Many scholars consider pathological narcissism to be a form of depressive illness, according to “Psychology Today”. The life of the typical narcissist is, indeed, punctuated with recurrent bouts of dysphoria (ubiquitous sadness and hopelessness), anhedonia (loss of the ability to feel pleasure), and clinical forms of depression (cyclothymic, dysthymic, or other). This picture is further obfuscated by the frequent presence of mood disorders, such as Bipolar I (co-morbidity).
While the distinction between reactive (exogenous) and endogenous depression is obsolete, it is still useful in the context of narcissism. Narcissists react with depression not only to life crises but to fluctuations in Narcissistic Supply.
The narcissist’s personality is disorganized and precariously balanced. He regulates his sense of self-worth by consuming Narcissistic Supply from others. Any threat to the uninterrupted flow of said supply compromises his psychological integrity and his ability to function. It is perceived by the narcissist as life threatening.
I. Loss Induced Dysphoria
This is the narcissist’s depressive reaction to the loss of one or more Sources of Narcissistic Supply or to the disintegration of a Pathological Narcissistic Space (PN Space, his stalking or hunting grounds, the social unit whose members lavish him with attention).
II. Deficiency Induced Dysphoria
Deep and acute depression which follows the aforementioned losses of Supply Sources or a PN Space. Having mourned these losses, the narcissist now grieves their inevitable outcome the absence or deficiency of Narcissistic Supply. Paradoxically, this dysphoria energizes the narcissist and moves him to find new Sources of Supply to replenish his dilapidated stock (thus initiating a Narcissistic Cycle).
III. Self-Worth Dysregulation Dysphoria
The narcissist reacts with depression to criticism or disagreement, especially from a trusted and long-term Source of Narcissistic Supply. He fears the imminent loss of the source and the damage to his own, fragile, mental balance. The narcissist also resents his vulnerability and his extreme dependence on feedback from others. This type of depressive reaction is, therefore, a mutation of self-directed aggression.
IV. Grandiosity Gap Dysphoria
The narcissist’s firmly, though counterfactually, perceives himself as omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, brilliant, accomplished, irresistible, immune, and invincible. Any data to the contrary is usually filtered, altered, or discarded altogether. Still, sometimes reality intrudes and creates a Grandiosity Gap. The narcissist is forced to face his mortality, limitations, ignorance, and relative inferiority. He sulks and sinks into an incapacitating but short-lived dysphoria.
V. Self-Punishing Dysphoria
Deep inside, the narcissist hates himself and doubts his own worth. He deplores his desperate addiction to Narcissistic Supply. He judges his actions and intentions harshly and sadistically. He may be unaware of these dynamics but they are at the heart of the narcissistic disorder and the reason the narcissist had to resort to narcissism as a defense mechanism in the first place.
This inexhaustible well of ill will, self-chastisement, self-doubt, and self-directed aggression yields numerous self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors from reckless driving and substance abuse to suicidal idealization and constant depression.
It is the narcissist’s ability to confabulate that saves him from himself. His grandiose fantasies remove him from reality and prevent recurrent narcissistic injuries. Many narcissists end up delusional, schizoid, or paranoid. To avoid agonizing and gnawing depression, they give up on life itself.
When a narcissist is stressed about anything in his or her life, they take it out on their primary source of supply – and most likely, if you’re here, reading this article (or watching this video), you’re it, my friend.
You know what I mean, right? Where you’re finding yourself laying in bed, tears streaming silently backward down your cheeks and into your ears as the narcissist peacefully sleeps, whether it’s next to you or somewhere else.
Maybe you called the narcissist out on something important – or insignificant (like “hey, would you mind putting your coffee cup in the dishwasher when you’re done?”, to which s/he replies “Oh, you mean while I’m on my way out the door to go to work and make money with this family while you just sit on your ass and play with the kids all day?? I wish life was so simple for me, but you don’t care! You just don’t appreciate me. God, you used to be the coolest guy/girl I knew. You’ve changed. You’re just not the girl/guy I married. Man my life sucks. Poor me.”)
And we all know a narcissist doesn’t respond well to anything less than “omg you’re so amazing…”
So, because the narcissist is so good at reeling us in and works so hard at manipulating us to their advantage, we try at first to change ourselves and we begin to tolerate things we said we never would.
So we stop bitching. We try to be perfect. We work on gray rocking with a smile. Every now and then we still react and we always instantly regret it when we do.
And sometimes, the narcissist might let it slide. At least until you start to think you’re happy again – and that’s when he will gaslight you to the point that you become brainwashed, suicidal or otherwise miserable.
You lose your ability to care about anything else. You might neglect people and things that matter to you, all in order to avoid causing trouble with the narcissist.
You grow enmeshed with the narcissist to the level that you’re no longer even concerned about your own needs – you never use up the toothpaste or toilet paper without replacing it, and you’ll go without something you need (like glasses or medical stuff, maybe) just to give the narcissist something he or she just wants- and maybe at this point, it’s just become habit. The narcissist has taught you that you don’t deserve to come first, ever.
Worse, you kinda believe it.
The worst part of all is that the cycle continues as long as you allow it, and a part of you tries to convince yourself that you’re okay wirh it because it feels easier than “causing conflict” – for which you’ll always pay dearly.
The narcissist would be happy to keep you in perpetual suspension for his or her source of supply as long as you’ll take it.
And when a narcissist has had a bad day, she’s going to take it out in ways that healthy people would not. Like mentally and in some cases physically – and nearly always at the expense of some poor empath just trying to shine a little light in the world.
I’m not going to sugar coat here – the fact is that the narcissist does this because he or she needs to use you as their own personal emotional dumpster. Yeah I said it.
See the narcissist has an image to uphold “out there in the world” – but he also needs a way to release all his pent up crazy in private. And while a normal or healthy person might like start working out or journaling or meditating or whatever – a narcissist will need to go ahead and release all the poison and refill with supply. You know, like how a vampire will get hungry and need to suck the blood of someone in order to regain strength and vitality and in fact to stay alive.
So what do you do about it? Well, ideally, you go no contact. But that doesn’t always work in real life. Sometimes you’ve got to just suck it up and go gray rock. But if you’re still in it – living with the narcissist, for example, you ought to consider your options.
Upset your whole world for a few months, maybe, or take the chance that you will feel this way until the day you die – and spend every moment until then hating your life (or just not living). YOU decide.
Never stay for the “wolf you know.” Don’t allow yourself to believe the lies the narcissist tells you about yourself – start rewriting your own story.
Okay, it’s your turn: have you ever been in a situation like this before? How did you handle it? What advice would you offer a fellow survivor? And if you’re “still in it,” tell me what you’re going to do next – or what you’re struggling with today. Share your thoughts in the comments and let’s discuss it.
Do you know someone who presents as a shy or introverted person, but who is actually a narcissist? You might be dealing with a covert narcissist. Covert narcissists are those who will often use the “poor me” act – also known as narcissistic injury – as one of their primary ways of manipulating their victims.
What is a covert narcissist?
A covert narcissistis someone who demonstrates a very subtle, but equally toxic form of narcissism that is exhibited by someone with a more introverted personality. Covert narcissism is characterized by grandiose fantasies and thoughts, perception of entitlement, and a general sentiment of being better than others – but unlike grandiose narcissism, those affected by covert narcissism can seem shy and introverted. They may also be self-loathing in a more obvious way than other narcissists. These qualities make it more difficult to identify a covert narcissist.
I’ll offer you a look inside the head of a covert narcissist that might even make you feel a little sorry for him/her – but it’s the truth. The untrained eye might see this kind of narcissist as a pushover or a sweet shy person, but in reality, they’re the hardest kind of narcissist to sniff out – the covert kind. I’ll not only share personal experiences, but I’ll give you the nuts and bolts on how a covert narcissist works and on how to identify one. In this video, I’ll give you the 411 on how to identify a covert narcissist and what to watch for when dealing with one.