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Okay I admit it — I am tired!

For almost 10 years now I have been writing non-fiction on the subject of narcissism & codependence, helping families improve their marriage and home life.

Sometimes couples work together on our advice  . . .  but more often they take learning new relationship skills on single-handedly.

Often with a partner who causes more hurt than help.

People find us online and in many very real ways we provide shelter. A place to gain understanding and befriend others who are likewise committed to positive change in their family. A shelter where no one will tell them they are an idiot because they hold hope that things can change for the better.

Raging at the heart of this debate, is not only the issue of whether or not change is possible, but the strange idea that change is always something a person has to do for themselves.

“A person can only change if they are ready to really work on themselves” Is the standard nugget of wisdom I hear daily and you know frankly I am done arguing with it. Our detractors won’t listen to personal experience or logic and so why should I keep trying to convince them with data they won’t listen to?

So as I see it this article may be my last non-fiction piece I write on this subject for a long while. For a change of my own, this year I plan on writing fictional short stories instead.

But if you know me at all, then you know I won’t be giving up!

This change I am planning is because I have come to realise fiction may be a much better medium to get my very real and very non-fiction ideas across in a way that is easier for people to consider and understand.

Everyone loves a good redemption story. The trouble is, in my opinion, most writers don’t do them very well. Many Stars Wars fans couldn’t bear to continue watching as the awkward story line based on the redemption of Anakin Skywalker limped darkly to a close.

And if you listen to the deafening chorus of the chattering classes, you too have probably come to believe redemption of the narcissist not possible at all.

The truth is that real life redemption stories, if not so common in the ‘just chuck them on the scrap-heap’ world we live in today, still do occur and are both moving and motivational

Fiction is a great medium to share stories which actually originated in real life and in writing even give room for the characters to expose otherwise hidden inner dialog.

I have also come to see that stories hold an inherent inner logic that may be easier  to grasp than non-fiction.

Like the simple story presented in the movie Big Daddy.

Was Sonny in this movie (played by Adam Sandler), ever likely to realise all on his own that he needed to grow up and then be capable of changing himself?

No he wasn’t.

I see Big Daddy as a very basic and simple redemption story of a single, deadbeat narcissistic man. 

In ‘the redemption of a narcissist plot line’ not all narcissists are the same, but there are a few elements I have come to see as constants . . .

Standard themes in the narcissist’s story of redemption;

1. A profound shock that comes from a person or situation external to the narcissist. This shock is always what initiates the change.

This part is crucial. Emotional reactions such as pride, arrogance, defensiveness are lightening fast and by the time we are in our late teens usually hardwired in. The only way these reactions change is from a negative experience or highly charged emotional situation which in future causes fear, embarrassment or even love and trust to become an additional part of the same emotional response.

Once bitten twice shy gives the basic gist of it.

In the case of Big Daddy, this shock came to Sonny when the kindergartener teacher informs him Julian is considered the ‘smelly kid’ in class. This causes Sonny (and many viewers) the films big aha moment which changes everything. In real life we cannot decide to change hardwired emotional reactions without some kind of shock like this, so I would even argue that it is probably necessary the world gets involved in helping narcissists change.   

2.  The availability of a community of people to help support and educate the narcissist to learn less self centred habits.

Sonny didn’t simply come to his senses by being dumped on the street. His girlfriend dumping him at the beginning of the movie, in fact, has very little effect on him. By the time Sonny’s pride comes down, from the shock delivered by the much wiser kindergarten teacher, he has people around him supporting the changes he makes in his life. Without this support, the shock may have helped him for a little while, but eventually Sonny would have simply strengthened and rebuilt his false pride.

Just to be clear I want to mention a few things Big Daddy (and the real life plot-line of the narcissist’s story of redemption) does not include . . .

i. Sonny was not a psychopath and did not enjoy being cruel.

