Here are some key points to keep in mind when dealing with people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
1) It’s not curable and it’s barely treatable. He/she is who he/she is. There is no getting better, or learning, or adapting. He/she’s not going to “rise to the occasion” for more than maybe a couple hours. So just put that out of your mind.
2) He/she will say whatever feels most comfortable or good to him/her at any given time. He/she will lie a lot, and say totally different things to different people. Stop being surprised by this. He/she won’t care. So if you’re trying to reconcile or analyze his/her words, don’t. It’s 100% not worth your time. Only pay attention to and address his/her actions.
3) You can influence him/her by making him/her feel good.
4) Entitlement is a key aspect of the disorder. He/she will likely not observe boundaries.
5) We should expect that he/she only cares about himself/herself and those he/she views as extensions of himself/herself, like his/her children. (People with NPD often can’t understand others as fully human or distinct.) He/she will have no qualms at all about stealing everything he/she can, and he/she’ll be happy to help others do so, if they make him/her feel good. He/she won’t view it as stealing but rather as something he/she’s entitled to do.
6) It’s very, very confusing for non-disordered people to experience a disordered person with NPD. While often intelligent, charismatic, and charming, they do not reliably observe social conventions or demonstrate basic human empathy. It’s very common for non-disordered people to lower their own expectations and try to normalize the behavior. Do not do this and do not allow others to do this. If you start to feel foggy or unclear about why, step away until you recalibrate.
7) People with NPD often recruit helpers. These are referred to as “enablers” in the literature when they allow or cover for bad behavior, and “flying monkeys” when they perpetrate bad behavior on behalf of the narcissist. Although it’s easiest to prey on malicious people, good and vulnerable people can be unwittingly recruited. It will be important to support the good people around him/her if and when they attempt to stay clear or break away.
8) People with NPD often foster competition in people they control. Expect lots of chaos, firings, and recriminations. He/she will probably behave worst toward those closest to him/her, but that doesn’t mean (obviously) that his/her actions won’t have consequences for the rest of us. He/she will punish enemies. He/she may start out with a confusing combination of punishment and reward, which is a classic abuse tactic for control. If you seen others cooperating or facilitating this behavior in order to favor rewards, call them on it.
9) Gaslighting (where someone tries to convince you that the reality you’ve experienced isn’t true) is real and torturous. He/she will gaslight, his/her followers will gaslight. Learn the signs and find ways to stay focused on what you know to be true. Note: it is typically not helpful to argue with people who are attempting to gaslight. You will only confuse yourself. Just walk away.
10) Whenever possible, do not focus on the narcissist or give him/her attention. Focus on what you can change and how you can resist, where you are.