Narcissist's False Modesty

Uploaded 9/19/2010, approx. 4 minute read

I am Sam Vakninand I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

The modesty displayed by narcissists is false. It is mostly and merely verbal. It is couched in flourishing phrases, emphasized to absurdity, repeated unnecessarily, usually to the point of causing gross inconvenience and embarrassment to the listener.

The real aim of such behavior, such ostentatious modestyand its subtext are exactly the opposite of common modesty to which we are accustomed.

False modesty is intended to either aggrandize the narcissist or to protect the narcissist's grandiosity from scrutiny and possible erosion.

Such modest outbursts precede inflated grandiosity-laden statements made by the narcissist and pertaining to fields of human knowledge and activity in which he is solely lacking.

Devoid of systematic and methodical education, the narcissist tries to make do with pompous or aggressive mannerisms, bombastic announcements, and the unnecessary and wrong usage of professional jargon.

The narcissist attempts to dazzle his surroundings with apparent brilliance and to put possible critics on the defense.

Beneath all this, the narcissist is shallow, ignorant, improvising, and fearful of being exposed as deceitful.

The narcissist is a conjurer of verbosity usinga slate of mouth rather than a slate of hand. He is ever possessed by the fear that he is really a petty crook and about to be unearthed and reviled by society.

This is a horrible feeling to endure and it's a taxing, honourous way to live.

The narcissist has to protect himself from his own premonitions, from his internal, semi-terminal trial, from his guilt, shame and anxiety.

One of the more efficacious defense mechanisms at the disposal of a narcissist is what I call false modesty.

How does it go?

Well, the narcissist publicly chastises himself for being unfit, unworthy, lacking, not trained, and not formally schooled, not objective, not cognizant of his own shortcomings and of being vain.

This way, if or rather when the narcissist is exposed, he can always say, but I told you so in the first place, haven't I?

False modesty is thus a kind of insurance policy.

The narcissist hedges his bets by placing a side bet on his own fallibility, weakness, deficiencies, and proneness to error.

Yet another function of false modesty is to extract narcissistic supply from the listener.

By contrasting his own self-deprecation with a brilliant, dazzling display of ingenuity with intellect, knowledge or beauty, the narcissist aims to secure an adoring, admiring, approving or applauding protestation from the listener.

The person to whom the falsely modest statement is addressed is expected to vehemently deny the narcissist's claims.

The listener, the source of narcissistic supply, is supposed to react to the narcissist's false modesty by saying, but really you are more of an expert than you admit. Or why did you tell me that you are unable to do this and that? You are actually very gifted. Or don't put yourself down so much. You're a generous man, etc.

The listener is supposed to contradict the content of the false modesty statement, thereby enhancing the narcissist's sense of self-worth, his self-esteem and self-confidence, and providing the narcissist with a narcissistic supply.

False modesty is therefore a bet.

Having received the narcissistic supply, the narcissist shrugs, smirks, blushes, and moves uncomfortably from side to side.

This was not his intention. He assures his interlocutor. He protests. He did not mean to fish for compliments, which is exactly what he did mean to do.

The narcissist says, I don't really deserve the praise, but the aim has been achieved. The narcissistic supply has been doled out and avidly consumed by the narcissist.

Despite the narcissist's protestations, he feels much better now. The narcissist is a dilettante, a charlatan. He glosses over complicated subjects and situations in life. He says true, they're powered by shallow acquaintance with rapidly acquired verbal and behavioral vocabularies.

He then promptly forgets everything he has learned when it's no longer needed.

False modesty is only one of a series of feigned behaviors. The narcissist is a pathological liar, either implicitly or explicitly.

His whole existence is a derivative of a false self, his deceitful invention, and its reflections.

With false modesty, the narcissist seeks to involve others in his mind games, to co-opt them, to force them to collaborate while making ultimate use of social conventions and conduct.

The narcissist above all is a shrewd manipulator, well acquainted with human nature and its fault lines. No narcissist will ever admit to it.

In this sense, narcissists are really modest.

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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.

Shame, Guilt, Codependents, Narcissists, and Normal Folks

Shame motivates normal people and those suffering from cluster B personality disorders, but it motivates them differently. Shame constitutes a threat to normal people's true self, and it constitutes a threat to the false self of narcissism. There are two varieties of shame when we talk about narcissists in effect. There is narcissistic shame, which is the narcissist's experience of the grandiosity gap and its affective correlate. The greater the conflict between grandiosity and reality, the bigger the gap and the greater the narcissist's feelings of shame and guilt.

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's Language as Weapon

Narcissists use language as a weapon of self-defense, to obscure, not to communicate, and to obtain narcissistic supply. They talk at others or lecture them, exchange subtexts, and spawn private languages, prejudices, superstitions, conspiracy theories, rumors, phobias, and hysterias. The rules that govern the narcissist universe are loopholeed, incomprehensible, open to interpretation so wide and so self-contradictory that it renders them meaningless. The narcissist, in this respect, is a great social menace, undermining language itself.

Narcissist's Constant Midlife Crisis

The midlife crisis is a much-discussed but little understood phenomenon. There is no link between physiological and hormonal developments and the mythical midlife crisis. The narcissist is best equipped to tackle this problem as they suffer from mental progeria and are in a constant mid-life crisis. The narcissist's personality is rigid, but their life is not. It is changeable, mutable, and tumultuous. The narcissist does not go through a midlife crisis because they are forever the child, forever dreaming and fantasizing, forever enamored with themselves.

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.

Why Narcissists Love Borderline Women and Why They Hate Them Back

Narcissistic mortification is a challenge to the false self, which crumbles and is unable to maintain defenses and pretensions. Narcissists use two strategies to restore some cohesiveness to the self: deflated and inflated narcissist. Narcissists engage in mortification, a form of self-mutilation, to feel alive and free from commitment to their false self. Narcissists seek out borderline women to mortify them and experience the unresolved primary conflict with their mother.

Narcissistic Grandiosity Bubbles

Grandiosity bubbles are a rare event in the life of a narcissist. They involve the creation of an imagined, self-aggrandizing narrative that the narcissist weaves around elements of his real life. The narcissist modifies his behavior to conform to the newly adopted roles and gradually morphs into the fabricated character he has created. The deflation of a grandiosity bubble is met with relief by the narcissist, who views it as an experiment at being someone else for a while.

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.

Narcissist's Shame and Guilt

The grandiosity gap is the difference between self-image and reality, causing feelings of guilt and shame in narcissists. Narcissistic shame is the pervasive feeling of worthlessness experienced by the narcissist due to the absence or deficiency of narcissistic supply. The narcissist adopts primitive psychological defense mechanisms to counter this shame, such as addictive or impulsive behaviors. Guilt is an objectively determinable philosophical entity, while shame is the outcome of avoidable outcomes.

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