Background

Narcissist’s 3 Depressions

Uploaded 5/28/2022, approx. 16 minute read

Tsunami, school shooting, pandemic, war, 100 million refugees.

You open any American television network and smiling faces. Good to be with you, Judy.

Everyone is smiling all the time and it is so fake. It's fake.

And it's a metaphor for the narcissism of our age.

Because narcissism is a fake, feigned facade, hiding beneath a catastrophe, hiding depression.

And today's topic is the Narcissist's Three Types of Depression.

Narcissists are almost habitually depressed. They just don't know it. And they are not happy-go-lucky, as is often portrayed even in scholarly literature.

Today we know that what we used to call overt narcissist is actually a subspecies of psychopathy. It's a kind of psychopath.

And that the only true variants of narcissism are the compensatory narcissist and the covert narcissist.

The compensatory narcissist compensates. He puts forth a brave facade, a false self, which is everything the narcissist is not.

The false self is omniscient, knows everything, is omnipotent, is all powerful, perfect and brilliant when the narcissist actually has an inferiority complex.

Narcissist is insecure, full of shame. Indeed, many scholars describe early childhood shame as the engine of the formation of pathological narcissism and compensatory narcissism is to the fore.

And then we have covert narcissists.

So these are the only true forms of narcissism. All other forms of narcissism, the grandiose, in your face, Donald Trump type of narcissism, that's actually a subspecies of psychopaths. And so we will deal with it at another time.

At the core, there's no core, but had there been a core, there's depression. Depression coupled with shame and to some extent guilt. These are of course repressed emotions.

The narcissist has no access to these founts of hurt and pain, primordial hurt and pain.

The narcissist, exactly like the borderline, is terrified of dysregulation, of being overwhelmed by his emotions.

But the narcissist's solution is to suppress and ignore emotions, especially positive emotions. And this is self betrayal. This is self denial.

The narcissist doesn't love himself. He loathes himself. He hates himself.

And he wants to put as much distance between himself and himself, between his false self and the repository of his agony, the true self, memories of abuse, trauma, identifying and instrumentalizing, not being allowed to separate and to become an individual and to self actualize.

There's a lot of anger, a lot of frustration, a lot of pent up rage there.

And so the narcissist cannot allow himself to re experience this.

And he betrays himself. He denies himself. He puts himself down. He buries himself. He covers himself. He constricts himself.

And this of course creates depression.

Whenever we don't allow ourselves to be ourselves, whenever we don't actualize our potentials, whenever we are inhibited and cannot freely express who we are, the reaction is depression, because it's a form of self-directed aggression.

Depression has been long described as a form of self-directed aggression. To not allow yourself to manifest, to not let yourself express yourself autonomously, agentically, self efficaciously, self efficaciously, independently and freely. That's a knife in your own back. You become your own worst enemy.

And of course, this creates anxiety, and anxiety prolonged becomes depression.

The narcissist suffers from three types of depression on a regular basis.

A little disambiguation before we proceed.

There's a difference between dysphoria, depression, and anhedonia.

Dysphoria is a general state of malaise and unease, a discomfort and kind of ambient sadness. One of the manifestations of dysphoria is known as dysthymia. It's a dysphoric type of depression.

Then there is depression. In its most extreme case, most extreme form, depression is known as clinical depression, or more precisely, major depression, major depressive episode, for example. But depression has milder forms. It's a whole spectrum.

But what depression means is a loss of vitality, a loss of elan vital, a loss of libido, if you want to use Freudian terms, the inability to engage in life, on life and with life, a rejection of life. Depression is about withdrawing, avoiding, shunning, limiting, constricting, cocooning. Depression is about dying while still alive. That's depression.

Now, it doesn't mean that all depressed people, all people with, even, major depression, just lie in bed and wait for the inevitable to happen.

That's not true.

Actually, many depressed people. I would mention Stephen Fry, Winston Churchill, and others. Many depressed people are actually hyperactive. They're trying to compensate. They're trying to drown out their depression by being super active.

Many women, for example, engage in sexual self-trashing as a form of fighting off depression. Substance abuse, of course, is another activity that is intended to allay, mitigate and ameliorate depression.

