Written by Dr. Eric Perry, PhD
Image Credit: Pixabay
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~Carl Jung
The narcissist is much like the hollow plaster statues that are cast to look like those made of solid marble. The facade may be pleasing and alluring, much like Michelangelo’s David. But, if you look closely you will soon realize that the form is actually empty and shallow.
An individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has an inner frailty that they have tried very hard to disguise for most of their lives. They have been so successful at masquerading who they are that at a certain point they lost all presence or awareness of their true selves. They are unable to look inward for any positive insight. They learned early in life that how they felt and who they were as individuals did not matter. What mattered in their childhood is how they looked and how they presented themselves. They learned to portray a false self in order to be loved and cared for. Perhaps, it was a parental figure who taught them that to be worthy of love they had to be perfect. The child’s fragile ego was then lost and became part of a larger dysfunctional familial collective ego.
To the narcissist, all life is external. Over time, the ability to hide behind a false self soon becomes second nature. Their true self that was trampled on in early life lies hidden deep in the recess of their subconscious. The narcissist will travel through life much like a stone skimming across the surface of a lake. They possess no inner life and therefore rely only on external validation to form and support their identity. They do not possess the key to unlock the door to their inner self. The narcissist lacks the consciousness to be able to truly connect with the world in a meaningful way. Their entire identity is formed by external factors such as praise, adoration and compliments. The narcissist needs to be practically or literally idolized in order to feel good enough.
One person alone cannot fill the empty ego of someone with NPD. If you are aware that your partner is a narcissist and choose to stay with them, you will soon discover that the narcissist’s palate is constantly changing. Your love, praise and compliments will soon not be enough because they will eventually tire of the type of fuel you are providing. Soon, they may seek others to provide them with a new flavor of fuel. Unfortunately, but luckily for the person with NPD, social media has made narcissistic supply or the fuel more readily available. If in need of a pick me up, the narcissist can easily post something on Instagram or share something on facebook to instantly receive feedback to feel better about themselves.
I like to remember the traits of someone with NPD with the simple acronym GASFEEEEE or GASFE(5). I like to think that there is a fee to the gas/fuel that you provide a narcissist. Like most of your interactions with a narcissist, you are getting short-changed. Unfortunately, the fee is a high one, as this fee is usually, YOU.
Here is how I apply the acronym:
1. G – Grandiosity
2. A – Arrogant
3. S – Special (the belief that they are special)
4. F – Fantasies of wealth and power
5. E – Entitled
6. E – Exploitive
7. E – Excessive need for admiration
8. E – Empathy (lack of)
9. E – Envious
Please see my post, “A Look Inside the Mind of a Narcissist” to learn more.
You may feel that the narcissist owes you something for the fuel that you provide. Perhaps, this fuel was in the form of endless encouragement and constantly praising them beyond their capabilities. Or, the fuel could be in the form of money or a place to live. Unfortunately, the narcissist will never be able to see things from your point of you. They are unable to have empathy because they are not able to escape themselves. They are trapped in an oversized persona that they must keep alive in order to feel good about themselves. Their identity is derived from the accolades given to the false persona that they have created; much like an empty suit filled up with air. If air is not constantly supplied, the suit will deflate and lose its form without someone to feed on.
Please note, I am not trying to vilify individuals with NPD. I think the mainstream media and the overall overuse of the word does this quite well already. Currently, there is no “cure” for someone with NPD, but individuals with this disorder can learn through behavior modification how to interact successfully with others. There are some studies that suggest that someone with NPD can learn empathy if it is reframed in a way where they are getting something out of feeling empathic. I feel that it is important to educate yourself if you feel you are involved with a narcissist. If you choose to stay in a relationship with a person with NPD, it is important that you go in with your eyes open and stay aware of their inability to function in a so-called normal way.
This article is meant to educate about how some may acquire NPD. There are other theories about the acquisition of NPD but they have not been discussed here.
The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a therapeutic relationship with the reader nor are they meant to be used for self-diagnosis. This write up is not all-inclusive and is only meant to provoke curiosity on the subject. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a mental health professional.
Please note, I am unable to answer your specific mental health or psychology-related questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
M.A. in Clinical Psychology
B.A. in Psychology
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