The Gift of Healthy Narcissism


Self-reclamation may involve excruciating revisiting of painful injustices perpetrated by one’s caregivers. It may involve owning how these insidious betrayals and losses contributed to years of self-sabotage, through people pleasing, absent boundaries, destructive selflessness and bargaining with abuse.

Yet even those with years of extensive recovery find that when they grapple with family and significant others who are riddled by traits of destructive narcissism, dis-empowering regressions may occur. They strangely lose sight of their basic interpersonal rights. They get caught up in the dictates of the dysfunctional familial dynamics and their prescribed role.

The survivor is trapped by the implicit threat that to defy the family credo would result in severe repercussions. She has to be willing to risk character assassination, abandonment and outright aggression if she is to recover the Self she was robbed of.

Rights in Relationships

Patricia Evans wrote in “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” that we are all deserving of these basic rights in relationships:

  1. The right to emotional support
  2. The right to be heard by the other and to respond
  3. The right to have your own point of view, even if this differs from your partner’s
  4. The right to have your feelings and experiences acknowledged as real
  5. The right to live free from accusation and blame
  6. The right to live free from criticism and judgment
  7. The right to live free from emotional and physical threat
  8. The right to live free from angry outbursts and rage
  9. The right to be respectfully asked, rather than ordered

The basic rights to be treated with respect and to have the freedom to say no to things you don’t want to do, are obvious for those with healthy narcissism. For survivors of abuse, the gift of safely and fully being one’s authentic unique self, is unquestionably worth fighting for. Although the sacrifice may be steep, the price of not being true to oneself is far greater.

Happy man photo available from Shutterstock

The Gift of Healthy Narcissism

Rev Sheri Heller, LCSW

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, is a seasoned NYC psychotherapist with 25+ years experience in the addiction and mental health fields. Sheri is also an interfaith minister and playwright, and the founder of The Sistah Tribe - Phoenix Project, a therapeutic theater event for at-risk women and girls in the public sector of NYC. For more information, visit


APA Reference
Heller, R. (2015). The Gift of Healthy Narcissism. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Jul 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Jul 2015
Published on All rights reserved.