And then there is anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to enjoy doing anything, not finding pleasure in any activity, any person, any place, any plan, simply being unable to experience pleasure.

Okay, back to the topic, the narcissist.

The narcissist experiences three types of dysphoria which can easily and often do easily deteriorate, degenerate or escalate, if you wish, into depression.

The first one is what I call the loss-induced dysphoria.

Now, we all experience losses. Losses are very important in life. Losses drive us forward. Losses are engines of growth, personal development. Losses are good for you. You should seek out situations which are emotionally risky, situations where there's the possible outcome of pain and hurt and loss because that's the only way you can evolve. It's part of constant healing. This scar tissue becomes your identity.

In the absence of loss, when the child, for example, is totally isolated from reality, from harsh reality, is totally prevented from experiencing rejection and loss, this kind of child never becomes adult, never individuates, is never happy and is very likely to develop personality disorders, mood disorders and other types of anxiety disorders, other types of disorders.

So, loss is good for you.

But the narcissist reacts to loss in a very particular way.

Loss-induced dysphoria is the narcissist's depressive reaction to the loss of one or more sources of narcissistic supply.

I refer you to my last two videos. One of them deals with how does the narcissist experience deficient narcissistic supply? How does he experience collapse? And the second video I've made is about self-destructive narcissists and psychopaths.

And this is the third in the series.

So, when the narcissist loses sources of narcissistic supply, or when his pathological narcissistic space disintegrates, he reacts with loss-induced dysphoria or loss-induced depression.

To remind you, pathological narcissistic space is the stocking, the stomping, the hunting grounds, the horns and the dives, the physical locations, the social unit whose members lavish the narcissist with attention in narcissistic supply. It could be a pub, a church, a workplace.

So, when the narcissist loses his pathological space, he also loses his sources of supply. And very often, when he loses too many sources of supply, he had actually lost a pathological narcissistic space.

He cannot cope with this. This is the kind of loss that threatens his equilibrium, the precariously balanced thing that passes for his personality.

In the absence of narcissistic supply, the narcissist is voided, nullified, evaporates. He doesn't have an existence outside the gaze of others. His mind is a hive mind, a collage, a kaleidoscope. He puts together various inputs in order to come up with a heuristic on-the-fly personality or mind.

So, the narcissist recreates himself every minute. That's why there's no continuity and many dissociative gaps. And that's why the narcissist needs to confabulate all the time, misperceived as lying by self-styled experts.

And so, when the narcissist loses his narcissistic supply, he thrashes about. He tries desperately to regain his footing. He tries to somehow find alternatives.

And if the failure continues, he begins to develop depression. Depression is a signal to the narcissist. You should become schizoid. You should withdraw. You should avoid, because the pain and the hurt are going to lead you to narcissistic modification from which you may not ever emerge or which you may not survive.

The second type of depression that the narcissist experiences is what I call deficiency-induced dysphoria. It's a deep and acute depression.

So, the previous depression, the loss-induced dysphoria, is kind of ambient. It's kind of in the atmosphere. It's all permeating, all pervasive. It's very, very similar to dysthymia and easily confused and misdiagnosed even by clinicians, experienced clinicians.

The second type is acute. Deficiency-induced dysphoria is deep. It's acute. It follows losses, abrupt losses of supply sources or pathological narcissistic space, sudden, unexpected, unpredicted denial of narcissistic supply by people, places who either two had been reliable providers.

So, there's this group of people who provide a narcissist with narcissistic supply. There could be four people or four million people, a political party or a family, church or a workplace. So, there's this group of people.

They provide a narcissist with narcissistic supply and then suddenly, on a dime, overnight, they stop doing so. They stop doing so because they've come across new information about the narcissist or because the narcissist was a fashion or a fad. What he had to offer was a fashion or a fad and it was passing, of course, or for any other reason. They found a new idol.

Whatever the case may be, the abruptness is what brings on the deficiency-induced dysphoria.

Having mourned and grieved these losses, the narcissist now mourns and grieves the inevitable outcomes of these losses, the absence or deficiency of narcissistic supply.

Paradoxically, the deficiency-induced dysphoria energizes the narcissist, moves the narcissist to find new sources of supply, to replenish the dilapidated stock.

