The wounded self – The torture of narcissism
Narcissism is a word that is bandied about nowadays with casual frequency, and if often used in place of the word ‘selfish’ or ‘self-centred’. Many of us will recognise in ourselves a generous sprinkling of selfishness and that awareness often comes with a feeling of discomfort and the sense that it’s not something we want to admit out loud. The good news is that such a reaction, when not crippling, is a sign of normal emotional health.
At the other end of the scale is the person who has a constant sense of their own weakness and resentment at being a victim in the face of mistreatment by others. This, too, is a wound to the self which constantly battles with the need for validation.
The person with true narcissistic personality disorder will not be able to tolerate that discomfort at all, to the extent that they simply will not recognise it as an issue. They will have to maintain their sense of grandiose validation, respect and self-worth at all costs. It is essential to them because the alternative is consciousness of an annihilating abyss that they are ‘nothing’. Everyone around the narcissist will be serving to reflect the narcissist’s self worth back at them. Initially they will be seductive charm itself. But when the other person fails to make the narcissist feel good about themselves, which given time in any relationship is inevitable, they will trigger destructive criticism, rage and ultimately be discarded.