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Confessions of Codependent Inverted Narcissists - Part 2 of 3

Uploaded 8/15/2011, approx. 9 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.


How does a typical inverted narcissist react to compliments?

A woman inverted narcissist wrote to me, I love getting compliments and rewards and do not react negatively to them.

In some moods, when my self-hate has gotten triggered, I can sometimes get to places where I am inconsolable, because I get stuck in bitterness and self-pity, so I doubt the sincerity or the reliability of the good thing that someone is saying to me, to try to cheer me up or whatever.

But if I am in a reasonable mood, that someone offers me something good, I am all too happy to accept it. I don't have a stake in staying miserable.

Some women contest the very diagnosis of inverted narcissist, the very condition. A woman wrote, I do agree that it's atypical on your inverted narcissism, and not a milder thing.

But how I see it is that inverted narcissism is partial. The part that's there is just as destructive as it is in the typical narcissist.

But there are parts missing from the total, the full-blown disorder. And I see that as healthy, actually. I see it as parts of myself that were not affected by the pathology, that are still intact.

In my case, I did not develop the over-winning ego part of the disorder.

So in a sense, what you have with me is the naked pathology, with no covering, no suave-ness, no charm, no charisma, no confidence, no persuasiveness, but also no excuses, no lies, no justifications for my feelings, just the ugly, safe, self-hatred for all to see.

The self-hate part is just as bad as it is with a full-blown narcissist.

So again, inverted narcissism is not a milder form of narcissism. It's just a pure form.

But because I don't have the denial part of the disorder, I have a lot more insight, continues this woman.

I have a lot more motivation to do something about my problems. That is to self-refer to therapy, for instance.

And therefore, I think a lot more hope of getting better than people whose defense involves totally denying that they even have a problem.

Another woman wrote to me, when my full-blown pathological envy would get triggered, he would respond by putting down the person he was envious of, or by putting down the accomplishment itself, or whatever good stuff the other person had. He would trivialize it, or outright contradict it, or find some way to convince the other person, often me, that the thing they are feeling good about isn't real, or isn't worthwhile, or is somehow bad, etc.

He could do this because the inflated ego defense was fully formed and operating with him.

When my pathological envy gets triggered, I would be bluntly honest about it. I'll say something self-picking, such as, you always get the good stuff and I get nothing. You are so much better than I. People like you better. People like you better. You have good social skills. I'm a jerk, and so on. Or I might even get hostile and sarcastic. I might say, well, it must be nice to have so many people worshipping you, isn't it? I don't try to convince myself that the other person's success isn't real, or isn't worthwhile.

Instead, I'm totally flooded with the pain of feeling utterly inferior and worthless, and there's no way for me to convince myself or anyone else otherwise.

I'm not saying that the things I say are pleasant to hear, and it is still manipulative of me to say them, because the other person's attention is drawn away from their joy and unto my pain and hostility.

And instead of doubting their success's worth of reality, they feel guilty about it, or about talking about it, because it hurts me so much.

So, from the other person's point of view, maybe it's not any easier to live with a partial narcissist than with a full-blown one in that their joys and successes lead to pain in both cases. It's certainly not easier for me being flooded with rage and pain instead of being able to hide behind the delusion of grandeur.

But from my therapist's point of view, I'm much better off than a full-blown narcissist, because I know I'm unhappy. It's in my face all the time, so I'm motivated to work on it and to change it.

And time has borne her words out. Over the past several years that I've worked on this issue, I've changed a great deal in how I deal with it.

Now, when the envy gets triggered, I don't feel so entwined with the other person. I recognize that it's my own pain getting triggered, not something they are doing to me. And so I can acknowledge the pain in a more responsible way, taking ownership of it by saying the jealousy feelings are getting triggered again, and I'm feeling worthless and inferior.

Can you reassure me that I'm not? And that's a lot better than making some snide, hostile, self-pitying comment that puts the other person on the defensive or makes them feel guilty.

This woman continues to write, I do prefer the term partial rather than inverted. So partial narcissist not inverted narcissist, because that's what it feels like to me. It's like a building that's partially built, the house of narcissism, uncompleted.

