Inner Voices, Narcissism, and Codependence

Uploaded 8/23/2014, approx. 9 minute read

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

The narcissist and the codependent possess introgets. These are inner voices, assimilated representations of parents, role models, and significant peers.

The narcissist and codependents inner voices are mostly negative and sadistic.

Rather than provide the narcissist with support, motivation and direction, they enhance his underlying ego destiny. They render him unhappy with who he is and discontent with the way he acts. They also enhance the lability, the fluctuations of his sense of self-worth.

Introgets possess a crucial role in the formation of an exegetic interpretative framework. This framework of interpretation allows one to decipher the world, construct a model of reality, gorge one's place in the universe, and consequently decide who one is, for one's self-identity.

Overwhelmingly negative introgets, or inner voices which are manifestly fake, fallacious and manipulative, hamper the narcissist and codependents ability to construct such a framework, a true and efficacious interpretative framework.

Gradually, the disharmony between one's perception of the universe and of one's self in reality becomes unbearable. It engenders pathological, maladaptive and dysfunctional attempts to either deny this abyss, this hurtful discrepancy away by using delusions or fantasies, grandiosely compensate for the gap between reality and self-perception by eliciting positive external voices to counter and compensate for the negative inner voices.

And this is what we call narcissistic supply, elicited via the fourth semi.

Another option is to attack head-on the abyss between one's model of the world, how the world should behave, and how the world actually is, and this aggressive stance is typical of psychopaths and antisocialists.

You can withdraw from the world altogether and this schizoid solution, and finally you can disappear by merging and fusing with another person, and that is what we call codependents.

Jean-Paul Sartre, the French philosopher, wrote, men can wield nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself, that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.

The narcissist lacks empathy. He is therefore unable, constitutionally unable, to meaningfully relate to other people and to truly appreciate what it means, what it is, to be human.

Instead, the narcissist withdraws inside himself into a universe populated by avatars, simple or complex representations of parents, peers, role models, significant others, authority figures and other members of his social media.

There, in this twilight zone of simulacra, the narcissist develops so-called relationships and maintains an ongoing internal dialogue with them but never an external one.

The narcissist therefore does not interact with real people but with representations of real people.

Don't misunderstand, all of us generate such representations of meaningful others. All of us internalize these objects.

This process is called introjection. We adopt, assimilate and later manifest the traits and attitude of these people, the introjects.

But the narcissist is different. He is not capable of holding an external dialogue, as I said. Even when he seems to be interacting with someone else, the narcissist is actually engaged in a self-referential discourse with himself.

To the narcissist, all other people are cardboard cut-outs, two-dimensional animated cartoon characters or mere symbols. They exist only in his mind as handles.

The narcissist is startled when people deviate from the script and prove to be complex and totally autonomous, independent of him.

But this is not the narcissist's sole cognitive deficit.

The narcissist attributes his failures and mistakes to circumstances and external causes. This propensity to blame the world for one's mishaps and misfortunes is called alloplastic defense.

At the same time, the narcissist regards his successes and achievements, some of which are pretty imaginary, as proofs of his omnipotence, illuminations, affection and brilliance.

And this is known in attribution theory as defensive attribution.

Conversely, the narcissist traces other people's parents, other people's defeats, to their inherent inferiority, stupidity and weakness.

Their successes, on the other hand, he dismisses as being in the right place at the right time.

In other words, the outcomes of the inevitable outcomes of luck and circumstance.

So his errors and defeats are the world's fault. Other people's errors and defeats are their fault. His successes are due to his skills and talents. Other people's successes are due to luck and circumstance.

The narcissist falls prey to an exaggerated form of what is known in attribution theory as the fundamental attribution error.

Moreover, these policies and the narcissist's magical thinking are not dependent on objective daytime tests of distinctiveness, consistency and consensus.

The narcissist never questions his reflexive judgments and never stops to ask himself, are these events distinct or are they typical? Do they repeat themselves consistently or are they unprecedented? And what do others have to say about them?