In other words, the deficiency-induced dysphoria is the trigger, is the initiator of the narcissistic cycle.

I encourage you to watch my videos about the narcissistic cycle.

In a romantic sense, he begins to love home, groom, he finds an intimate partner for a shared fantasy, finds another workplace, moves to another city.

This is all engendered by the deficiency-induced dysphoria.

So it's a catalyst, catalyst for action, in essence, a positive thing.

The last type of dysphoria, the last type of depression that the narcissist experiences is the self-worth dysregulation dysphoria.

So just to recap, we have the loss-induced dysphoria when, gradually, sources of supply in the pathological narcissistic space fade away.

So it's a prolonged, continuous, predictable process.

Then we have the deficiency-induced dysphoria, which is an acute response to abrupt loss of supply.

And then we have the self-worth dysregulation dysphoria.

A narcissist reacts with depression to criticism, to disagreement, to being demeaned and humiliated, especially in public. This could lead to narcissistic mortification.

And he reacts this way, especially when trusted and long-term sources of supply administer the blow, when he perceives it as a knife in the back, as a betrayal.

So this depression is a reaction to a sudden drop in self-esteem, self-confidence, and a fluctuation in the sense of self-worth, because some trusted source of supply, could be a secondary source, like a spouse or a primary source, like an idol or a boss. A source of supply suddenly turns on the narcissist, criticizes him, disagrees with him, humiliates him privately or in public, demeans him, and generally ignores him.

The narcissist feels the imminent loss of the source and the damage to his own fragile, vulnerable mental balance. The narcissist also resents his own vulnerability and his extreme dependence on feedback from others.

And this type of depressive reaction is therefore a mutation of self-directed aggression, kind of a self-punitive depression.

You're a zero, you're a doormat, you're dependent, you're not as powerful as you thought you were.

It's a crisis of identity. It's an undermining of the grandiosity, cognitive distortion, which is a major defense associated with his fantasies.

So when this all crumbles, the narcissist can't regulate his sense of self-worth anymore because he can do it only from the outside.

So when the outside sources are gone, his sense of self-worth fluctuates wildly and then settles at a very low ebb.

The narcissist begins to regard himself exactly the opposite, as inferior, as the victim, as a failure. He feels defeated and deflated, and this is very depressing.

Narcissists mourn the loss of narcissistic supply. They grieve over vanished sources of supply. They bemoan the injustice and discrimination that they suffer at the hands of their inferiors, especially covert narcissists who are passive-aggressive.

Narcissists are often in a bad mood, actually, anhedonic, dysphoric, aggressive, and outright depressed. The narcissist mood swings are self-destructive and self-defeating.

So, yes, narcissists suffer from mood lability exactly like borderlines.

This is acknowledged for the first time in the alternative model of narcissistic personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Edition 5, 2013. Page 767 for all you lazy bums.

Okay, Shoshanim.

Many scholars consider pathological narcissism to be a form of depressive illness.

You remember those of you who are still watching my videos, an ever dwindling number, you remember the videos I've made, separately and with Richard Grannon, about the prolonged grief syndrome.

The prolonged grief syndrome starts with the narcissist, actually. As a child, he grieves his inability to separate and individuate. He mourns his unrealized potential, what he could have become and never will.

So this prolonged grief, he then exports to his intimate partner.

But if prolonged grief is the foundation of the narcissistic defense and the fantasy defense, if this is the foundation, then pathological narcissism can be easily described as a depressive illness. This is actually the position of the authoritative and prestigious magazine Psychology Today.

The life of a typical narcissist is punctuated with recurrent bouts of dysphoria and depression, ubiquitous sadness, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, anhedonia, loss of ability to feel pleasure, and other clinical forms of depression, cyclothymic, dysthymic, and so on.

Narcissism, pathological narcissism, is comorbid with or dually diagnosed with mood disorders very frequently.

Actually, in some cases, we confuse, we misdiagnose bipolar disorder as narcissistic personality disorder.

The picture is obfuscated by the frequent presence of mood disorder, such as bipolar one with narcissism. So it's a very, a very murky picture.