His character’s ego and irresponsibility hurt people sure, but this was the result of his irresponsibility and not his real motivation. Even when narcissistic people say and do mean or cruel things, it is not usually for the sake of being cruel (unless they want revenge) but rather a means to try and get their way in a power struggle or argument. Having narcissistic tendencies doesn’t make someone a psychopath no matter what anyone says.

I am not joking, I am tired of the dramatised sensationalism of this misinformation. Do narcissists hurt people? Yes they sure do! And if you want help with this we have  the most well researched, comprehensive and inexpensive resources available. But if you want help dealing with a psychopath, please go find it (if you can) elsewhere and stop confusing it with NPD. No matter what anyone tells you they are NOT the same thing.

ii. Sonny’s girlfriend did not psycho analyse him and go ‘No contact’.

If you want to end your relationship with a selfish and self centred person, I have complete sympathy and sincerely want to offer you our help and support. The last chapters in Back From the Looking Glass deal with leaving directly and will give you clearly presented and well researched advice. ‘No contact’ is really a game of emotional bullying and will usually cause the conflict to escalate. If you share property or children with a narcissist, ‘no contact’ is probably not even possible and certainly not wise.

iii.  Sonny did not admit he had a problem and get counselling.

This was not part of this movie and has not been part of the real life redemption stories we have witnessed. Rather than initiating redemption or change, counsellors are usually some of the first people to tell the narcissist’s family to give up on them.

Of course this kind of “shock & support” transition is not something you can just throw at someone out of the blue. That is why Steve and I put the time we do into supporting families in crisis who are in need of a major shift in their family dynamic.

Please don’t think you can shock your partner by using abandonment, anger or aggression, or that love on its own is going to make the change you are looking for.

Emotional manipulation is what narcissistic people hate the most and tend to respond very unpredictably to.

More important than figuring out how this shock might arrive in a person’s life (narcissistic people are usually pretty good at bringing this kind of shock on themselves), is building the kind of stable and supportive home environment in which change can be realised after a shock occurs.

Most narcissistic individuals end up having fairly serious personal breakdowns, but without different rules and a different emotional environment to recover in they will just end up rebuilding their old false self.

I have written more about the “Shock & Support” dynamic at the end of the last unit of my master class:

More on Shock & Support Creating Change in Narcissistic Individuals

Please Note: This link above only provides access to members. But if you join our group in the next few days, because it is my birthday on Saturday, I will give everyone who joins (as well as all of our existing members) a free download (of your choice) from our bookshop as a gift.

If you are not a member already, the page to sign up is here:

Join My Master Class Today

After you register and get logged in you can click through and read more on my concept of “shock & Support” here;

More on Shock & Support Creating Change in Narcissistic Individuals

Then before this special ends (the 17th of January 2017) – go and choose which free product download you want from our bookshop:

New & Old Members Both: Choose Which Book or Audio You Want as a Download

When you have decided what product you want, just email me the name of your choice to my personal email address:

And you can wish me a happy birthday as well 🙂

It may take a few days – but I will write back and provide you the download link as soon as I am able.

If you are new I will also send instructions on how to join our online Secret Facebook groups we use as our master class forums and classrooms. It is easy – but I will make sure the handshake happens when I write back.

For those of you who don’t want to buy our books and don’t want to become a member, from now on this blog is mostly going to tell stories based on the theme mentioned in this article above.

The first one should hopefully be published by the time this special ends 🙂

In the meantime getting help and support (creating change) from the privacy of your own home has never been easier . . .

Join My Master Class Today



Kim Cooper

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 29 Comments

  1. happy birthday Kim may G-d bless you with health love peace kindness and compassion and wealth to you and your family and loved ones

  2. Happy Birthday Kim!
    I think the problem is that psychopaths pretend to be narcissists, and you really can’t tell the difference unless you have been victimized by a psychopath and know in your gut the difference. some of them are incredibly skilled con-people and hide the signs that they are psychopaths. they become very good at mimicking empathy and other emotions. they can mimic a full scale nervous breakdown and redemption, all expert acting and nothing genuine and you can’t tell. so you are running up against people who have been victimized in this way and they won’t believe it’s possible because it’s not possible with a psychopath yet they think they were dealing with a narcissist. maybe you have already done this but perhaps a set of questions to ask your narcissist to try to fool them into slipping up and exposing psychopathy. then a person knows whether it is safe to follow your advice, or not.

