A person who has great difficulty recognizing and appropriating neediness and “creates” guilt and shame in another is very likely a narcissist; on a spectrum from difficile to psychopath. What this has to do with narcissism in general, and why it is “so” important for him to affect the feelings of another, I will discuss in future posts.
However, (one might have guessed) the hardest thing to deal with when dealing with a narcissistic person is their neediness… for another.
Needing something as it is is shameful. For when I want something, I carry an “emptiness” within me, there is a gap in me that needs to be filled, I am not whole and smooth, I am flawed and bad.
For the narcissist, needing another person is not only shameful, it is potentially humiliating; because the other person who “has what I need” has power over me => that means he is higher in the “hierarchy” => that means I am a small nothing.
The narcissistic personality finds its way out in a specific way of contact, which psychoanalysts explain by the mechanism of projective identification. The narcissist begins to interact with the other person in need as if the person in need is him, this other person.
Excessive tutelage, hypercontrol under the guise of care, inappropriate criticism, disdainful violation of agreements, outright insults — different in form mechanisms serve the same purpose: to create an interaction where the other needs me, where he is the beggar, “defective”, “flawed”, “scabby” and — dependent.
This behavior has two functions:
1. To actually free oneself from the shameful and humiliating neediness of the other by “placing” it in him or her
2. To create a very strong bond. The narcissist really needs the other, but instead of feeling it, he creates a bond where all neediness, dependence, and attachment is placed in the other. So, he ends up both “invulnerable” and in a very strong, stable secure relationship.
The other person in the couple suffers and gets worse, but when has a narcissist ever cared about that?