Background

Narcissist's Constant Midlife Crisis

Uploaded 12/11/2010, approx. 5 minute read

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

Are narcissists likely to go through a midlife crisis? And if so, to what extent does such a crisis ameliorate or alleviate the condition?

The sometimes severe crisis experienced by persons of both sexes in middle age, also known as the midlife crisis or the change of life, is much discussed though little understood phenomenon.

It is not even certain that the beast exists at all.

It is true that women go through menopause between the ages of 42 to 55. The average age of onset in the USA is 51.3. The amount of the hormone estrogen in their bodies decreases sharply. Important parts of the reproductive system shrink and shut down, and menstruation ceases.

Many women suffer hot flashes and a thinning and fracturing of the bone. The main menopause is a more contentious issue.

Men do experience a gradual decline in testosterone levels, but nothing as sharp as the woman's deterioration of her estrogen supply.

No link has been found between these physiological and hormonal developments and the mythical midlife crisis. Its fabled turning point has to do with the gap between earlier plans, dreams and aspirations in one's drab and hopeless reality.

Come middle age, men are supposed to be less satisfied with life, career or spouse. People get more disappointed and disillusioned with age.

They understand that they are not likely to have a second chance, that they have largely missed the train, that their dreams will remain just that, dreams.

They have nothing to look forward to. They feel spent, bored, fatigued and trapped.

Some adults embark on a transition. They define new goals, they look for new partners, they form new families, engage in new hobbies, change vocations and avocations, or relocate. They regenerate and reinvent themselves and the structures of their lives.

Others just grow bitter, unable to face their shambles. They resort to alcoholism, war-commodism, emotional absence, abandonment, escapism, degeneration or a sedentary lifestyle.

Another pillar of discontent is the predictability of adults' life.

Following a brief flurry in early adulthood of excitement, vigor, dreams and hopes, fantasies and aspirations, we succumb to and sink into the mire of mediocrity.

The mundane engulfs us and digests us, routines consume our energy and leave us dilapidated and empty.

We know with adult certainty what awaits us and this ubiquitous rut is maddening.

Paradoxically, the narcissist is best equipped to successfully tackle this problem.

The narcissist suffers from mental progeria. Subject to childhood abuse, the narcissist ages prematurely and finds himself in a time warp, constantly in the throes of a mid-life crisis.

The narcissist keeps dreaming, hoping, planning, conspiring, scheming and fighting all his life. As far as he is concerned, reality with its sobering feedback does not exist. He occupies a world of his own making where hope springs eternal.

It is a universe of recurrent serendipity, inevitable fortuity, auspiciousness, lucky chances and coincidences, no downs and uplifting ups. It is an unpredictable, titillating and exciting world.

The narcissist may feel bored for long stretches of time but only because he cannot wait for the ultimate guaranteed thrill at the end of a tunnel.

The narcissist experiences a constant mid-life crisis. His reality is always way short of his dreams and aspirations. He suffers a constant grandiosity gap, the same gap that bleaches the healthy mid-life adults.

But the narcissist has one advantage. He is used to being disappointed and disillusioned. He inflicts setbacks and defeats upon himself by devaluing persons and situations that he had previously idealized.

The narcissist regularly employs a host of mechanisms to cope with his simmering, festering, incessant crisis.

Cognitive dissonance, over and devaluation cycles, abrupt mood changes, changes in behavior patterns, goals, companions, mates, jobs and locations. These are the narcissist's daily bread and escapist weapons.

Whereas the healthy and mature adult confronts the abyss between his image of himself and his real self, his dreams and his achievements, his fantasy land and his reality later on in life, the narcissist does this constantly and from a very early age.

The healthy and mature adult recovers from the predictability of his routine and abhors it.

The narcissist's life is not predictable or routine in any sense of the word. He makes sure of it to avoid the recurrent midlife crisis. He makes sure that his reality is unpredictable, unstable, exciting, thrilling, even exhilarating.

The mature 40 plus years old adult tries to remedy the structural and emotional deficits of his existence, either by renewed commitment to it or by a cataclysmic break with it.

The narcissist so regularly and habitually does both these things, that these decisions are rendered fleeting and insignificant.

