An Interview with Nan Hall Linke on Toxic People and How to Deal with Them Nan Hall Linke is a well-known Houston psychotherapist and astrologer in practice since 1971. In this capacity, she has counseled individuals, couples and families, as well as various business enterprises. For most of her time as an astrologer, Nan has

An Interview with Nan Hall Linke on Toxic People and How to Deal with Them

Nan Hall Linke is a well-known Houston psychotherapist and astrologer in practice since 1971. In this capacity, she has counseled individuals, couples and families, as well as various business enterprises. For most of her time as an astrologer, Nan has often been featured on television, radio and in various magazines and newspapers. Nan was educated as a marriage and family therapist at the University of Houston Clear Lake and taught at the C.G Jung Educational Center in Houston, Texas.

What is the best way to deal with “narcissists?”

“That’s everyone at the age of 2 and during puberty. The important thing to realize is that narcissism is a stage. It is about ‘me; mine, you can’t tell me! I know everything!’ And so what we know is when people have not chosen to grow and develop, they regress or remain at that stage of ‘me, mine, no!’ And what we know is that it means there is no empathy, and there is no ability to put yourself in another person’s position, so it’s all about ‘What can you do for me?’ and ‘How can I get what I want?’.

“I was lucky in graduate school because my professor Dr. Masterson wrote all the textbooks about it and I was able to study his materials directly. So what he said is this; ‘Remember, a narcissist has these commodities to trade—money, power, position and material goods’. Because they are lacking in compassion, kindness and understanding, they are often untreatable.

“When my granddaughters were little girls, I thought I would teach them about narcissism, and they said, ‘Oh, that is Uncle So and So and also So and So!’ I replied, ‘That’s right, and you need to avoid those people.’ The funny part of the story is some years ago, the diagnostic manual on this condition was redone, because one out of two people out there is narcissistic. It is the ‘me’ generation. Young people here are given everything so they don’t have to do anything. They don’t struggle. They don’t learn anything about themselves. It is very American.

“When you get around these people, the tendency is to try to change them or feel that you yourself have done something wrong. Well, you didn’t do anything wrong. That’s who they decided to be. Don’t be open with them. Don’t tell them about yourself. Ask them about themselves. Listen and realize they feel they are the only one in the room! If you can, get away from them!”

What should you do about those who constantly criticize you?

“They are self deprecating, they don’t take responsibility for themselves so they give it to you. When I was a little girl, I asked my mother about this and she said there are people in the world who build themselves up by tearing other people down. It is called projection. ‘If I can’t get rid of my bad feelings about me, then I will attribute them to you and if you will be generous and stupid enough to take it, then I have accomplished my goal to dispose of my bad feelings about myself.’

“So when people criticize me, I say, ‘Thank you for that; I would like to write that down.’ I was taught to do this in graduate school because, first of all, you are not looking at them and you are doing something and they have basically given you a weather report on how they feel. It is called the Crooked Finger. Every time they are talking about you, they are really talking about themselves.

What about the victim-type personalities; the helpless?

“All I can tell you is what they told us the first day of graduate school for behavioral counseling. The professor asked, ‘How many are here to help people?’ Everyone had his or her hand up. The professor then said, ‘Well you can’t. What you have to realize is that most of the people you are trying to help are helpless and you can’t help the helpless, so you have to learn if someone is moving from helpless to being able to be helped.’

“The helpless stance is the borderline side of a narcissistic character disorder. They take no responsibility. They don’t learn the lesson and they repeat the situation over and over. Ask someone, ‘How long have you had this problem and what have you done about it?’ If it is a long-term problem and they have done nothing or just a few things, it is a hot potato. You say, ‘Well, I don’t know. It is a mystery to me! But support them. As a therapist, I give them one thing to do and if they don’t do it, there is not much I can do. You can’t help the helpless!”

What about envious or jealous people?

“What I know about them is based up on a concept of a book I read called “Finite and Infinite Games”. It is about the filter you put on reality. If you see the world as unlimited and you can be part of that what I call ‘unlimitedness’, you are not jealous or envious. But if you see it as a limited option and somebody else got your share and therefore you can’t, then you will have tendency to have jealousy and resentment about what other people have.

“People who see the world as infinite say, ‘Oh, you have got that, you must know how to do it, could you share it with me?’ Generally generous people will help other people, but envious or jealous people don’t!

What about those who are arrogant?

“Those are people who have a typical narcissistic character disorder on steroids. It is called megalomania narcissism and it is pathology. It is all about, ‘I feel so small inside because I am empty and compulsively extroverted. I don’t have a root system. I am like a tree about to be blown off in a rainstorm, so I have to inflate myself. That way, I am larger than I think I am, and larger than what you want me to be, so that I can overpower you.’ That’s how they think. Avoid them if you can!

What’s the best way to find people who are emotionally stable and healthy?

“There are five questions I ask to see if someone can be my friend.

  • What is the worst thing that happened to you and how did you get over it? If the answer is, ‘Nothing happened’ and they say they have nothing to get over, they can’t be my friend. They will not be friendly.
  • Next, I ask, ‘What are your interests?’ If you have no interests, you are not going to be my friend.
  • Third, I ask, ‘What do you like to do when you are alone?’ If the answer is that they are never alone, then they have a dependent personality and they will probably eventually get hostile.
  • Fourth, I ask someone to tell me about their friends. If they answer that they have no friends, I guess they are not going to be my friend either.
  • Finally I might ask someone to tell me about their relationship with their mother because that tells about your first home and your first relationship. If someone says, ‘Oh, my mother is perfect’, then you are still in the idealization stage and you can’t be my friend or if you say ‘I hate my mother. She was awful.’, then I don’t think they can be my friend either because they are not going to be happy people.

“Ultimately, you really have to audition your friends. It is not about association or common stuff. It is about what is on the inside. You don’t shop for wrapping paper. You shop for what is really inside a person.”

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