help him out since he’s a foreigner. He will probably be deported, but I was thinking to start a life with him because Steve and Kim’s story has given me hope that our relationship could improve. To what degree however is difficult to determine. Knowing his limits and being a supportive person in his life, would it be enough for us to make a simple life together or is this just wishful thinking? I am also fully prepared to move on in my life, which is what most people would advise me to do and what I probably should do.


    1. Pychopathy is very different to NPD and I had a lot invested with Steve. I would think very long and hard about what you are expecting from a relationship with this man and certainly wouldn’t base your expectations on our story.

  4. WOW Kim the more I read the more I know I am NPD. I am most likely my own worst enemy. I draw NPD personalities to me also and then I become Co dependent on them. My Lord how do I work through all this. Very very interesting reading. All I can say is I am willing to change and I have really opened my eyes to my OWN issues while trying to discover how to deal with my NPD PA man (although I do believe that is coming to an end for the sake of us both). Keep up the great work

    1. Hi Stacey – You might enjoy my two short ebooks The Little Book of Empathy Love and Friendship, and Emotional Stupidity – both are fairly short and entertaining and have pictures (-: Our complete workout however is The Love Safety Net Workbook and 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence. Working through the steps and exercises in those will help you get your emotional life and relationships back in order. You will get a chance to buy all of these on special when you subscribe to our website.

  5. Hi, Low B vitamins may cause bad dreams. Taking B vitamins at supper time may help…but not at night since they give energy. They are water soluble so they can rinse out of the body. I stopped a bad dream once by taking B complex in the middle of the dream. B complex raises oxygen in the brain.
    Perfectionists may expect others to be perfect too and are hard on themselves so are hard on others. Emotions toward self and others are maybe like a robot. They may have higher expectations of themselves are others. They may have been alone and learned alot so they think they know more than others. It is nice to be apart of society than rejected…harmony/peace..not walls and isolation which would make a person more unhealthy. All people need love…being alone is not fun.Thanks for the information. There is an answer and you have found it…instead of running away from a narcissistic person. Thanks!

  6. Hi Kim,

    Thank you for your response. Yes, he loves being feared at times; he definitely craves power, but he also craves love and attention. Most especially, the love and attention he didn’t get from his absent, gambling-addicted father who was also an NPD/sociopath.

    Yes, I realize you had so much invested with Steve and it was the key reason you stayed with him. I considered your recommendation to walk away from him for a better life, but I also agreed that if I walk away, it would be like passing the buck and that things in his life will continue to spiral downwards probably taking other innocent people with him. At the same time, I refuse to let him mess up my life again and I am learning to become assertive towards him in a healthy way for both of us. But at this point I can say that I know the man, inside and out.

    Who is this psychopath that’s writing about psychopathy online? Would you say that it is common for psychopaths to also be narcissists or is it just a coincidence?

    At this time, I have contacted my EAP to look into joining a support group in my community for partners of those suffering with mental disorders.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom Kim. Any advice you can give about dealing with a psychopathic partner would be a blessing.

    Most sincerely,

    1. Hi Chris, I didn’t suggest that you walk away – really only you can decide that – but I would not recommend you stay because you expect the same ending we have had. I had no idea what was going to happen when I took Steve on and the path we recommend can lead in many different directions. Our program is not so much about dealing with a particular persons disorder as it is about learning healthy emotional regulation and boundary setting yourself. The more solid you are the better you will be prepared to deal with whatever other people dish out.

  7. Hello Kim – I wonder whether insecure parents raise their kids up for their own gratification … leading to NPD? Have you talked about this? I’m of course thinking of my own parents .. and of my Mum’s potentially bad effect on my 3 yo niece.

    Not that I have much control over this situation but it does worry me that all the ‘you’re so beautiful, clever etc etc’ might be storing up future trouble and unnecessary angst when she needs to get over the inevitable disappointments of life – retaining self respect, self love and perseverance [things that have taken me many *years* to develop].

    Moodie x

    1. Yes I think that parents need for ego recognition through their children can breed narcissism while the need for a child to be an emotional caretaker breeds codependence. This is why often people grow up with a bit of both. We also pass these same tendencies onto our children of we don’t find better role models to learn healthy emotional regulation and boundary setting. I feel for your niece but I am afraid many parents confuse pumping up a child’s ego with building true self esteem.