    1. Narcissistic people will pretend to be sorry and make amends sure. Usually always in a power struggle to win or get what they want. This is another reason why leaving a person and making them prove themselves to win you back usually never works.

      The rate of psychopathy in the population is so low it cannot even be given a percentage. Predators may fool people sure – but this is not the same thing as NPD.

      I really need to make it clear there is nothing dangerous in our advice that would require a quiz (?) or make anyone more likely to be hurt by a psychopath. We give very practical and clear recommendations on how to set 100% real and effective boundaries against abuse – much more effective than changing your locks or not answering your phone. If you think those actions are going to protect you from a psychopath you obviously haven’t really thought this through.

      This is not a site designed to label people – but to help people out of false pride. If you want to medicalise this problem or analyse people, our work is probably not for you.

      1. I was just trying to explain why I think you get the resistance that you do. I think people think they are talking about apples when they are really talking about oranges. I know the prevalence of psychopathy is much higher than that. I think I’ve seen it in the range of around 2 % maybe a little more, but in my experience I suspect it is at least 5% or perhaps higher. and higher than that in military populations. both my mother and my husband were psychopaths. I know that the only way to protect yourself from them is to get as far away as possible, and to become invisible to them. I lived in fear of my ex because I knew he was capable of doing anything he thought he could get away with. you would never think either of them were criminals, because they were smart enough to know how to get away with what they did. At my ex’s memorial service everyone was gushing about what a great father he was, while I was in the bathroom gagging because in reality he had molested his own son. I thought both my mother and ex were NPD until I finally understood how they were thinking and operating, and it was so chilling that I am still in a state of horror even though my ex is dead now. I’m just saying that I know how easy it is to confuse the two types of people, because of the way they intentionally deceive us. psychopathy is why people tell you that you can’t cure narcissism. maybe you CAN. but you can’t cure psychopathy, and the people who say you can’t cure narcissism don’t know the difference.

      2. I have your book “Back From The Looking Glass”, it has taught me a lot, I want to thank you and Steve for all that you have taught me. I am the “Codependant” and I am learning. Maybe too slowly, but I am trying. I really appreciate your advice. Love to learn more-Michelle K.

  3. Happy Birthday Kim ! Thank you so much for continuing to write. I agree that the world we live in may be more responsive to a fiction based narrative. It may sound crazy to some but I totally get what you’re saying. I think it’s a great new idea!

  4. Kim,
    Thanks for taking the side of “Redemption is possible” and helping to illuminate that process. As someone who’s been diagnosed with some level of NPD, it has been extremely depressing to try and digest the societal meme that I am an uncurable a**hole, predestined to continue to hurt and manipulate those around me. I don’t want that! I want to spread love and respect, and do the relearning work it takes to get me there. The vision of hope that you continue to stand for has been very profound for me. Thank you and good luck in your new writing adventure!

  5. Happy Birthday, Kim!???
    I look forward to your fiction writings! What a wonderful idea. I’m thankful for you and this site!

  6. I wish you well with your new path and look forward to reading your fiction.

    You mention that leaving a narcissist and “making them prove themselves to win you back usually never works” because they will make amends to get what they want. That is almost exactly what I’m doing! We are divorced and in counseling and I am telling him that he needs to get control of his rages before I would consider marrying him again. Would you call that a good boundary or an ineffective attempt to change behavior? Thank you for all you do!

  7. Hi Kim,
    I am always very grateful for the wonderful articles you write to help families. On the internet I am shocked at how many hate filled articles are posted against people with NPD. You and Steve do a great job.
    I do not celebrate birthdays so I cannot wish you but I would like to say ‘may our Creator bless you and your fantastic wor’. Great idea about the fiction books. I look forward reading them.
    Would it still be ok to download one of your books??.