This thoughts never cross his mind. The narcissist learns nothing because he regards himself as born perfect.

Even when he fails a thousand times, the narcissist still feels that he is the victim of happenstance. And someone else's repeated outstanding accomplishments are never proof of mettle or merit.

People who disagree with the narcissist and try to teach him differently are, to his mind, biased, aggressive, morons or all three.

But the narcissist pays a dear price for these distortions of perception.

Unable to gorge his environment with accuracy, the narcissist develops paranoid ideation and fades the reality test.

Finally, he lifts the draw bridges, vanishes into a state of mind that can best be described as borderline psychosis.

The narcissist is besieged and tormented by a sadistic superego, which which sits in constant judgment of him.

This so-called superego is an amalgam, amalgamation of negative evaluations, criticisms, angry or disappointed voices and disparagement meted out in the narcissist's formative games, childhood and adolescence by parents, peers, role models and authority figures.

These harsh and repeated comments reverberate throughout the narcissist's inner landscape, berating him for failing to conform to his unattainable ideals, fantastic goals and grandiose or impractical plans, for instance.

The narcissist's sense of self-worth, this sense of what is colloquially known as self-esteem or self-confidence, is therefore catapulted from one pole to another, from an inflated, manic, euphoric view of himself in commensurate, real life accomplishments, to utter this fear and self-denigration.

This is a pendulum.

The narcissist, and we'll explain the narcissist's needs for narcissistic supply because he needs to regulate this wild pendulum.

People's adulation, admiration of remission and attention restore the narcissist's self-esteem and self-confidence like no other thing.

The narcissist's sadistic and uncompromising superego affects three facets of his personality.

His sense of self-worth and worthiness, the deeply ingrained conviction that one deserves love, compassion, care and empathy, regardless of what one achieves in life.

What this is hampered?

The narcissist's worth is without narcissistic supply.

The narcissist's self-esteem, self-knowledge, the deeply ingrained and realistic appraisal of his capacities, skills, but also limitations and shortcomings. It's also affected.

The narcissist lacks clear boundaries and therefore is not sure of his abilities and weaknesses, hence his grandiose fantasies, which are manifestly unrealistic, fantastic.

The narcissist's self-confidence, the deeply ingrained belief based on lifelong experience that one can set realistic goals and a condition, is badly damaged.

The narcissist knows that he is a fake and a fraud. He therefore does not trust his ability to manage his own affairs and to set practical aims and realize them.

Of course, if you confront the narcissist with his three, he will deny it. He will present himself as very self-assured, infallible and perfect.

But this is only camouflage. It's simply plenty.

It's a way for the narcissist to disguise his vulnerability, the chinks in his arm, becoming a success or at least by appearing to have become one.

The narcissist hopes to quell the voices inside him that constantly question his veracity, his attitude, his worth.

The narcissist's whole life is a two-fold attempt to both satisfy the inexorable demands of this inner tribunal and to prove wrong the tribunal's accords, harsh and merciless criticism.

It is this dual and self-contradictory mission to conform to the edicts of his internal enemies and to prove their very judgment wrong.

That is at the root of the narcissist's unresolved and unresolvable conflicts.

On the one hand, the narcissist accepts the authority of his interjected internalized critics. He disregards the fact that they hate him, that they wish him dead. He sacrifices his life to these inner degrading negative voices, hoping that his successors, his accomplishments, being of the sieve will somehow ameliorate their rage.

On the other hand, he confronts these very gods with proofs of their vulnerability.

You claim that I am worthless and incapable, he cries.

Well, guess what? You're dead wrong. Look how famous I am. Look how rich, how revered, and how accomplished.

But then, much rehearsed self-doubt sets in and the narcissist feels yet again compelled to falsify the claim of his trenchant and indefatigable detractors by conquering another woman, giving one more interview, taking over yet another firm, making an extra million or getting reelected one more time.

