What is the reaction of a narcissist likely to be when confronted with your text?
It takes a major life crisis to force the narcissist to face up to his False Self: a painful breakdown of a close (symbiotic) relationship, a failure (in business, in a career, in the pursuit of a goal), the death of a parent, imprisonment, or a disease.
Under normal circumstances, the narcissist denies that he is one (denial defence mechanism) and reacts with rage to any hint at being so diagnosed. The narcissist employs a host of intricate and interwoven defence mechanisms: rationalisation, intellectualisation, projection, projective identification, splitting, suppression and denial (to name but a few) - to sweep his narcissism under the psychological carpet.
When at risk of getting in touch with the reality of being mentally disturbed (and, as a result, with his emotions) - the narcissist displays the whole spectrum of emotional reactions usually associated with bereavement. At first he denies the facts, ignores them and distorts them to fit an alternative, coherent, non-narcissistic, interpretation.
Then, he becomes enraged. Wrathful, he attacks the people and social institutions that are the constant reminders of his true state. Than he sinks into depression and sadness. This phase is, really, a transformation of the aggression that he harbours into self-destructive impulses. Horrified by the potential consequences of being aggressive towards the very sources of his Narcissistic Supply - the narcissist resorts to self-attack, or self-annihilation. Yet, if the evidence is hard and still coming, the narcissist accepts himself as such and tries to make the best of it (in other words, to use his very narcissism to obtain Narcissistic Supply). The narcissist is a survivor and (while rigid in most parts of his personality) - very inventive and flexible when it comes to securing Narcissistic Supply. The narcissist could, for instance, channel this force (of narcissism) positively - or defiantly caricature the main aspects of narcissism so as to attract attention (albeit negative).
But in most cases, the reflexes of avoidance prevail. The narcissist feels disenchanted with the person or persons who presented him with proof of his narcissism. He disconnects - swiftly and cruelly - and parts ways with them, often without as much as an explanation (same as he does when he envies someone).
He then proceeds to develop paranoid theories to explain why people, events, institutions and circumstances tend to confront him with his narcissism and he, bitterly and cynically, opposes or avoids them. As anti-narcissistic agents they constitute a threat to the very coherence and continuity of his personality and this probably serves to explain the ferocity, malice, obduracy, consistency and exaggeration which characterise his reactions. Faced with the potential collapse or dysfunctioning of his False Self - the narcissist also faces the terrible consequences of being left alone and defenceless with his sadistic, maligned, self-destructive Superego.
- Created: 09 November 2008
- Last Updated: 23 August 2014