  8. This blog opens up some very interesting and valuable points. The extreme swings that someone with NPD experiences can only be guessed at by those who aren’t NPD. It was beginning to understand the other side of my husband, the fear he must go through at times that helped me to decide to stay.
    The story behind the blog is so important and it’s thanks to the work of Kim and Steve that people are talking, sharing.

  9. I like to read on-line reviews, and have noticed that in many cases the negative comments contain more attitude than honest opinion. That is certainly the case in comments made about you, Kim. Although this is your business and have products for sale, you obviously care about the welfare of others since you share so openly.

    As for your products, I highly recommend them. I purchased your book and workbook online last year. They are both done in laymen’s terms, well organized and easy to follow. They also arrived immediately on my laptop and I was able to make a printed copy quickly and easily.

    Thank you, Kim, for reaching out to a troubled world, and for continuing to study and learn about this very scary disorder along with other interesting topics which you so graciously make available to us.

  10. If the essence of NPD is insecurity, is it possible my husband abandons us out of fear of not being the perfect husband and father? How can I encourage him home, and make him feel capable, and able? We’ve already had 9 years of hurt, and now we are separated. I want is to be a family. Any advice?

    1. There are four areas you need to work on all at once to become someone strong and emotionally stable enough to deal with him. These areas are covered in the Love Safety Net Workbook while 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence gives a slightly different but shorter overview. These are the skills you need to form healthy and secure relationships with anyone and so even if he does not return you will not have wasted your time learning them because they will help you in all of your relationships.

  11. Should I go to therapy sponsored by a battered women’s shelter. I feel if I do I must keep it a secret from my husband which seems contrary to trying to improve my relationship with him. I am scared of his anger and what will happen if we try to separate to our son. I feel I need support, or at least to talk about the incidences of abuse,but it is betraying the marriage to “out” him in secret by going and thus declaring him an abuser.

    1. You are not betraying him to be concerned about his behaviour and look for help to deal with it. He is hurting himself by hurting his family and is no state to be taking the lead in your family. If you haven’t got Back From the Looking Glass please you really do need that book now – it will help you with advice for building yourself a safety Net in the community .

  12. The longer we are separated, the angrier and more hostile he is with me. He is openly shunning me on every level. I feel outraged and isolated. I’d like to calm the situation, but he seems bent on being a fire-breathing dragon. Actually, I feel terrified and I’ve never felt this way before.

    Any suggestions Kim?

    1. I would really need a lot more information like who initiated the break up and what it is he is angry about. In the meantime you take care and make sure you are safe.

  13. I am caught in a “gas-light” nightmare. My brother suffers with NPD, though we didn’t know it until recently. In 2005, after he had yet another collapse into alcoholism, he took revenge on me for an e-mail I sent his wife urging divorce after 20 years of alcoholism. He rigged my home with speaking devices and electronic equipment to at first, make me think I was going crazy and stumbled upon my sex addiction. I was tortured for a year and ended up hospitalized. In 2011 I wrote the family history exposing the depth of his alcoholism, and the voices, sounds and such have returned. Unfortunately, this time I am not victim to my addiction. With what I read, is my family and myself in physical danger if he doesn’t exact revenge? How do I protect my family from my sick brother?

    1. If he has put speakers in your house without your knowledge you need to talk to the police about him breaking and entering and you need to present yourself as respectably as possible.

  14. Hey James!

    Kim is correct. Where I live any person who places such devices without the knowledge or consent of the parties involved and are not a party to such recordings, as in cover their own butt and can not be used in court here-just say as in preliminary for any charges, he has broken the law both federally and by state.

    Do you have any of Kim & Steve’s materials or ebooks?

  15. He initiated the breakup after I surprised him by catching him in an emotional affair. He has had 3-4 relationships go bust in one year since then. I think he blames me for his relationships failing, and soon he’ll have to pay me pretty significant support payments too. Its scary though how emotional, loud and angry he is around me. He used to be pretty mild fun Guy, now he’s stomping and swearing and suddenly takes off in his car without saying goodbye.

  16. I think there is a bit of narcissist in all of us.However by ‘acknowledging’ it we can ‘work’ on it and change.My husband is def narcissist but will never admit to it.I try and study everything I can on the subject to try and help our situation.One thing I have found that help’s and keeps my sanity’,is I tell pple what my husband say’s and does.I ‘ask’ their opinions.I don’t lie or change the story or circumstance of what happened or why.If I ‘ignited’ it I say so.I’ve gone to counselling on my own,he refuses to go.I tell him word for word what was said,he’s ‘comeback’ is that I’m only telling one side.Untrue cos how will we ever be fixed if I don’t tell the whole truth.I am not alway’s right and I acknowledge it.He on the otherhand ‘has nothing wrong with him’[email protected] I don’t think there’s anything wrong in talking about ur situation,expose them cos they also come across to other pple as being so nice and u are made out to be the baddie.Remember too they seek out pple who will ‘aid and abet them’.

  17. Kim,
    What do you know about the Meyers-Briggs test on personalities? I am a woman married to a narcicist. We see the error of our ways and we have changed the way we think, Hallelujah! We are still green but getting there. I went to school recently to see about taking classes after raising kids for 18 years and they told me I had to take this test. It asked a few questions that I wanted your thoughts on. If you are truthful and unkind? Or Kind and not truthful? Do you base your life on feelings? Do you base life on facts? Do you want people to like you? Want to get things done? I never heard of a test stating that if you are truthful you are unkind. How do you feel about this?

    1. Hi Julie, Generally I like personality tests and think they are really beneficial to get to know yourself. I think with the question you asked it might be better to understand it as them asking are you direct about things you do not like about other people or do you hold back. It doesn’t sound like a very fair question I know – but I know they ask a LOT of questions and so who knows what that is going to say about your personality in the end.

  18. I hear you, Michelle. Your life sounds exactly like mine. It’s hard to get help when people don’t trust that you ARE trying to tell the whole story because you really WANT help. I often feel very alone… despite my social and community network. It’s hard to keep working toward the health of my family. That haunting question remains, what if your NPD never changes? But I’m still working on me!

  19. Hi Kim,
    What do you know about attachment theory?
    And, do you think that it plays a roll in NPD?
    My husband and I are reading a book on it and
    we both see him as the insecurely attached vacillator/ambivalent.

  20. If I set boundaries with my friend that have never been there before(She just wants to be friends)No secret Mistress.(Her words..Not mine) does she really mean this OR..will she be become more angry with me if I set boundaries? I am willing to try to be “Just Friends” to save our 30 friendship. But since there have never been boundaries and they were only discussed is this really what she wants?

  21. By the way..It would be quick to note that basically we HAVE been “Just Friends” over the course of 30 years having only had sex one time in 1993.

  22. I fed all this information to my sister in law.
    Our twin husbands are NPD. Hers, the verbal abuse
    was worse. After 43 yr, ruined her health, she
    shot herself just like their son did 20 yr ago,he
    left a note for the dad, I am not the SOB you say.
    She said, he dosen’t have a conscious, a get even
    venue. I helped her a lot, but I couldn’t save
    her. I have stood up to my husband & he knows
    I won’t put up with any more. Be good or Out.
    Oh, 53 yr married, & worse with age. But I will make it!!!!

    1. Oh Vivan – I am so sorry to hear about your sister in law and nephew. I sometimes feel like I am helping people in the lions den and all I can do is throw them a whip and a chair – after that you need to take this so seriously because no matter what anyone says there is no easy way out, and as you have seen first hand – your very life may be dependent on you finding the courage and learning the skills to defend yourself effectively.

  23. Hi Kim
    I so wanted to convince myself that all this would just go away. I have been in therapy again now for over 3 months and have been doing some EMDR work for PTSD. However, living with someone who believes he’s the messiah is a living nightmare and I know as long as I stay, it will never improve. The more he beats me down, the more he feels superior. At the present time, he is writing his 3rd novel. I am not working at the moment and he is as a contractor and makes 5 times the money I used to so this is hunting season for him and I have nothing to defend myself with. I am broken in every way. I feel no joy and see no hope in reach. Why should I care for him I keep asking myself. I fell in love with the bs part of him. Things were somewhat ok with him until I quit my job and started making jewelry. He hated me getting compliments and so now, he beats me down calling me “stupid bi**h” and so on. Right now I feel like I’m in the mourning phase of our 9 year relationship and I won’t start to feel better until I get past the bargaining phase and move on to acceptance. But do I have the inner strength to move on? I don’t know. I can only hope I’ll notice the sun when it’s shining. Thank you Kim for sharing all this information and trying to help others with this. Maybe if I can get past this frozen state, I can learn not to ever fall for this type of person again.

