How to Deal with a Narcissistic Family Member: Lessons from the Manchurian Candidate

Feb 28, 2023
How to Deal with a Narcissistic Family Member: Lessons from the Manchurian Candidate

 “The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one's narcissism. The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one. The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one's desires and fears.”
― Erich Fromm,  The Art of Loving


Have you ever felt powerless against someone in your family? 

Someone who is manipulative and uses you as a tool for their own purposes?

Someone who doesn’t care about your feelings, but only cares about their own?

If so, you may be dealing with a narcissistic family member. It can be difficult to know what to do in these circumstances. In this article, we explore how to cope with such individuals by drawing on lessons from the classic film The Manchurian Candidate.


The main character of the classic film, The Manchurian Candidate, is a soldier who has been brainwashed into serving as an unknowing assassin. He has no control over his actions — he is completely at the mercy of others. His mother, who is also narcissistic, has manipulated him into carrying out her murderous schemes. This may sound like a far-fetched plot device, but it shares similarities with those who have grown up in emotional manipulation by narcissistic family members. Like the main character in the movie, these people often find themselves feeling powerless and unable to break free from their situation — even when they know deep down that it isn’t healthy for them.

When dealing with such individuals, it is important to remember that you are not alone and that there are ways to cope with this situation. One way is through somatic interventions — techniques designed to help people reconnect with their bodies and minds in order to better deal with stress and anxiety. Examples of somatic interventions include yoga and meditation, which can help bring clarity and focus during difficult times. It can also be helpful to practice mindfulness and grounding techniques, which can help you stay present in your body and disconnected from any trauma or negative energy coming from outside sources (such as those generated by a narcissistic person).

Another way to cope is by understanding how narcissists operate. Many times, narcissists will use their children as tools for providing ego validation for themselves — something referred to as “narcissistic supply” — without considering how this might negatively affect their children’s lives and relationships. By being aware of this behavior pattern, it becomes easier to identify when someone is trying to manipulate or exploit you for their own gain.

Ultimately, those dealing with a narcissistic individual must make the difficult choice between staying connected or cutting them out of their lives entirely. But no matter what path you choose, there are ways that you can protect yourself and begin the process of healing from past traumas caused by these individuals. Through somatic interventions such as yoga or meditation and understanding how narcissists operate, you can regain control of your life and learn how to develop a healthy sense of self outside the influence of others. Just like in The Manchurian Candidate, this is often an impossible choice – but one that we all must eventually face if we want true freedom from manipulation or abuse at home or elsewhere!

 Photo credit: Lopez Robin @Unsplash


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