For me, the structure is there, but not the outside. So you can see inside the skeleton to all the junk that's inside, but there's no facade. It's the same junk that's inside a full-blown narcissist, but their building is completed, so you cannot see inside. Their building is a fortress and it's almost impossible to bring it down.

My defenses are not as strong as a full-blown narcissist, which makes my life more difficult in some ways because I really feel my pain. But it also means that the house can be brought down more easily and the junk inside cleaned out.

How do inverted narcissists think about the past and the world in general?

An inverted narcissist female grow to me. I don't usually get rageful about the past. I feel sort of emotionally cut off from the past, actually. I remember events very clearly, but usually can't remember the feelings attached to them.

When I do remember the feelings, my reaction is usually one of sadness and sometimes of relief that I can get back in touch with my past, but not rage. All my rage seems to get displaced on the current people in my life.

Another inverted narcissist says, when I see someone being really socially awkward and geeky, passive-aggressive, indirect and victim-like, he does trigger anger in me because I identify with that person and I don't want to. I try to put my negative feelings onto them to see that person as the jerk, not me. That's what a narcissist does, after all.

But for me, it doesn't completely work because I know consciously what I'm trying to do and ultimately I'm not kidding anyone, least of all myself.

Two inverted narcissists experience self-pity and depression.

Here's one woman's take.

More self-pity and depression here, not so much rage.

One of the things that triggers my rage more than anything else is the inability to control another person, the inability to dominate them and force my reality on them. I feel impotent, humiliated, forced back on my empty self.

Part of what I'm feeling here is envy. That person who can't be controlled clearly has a self and I don't and I just hate them for it.

But it's also a power struggle.

I want to get narcissistic supply by being in control and on top and having the other person become submissive and complied.

Do inverted narcissists regret or admit mistakes as opposed to classic narcissists?

Here's what one inverted narcissist woman writes.

I regret my behavior horribly and I do admit my feelings.

I'm also able in the aftermath to have empathy for the feelings of the person I've hurt.

And I'm horribly sad about it and ashamed of myself.

It's as though I've been possessed by a demon, acted out all this abusive, horrible stuff.

And then after the departure of the demon, I'm back in my right mind and it's like, what have I done?

I don't mean that I'm not responsible for what I did.

In other words, the demon made me do it.

But when I'm triggered, I have no empathy.

I can only see my projection onto that person as a huge threat to me, someone who must be demolished.

But when my head clears, I see that person's pain.

He's hurt, he's fear.

And I feel terrible.

I want to make it up to them.

And that feeling is totally sincere.

It's not an act.

I'm genuinely sorry for the pain, of course, the other person.

Is narcissistic rage the exact equivalent of the rage felt by the inverted narcissist?

Here's what one woman has to say.

I wouldn't say that my rage comes from repressed self contempt. Mine is not repressed.

I'm totally aware of my self contempt. And it's not missing atonement either, since I do atone.

The rage comes from feeling humiliated, from feeling that the other person has somehow statistically and gleefully made me feel inferior, that they are getting off on being superior, that they are mocking me and ridiculing me, that they have scorn and contempt for me and find it all very amusing, that whether real or imagined, I know it's usually imagined, that is what causes my rage.

Nothing else.

Stay with me for the next and last segment of correspondence with inverted narcissists.


This is the end of part two.

Move on to part three.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Inverted Narcissist (Narcissist Codependent)

Inverted narcissists are a type of codependent who exclusively depend on a narcissist. They are self-effacing, sensitive, emotionally fragile, and sometimes socially phobic. They derive all their self-esteem and sense of self-worth from the outside and are pathologically envious. Inverted narcissists are narcissists, and it is possible to compose a set of criteria for them by translating the criteria available in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for the classical narcissist.


Narcissist's Cycles of Ups and Downs

Narcissists go through cycles of mania and depression, which are caused by external events or circumstances known as triggers. The cycles are different from manic depressive cycles in bipolar disorder, which are endogenous. The narcissist is addicted to narcissistic supply and seeks admiration, adoration, approval, attention, and so on. The narcissist goes through ups and downs, including a depressive phase, a hibernation phase, and a manic phase, which are all part of the process of obtaining and securing narcissistic supply.


