So What the Hell Is Narcissism Anyway?

[Written around 2004.]

Everyone is born narcissistic – that is, full of intense need. This is healthy. If a child is lucky his parents will meet all of his needs and he will grows optimally, straight through to enlightenment, straight through his development with no traumas to bog him down. But when they fail – and where they fail – he has to bury his neglected needs in self-protection. These then become a fixed part of his unconscious personality, and he will go through the rest of his life in an unconscious desperation to heal. These unhealed parts of him become the kernel of his narcissism.

For a narcissist to heal he must take responsibility for his wounds. He must excavate them, feel their pain, trace their sources, place appropriate blame, confront perpetrators either interactionally or internally, and grieve their horror. This is a nearly impossible task, but not fully so. Enlightenment is possible for anyone.

But few heal. Most avoid healing their wounds and instead seek out objects to gratify these wounds – often in the most clever, charming, and even seductive ways. The world is full of heroes and rescuers and martyrs who are drawn like magnets to narcissists. They delude themselves into believing they can fix them. These rescuers of narcissists are closet narcissists themselves, disguising their mis-attempts to self-heal through attempting to gratify others. No one attempts to narcissistically gratify anyone else unless he is in denial of his own comparable wound.

But they always fail at deeply gratifying anyone. Gratification is contrary to healing. Healing requires boundaries and a depth of insight, qualities antithetical to closet narcissism. But failure is no great loss to them, because they carry a great ace up their sleeve: they can always blame their failure on the fact that they were the victim of yet another narcissist. But this is not true. The only narcissists that truly victimized them were their own parents.

In their relationship with their child narcissistic parents are like sheriffs dealing with outlaws in the dusty Wild West: “There’s only room for one of us in this town…” To make the analogy fit, the outlaw (i.e. the child) must lack weapons, strength, or skill. Whenever he tangles with the sheriff (i.e. the parents) he always loses and gets booted out of town (i.e. the needs of the parents win, and his get neglected).

What then happens is the outlaw, if he doesn’t die some destructive death, leaves town (i.e. buries his needs in his unconscious) and goes to find another weaker town in which he declares himself sheriff (i.e. starts his own family, often with exploitable kids of his own).

Thus the system perpetuates itself…unless its members find some way to heal.

3 thoughts on “So What the Hell Is Narcissism Anyway?

  1. narcissism is a very dangerous behavior, the saddest things will be toward his family, they will become the victim, it’s kind of irony because they also the closest thing that could lead to the healing of a narcissistic man.

  2. Rescuers are closet narcissists, indeed…egomaniac with Savior/ Jesus/ Mary/ Martyr complex. I’ve been there so I know how the excuses go. Of course they THINK they deserve to be the ultimate rescue object because they reckon they have showered this commodity called “empathy” or “unconditional” love on “ungrateful” narc love objects they tend to gravitate to like blind rats to feral cats. They may whine but secretly they are proud of their own extraordinary tolerance threshold for narc abuse. They flaunt their wounds like soldiers flaunt battle scars. What they don’t have is the true humility to admit to themselves that they have not even begin to develop REAL empathy for themselves, or entry level self-responsibility to discern sheep from wolves. As if “betrayed status” or self-hate is a virtue. They offer themselves up for abuse, not once or twice, but again, again, and again, then run around web forums distorting the meaning of narcissism, raging at anyone who fail to scold the obvious narcissists louder than closet narcissists.

    Guess who these angelic closet narcissists STILL dare not rage at? That culprit parent. The current authority figure, often a lover, or a boss.

  3. The classic narc is a user, manipulative, cunning abuser.The closet narc is not.the latter are not out to hurt anyone albeit they are unaware of their own true motives.The big important differnce is that closet narcs know what empathy is and do not have evil intentions unlike the classic narcs.So for you to absolve the classic narc from resposibility for their exploitation and misuse of the closet narc and to claim that they do not victimize is simply not true.The sad thing is that the closet narc is first victimized by his parents and then goes on and repeats the hurt with future narcs who are assholes in their own right.That’s like saying to a rape victim who was also abused by her parents,the rapist didn’t victimize you , your parents did.The two are not mutually exclusive.

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