But I think it's time to accept that narcissism is not about elation. It's not about joy and cheer. These are not happy-go-lucky people. These are heavily wounded, traumatized, grieving, mourning, sad, depressive people.

They try to compensate for this.

But pretending to be happy-go-lucky, joyful, cheerful, I can't be touched, my way or the highway in your face, I am the best, message. It's compensatory. It's infantile. It's hilarious. It's pathetic.

The distinction between reactive depression, exogenous depression, and endogenous depression, we don't use this distinction anymore. It's obsolete.

But I think in the context of narcissism, it is still very useful.

Because narcissists have two sources of depression, one of them internal and one of them external.

Externally, the narcissist reacts with depression to a loss of supply. It's very simple.

But there are engines of depression inside the narcissist. His lost childhood, his trauma, his dead mother, his constant failure in relationships with other people, his inability to connect, the denial of love to himself and to others, the lack of intimacy, insecure attachment, the phobias, the paranoia. This is not easy to live with.

Indeed, Kernberg had suggested that narcissism and borderline are two sides of the same coin, and both of them are on the verge of psychosis. That's why it's called borderline.

Narcissists react with depression, not only to life crisis, but to fluctuations in narcissistic supply and in a sense of self-worth.

They react with depression to a circumstantial inability to express their dominant personality and psychosexual type, cerebral or somatic.

The narcissist's personality is chaotic. It's disorganized. It's precariously balanced.

Many would argue that he has no personality, that he's discontinuous, that the dissociative gaps are so frequent that actually there's no core identity there. We call it identity disturbance, similar to borderline.

The narcissist regulates his sense of self-worth by consuming narcissistic supply from other people. He's heavily dependent on external regulation. Any threat to the uninterrupted flow of supply compromises the narcissist's psychological integrity, his variability to function. It's life-threatening. It's not a joke. It's not a fringe benefit. It's food.

Indeed, depression can be conceptualized as a reaction to the systemic failure of hitherto trustworthy and efficacious coping strategies, either owing to seismic change in circumstance, the environment, or because of overwhelming new information.

Unable to cope with the turmoil inside himself, the narcissist deadens and kills himself.

Narcissist is a numbing process writ large, but in this suicidal act, the narcissist remains stuck with a corpse of his true self.

He mourns and grieves over this dead child, never overcomes this, and he needs other people to console him by acting as a mother figure or by somehow providing him with the attention and adulation and love that his parents didn't.

He needs other people, and when they're all gone because they've had enough or because they see through him, the narcissist falls apart into the deepest abyss of sadness and melancholy ever imaginable.

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

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.


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.


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.


Depressive Narcissist

Pathological narcissism is often considered a form of depressive illness, with the life of a typical narcissist punctuated with recurrent bouts of dysphoria, sadness, hopelessness, anhedonia, loss of the ability to feel pleasure, and clinical forms of depression. Narcissists react with depression not only to life crises but to fluctuations in narcissistic supply and to the internal dynamics that these fluctuations generate. There are several types of dysphoria and depression in pathological narcissism, including loss-induced dysphoria, deficiency-induced dysphoria, self-worth dysregulation dysphoria, grandiosity gap dysphoria, and self-punishing dysphoria. Many narcissists end up delusional, schizoid, or paranoid to avoid agonizing and knowing depression.


Narcissist: Is He or Isn't He?

Narcissism is a spectrum of behaviors, from healthy to pathological, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual specifies nine diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A malignant narcissist is someone who has NPD and wreaks havoc on themselves and their surroundings. They feel grandiose and self-important, exaggerate accomplishments, and demand recognition as superior without commensurate achievements. They require excessive admiration, adulation, attention, and affirmation, and are interpersonally exploitative, devoid of empathy, and constantly envious of others.


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 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.


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.


Narcissist Never Sorry

Narcissists sometimes feel bad and experience depressive episodes and dysphoric moods, but they have a diminished capacity to empathize and rarely feel sorry for what they have done or for their victims. They often project their own emotions and actions onto others and attribute to others what they hate in themselves. When confronted with major crises, the narcissist experiences real excruciating pain, but this is only a fleeting moment, and they recover their former self and embark on a new hunt for narcissistic supply. They are hunters, predators, and their victims are prey.


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.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2023
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy