Narcissistic Defences and Personality

Uploaded 12/22/2010, approx. 5 minute read

I'm Sam Vaknin, and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

John M. Horovitz writes in his book, Stress Response Syndrome, published in 1998 in York, the following.

When the habitual narcissistic gratifications that come from being adored, given special treatment, and admiring the self when these are threatened, the results may be depression, prejudices, anxiety, shame, self-destructiveness, or rage directed toward any other person who can be blamed for the troubled situation.

The child can learn to avoid these painful emotional states by acquiring a narcissistic mode of information processing. Such learning may be by trial and error methods, or it may be internalized by identification with parental modes of dealing with stressful information.

Indeed, narcissism is fundamentally an evolved version of the psychological defense mechanism that we know as splitting.

The narcissist does not regard people, situations, entities, collectives, workplaces as compounds of good and bad elements, good and bad size, good and bad components.

The narcissist is an all or nothing primitive machine, and he likes to use this metaphor of a machine when he talks about himself.

The narcissist either idealizes his objects or devalues them.

At any given time, the objects are either all bad or all good. There is no gray zone. There's no compromise. The world is in black and white. The bad attributes of these objects are always projected, displaced, or otherwise externalized and attributed to others. The good ones are internalized in order to support the inflated self-concepts of the narcissist and his grandiose fantasies, and in order to avoid the pain of deflation and disillusionment.

Thus, everything that's good in other people, situations, places, collectives, is the narcissist's attributes to himself. Everything that's bad is always someone else's fault.

The universes, other people, collectives. This often translates into persecutory delusions and renders the narcissist somewhat paranoid.

The narcissist's earnestness and his apparent sincerity make people wonder whether he is simply detached from reality, unable to appraise it properly, or whether he is willingly and knowingly distorts reality and reintervices it, subjecting it to his self-imposed censorship and grandiosity.

And the truth, as usual, is somewhere in between.

The narcissist is dimly aware of the implausibility of his own constructions and confabulations. He has not lost touch with reality completely. He is just less strepulous in remolding it and in ignoring its uncomfortable angles.

Horowitz continues to say, the disguises are accomplished by shifting meanings and using exaggeration and minimization of bits of reality as a minus for fantasy's elaboration.

The narcissistic personality is especially vulnerable to regression to damaged or defective self-concepts on the occasions of loss of those who have functioned as self-objects.

In other words, what I call sources of narcissistic supply.

When the individual is faced with such stress events as criticism, withdrawal of praise or humiliation, the information involved may be denied, disavowed, negated or shifted in meaning to prevent the reactive state of rage, depression and shame.

That's Horowitz.

The second psychological defense mechanism which characterizes the narcissist is the active pursuit of narcissistic supply.

The narcissist seeks to secure a reliable and continuous source of supply of admiration, adulation, affirmation and attention, as opposed to common opinion, which unfortunately infiltrated literature and cinema.

The narcissist is content to have any kind of attention, whether good or bad. If fame cannot be had, not a right he would do.

The narcissist is obsessed with his narcissistic supply. He craves attention. He is addicted to it.

He is a narcissistic supply junkie. His behavior in the pursuit of narcissistic supply is impulsive, compulsive and uncontrollable. And he won't be ignored.

Again, if he cannot secure a positive supply, he will do it the bad way. He will become an evil person, a criminal, an antisocial, a vicious entity.

Horowitz again.

The hazard is not simply guilt because ideas have not been met. Rather, any loss of a good and coherent self-filling is associated with intensely experienced emotions such as shame and depression, plus an anguished sense of helplessness and disorientation.

To prevent this state, narcissistic personality slides the meanings of events in order to place the self in a better light.

What is good is labeled as being of the self, internalized.

Those qualities that are undesirable are excluded from the self by denial of their existence, disavowal of related attitudes, externalization, and negation of recent self-expressions.

Persons who function as accessories to the self may also be idealized by exaggeration of their attributes. Those who counter the self are depreciated. Ambiguous attributions of blame in a tendency to self-righteous rage are a conspicuous aspect of this pattern.

Such fluid shifts in meanings permit the narcissistic personality to maintain apparent logical consistency while minimizing evil or weakness and exaggerating innocence or control.

As part of these maneuvers, the narcissistic personality may assume attitudes of contemptuous superiority towards others, emotional coldness, or even desperately charming approaches to idealized figures.

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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.

Do Narcissists Truly Hate?

Narcissists are often adult versions of abused children who fear intimacy and seek to provoke hatred in parents, caregivers, and authority figures. They act out antisocially and seek to destroy the source of frustration. The narcissist's hatred is not a stable experiential state, but rather a transformation of resentment and an aggressive reaction to frustration. The narcissist is heavily dependent on other people for the regulation of their sense of self-worth, and they resent this dependence.

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.

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 Spoiled Brat

Narcissists require attention and narcissistic supply, and when they cannot obtain it, they may experience decompensation, which can lead to acting out in various ways. Narcissists may resort to several adaptive solutions, including delusional narratives, antisocial behavior, passive-aggressive behavior, paranoid narratives, and masochistic avoidance. These behaviors are all self-generated sources of narcissistic supply. Masochistic narcissists may direct their fury inwards, punishing themselves for their failure to elicit supply, and this behavior has the added benefit of forcing those closest to them to pay attention to them.

Fake Doormat Narcissist Self-implodes

Narcissists often refuse to commit, invest, or compromise in various aspects of their lives, leading to negative outcomes and losses. This behavior is driven by six psychological reasons: entitlement, magical thinking, schizoid tendencies, grandiosity, imposter syndrome, and self-destructive behaviors. These factors lead to a rejection of life and its offerings, causing the narcissist to become a victim of abuse and mistreatment. The narcissist's negative behaviors and self-destruction are desperate attempts to connect with the world, as they are unable to form positive, functional relationships.

The Signs of the Narcissist

Narcissists are difficult to spot, but there are subtle signs that can be picked up on, such as entitlement markers, idealization and devaluation, and a lack of empathy. Narcissists are often perceived as anti-social and are unable to secure the sympathy of others. They are also prone to projecting a false self and using primitive defense mechanisms such as splitting, projection, projective identification, and intellectualization.

How Narcissist Experiences/Reacts to No Contact, Grey Rock, Mirroring, Coping, Survival Techniques

Narcissists are victims of post-traumatic conditions caused by their parents, leading to ontological insecurity, dissociation, and confabulation. They have no core identity and construct their sense of self by reflecting themselves from other people. Narcissists have empathy, but it is cold empathy, which is goal-oriented and used to find vulnerabilities to obtain goals. Narcissism becomes a religion when a child is abused by their parents, particularly their mother, and not allowed to develop their own boundaries. The false self demands human sacrifice, and the narcissist must sacrifice others to the false self to gratify and satisfy it.

Narcissist's Routines

Narcissists have a series of routines that are developed through rote learning and repetitive patterns of experience. These routines are used to reduce anxiety and transform the world into a manageable and controllable one. The narcissist is a creature of habit and finds change unsettling. The narcissist's routines are often broken down when they are breached or can no longer be defended, leading to a narcissistic injury.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Misdiagnosed as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Narcissists are anxious for social approval and seek narcissistic supply compulsively, which creates attendant anxiety. They require external feedback to regulate their sense of self-worth, self-confidence, and self-esteem, making them irritable. Narcissists are terrified of being embarrassed or criticized in public, and they fail to function well in various settings. It is easy to mistake the presenting symptoms of certain anxiety disorders with pathological narcissism, but the narcissist is egosyntonic, while the anxious patient is distressed and looking for help.

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