Out St. Pete filmmaker and life coach Eric Casaccio seeks to empower the world

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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St. Petersburg transplant Eric Casaccio, an out filmmaker and international life coach, has published Empowerment from Narcissistic Situations, a manual designed to help move readers’ lives forward.

The e-book provides a roadmap for moving beyond narcissistic situations and “clearing out feelings of doom that come as a result,” Casaccio says. “It’s a workbook guide for taking the story of your disempowered past in the now and transforming it into a story of your empowered future.”

To understand a narcissistic situation one may have found themselves in, Casaccio says, you must first understand that it’s more than being surrounded by “someone who’s obsessed with their looks.” It’s much deeper, he asserts, pointing toward Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Mayo Clinic defines the disorder as “a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” They further note, however, that “behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

While romantic relationships with narcissists are the most common amongst Casaccio’s clientele, he says that narcissistic situations exist outside of romance, and afflict both heterosexual and same-sex individuals. The manual includes models to help people power through working relationships with narcissists, dealing with family members who are narcissists and includes a model that asks: “is it a genuine friendship?”

The path to publication for Casaccio’s manual actually began in film. Beginning in 2011, Casaccio wrote, directed, produced and edited both Freak and Narcissist while living in California—films that featured LGBTQ characters, enjoyed years on the film festival circuit and are now both available on Amazon Prime Video.

Freak follows the story of Randall, a bullied, hard-working “yet fragile soul as he faces his inner demons buried behind a drag queen persona while pursuing the dream of a lifetime.” The film was financed entirely by Casaccio, written as a small project and completed in his own Los Angeles apartment.

“I really didn’t think it would go anywhere,” he says, “and it ended up going everywhere. Within that character I really wanted to capture someone who was bullied their entire life, and was kind of afraid and isolating themselves from the outside world. I really wanted to show that it’s okay to be who you are no matter where you are, and within adults, bullying still happens.”

His follow-up, Narcissist, was financed through crowd-sourcing. After raising $6,000 within a month, he moved into production. The film, which details “the story of an honest, genuine writer as he discovers the painful truth of a handsome, charming, yet manipulative and toxic love interest,” screened for over two years at the Boston LGBT Film Festival in 2014.

It was during tours for the films that Casaccio overcame his own relationship with a narcissist and discovered his passion for helping others dealing with similar situations. “Freak was my first time stepping into the red carpet interview life, and then I got over that pretty quickly,” he says.

“When I did Narcissist, what I really found much more enjoyable while traveling and promoting was not being a filmmaker, but having question and answer sessions with the audience,” he continues. “Meeting with the audience members that really needed an uplifting moment in their lives because they’d gone through these relationships.”

The one-on-one conversations are what he loved the most, and they “kept happening over and over again.” Within those talks, “someone asked me if I’d considered becoming a life coach,” he says. For Casaccio, the rest was history.

The film festival circuit brought him to Gasparilla in Tampa, where a friend introduced him to St. Petersburg. “The city had such a creative energy to it,” he recalls. “I was sitting on a park bench, I looked down and my first name was carved into it. And I thought, ‘Okay, is that a sign?’”

He returned shortly after his initial trip to set up his life coach business, having completed his certification from the Southwest Institute of the Healing Arts. “If it wasn’t for the journey of my films,” he says, he wouldn’t be where he was today. “My films, they’re not about being a filmmaker to me. I think they have a strong message and they start conversations and make change. That’s what I’m about.”

Casaccio says he loves “helping and collaborating with others to improve their lives.” The focus of his work as a life coach is “where you are now, in order to move you forward.” So when he created the course for empowering those who’d been hurt by narcissists, the idea of a manual came organically.

“I decided to take all the 24 coaching models I’d created and put them in the manual,” he says. “It allows people to learn how to coach themselves. To help them find the clarity, answers and awareness to focus on themselves.”

Casaccio believes the manual is for anyone who finds themselves “feeling stuck in their lives from having been in a narcissistic situation.” The first model, which is available on his website as a free sample, allows readers to detail “your story.”

It allows them to input their story and to pick their focus. “It tailors right into the stages of grief: moving forward through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It then moves into the stages of trauma, going from being a victim to a survivor, to a thriver to a server, and to an empowered server.”

“It’s imperative that people who’ve gone through these situations get themselves out of victim mode as soon as they possibly can,” he says. “Everyone has a different story, yet everyone feels the same. The goal is to take you to a point where you can take everything you know and make the world better.”

“With life coaching and with this manual, it’s a collaboration. I don’t try to sell the manuals… I let it speak for itself,” Casaccio says. “That’s why there’s a free sample. Here it is, look at it. I’m a firm believer that if you feel you’re connected to this material and it will help you move forward, then what’s holding you back?”

For Casaccio, his services and the manual aren’t about money, but mending. He advises to “trust your own instincts on any material out there that is best suited to help you move forward. I like things to happen organically. When it comes to this kind of material—if it feels organic, go for it. That’s the universe telling you this is for you. This is going to help you.”

“That’s what I want this manual to do for others,” he says, “and that’s why I created it.”

For more information about Eric Casaccio, his new manual, his services or films, visit nowyourlife.com, narcissistthemovie.com or facebook.com/freakthefilm.

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