Can you mediate when one person has narcissistic personality disorder?
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is one of several personality disorders, and people who have it find it difficult to control their emotions. NPD is a diagnosable condition, much like borderline personality disorder. It usually stems from childhood experiences or up-bringing.
So what are the characteristics and how do you know if your ex has this condition? With narcissistic personality disorder you have a high sense of self-importance. You may act like this to cover low self-esteem.
The person with narcissistic personality disorder swings between seeing themselves as special and fearing they are worthless. They may act as if they have an inflated sense of their own importance and show an intense need for other people to look up to them.
In England, it is estimated that around 1 in 20 people has a personality disorder. However, many people have only mild conditions that flare at times of stress (such as divorce). Other people with more severe problems may need specialist help for longer periods. Narcissistic personality disorder, like other personality disorders, operates on a scale of severity.
If someone is suffering from NPD at the higher scale, then mediation is unlikely to be successful. Depending on how far up the scale the NPD rates, we may make some progress, or none at all. However, as many people behave badly towards the end of a relationship, it is easy to mistake bad behaviour for NPD and your ex may behave better in mediation, with a mediator present.
Before booking in a joint mediation meeting, all clients first attend an individual meeting with the mediator (formally called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting or MIAM). During this meeting, you will have the opportunity to share your concerns with the mediator and together we can work out if mediation is appropriate or likely to be successful.
If you do decide to proceed, having discussed your concerns with the mediator will mean that they will be looking out for warning signs and can talk to you both if mediation no longer seems viable.
If you are concerned about NPD and mediation, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07706 513496 and I can help you work out how you wish to proceed.
You may also find this book helpful:
Divorcing a narcissist