Narcissist as Adrenaline Junkie

Uploaded 9/3/2010, approx. 4 minute read

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

Narcissistic supply, admiration, julation, and in general attention is exciting. When narcissistic supply is available, the narcissist feels elated, omnipotent, omniscient, handsome, sexy, adventurous, invisible and irresistible.

When, on the other hand, narcissistic supply is missing or deficient, the narcissist first enters a manic phase of trying to replenish his supply. If he fails, the narcissist shrivels, is deflated, withdraws, and is reduced to a zombie-like state of numbness.

Some people and all narcissists are addicted to excitement, to the adrenaline rush, to the danger that inevitably and invariably accompanies reckless behaviors. They are the adrenaline junkies. All narcissists are adrenaline junkies, but not all adrenaline junkies are narcissists.

Narcissistic supply is the narcissist's particular sort of thrill, his drug of choice.

Deficient narcissistic supply is the same as absence of excitement and thrills in non-narcissistic adrenaline junkies.

Originally in early childhood, narcissistic supply was meant to hurt the narcissist, regulate his volatile sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

But narcissistic supply, regardless of its psychodynamic functions, also simply feels good. The narcissist grows addicted to the gratifying effects of narcissistic supply. He reacts with anxiety when constant, reliable provision is absent or threatened.

Narcissistic supply is pleasurable.

Thus, narcissistic supply always comes with excitement on the one hand and with anxiety on the other hand.

Excitement, because it's pleasurable, anxiety, lest it be withdrawn. Narcissist is afraid that he won't be able to secure narcissistic supply in the future and is therefore constantly anxious.

When unable to secure normal narcissistic supply, adulation, recognition, fame, celebrity, notoriety, infamy, affirmation or mere attention, the narcissist resorts to abnormal narcissistic supply. He tries to obtain his drug, the thrills, the good feeling that comes with narcissistic supply by behaving recklessly, by succumbing to substance abuse or by living dangerously.

Such narcissists faced with a chronic state of deficient narcissistic supply become criminals or race car drivers or gamblers or soldiers or investigative journalists or police officers. They defy authority. They avoid safety routine in boredom. No safe sex, no financial prudence, no stable marriage or career. They become peripatetic, they change jobs or lovers or vocations or avocations or residences or friendships, anything to generate excitement in their lives.

But sometimes even these extreme and demonstrative steps are not enough. When confronted with a boring routine existence with a chronic and permanent inability to secure narcissistic supply and with a pronounced lack of excitement, these narcissists compensate by inventing thrills where they are known.

So they become paranoid, full of delusional persecutory notions and ideas of reference and conspiracies. They develop phobias, fear of flying, fear of heights, fear of enclosed open spaces of cats or spiders. Fear is a good substitute to the excitement they saw crave and that constantly lose them.

Anxiety leads to the frenetic search for narcissistic supply. Obtaining the supply causes a general or transient sense of well-being, relief and release as the anxiety is abated and alleviated.

This cycle is addictive.

Anxiety, heightened anxiety, manic search for narcissistic supply, finding narcissistic supply, reduced anxiety, anxiety, relief, sense of well-being.

But what generates anxiety in the first place? Are people born adrenaline junkies or do they become ones?

No one knows for sure. It may be genetically determined. We may discover one day that adrenaline junkies conditioned by defective genes develop special neural and biochemical paths and unusual sensitivity to adrenaline. Or it may indeed be the said outcome of abuse and trauma during the formative years as is the current thinking.

The brain is plastic, easily influenced by recurrent bouts of capricious and malicious treatment.

Bear this in mind, we can also say that the prognosis for this particular behavior in narcissism, reckless behavior, adrenaline seeking, thrill seeking, prognosis is pretty good.

Since the brain is plastic, these processes are reversible.

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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.

Narcissist as Eternal Child

Narcissists often refuse to grow up and remain in a state of infantilization, avoiding adult responsibilities and functions. This is because remaining a child caters to their narcissistic needs and defenses. Narcissists are often envious of children and try to emulate them, as children are forgiven for narcissistic traits and behaviors that adults are not. By remaining a child, the narcissist can indulge in these behaviors and not be punished for them.

Narcissist Hates Happy People and Holidays

Holidays and birthdays are a difficult time for narcissists, as they provoke a stream of pathological envy. The narcissist is jealous of others for having a family, being able to celebrate lavishly, or being in the right mood. They hate humans because they are unable to be one and want to spoil it for those who can enjoy. Holidays remind the narcissist of their childhood, the supportive and loving family they never had, and what could have been.

Narcissist's Family

Narcissists perceive new family members, including siblings, children, and even pets, as threats to their narcissistic supply. They may belittle, hurt, or humiliate them, or retreat into an imaginary world of omnipotence. Some narcissists seek to manipulate new family members to monopolize attention and vicariously obtain narcissistic supply. As siblings or offspring grow older and become critical, the narcissist devalues and discards them, feeling stifled and trapped. The family disintegrates, and the cycle begins anew with the arrival of new family members.

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.

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.

Negative, Fake, Low-grade Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists crave attention, both positive and negative, and use it to regulate their sense of self-worth. They construct a false self and project it onto others to elicit admiration, adulation, and fear. Negative supply can become narcissistic supply when positive supply is scarce. Narcissists also crave punishment, which confirms their view of themselves as worthless and relieves them of the inner conflict they endure when they are successful.

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.

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.

Narcissists Hate Children and Envy Them

Narcissists hate children because they envy them. Children's feigned innocence, manipulation, and lack of empathy are disarming in their directness. Narcissists see children as both mirrors and competitors, reflecting their constant need for adulation and attention. Children are loved by mothers, which makes narcissists jealous and infuriated by their deprivation. Narcissists hate children for being them.

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