Dear Psychologist.

I need advice to coping with one particular person. I would not like to talk ill of other people, but he makes the life of many other people hard. Our friend wants to be the centre of attention all the time. He tries to do things that he could gain recognition with and then he expects others to admire him. He gets upset very easily if someone tries to even slightly disagree with him. Often he describes with dramatic hand gestures how someone has spoken or criticised him rudely. No one dares to criticise him, because it would have bad consequences as we have already seen. He does not consider things from other people’s point of view at all. All of us are like a patient audience in his life. It is hard for him to accept the fact if someone else really is better than him at something. He does not really even want to think of that possibility. In his opinion, he is expert in all fields. His ideas of other people seem to constantly change; at one moment he hates someone and the next, the person may seem totally different to him. He sometimes interferes in other people’s relationships by talking unfavourable things of other people and at least some close people to him believe these things fully. How could we change him as we have to be bound to him for the rest of our lives?

Dear Questioner,

In your question, you are describing a person whose personality seems to be very inflexible. Apparently, he is not very good at reading other people’s feelings making rigid interpretations of the situations instead. He is the centre of his own world and he does not care to think of things from other people’s point of view. He has a compulsory need to prove, maybe just to himself that he is good and everyone else loves and admires him. He seems to really want this feeling. This is of course saying that underneath he does not trust that he will do as he is. In reality, the behaviour of these kind of people will cause irritation or even hate in other people, because none of us wants to be made to feel like air or a stage for other’s needs. It is especially sad that he is affecting people’s relationships in that way. I think this could be to do with jealousy that he feels inside and that he is unable to control. He can not stand people that have something that he does not and because of this, he is punishing them or is even trying to destroy them. Most likely, he is not aware of his own motives or purposes, feeling he is entitled to his actions instead.

If you have a close relationship to a person like this, you must certainly be living in an exhausting situation. In psychology, we talk about character disorder when we are talking about people like him. There are many different types of character disorder and the main problem is that people suffering from this disorder are very difficult to change in any way, if they do not think themselves that they need to change. If they are suffering from the situation themselves, they may find the need to get psychological help and at that time, there may be a possibility for a change. Then again, for example, even psycho-therapy may not always be helpful for everyone. The best thing would be to think how you could protect yourself and others that he could harm. Do you have to be in contact with this person? If so, it would be wise with this kind of person who is narcissist/attention seeker that his need for attention and admiration should not be answered for too much, instead, set some consistent boundaries on it. Naturally, it is a good idea to be polite and humane so that he is not provoked to feel offended again. Feeling a little bit of frustration, however, is a good experience for him. At its best, he might learn that he is not the greatest, the most beautiful or the wisest person in the world and others could also have something to give.

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