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Mental Map # 2

1. Narcissistic Supply Sources (NSSs)
2. Loss of the NSS - partial or whole
3. Dysphoria-depression
4. Reactive Repertoire (escapism)
5. Relief (resolution of the conflict)
6. Renewed Dysphoria-depression
7. Creating new NSS
8. Back to stage 2, 3, etc.

It is evident that there are two types of dysphoria-depression:

Loss induced dysphoria-depression, which is past-orientated and mourns the loss of NSS and deficiency induced dysphoria-depression, which is future-orientated and leads to the creation of new NSS.

The loss of NSS is typically the outcome of some life crisis (fading celebrity, a divorce, personal bankruptcy, incarceration, death in the family).

By "deficiency" we mean securing insufficient or dysfunctional NSS (a larger deficiency happens when a PN Space disappears).

There is a third reason, which leads the narcissist down the path of dysphoria-depression. It is when the narcissist (rarely) gets in touch with his own emotions. To do this means to re-enact painful past relationships (mainly with the Primary Object, the mother).

If the exact same psychological reaction is elicited by apparently disparate reasons - could it be that they are not so disparate after all?

It seems that the loss of NSS forces the narcissist to get in touch with his hitherto repressed emotions, to reconstruct past events and relationships, which still deeply traumatise and hurt. The connection lies in that figure of the narcissist's private mythology, his mother. In rare cases it could be the father or some other meaningful adult, or even a social group of reference (peers) or a socialisation agent. This depends on who was the predominant influence in the narcissist's early life.

The whole structure of the narcissistic disorder is a derivative of the narcissist's relationship with these Primary Objects - usually (but not always) his mother.

The narcissist's mother may have been inconsistent and frustrating. By being so, she thwarted the narcissist's ability to trust others and to feel secure and wanted. By emotionally abandoning him, she fostered in him fears of being abandoned again and the nagging feeling that the world is a dangerous, hostile, and unpredictable place. She became a negative, devaluating voice, which was duly incorporated in the narcissist's Superego.

Two diametrically opposed mental solutions are adopted by the tender victim of such disguised maternal aggression.

With such a constant reminder of his worthlessness the narcissist begins a lifelong quest for reassurance and positive reinforcements. He searches for people (individuals or groups) to affirm his behaviour and applaud him on a regular basis.

At the same time the child refers to himself for mental nurturing and nourishment, for affirmation and satisfaction, in one word: for love. He withdraws inwards.

This dual solution polarises the narcissist's world. The child is the only reliable benevolent source of positive emotions. All others are regarded functionally. They have a role to play in the narcissist's drama, they are the audience, which is supposed to applaud but not to interfere with the play.

Every loss of a Narcissistic Source of Supply is reminiscent of, resonates with and re-enacts the early loss of the mother, a loss which is felt as constant, frustrating, and painful.

The narcissist's reactions to a loss of NSS are incredibly strong and the world is anthropomorphised. The universe is perceived - and treated - as a conspiring, conniving, entity. The loss of the NSS is inconsistent and frustrating. The narcissist cries in agony: "Why have they stopped writing about me in the press?", "Why did she leave me having told me that she loved me?"

The loss of the NSS is an abandonment, an affirmation of the negative, devaluing inner voice. If the press is no longer interested in him, it proves to the narcissist that he is no longer interesting. If his spouse left him, this goes to show that he is a failure, both as a person and as a man, and that more successful and healthier men won her over.

Such loss leads to a retreat from the world, to reclusion. Only there - inside his self - does the narcissist feel safe, gratified and approved of.

But even the narcissist's capacity to deny and to repress, to lie and to deceive, to camouflage and to pretend is limited. There always comes a time when even the narcissist's self, buried under these mountains of self-deceit, is silenced. This constitutes a total collapse of self-image, sense of self-worth and personal credit. The only way to restore a semblance of self is by withdrawing from the world and from the need to pretend, to pose, and to disguise one's self.

These symptoms are even more aggravated by the fact that NSSs are not lost one at a time. They usually vanish simultaneously together with the narcissist's ability to sustain them with his theatrics.