Through adverse parental and environmental influences, a child may not be permitted to grow according to their instinctual needs and potential. A parent wrapped up in their own neurosis cannot love their child or conceive them as an individual being influenced by such neurosis. They may be dominating, overprotective, erratic, hostile, partial to hypercriticism, separation, or indifference. The child does not develop a secure attachment or a sense of belonging and profound insecurity with primary identity anxiety—a feeling of being isolated, alienated and helpless in a hostile world. The child develops coping strategies that will not arouse and increase this basic anxiety. The child may cling, rebel, rebuff, fight or detach from others and withdraw emotionally. In a mutually responsible relationship, moving against and moving toward others are not exclusive behaviours. Affection becomes clinging, confidence becomes appeasement, and a basic conflict manifests.
The compliant child attempts to be unselfish and good, idealising authority figures with tendencies to appease and please. They feel weak and fragile, unable to cope with the world’s frustration and difficulties. Safety becomes paramount, emotional stability overrides feelings and thoughts, and authentic expression and assertion are denied and disavowed. The energies normally driving towards self-realisation are shifted to developing an idealised image, giving the child a false sense of power and significance. A need to be perfect, whereby neurotic needs and ambitions align with the parental demands and wishes, dominates the need for a vindictive triumph. A drive for external success, a search for power to instil confidence and the need for prestige, admiration and popularity. It is a vindictive triumph, putting others to shame, defeating them, and humiliating others into submission. An act of unconscious revenge for humiliations suffered in childhood, a righteous grievance against others.
Neurosis presents two important characteristics.
- A Compulsive nature of self-idealisation. A compulsive drive opposing spontaneous wishes and archaic strivings
- An utter disregard for themself and their best wishes
A need for absolutes and extremes, which override complex or nuanced perspectives, allows one to detach from reality into “Wishful thinking.” They are averse to checking or accepting evidence that contradicts their illusions and delusions; they would collapse if they did. They are not interested in learning or doing a step-by-step process but demand unlimited glory and instant gratification. A wish or need is understandable but may turn into an entitled claim, such as the right to feel indignant. There is a need to be always right, never to be criticised, doubted, or challenged as blind obedience is demanded. Fantastic claims for being endowed with supreme attributes become crippling in their implications, manifesting as smouldering envy and discontent. It’s unfair to expect them to work on their problems or take any responsibility for going through the laborious change process. They present infantile egocentricity, with the naivety of a spoiled child, unable to relate with others. They do not understand others also have needs, wishes and limitations, such as the parents needing sleep. They become consumed with themself and driven by psychic needs, torn by conflicts and compelled to adhere to dysfunctional solutions. As they are always dutiful and good, a moral sense of justice makes others to blame and responsible for their adversity. Frustrations are felt as unfair and unjust, whereby the ensuing anger is righteous and needed to justify their hostile behaviour. Internalised anger may turn into misery and self-pity; feeling hurt and abused, they become despondent and withdrawn.
They should be of the utmost honesty, generosity, dignity, courage and unselfishness.
Compulsive inner dictates increase suffering as they cannot achieve or sustain unattainable expectations. They should never feel hurt, never be unruffled, and always enjoy a life full of pleasure and enjoyment. Whatever the difficulty level, they should be conquered by sheer will or thought immediately. The analytic process of meaningful and careful disentanglement would mean defeat or weakness. These demands impair any spontaneity of feelings, wishes and beliefs, restricting imagination and curiosity. Lifting one into the world of the intellect helps them discard reality, themself and others. A neurotic pride to be part of prestigious groups, with a legitimate wish to be unique but unable to feel they belong. They can’t tolerate being held prisoner by the clutches of their archaic needs and pursue this pride as a remedy by suppressing, denying or despising those who obstruct or challenge this incessant drive. Their prideful obsession makes them vulnerable to coercion and manipulation, whereby real or imagined slights might be perceived as a disappointment, shame, embarrassment, or induce feelings of guilt. The neurotic may be suddenly overwhelmed with panic if they experience a sense of offence, inferiority or awkwardness. Restoring pride is urgent, immediately taking revenge and engaging in hostile behaviour toward the offender. They may alternatively withdraw and lose interest in previous activities and relinquish the importance of politics, sex or intellectual pursuits. An inner belief of being a fraud, freakish in nature, always insecure and fragile on the verge of collapse.
Godlike in imagination, awkward in social reality
It is safer to renounce, avoid or withdraw from taking the risk of exposing one’s pride to reinjury. It is safer not to try than to try and fail. This stance deprives individuals of any opportunity to overcome their problems and injury gradually. The neurotic world consists of two opposing forces :
- A unique, idealised self
- An omnipresent stranger ( real self ) inferior, interfering and always causing a disturbance.
Self-hate makes visible the internal fight within the personality between the grandiose self and the true self. A fight between the pride system against expansive and self-effacing drives. Both forces are incompatible and compulsive, with a ruthless self-condemnation for not meeting expectations. The self-hate helps maintain the glorified self, activate the idealised self and eliminate conflict. Self-alienation leads to the disassociation of feelings and any sympathy towards the suffering self. They may project this hatred outwards, hating life, people and the world but perceiving it coming from the outside—perfection at the expense of spontaneity, creativity and authenticity of feelings and values. When the client can`t measure up to their shoulds and demands, they reach an impasse on the verge of a realisation of their conflicts. They become agitated, hostile, paranoid and delusional, accusing others of their own behaviour. They are guilty of not being perfect, thinking differently and beyond redemption. The protective mechanisms against these self-accusations stunt the capacity for healthy self-criticism. They cannot hear their mistakes or heal from injury as the whole personality is forever flawed. Self-contempt undermines confidence and esteem with an internal doubting, disparaging and ridiculing voice.
There is an unconscious taboo on aspiration, whereby any striving to use one’s own resources and become a better and stronger person is denied. Self-hate manifests as a destructive force against impulses and actions for expansion. Self-alienation means a gross loss of identity with an impaired conscious experience of oneself. Living in a continual fog, a haze of uncertainty with no clarity or vision. A strong sense of self can make decisions and assume responsibility, leading to genuine integration of the whole personality. Instead of making decisions, others should take responsibility and be accountable, exposed to criticism and judgement. The real self is exiled, deaf, dumb and blind to any clear perception of the true self and reality. They tend to live in their own imagination and respond superficially to what captures their fancy or hurts their pride. The greater the energy absorbed in the service of pride, the less available for the constructive drive towards self-realisation. There is an unconscious need to avoid any enquiry into cause and effect, where all perceptions must be protected from analysis or outside influence. Feelings are controlled and rationalised by the mind as inner tensions are removed from bodily awareness.
They can master life through the intellect, eliminating any self-effacing trends through the experience of vindictive triumphs. They can maintain the grandiose image in their mind, one they can be proud of, unable to acknowledge or accept any weakness. The narcissistic expansive type is arrogant, egocentric and obsessed with power and status. Detached and unrelated to others, unable to see others have their own wishes and needs. They feel superior due to high standards and appearance, looking down on others with hidden contempt for their weakness. They are entitled to special treatment because of their duty, fairness, compliance and generosity. They are too proud to ask for help or support and unable to accept something gracefully. Any need for warmth or affection has been suppressed by triumph and power, turning against others into isolation. Any self-interest or introspection would check these vindictive impulses and is kept at bay with utter disregard for their personal welfare. They abhor being compliant, appeasing or dependent on others.
There is nothing they cant accomplish on their own.
On the other hand, the self-affecting person lives with a diffuse sense of failure. Being not worthy or loveable, feeling inferior and contemptible. They deny and eliminate expansive thoughts, attitudes and drives and can’t accept any credit for accomplishments or success. They avoid conflict or confrontations, can’t stand up for their ideas or opinions, and always surrender to others. An internal taboo on everyday aggression and selfishness, eliminate self-interests and self-love and seek validation from others. An unshakeable faith in the goodness of humanity, where compulsive behaviours disable any discriminative qualities. They can`t distinguish between genuine concern and conditional care, easily coerced by small shows of warmth and interest. They refuse to believe in any intent to deceive, humiliate or exploit, regardless of experience, with an unwillingness to change expectations of goodness. They can’t tolerate being alone and need constant contact and company to avoid feeling lost. Without the quest for love, life is meaningless and futile, as salvation comes from being accepted. They expect the analysis to remove the feeling of guilt and unworthiness, wanting special attention within sessions.
Being a victim protects against self-hate, where most of their hostility is unconscious, which needs to be suppressed because it endangers subjective values and images. Any hostility contradicts the idealised image of goodness, making them feel unloveable and in conflict with others. They can dedicate their life to others, a cause or belief, where they feel needed and part of something bigger. They are shackled under immense pressure to not expand or grow, under unconscious self-abuse and suppression. The concept of erotic love and endless lust lures the self-effacing type into toxic relationships. The ticket to paradise, no more loneliness and feelings of unworthiness. Love promises protection, support, and affection and gives meaning to life. They are spellbound by someone who appears stronger and superior, who possesses all the attributes they long for and desire.
Appeal of Freedom
Withdrawal from the inner battlefield by declaring one uninterested feels like freedom, an unconscious resignation for true living. Settling for peace with an absence of conflicts, a process of shrinking, not being seen, and curtailing any expansive growth. An onlooker, a non-player of life, where life is a drama being played out there, on stage. An absence of strivings for achievement and success with an aversion towards effort and endurance. No goal planning or direction, absence of all irritations or upsets with restricting imagination and wishes. Characterised by emotional detachment, distance from others and intimacy. Any deep feelings remain in their inner sanctum, away from conscious involvement, private space and for nobody`s concern. Any expectation or demands may force one to move, change and mobilise. The freedom from bondage gives inner dependence, where they retract feelings and any need for fulfilment from others.
A composite image of self-sufficiency, independence, stoicism and fairness.
One moving away from the self loses the depth and intensity of their feelings. Enjoyment becomes shallow and meaningless when pursuing superficial politics, sex or drama. They are overwhelmed and influenced by the crowd and accept and take on public opinions and ideas freely. A tolerance of broad-mindedness, no depth or nuance, a world of blanket sameness with no difference or uniqueness. They lack psychological curiosity, with glib ideas and explanations, and are only interested in external matters connected with the status quo and belonging. An aversion to detail and consistent effort, where endurance and delayed results are for mere mortals. Inner upheavals may manifest psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches, cramps or ulcers. There is no active imagination and ability to grasp ideas, follow through with concepts and achieve mastery. There is no incentive to develop potential, pursue exalted goals and achieve authentic success.
Horney, k.(1991) Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Towards Self-Realization: The Struggle Toward Self-realisation, W. W. Norton & Company; 40th Revised ed. edition
15 Narcissistic Traits and signs of a Narcissist: https://www.conjunctio.co.uk/15-narcissistic-traits-what-are-signs-of-a-narcissist/