Misinformation: Covert vs. Classic Narcissist

Covert narcissists are not cunning or manipulative, but rather suppress their true nature due to a lack of confidence. They are their own worst critics and often feel guilty and ashamed of their aggressive urges. Covert narcissists team up with classic narcissists but secretly resent and envy them. Inverted narcissists are a type of covert narcissist who are self-centered, sensitive, vulnerable, and defensive, and crave relationships with narcissists despite any abuse inflicted on them.


So, Is My Narcissist a Covert Narcissist? Nonsense vs. Scholarship

Covert narcissists are individuals who suffer from an in-depth sense of inferiority, have a marked propensity towards feeling ashamed, and are shy and fragile. They are unable to genuinely depend on others or trust them, suffer from chronic envy of others, and have a lack of regard for generational boundaries. Covert narcissists are not goal-orientated, have shallow vocational commitment, and are forgetful of details, especially names. Inverted narcissists are a subspecies of covert narcissism and are self-centered, sensitive, vulnerable, and defensive, sometimes hostile and paranoid.


Raging Narcissist: Merely Pissed-off?

Narcissistic rage is a phenomenon that occurs when a narcissist is frustrated in their pursuit of narcissistic supply, causing narcissistic injury. The narcissist then projects a bad object onto the source of their frustration and rages against a perceived evil entity that has injured and frustrated them. Narcissistic rage is not the same as normal anger and has two forms: explosive and pernicious or passive-aggressive. People with personality disorders are in a constant state of anger, which is effectively suppressed most of the time, and they are afraid to show that they are angry to meaningful others because they are afraid to lose them.


Old-age Narcissist

Narcissists age without grace, unable to accept their fallibility and mortality. They suffer from mental progeria, aging prematurely and finding themselves in a time warp. The longer they live, the more average they become, and the wider the gulf between their pretensions and accomplishments. Few narcissists save for rainy days, and those who succeed in their vocation end up bitterly alone, having squandered the love of family, offspring, and mates.


When the Narcissist's Parents Die

The death of a narcissist's parents can be a complicated experience. The narcissist has a mixed reaction to their passing, feeling both elation and grief. The parents are often the source of the narcissist's trauma and continue to haunt them long after they die. The death of the parents also represents a loss of a reliable source of narcissistic supply, which can lead to severe depression. Additionally, the narcissist's unfinished business with their parents can lead to unresolved conflicts and pressure that deforms their personality.


Narcissist’s 3 Depressions

Narcissists experience three types of depression: loss-induced dysphoria, deficiency-induced dysphoria, and self-worth dysregulation dysphoria. Loss-induced dysphoria occurs when sources of narcissistic supply gradually fade away, while deficiency-induced dysphoria is an acute response to abrupt loss of supply. Self-worth dysregulation dysphoria is a reaction to a sudden drop in self-esteem and self-worth due to criticism or humiliation. Narcissists are not happy-go-lucky individuals; they are heavily wounded, traumatized, and grieving people who try to compensate for their sadness with a facade of happiness and grandiosity.


Narcissists Have Emotions

Narcissists do have emotions, but they tend to repress them so deeply that they play no conscious role in their lives or conduct. The narcissist's positive emotions come bundled with very negative ones, and they become phobic of feeling anything lest it be accompanied by negative emotions. The narcissist is reduced to experiencing down-steerings in their soul that they identify to themselves and to others as emotions. Narcissists are not envious of others for having emotions, they disdain feelings and sentimental people because they find them to be weak and vulnerable.


Narcissist’s Collapse, Narcissistic Supply The Nuances

Narcissistic collapse occurs when the narcissist cannot secure narcissistic supply. There are two types of collapse: total collapse when there is no narcissistic supply and partial or transitory collapse when the narcissist secures supply but is not happy with it. The collapse is triggered by disruptions in the process of eliciting narcissistic supply, and the narcissist needs both primary and secondary supply to avoid collapse. The collapse is a bridge and dynamic element in the narcissist's personality.

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