What Happens in a Narcissist’s Mind, and How Did He/She Become a Narcissist?
Narcissism is based on an inflated “false self”, which has developed as a result of a developmental arrest in childhood. As a child, he/she withdrew inwards and resorted to grandiose fantasies of being superior, special, perfectly loved, self-sufficient and self-important.
This was to cover the vulnerability, self-doubt and worthlessness that was at his/her core.
To keep his grandiose “false self” alive in his mind and his fears of abandonment at bay, he/she is in constant search for sources of narcissistic supply, an abundant “fan club”, which will supply him/her with positive attention, adulation and appreciation, and if that is not possible, fear from others will suffice.
The more damage he/she sustained in childhood, the larger the grandiosity and the more severe the Narcissism, and the more donations are desperately needed from others to keep propping up the fantasy self. Emotional pain dominates his/her internal landscape. He/she may project arrogance and charisma, but underneath he/she feels unworthy.
It is a constant and exhausting endeavour as he/she continually seeks to manipulate others to give him/her the required fix. He/she will do anything to get it, and won’t let people’s feelings or the truth get in the way.
To keep this all going internally, he/she uses a combination of 6 defense mechanisms
- Splitting is the first one. This means he/she fails to regard anyone, including himself/herself, as a composite of good and bad. Instead, he/she sees everyone as either “all good” or “all bad”. He/she, of course is “all good”, and you as the partner begin by being “all good” which has him/her idealising you, and internalising you to support his/her grandiosity, but as soon as you fail to do this, you become “all bad” and he/she immediately devalues you, with the resulting punishment in various forms metered out to you.
- Dissociation & altered perception. Narcissists often recall things very differently from healthy people, or fail to recall things at all if they don’t resonate with his/her superiority.
- Rationalisation is the assertion that a flaw doesn’t exist, or if it does, it isn’t the Narcissists. (“There is nothing wrong with me. I never have problems”) These rationalisations can be very convoluted and obscure, as they often fly in the face of observable facts.
- Projection is the curious strategy whereby the Narcissist is subconsciously aware of what he/she is in fact doing himself, but projects it onto you, with the result that you then get blamed for exactly what he/she is doing himself/herself, and he/she casts himself/herself as the blameless victim.
- Denial is simply the assertion that something is not so, when ordinary observation or common sense confirms that it is in fact true. Anything that doesn’t reinforce his/her grandiose image will be denied. The Emperor has no clothes and he can’t be told.
- Blame shifting is what happens when the Narcissist insists there is nothing possibly wrong with him/her, so all the blame must be attributed to you or everyone else in the world.
Check out our other videos on Narcissism:
What can I do if I am with a Narcissist?
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