It's like drug addiction. It's never enough and it escalates. To no avail, the narcissist is his own worst enemy and foe.

Ironically, it is only when incapacitated that the narcissist gains a modicum of peace of mind. When he's terminally ill, incarcerated, or inebriated, the narcissist can shift the blame for his failures and predicaments to outside agents, in circumstances, to objective forces over which he has no control.

It's not my fault. He gleefully informs his mental tormentors. There was nothing I could do about it, but go away and leave me be.

And then, with the narcissist defeated and broken, these voices go away. And he is free at last.

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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.

Narcissists and Codependents: Same Problems, Different Solutions

Codependence and narcissism are pathological reactions to childhood abuse and trauma. The codependent has a realistic assessment of herself but a fantastic view of others, while the narcissist has a fantastic view of himself but a penetrating view of others. The codependent seeks validation to restore a sense of reality, while the narcissist seeks narcissistic supply to enhance his grandiosity. Inverted narcissists are a subtype of covert narcissists who team up with classic narcissists to obtain vicarious supply. The overwhelming majority of narcissists have codependent traits and are dependent on other people for their sense of self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-image.

Idealized, Devalued, Dumped

Narcissists have a cycle of overvaluation and devaluation, which is more prevalent in borderline personality disorder than in narcissistic personality disorder. The cycle reflects the need to be protected against the whims, needs, and choices of other people, shielded from the hurt that they can inflict on the narcissist. The overvaluation and devaluation mechanism is the most efficient one available to the narcissist, as the narcissist's personality is precariously balanced and requires inordinate amounts of energy to maintain. The narcissist's energies are all focused and dedicated to the task concentrated upon the source of supply he had identified.

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.

Confessions of Inverted Narcissists - Part 1 of 3

Inverted narcissists are codependents who depend exclusively on narcissism and crave to be in a relationship with a narcissist regardless of any abuse inflicted on them. Narcissists react to competition with pathological envy, and inverted narcissists tend to feel envious and resentful towards their partners. Narcissistic personality disorder is the inability to love oneself, and it is about having a profoundly negative self-image. Survivors of child abuse may develop a kind of codependence or narcissism, and they may experience intense envy and competition towards others.

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.

Zombie Narcissist: Deficient Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists are constantly seeking praise, adoration, admiration, approval, applause, attention, and other forms of narcissistic supply. When they fail to obtain sufficient supply, they react much like a drug addict would. They become dysphoric, depressed, and may resort to alternative addictions. In extreme cases of deprivation, they may even entertain suicidal thoughts. Narcissists also have a sense of magical thinking, believing that they will always prevail and that good things will always happen to them, rendering them fearless and cloaked in divine and cosmic immunity.

Narcissist: Drama Queen in Pathological Narcissistic Space

Narcissists have a deep-seated need for excitement and drama to alleviate their boredom and melancholy. They create an imaginary environment called the pathological narcissistic space, where they seek admiration, adoration, approval, applause, or attention. Narcissistic supply substitutes for having a real vocation or avocation and actual achievements. The narcissist's two mechanisms of establishing a morphological narcissistic space and the urge to move continuously are completely incompatible, leading to the narcissistic condition.

Confessions of Codependent Inverted Narcissists - Part 2 of 3

Inverted narcissists react positively to compliments and rewards, but can sometimes get stuck in bitterness and self-pity. They contest the diagnosis of inverted narcissism, seeing it as a partial form of the disorder with healthy parts still intact. Inverted narcissists experience self-pity and depression, and regret their behavior and admit mistakes. Their rage comes from feeling humiliated and inferior, not from repressed self-contempt.

Narcissist's False Self vs. True Self: Soul-snatching

The narcissist's life is a spectacle, with free access to all, constantly on display. The narcissist flaunts a false self to solicit narcissistic supply, attention, and admiration from his audience. The false self is an adaptive reaction to pathological circumstances, but its dynamics make it predominate. The false self is far more important to the narcissist than his dilapidated, dysfunctional, shameful true self.

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