Narcissism has become such a persuasive psychotic trait that society is now deemed “Normal ” or “Revered” as the general population seems incapable of outgrowing it. Any self-examination is bypassed, and any possible injury to the Grandiose self is repudiated. Maintaining the self-image sacrifices reality, as the self-image demands and desires distort reality.

Narcissism is a normal childhood development whereby the reality principle gradually replaces the pleasure principle as one matures. The child’s natural propensity to feel superior, entitled and unique is challenged and replaced by an adult’s perception of others and their environment. There tend to be three overlapping and interwoven narc illnesses.

  • Egocentricity – A grandiose sense of entitlement, active attempts to distort reality and coerce others into supporting your delusions.
  • Deficits in ego structure
  • Myriad forms of ego defences create retreats from relatedness with others. (established by early wounds to structure, autonomy and self-esteem)

Social and Political Narcissism

Social superiority can become a narcissistic sanctuary against pain, separation or rejection. Social movements consist of a primary group of individuals who have put the same object in place of their Ego ideal and identify themself with one another through their ego. The group idealise each other or their charismatic leader, creating a sense of moral superiority.

The individual bask in their reflected glory and grandiosity, euphoric in comradeship and surrender to the hive mind. The group does not care about how they impact others, as the cause outweighs any collateral damage and subjectivity of the individual. The group demand illusion and never thirsts for the truth, which would mean giving up their moral and glorious image. Unconscious feelings of deprivation, unresolved grievances or envy motivate social movements to cause profound damage to collective structures and functions.

Skillful Politicians manipulate the Narcissist injuries of their Population

Kohut and Narcissism

The development in the idealisation of object others embodies perfection, intelligence, beauty and wisdom. The self is initially merged with the admired figure, which supports the establishment of grandiose narcissism. This grandiosity should gradually transform into realistic ambition, personal values pursued based on real work. Traumatic narcissistic injuries (wounds to self-esteem and sense of self ) or undue seduction (inappropriate encouragement of grandiosity and enmeshment) can disrupt two development lines.

  1. Unmodified Primitive Grandiosity
  2. Unmodified Primitive Idealisation

When responded to with genuine care and empathy, this primitive narcissism undergoes tolerable dosed encounters with reality, allowing for transmuting internalisation. This generates a degree of psychic stability with creativity and an acceptance of pain, boundaries and limitations. Without self-object attunement, the child may experience mental disintegration, embodied by great anxiety and rage. There is a deep dread in the destruction of the self with the absence of the self-object. The child will forever seek external validation and acceptance with an enhanced need for responsiveness from the other. This leads to the development of two broad categories.

  1. Narcissistic agents – Recruitment of others to support their grandiose egocentric self
  2. Victims or co-dependents who become hosts to Narcissistic predators

Both suffer from infantile vulnerability and disintegration anxiety, whereby the agents react with rage, seeking to coerce others into their way of thinking. The victims continue to rescue and comply while sacrificing their needs and desires. Narcs live in total self-delusion, avoiding any recurrence of narc injuries and the valuation of others.

Trapped in the imaginary realm of images and abstractions

The agent gradually takes control of the victim’s mind, forcing one to identify with their beliefs and ideas of the grandiose image. Restrictions are increasingly enforced on the victim’s freedom, using emotional or physical threats, inducing toxic shame and guilt. Over time, the devaluation and dismissal process leads to a sense of worthlessness, dependency, and emptiness. Identifying with a negative self-image can be unbearable. A place with no identity, no symbolic register, and no place in the world. What is missing is the symbolic father, a crucial element of the symbolic realm which has never been present.

When discontinuity occurs via a crisis, the cocoon is broken, and the narc is forced to appeal to the symbolic realm, which does not exist. Perplexity starts—a desperate attempt to regain the whole via inflation, to establish a sense of order. The narc may undergo periods of immense inarticulate anguish, a feeling that nothing makes sense, with no meaning and unable to communicate the experience of the void. They need to create a way to articulate presymbolic states, a world of terror and hopelessness, to confront the foundation of their psyche. As an illusion agent, their ego is totalitarian as this is the only world that exists. A left-brain tyranny of intellectual logic and rigid beliefs, where one is fearful of the right brain of imagination, symbols and the unknown.

Any concept of self-doubt or inferiority is deemed insanity by the narc

Imaginary Self

All activities and relationships concur with the presentation or nurturance of the grandiose self. The narc is trapped in a dysfunctional dyad with their mother, with no father figure to facilitate any psychological separation. The Narc child is captured and captivated by a mirror to facilitate others’ perceived images and emotional states. Instability and fragility of identity (diffusion) may reflect egoic struggles with intense rage provoked by the smothering or neglect of their autonomy and natural development process.

Psychotic breakdown may symbolise the frantic attempt to throw off their enslavement and inhibitions. Narcs hate to love and be intimate as they require the recognition and acceptance of others, a sense of separateness, autonomy and the unknown from the fusion with their mother. The idealised object of narc supply can be bestowed with gifts and numerable gestures of love, conflicting with devaluation, dismissal and withdrawal.

