In this chapter we are introduced to feelings that are very typical of the deficit narcissist. Of course, in life all people experience anger, envy, shame, and anxiety. They go with every psyche and fulfill essential tasks. But we deficit narcissists have some peculiarities in experiencing these feelings.
We don’t just get angry. We often experience genuine narcissistic rage in response to the world not obeying us. Our anger is often directed at ourselves and hits the most fragile thing we have — our self-esteem.
We are not just envious. We hide envy from ourselves because it’s an excuse for us to face even more proof of our inadequacy.
Toxic shame is our eternal companion that guides most of our behaviors. We experience more than just anxiety. It signals the abnormality of the very core of our personality and does not let us relax for a moment.
“Common to narcissistic personalities, variously manifesting themselves, is an inherent inner sense or fear that they ‘don’t fit in’; feelings of shame, weakness, and their inferiority,” writes Nancy McWilliams.
This is the area of the deficit narcissist’s inherent feelings that we will now venture into.
After the narcissist demands of himself the impossible-grandiosity that for some reason should be available to him, and encounters his limitations or the fact that in reality it is impossible to achieve, a very typical feeling awakens in him.It is more often described not even as anger, but as narcissistic rage.It is an almost instinctive reaction to situations in which a person fails to control or influence the world in a way that corresponds to his fantasies of his own grandiosity and importance.
- When the narcissist doesn’t like something.
- When he doesn’t get what he wants.
- When he can’t even suggest that he is powerless over something.
- When he refuses to admit defeat.
- When someone has something he envies.
- When he can’t live up to what he has made up for himself.
- When he is faced with an inability to influence, to manage, to control.
- When he avoids recognizing his limitations and power over the world.
- When he doesn’t want to recognize his small importance in the lives of others and the world that are not subject to him.Haunted by fantasies of his own greatness (otherwise he is a nobody), the narcissist turns his anger either on himself or on his surroundings.
In the former case, he calls it “working on himself to become a better person.” And I’ve already written about that. And when the narcissistic rage is directed at the world, the struggle with reality with the position “I should be able to do it because I want to and I should not have any limitations” intensifies. The ironclad argument is “well, others can do it, so I should be able to do it too”. The narcissist cannot be satisfied to remain only himself, with his individual abilities and capabilities. He must have the abilities and capabilities of all outstanding people.
Once upon a time there was a Little Narcissist.
And one day she decided that being an adult meant being able to hold her own. Not to cry when someone hurts her. Not to be scared when you’re scared. Not to take offense when someone hurts her. Not to grieve when someone leaves.
Since then, she has grown up and gotten very strong. The only thing she had left was anger.
That’s why everyone stayed away from her. Just in case.
A typical dialog in this race might look like this:
- I can’t achieve the same things as Vasya Pupkin…..
- On what grounds do you think you should be able to do the same?
- Well, I am good… and I try… And in general, I deserve the best.
- That’s understandable. But what is the real reason to think that you can do the same as Vasya? Why should you be given the same?
- Because he can do it, so I should be able to do it.
- What is the real basis for your claim to have the same as Vasya?
- Well… I just want to! Why does he get it and I don’t? It’s not fair!
- But it’s actually fair that people have different things by being different. And do different things and achieve different things.
- No. I refuse to accept that! Because there’s something wrong with me.
And the person goes off on a new cycle again, which demonstrates the narcissistic cycle of attacking the world and oneself quite well.
In the good version, experiencing even narcissistic anger, we can try again and again to achieve what we fail at. Storming unreachable business heights or conquering loved ones. Well, in general, a healthy “dementia and courage” has never hurt anyone yet. Such anger gives energy not to resign to failure and, recovering, again go to prove to ourselves and others that we are still oh-go-go. But narcissistic rage contains no fuel for change. It’s a nuclear reactor, destroying everything around it and mercilessly burning out the remnants of value within.
All of it is debilitating. The narcissist comes into therapy, precisely exhausted by the struggle, driven by rage. Either he attacks people and circumstances that force him to wonder: why are they beyond his will and control? This leads to an endless search for even more power and the art of manipulation to get what he wants. Either the narcissist is exhausted by the constant attacks on himself, which he makes mainly for two reasons:
- “I still can’t get what I want, and I should be able and capable of achieving everything and getting everything I want.”
- “I should stop worrying about it, and I should stop caring.”
This is generally cured by a long and very gradual removal of the crown of grandiosity and the recognition of one’s own powerlessness in many matters of relationship with the world. But that’s for the next part.
Fragments from the forthcoming book “Fragile People: A Secret Door to the World of Narcissists”