    1. Hi Megan, The steps we offer in our books will help you learn to stand up for yourself and put an end to the abuse whether you leave or you stay. Learning these steps will make you stronger and so really they are for you more than for him! You are right to realise that things won’t get better by themselves.

  24. Thank you so much for posting all this valuable information. My best-friend/ person I love more than anyone suffers from NPD. And I have been suffering off and on for almost 4 years. He knows he has a problem and he wants help but he just didn’t know where to get the help he needs. My family and other friends always tell me to dump him and never speak to him again! I can’t just stop loving him, there is an amazing person in there and how is he ever going to heal when everyone in his life leaves him or he throws them away and they refuse to return when he feels better? I love him enough to stick around I just need more way’s to cope properly when he goes into his manic rant, I am trying and I thank you again for posting all this information the future seems brighter now!!!

    1. Hi Vanessa, Welcome! You will find tons of new skills and resources here for dealing with dishonest and difficult people 🙂

  25. Hi Vanessa, I have been there and take up the resources that Kim is advising. I have we been through up and down for 4 years. I am a little bit codependence and my on and off is Narcissistic. For the first 3 years it was hard dealing with his manic outburst and emotions but after all we have been through I have finally been able to gain his trust. Although I doubt the friends he has in his life as they only want to see the good side to him. The trust is unbreakable and this is the year that he will come to his realisation that he cannot keep going on with things. Slowly he is learning to respect and see the other side of things but it takes a lot of patience and love.
    At the moment I am distancing myself from him as he needs to stand on his own 2 feet, he will go through the emotions but it will be a big learning curve. Reason why I have assumed the role of the mother which I do not want to embark on. I am turning 40 this year and I want to have the good things in life and marriage, to whom that remains a mystery. I have learnt from Kim about Codependent and it was hard at first but now I am embarking a new journey!

  26. Believe me once he gets to the other side, he will be a different person but sometimes showing the narcissistic traits. Mine is reserve and now doesn’t have to speak much and I questioned him on this and he said I feel comfortable that I don’t need to say anything. It took me a while to get used to but I got used to it. The only thing that is lacking is intimacy and sex. That I am struggling to get used too.

  27. Dear Kim,
    It has been a good experience for me to learn about NPD.
    Had been raised with parents like this to find out I have some of the traits myself. I appreciate how you care to share what you’ve learned in your life.My significant other and I are broken up now. I had gotten so tired of his putting me down and iniated the break-up. I’ve been off and on in councelling for many years. He eroded my heart though I do miss him and regret he now hates me so and “no longer trusts me”. Lately I have been learning to take better care of myself and enjoy meeting people in my community and found a little church with few parishoners I plan on attending next Sunday for the first time. I have been keeping my home clean and enjoying my hobbies. It seemed he would never change and seems he’s taken up with an old girlfriend. I am staying away and focusing on myself and having fun although can’t see myself ever having another relationship, even though he was so cruel to me I remember how he could hold me in his arms and it felt so comforting at times. Thanks for all the information and your ebooks have helped me.

    1. Hey Cheryl – I am sorry to hear your relationship didn’t work out. Time will only tell about what the future holds for you romantically. For now however you are in such a wonderful place learning self love and care. That is undoubtably what will attract the right person into your life. Good work and thanks for sharing!

  28. Coming from a narcissistic home I have carried that personality into my current relationship and when I am anxious or thinking to much I know it comes out or my ego comes out. My father is the same way I made this into a habit for myself. My father is a work-aholic and he is mean, and everything is about performance. No matter what I do its never enough I said the same thing to my boyfriend too. I am so angry at myself for it and if happens over and over. Its not right too. It is ruining me because being the scapegoat while my sister is a golden child its too much at times. I am doing my best to not let it affect me. When I went on a date with my boyfriend we have been together for two years i let my anger come out of know where. I want to be able to forgive my father and not take my stress out on him. Be able to enjoy my life.

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