A pattern of love bombing, combined with subtle put-downs and criticisms, undermines confidence and self-esteem. Recovery from the effects of narc abuse and coercion can be a prolonged and complicated process, working with and through intense feelings of shame, abandonment, betrayal and identification with their idealised aggressor. The transformation of raw, primitive instincts ( sexual and aggressive ) into more neutral, mature forms can lead to higher psychic functions.

Triumphant entrance into the oedipal position, accepting the presence of rivals and differences, provides the child with a sense of identity within the symbolic social order. A healthy separation of the self and other representations, with interdependence within family and society, opposed to the illusion of self-sufficiency. Without the psychic space provided by the father, a triadic position, it is difficult for the child to adjust and gain another perspective of the self. They are trapped in a maternal gaze, stare or expression of the mirrored image of their mother’s own narcissism.

Borderline States

The borderline lives on the border between neurosis and psychosis, with feelings of inferiority, insecurity and intense anxiety. They rely on projective mechanisms and primitive ego defences with a tendency toward “psychic Bleeding.” This is due to inconsistent and ambivalent parenting, sometimes attuned and caring while other times being chaotic, complex and abusive. Deep anxiety and dysfunctional beliefs impede progress and create a fragmented sense of self, invoking overwhelming emotions and despair.

They operate within a stark, intense approach to conflict-avoidance interpersonal relationships, resulting in libidinal withdrawal or perceived danger in intimate relationships. They attempt to overcome any sense of separation and potential abandonment with the intrusion of boundaries, trying to possess and create a sense of oneness with the other. Their mother’s body was not experienced as a safe home, a haven that allowed for exploration and sensitivity. The child is caught in limbo between an inability to relate and not being allowed or function creatively when alone. They cannot regulate or manage emotions, constantly in a state of flux, with no grounding for the self to be built on, and with a terror of collapsing or falling.

Lapses in sensitivity or empathy will be deemed complete failure amid minor disappointments.

They are always sitting on the edge of disintegration, with sudden and traumatic descents into a black hole of emptiness. A combination of disorganised attachment, relational mistrust and fear of intimacy, all perceived as dangerous, A core fear of abandonment, where mobilisation is shut down as the other is too threatening or hostile. Their emotions or others are deemed and feared to be too intense and destabilising.

Maternal unavailability during the rapprochement phase is responsible for developing defences such as splitting, projective identification and evaluation. Transmuting internalisation that transforms the child`s archaic needs for idealisation, mirroring, and twinship does not occur. The self is arrested in its development and becomes fragile and enfeebled, with severe narc vulnerability and no self cohesion and continuity. Instinticual aggression is replaced by narc rage due to failures in empathy and attunement. They cannot evoke and keep a positive self-image or hold and sustain a soothing container. Therefore they don’t develop internal resources for self-nurturing and compassion.

They are overwhelmed by a sense of loneliness, panic and rage as they unconsciously push good experiences away due to fear of abandonment. The borderline’s description of themself can be confusing, conflicting, vague and unidimensional. They have difficulty articulating any characteristics, values, thoughts or feelings that validate their views of themself. Their mode of interest, values, and dress can change frequently based on their idealised attachments. The need to recognise and develop the ability to tolerate ambivalent feelings about oneself and others to create a cohesive self and object constancy.

The capacity to retain internal representations of good and bad self-objects in the face of conflict, negative feelings and experiences. The borderline learnt to keep conflicting objects part, splitting the negative aspect off to keep the idealised good object in place. They don’t experience contradictory feelings, such as love and anger, admiration and frustration, and seeing others in extreme polarities. They do not try to resolve any discrepancies; they rationalise and intellectualise them or become angry and defensive. Any autonomous or assertive behaviour brings on anxiety or fear of abandonment. Regressive yearnings relieve depression but lead to fears of engulfment.

Their self-worth is based on the responses of others due to severe identity diffusion, with rapid fluctuations in self-esteem and tumultuous relationships. Impulse control can be chronic with or without triggers, episodic in response to internal or external stimuli, such as blows to self-esteem. They have great difficulty tolerating or modulating intense affects, which seem immediate and impending. They have persistent anger, resentment and envy rather than expressing an underlying sadness, estranged from others and themselves. A deep sense of detachment, disconnected with a feeling of futility and hopelessness. Any minor separation may lead to desperate attempts to cling, make contact, and break boundaries to merge and fuse with the other. They will demand you to be constantly available, nearby, and under constant surveillance.

The greater the need , the greater the threat

Infants generate reparations for their aggression via fantasies and curbed impulses to maintain good object representations. If there is too much lack of attunement/deprivation or impingement by the parent, the child has to split the true self off and create a false dynamic to sustain contact with the good object. Self-alienation proceeds with rigid beliefs and limitations installed. They continually seek someone to merge with the other, who is subject to the child’s needs and initiative and functions as an extension of the self. Only through accepting and welcoming negative opinions and beliefs can they self-start to have some consistency and cohesion. The child transmutes internalised objects through optimal frustration and the ability to contain and soothe such frustration.

Mollon, P. (2020). Pathologies of the Self: Exploring Narcissistic and Borderline States of Mind, Confer Books