    1. Hey it is okay not to wish me a happy birthday! I agree they are pretty silly really 🙂 I wonder if you are a member? If so just end me an email of which ebook you want!

  8. Happiest birthday to you Kim! I’m not on Facebook right now but I sure will take an opportunity to wish you a happy birthday, congratulate you on the site and new creations and I will most definitely take a download! Yippy!!! I have no idea which one though (I feel like the kid in the candy store!) any suggestions for me?

    1. Hey Tracy a break from Facebook is a good thing sometimes – but we miss you already!!! Have you read the Little Book of Empathy Love and Friendship? It is one of my favourites 🙂 I am off to Melbourne in the morning but will send you a link to whatever download you decide on (email me) when I get home!

  9. Kim- happy birthday to you! First, you have a rare website that actually speaks to the redemptive side of narcissism. As you know well, virtually every website that deals with narcissism is speaking to the victims. I guess that really is not surprising is it? It would be strange to see it any other way. How many websites self-help websites would speak sympathetically to say murderers – “You can change!”. ( I know, that was kind of harsh 🙂 . Anyway, I appreciate you efforts and perspective very much. I thought I’d include a little birthday gift the other way around. Below is something I did on Quora – if you are familiar with that blogsite (my narcissistic response 🙂 . Hope it is helpful to you and your readers. It’s short …
    [ Why do psychopaths and narcissists manipulate differently?
    I’ve read that narcissists “love-bomb” and “gaslight” people, but psychopaths do not. Why do narcissists and psychopaths manipulate differently?

    David R. Schools, Clinical counselor at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York (2011-present)
    Written Sat

    Here’s my short answer:
    Narcissists cultivate “mirrors”  ( and therefore manipulate “mirrors” to reflect the image of themselves that feed their fuel of life => “narcissistic supply”)
    Psycho/socio-paths cultivate tools ( to get what they need or can use …they collect and manipulate a panoply of power tools if you will. )
    I might add that  sociopaths have a curious  (and twisted) “morality”:
    “Good”=> if it gets me what I want
    “Bad”=  if it stops me from getting what I want

  10. Happy Birthday Kim. I just want to say thank you again. You were the only light in the darkness saying hang in there and there is hope when all other voices and websites were telling me to leave. We are now 18 months past my husband’s narcissistic break down after being married to an absolute ars* for 3 years and I can honestly say that I have a different husband now. My heart sings as he comes more and more into him self. He’s finally the person he should have been all along and not the shell of a man/phantom who I married. It wasn’t easy but I set my boundaries and I still don’t take no sh!t. I just want to give hope to others. Change is possible but it takes a good nurturing/strong person standing their ground to counteract the narcissist’s attacks. He still has the odd episode but the difference is that I know how to handle them and he comes out of them quickly because I just don’t stand for them. So thank you, thank you, thank you for being there when I thought all my world was crashing in xx

  11. Happy Birthday and all the best to you and yours for a healthy and happy year of new beginnings! Also wanted to take the opportunity to thank you, appreciate all you have done and do.

  12. Hello Kim.

    I am a narcissist. I have destroyed my relationship with my soulmate. I feel just broken. But I have promised myself to get help and fix myself. And I have promised myself I would never hurt my girlfriend every again by simply never having contact with her, trying to protect her. I feel like a monster. But I believe true love means protecting those around you, no matter how much my narcissistic self wants to be with her.
    Your website provides me hope that one day I can just be normal.
    Thank you.

    1. Hey explorer, I really suggest that you work through the units in my master class – the exercises will teach you the emotional regulation you lack. Check out the top left box on this page (Personal & Group Support) to find out more about joining: I also suggest our books Your Blind Spot and The Little Book of Empathy Love and Friendship. Hang in there – ego is not impossible to defeat.

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