The narcissist's personality is rigid, but his life is not. It is changeable, mutable and tumultuous.

His typical day, the narcissist's typical day is riddled with surprises. It's very unpredictable.

His grandiose fantasies are so far removed from his reality that even his disillusionment and disappointments are fantastic and thus easily overcome and equally thrilling and exciting.

Soon enough, the narcissist is engaged in a new project, as exciting, as grandiose and as impossible as the ones before. It's an adrenaline rush and the narcissist is an adrenaline junkie.

The gap between his confabulations and the truth is so yawning that he chooses to ignore his reality. He recruits people around him to affirm this choice and to confirm to him that reality is illusory and that his fantasy land is the real thing.

Such pretensions are counterproductive and self-defeating, but they also serve as perfect defenses against pedestrianism.

The narcissist does not go through a midlife crisis because he is forever the child, forever dreaming and fantasizing, forever enamored with himself, with a narrative and confabulation that are his life.

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

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.


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.


Narcissist's Pathological Space: His Kingdom

The pathological narcissistic space is a geographical area, group of people, or an abstract field of knowledge in which the narcissistic pathology reaches its full expression and effectiveness. It is a territorially expanded false self that is achieved via sources of narcissistic supply. The existence of the pathological narcissistic space is independent of the existence of sources of narcissistic supply. The pathological narcissistic space constantly consumes and drains narcissistic supply, and it generates negative narcissistic accumulation.


Alzheimer's Narcissist Dementias Of Absence

Dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder that leads to cognitive decline and memory loss. The impact of dementia on narcissistic individuals is particularly devastating, as it challenges their sense of self and exposes their vulnerabilities. The decline in cognitive function and the loss of narcissistic supply lead to withdrawal, depression, and aggressive behavior. Research suggests a link between narcissistic traits and an increased risk of developing dementia. Ultimately, dementia becomes a formidable adversary for the narcissist, leading to a profound sense of loss and despair.


Anxiety, Depression, and Narcissism

Depression is a form of aggression that is directed at the depressed person rather than at their environment. This regime of repressed and mutated aggression is a characteristic of both narcissism and depression. Narcissism is sometimes described as a form of low-intensity depression. Depression is how this kind of patient experiences their overflowing reservoir of aggression.


Acquired Situational Narcissism

According to Professor Robert B. Millman, pathological malignant narcissism can be induced in adulthood by celebrity, wealth, and fame. He calls this acquired situational narcissism and believes that it can be provoked by certain situations. However, it is likely that acquired situational narcissism is merely an amplification and manifestation of earlier narcissistic conduct, traits, style, and tendencies. Narcissists tend to gravitate to specific professions and settings which guarantee them access to fame, celebrity, power, and wealth.


Narcissists Hate Therapists

Narcissists regard therapy as a competitive sport and often try to prove themselves equal to the psychotherapist in knowledge, experience, or social status. They use professional psychological lingo and terms to level the playing field and create a shared psychosis between themselves and the therapist. Narcissists have a dilapidated and dysfunctional true self overtaken and suppressed by a false self, and therapy aims to create the conditions for the true self to resume its growth. Change is brought about only through incredible powers of torsion and wreckage, and it takes nothing less than a real crisis.


How Narcissist Is Mortified

Narcissistic behavior can be modified through treatment, but pathological narcissism is unchangeable. Narcissists have empathic aphantasia, meaning they cannot visualize other people in an empathic way. The misinformation effect is a bigger problem for narcissists than for normal people because they have severe problems with their memory and are dissociative. The longer the delay between the presentation of the original event and the post-event information, the more likely it is that individuals will incorporate the misinformation into the new memory.


How To Get Your Narcissist to Therapy ("Granny Fanny Cris" Method)

The text discusses how to get a narcissist to attend therapy, emphasizing the importance of not directly confronting the narcissist's grandiosity and instead using strategies such as co-opting their grandiosity, appealing to their self-conception, and leveraging crises to motivate them to seek therapy. It also highlights the challenges of therapy with narcissists, including their resistance and the need for therapists to collaborate with their grandiosity and fantasy defenses. The text also addresses the different types of crises that may drive a narcissist to therapy, such as ultimatums, mental disorders, and suicidality.


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.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy