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The Selfless/Benevolent Mask of Altruistic Narcissists: Video Course

The Selfless/Benevolent Mask of Altruistic Narcissists: Video Course

Narcissism, as a personality disorder, is mostly understood in its grandiose form characterised by an inflated sense of self-importance, need for admiration, and lack of empathy for others. However, think of narcissism as a spectrum, with the altruistic narcissism at the very far end.  At first glance, an altruistic narcissist seems the very opposite of a narcissist, with none of the associated manifestations. These are people who always put others first, are always ready to help, volunteer their time, guide and nurture as mentors. However, in the case of altruistic narcissists, this need to help others is a means to fulfil unmet childhood needs, striving for validation, love, and approval, all the while pursuing self-affirmation through servitude. Altruistic narcissists portray a selfless facade, appearing caring and compassionate, yet covertly satisfying their narcissistic cravings for uniqueness and control. Their actions are aimed at gaining a sense of self-righteousness and entitlement while fulfilling needs for adulation, excessive gratitude and deserving of special treatment.

Video course packs, including all notes are available immediately on booking. The access links are part of your ticket. Online video access remains available for 1 year from the date you receive the video course.

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£ 69.00

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Course Credits

CPD: 3 / CE: 3

Speaker(s)

Christiane Sanderson

Course length in hours

3 hrs of video content

Full course information

As all narcissism is predicated on narcissistic injuries to the developing self in childhood, many traumatised narcissists feel compelled to seek resolution by redirecting attention towards aiding others. This intellectually stimulating webinar encourages us to extend the discourse on narcissism beyond its grandiose representations. We will explore the impact of traumatic narcissism and its link to narcissistic traits associated with altruistic narcissists. Using case vignettes and examples, the webinar will examine how altruistic narcissism manifests in a range of care giving or helping environments and identify the main types of altruistic narcissists – the hero or rescuer, the martyr, and the giver. We will look at narcissistic vulnerabilities, specifically the three narcissistic snares identified by Maltsberger and Buie (1974). We will also explore in detail how some therapists themselves can manifest these characteristics in the therapeutic dynamic with their clients.

The manifestations of altruistic narcissism can be seen in multiple situations:

  • Employer-Employee Dynamics: An employer who portrays a facade of extreme generosity and care for employees, yet subtly demands unwavering loyalty and excessive gratitude, showcasing entitlement
  • Parental Roles: A parent who appears excessively nurturing and self-sacrificing while expecting constant validation and admiration from their children, often imposing their desires and aspirations onto them
  • Couples in a relationship: One partner might adopt a seemingly altruistic persona, consistently offering support and care to the other, but it’s motivated by a need for validation and control within the relationship
  • Therapist-Client Dynamics: A client may present as excessively appreciative of the therapist’s efforts, portraying an idealized view of the therapist while expecting special treatment or unwavering support, thereby exhibiting entitlement. Similarly, the therapist may have a heightened sense of being benevolent, compassionate and virtuous – which can fuel a grandiose sense of self.
  • Support Groups or Communities: Individuals engaging in support groups might showcase altruistic behaviours while subtly seeking validation or control within the group dynamics, showcasing a need for recognition or admiration
  • Community Leaders: Figures in leadership roles within communities or social organizations might exhibit altruistic behaviour while subtly leveraging this facade to maintain power or control over their followers

We will especially consider the specific case of psychotherapists as altruistic narcissists – who might be shoehorning clients into a preferred therapeutic modality and blaming clients for rupture, impasse, failure, or taking all the credit for healing the client.

Specifically, we will explore the range of relational narcissistic injuries sustained in childhood that are often re-enacted in the therapeutic relationship and how these become entwined with the client’s need for healing.  Consideration will be given to how best to work with the interplay of both client’s and therapist’s narcissistic wounds and how to manage narcissistic threats in a therapeutic way without activating shaming or retaliatory defences. We will learn about how we can facilitate essential behavioural changes in our clients and ourselves if required – that minimise the risk of becoming a traumatising narcissist. These include openness, promoting choices, humility, self-agency and empowerment through a collaborative, non-hierarchical approach, thus reducing power imbalances to facilitate healthy narcissism rather than replicating the dynamics seen in traumatic narcissism.

The workshop will focus on:

  • Understanding the impact of traumatic narcissism and its link to narcissistic traits
  • Identifying the main types of altruistic narcissists – the hero or rescuer, the martyr, the giver
  • Understanding the main characteristics of altruistic narcissists such as their need for validation, need to be seen as worthy, caring, generous, kind, trustworthy, benevolent, compassionate, virtuous by being of service to others the community or society and how this is a façade to fuel and to maintain a grandiose sense of self
  • Exploring how altruistic narcissism manifests in a range of care giving or helping environment – parents, teachers, social workers, charity workers, health professionals, spiritual leaders, as well as health professionals and therapists
  • Identifying the three narcissistic snares: ‘to know all, to heal all and to love all’and how these can impact on our clients’ relationships
  • Investigating how altruistic narcissists can become traumatising narcissists and the risk of replicating the core elements of traumatic narcissism
  • Examining the therapist defences against threats to narcissistic equilibrium in the therapeutic relationship
  • Discussing how to work with narcissistic threats and avoid shaming clients and remain compassionate

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the main types of altruistic narcissists – the hero or rescuer, the martyr, the giver
  • Identify the three narcissistic snares: ‘to know all, to heal all and to love all’and how these can impact on our clients’ relationships
  • Examine the therapist defences against threats to narcissistic equilibrium in the therapeutic relationship

© nscience 2023 / 24

What's included in this course

What you’ll learn

We will learn about how we can facilitate essential behavioural changes in our clients and ourselves if required – that minimise the risk of becoming a traumatising narcissist. These include openness, promoting choices, humility, self-agency and empowerment through a collaborative, non-hierarchical approach, thus reducing power imbalances to facilitate healthy narcissism rather than replicating the dynamics seen in traumatic narcissism.

Learning objectives

  • Identify the main types of altruistic narcissists – the hero or rescuer, the martyr, the giver
  • Identify the three narcissistic snares: ‘to know all, to heal all and to love all’and how these can impact on our clients’ relationships
  • Examine the therapist defences against threats to narcissistic equilibrium in the therapeutic relationship

About the speaker(s)

Christiane Sanderson BSc, MSc. is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Roehampton, of London with 35years of experience working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse and sexual violence. She has delivered consultancy, continuous professional development and professional training for parents, teachers, social workers, nurses, therapists, counsellors, solicitors, the NSPCC, the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Committee, the Methodist Church, the Metropolitan Police Service, SOLACE, the Refugee Council, Birmingham City Council Youth Offending Team, and HMP Bronzefield.

She is the author of Counselling Skills for Working with Shame, Counselling Skills for Working with Trauma: Healing from Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse, Counselling Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 3rd edition, Counselling Survivors of Domestic Abuse, The Seduction of Children: Empowering Parents and Teachers to Protect Children from Child Sexual Abuse, and Introduction to Counselling Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma, all published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. She has also written The Warrior Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Sexual Violence; The Spirit Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Religious Sexual Abuse Across All Faiths and Responding to Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: A pocket guide for professionals, partners, families and friends for the charity One in Four for whom she is a trustee.

nscience UK is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. nscience UK maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

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