How to Get the Narcissist's Worms Out of Your Head
Parasitic worms are a nasty image, but they aptly describe what a person with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) does to their victims. Like any parasite, they do not want to totally destroy their host (you), because without you (and people like you), the NPD would totally fall apart. Like most parasites, NPDs have inborn abilities to find and attach to a host without the host realizing that they have been infested. By the time the host recognizes that there is something terribly wrong, the parasite has firmly hooked in to the victim, making escape difficult, at the very least.
And like all parasites, the NPD lies in wait patiently, until a suitable host comes by (usually stumbling by, actually). Like getting a tick in your groin while answering nature’s call in the deep woods, the NPD is always on the lookout for a vulnerable host/victim. Many victims of NPDs, if they are honest and examine themselves forensically closely in clinical counseling, will be able to recognize just how vulnerable they were at the time the NPD entered their lives. The NPD immediately began to administer the anesthesia best suited for the victim: compliments, charm, sympathy, economic support, or emotional security (or a combination of these).
Once the host/victim is numbed, a slow, subtle process begins of draining the victim of their life. Tiny digs begin about the victim’s imperfections and character flaws, and the use of repetition, proofing (citing endless fabricated "proofs" of your stupidity), gas-lighting, and other brainwashing techniques escalate towards total possession. Each of these techniques are like parasitic worms that the NPD places in the host/victim’s head for further development and use. Some are left dormant for a time, but are planted at a vulnerable moment for later use. And the effort is relentless, it never stops, and is a constant process of parasitic infection.
The assault on the host/victim is perpetrated upon the brain’s limbic system. This is the exact strategy used by experienced torturers in "brainwashing" efforts. The strategy involves relentless pressure and manipulation of the emotional centers of the brain (limbic system), often to the intentional exclusion of the more logical and critical thinking areas of the brain. The objective in this kind of mind-control is to gain 100 percent control over the individual emotionally and shut down all use of critical thought.
Planting the "worms" of self-doubt is achieved by the NPD finding out about your areas of lower self-esteem, and starting the process of repeatedly bringing them up, with small additions to "tie down" the flaw. The repetitions are employed as a method of wearing down and forcing the worm to go deeper into the individual’s psyche and self-identity. Never missing a chance to comment on your errors (even simple, common, human errors) is just one form of "proofing," other forms are simply making things up on how what you do or do not do is messing up the life of the NPD. “Gas-lighting” is such a broad category as to be beyond the scope of this brief article, but suffice it to say that there are dozens of not hundreds of ways the NPD does this. (Look up the 1944 film, "Gaslight").
Identify the Worms
You cannot purge yourself of the worms unless you know what they are. You may know about a few of them, but you may need the advisement of trusted friends or even a qualified clinical counselor to identify and locate the many other worms that are in your head. Trust me, there are many worms there, some of them even "sleepers" that are just awaiting the NPD to ‘wake’ them.
Some of the common worms that the NPD places into the host/victim are thoughts like: incompetency, failing beauty, low IQ, inability to be independent, laziness, accusations of cheating on the NPD, not being lovable, being a liar or thief, and poor parent. All of these emotions-attacking-parasites are dedicated to the larger goal of having the host/victim hand over their ‘locus of control’. Because once the NPD has that, they essentially own you, mind, body, and soul….and the NPD then begins to consume even those.
But the NPD has one more trick, one more parasite: they plant the worm of intense rage and desire for revenge. This is the worm that lies dormant, often for decades, and is there as a fail-safe for the NPD. Should you ever decide to leave, end the relationship, escape, or purge yourself of the other worms, the revenge worm can be activated by the NPD to continue to get supply of reactivity from you (albeit negative reactivity, but "hey, any port in a storm," eh?)
The NPD shaped the revenge worm by repeatedly doing and saying bizarre nonsense that was designed to knock you off balance and create in you small storms of confusion and anger, which, if you expressed, are met with apologies and soothing. Essentially, the NPD taught you how to store up all of your rage for them over a relatively long period of time, and regularly baited you to occasionally engage in sparring with them, letting you win small victories. And they full well know the game of tit for tat: they likely invented it. And you have been watching and learning from them how to be vicious for years, maybe even decades. Viola: they have created a perfect foil for their future supply.
Challenge the Worms
Recovery depends on your reclaiming your limbic system and regaining your locus of control by exercising logic and critical thinking. To do this, most hosts/victims need to physically get away from the NPD. This is why most advisors tell you to cut off all contact, because the NPD will try to get your worms to wiggle any chance they can get.
Sitting down with a pencil and piece of paper, write down as many worms as you can locate that your NPD has placed in your head. Keep this in mind when thinking about the worms: while yes, you do have character flaws and issues like everyone else in the world, what the NPD told you about yourself is untrue. Keep the list visible, like on the fridge. Each day, consciously challenge each of the worms; tell yourself forcefully, even aloud, that they are not true. Learn how to engage in critical thinking; read a book or two on the topic and practice, relentlessly.
"Critical thinking" is the ability to think about your own thinking. It applies solid facts and logic to process problems and theories. Remember, theories are not facts until there is enough evidence and proof to support them, and critical thinking provides the intellectual discipline and rigor to do that, beyond even a shadow of a doubt. And, it can be duplicated and affirmed by multiple other people or sources. The NPD, as you well know, develops a bizarre theory and then goes to selectively find (and fabricate, if need be) evidences to prove their theory correct. Anything that does not fit their theory is discarded, despite it being factual. Real science does the opposite: the theory is made, and then evidence is sought to prove the theory wrong.
It is important to note that most people in the world do not regularly engage their brains with critical thinking, even scientists make logic and critical thinking errors, that is why scientific theories and data often go through rigorous peer review before being accepted in the scientific community. The upside is, if you learn to think critically on a routine basis, you will end up a healthier, more serene and satisfied person….and, it really pisses off NPDs.
Purge the Worms
So, dear reader, here is the formula for purging the worms: whatever is on the worm list you made, reverse. And now go find evidence to prove those things wrong. Did the NPD tell you are ugly? Stupid? No one wants you? You are beautiful, you are bright, and many people love you. Now just try and find the evidence to negate those truths…you can’t. Surround yourself with only positive, walk only in the positive, and reclaim the location of emotional control in your live. Bless your survival.