What makes a Narcissist change according to psychology

Is it possible for a narcissist to change? Asking the important questions here. 

Many people who have been experiencing a narcissist’s controlling wrath upon themselves have wondered whether such a manipulative person can change. The easier thing would be to say that these toxic individuals are unable to come to their senses. We can simply deem them as ‘bad’ people and refuse to go deeper into what makes them so emotionally numb. But what if there is a chance they can become decent human beings?

Generally, narcissists are egocentric attention-seekers who have zero sense of empathy.

They are natural dominators, and that shows in every aspect of their lives – conversations, romantic bonds, friendships, and all kinds of relationships with other people. They lie, they manipulate, and they play with others’ feelings until it works for them. The second they get bored, they move on to another victim and leave you behind with a broken heart and a shattered perception of your own reality.

The question is: Are all narcissists evil, or are they able to have a change of heart? 

A group of psychologists at the University of Mannheim decided to look through whether narcissists can turn the spotlight off themselves and focus on others’ needs. Their latest study is called “Changes in narcissism from young adulthood to middle age.” 

In their research, the Mannheim team is diving into the characteristics of the manipulator, as Power of Positivity reports. They worked with people aged 18 to 41 diagnosed as narcissists. The main goal was to see whether the level of narcissism decreases overtime.

As we grow mature, our responsibilities rapidly increase, and our priorities go through drastic changes. Things like work, family, friends, and other aspects of our lives play a massive role in the way our behavior transforms through the years. Every single choice we make is a step closer to defining our personalities. The very same course goes for narcissists.

Analyzing the participants’ personality development, the experts followed several viewpoints:

  • Marriages and serious relationships
  • New job or career paths
  • Health problems
  • Serious injuries
  • Loss of friends or loved ones

The people involved in the research had to rank these aspects as they correlated with their life. Additionally, they had to mark if any of the listed events had a positive or negative effect on them.

Whan needs to happen in a narcissist’s life so they can change?

The challenges we go through, the people we interact with, the losses we experience – all of these issues can have a significant impact on the way we grow as human beings. These outlining factors can trigger a much-needed change in our lives. So, can they do it for narcissists as well?

While conducting the study, the researchers focused on several determinants – job and career path, relationships, and health. When it comes to work-related experience, the volunteers were asked questions regarding their position, salary satisfaction, and responsibilities. For instance, if you are not happy with your workplace and the money you make, it’s only natural that this would affect your personality, as this is a big part of your everyday life.

Relationships are another significant aspect that the psychologists considered powerful enough to change a narcissist’s perceptions. They were specifically interested in the participants’ status, meaning whether they are in a couple, married, with children, or single parents. More importantly, they wanted to know whether the respondents were in “an ideal union” or if they were in unsatisfactory or abusive relationships.

Last but not least, the examiners looked through the participants’ physical health. For instance, a person who is battling a severe condition may not be as welcoming as someone who is as fresh as a daisy.

So, what did the results reveal about narcissists’ ability to change?

According to the study, people with narcissistic traits are expressing them more vividly during their early adulthood. However, in most cases, the level of manipulativeness they show seems to decrease as they face reality and obtain more responsibilities.

Interestingly(but not surprisingly), the respondents who ranked higher on the narcissism scale were people in supervisory positions. When it comes to parenthood, people with children were significantly less narcissistic than those without.

Overall, the research reveals that narcissists are able to change. What they need to do so is a serious reality check, which is often triggered by a deeply emotional experience. The so-called challenges life throws at us are helping us shape our personalities through the years, and the way we react to them tells a lot about us as people. In other words, what makes us change is growing up and becoming more mature.

Every single challenge comes with a valuable life lesson. Some of these lessons are impossible to neglect, even for the most controlling narcissist.

So, yes, narcissists can change!

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