Core damage or narc injury is at the centre of becoming a people pleaser, where all the spikes will be compromised. They need solid reparenting, with severe relational issues, where they need to regain their heart and not do all the work in the head. The high expectations of a narc parent can not be met by the child, who learns to please the parent instead of themselves, creating a diminished sense of self. Love means a painful longing that can’t be ever satisfied. Anyone capable of reciprocity, care and affection will cause a great disturbance in the narc child, highlighting a lack of parental care. They will be rejected out of hand because they may seem boring or unfamiliar.

They develop great skills, abilities and seduction methods to compensate for their shame-based structure, with a deep inner wound—compulsive fixing, giving and rescuing with a saviour complex. The dynamic creates pathological caregivers due to a lack of parental bonding, where they cannot honour or respect their own feelings, which leaves them susceptible to engaging in relationships that lack emotional reciprocity and depth. Some of their relationships are based on love addiction and infatuation, alternating between intense clinging and abrupt distancing.

An underlying belief their parents did their best keeps them in continuous fusion with the abusive parent without having to look any deeper and separate. This keeps the caregiver hooked to the dysfunctional dynamic whereby they will never have to confront the parental abuse and seek retribution. The lack of attunement and care can spawn clinical issues like anxiety disorders, OCD, addictions and attachment issues. All their feelings have been put away, locked away in a deep dungeon, where emotional growth has been stunted. Choosing a sexual partner or friendship reflects the individual’s emotional growth. If you need me, you will never leave me. Feeling needed enhances their self-image and sense of well-being. If the partner gains more equal footing or supremacy, the relationship normally dilutes or ends, as abandonment anxiety surfaces with increased sabotaging, clinging and distancing behaviours.

The covert shame keeps one hyper-vigilant to see if anyone notices their deep sense of inadequacy and fragility, which they may project onto them. The people-pleaser looks out for those less fortunate, affirming their plight is not as bad as others, making their pain more palatable and rationalised away. The core shame for desiring anything more than basic survival needs enables the invalidation of their anguish, needs and wants. There is an inner sense of being dead, numb, as the true self has effectively been murdered. One’s basic instinct and intuition are greatly diminished with the disposal of negative feelings. They learn to choose what they think is right rather than what might be best for them, distorting their sense of self and their own felt reality.

Creating the grandiose false self against their inner frailty protects the fragile true self. They are addicted to the effort of pleasing and altruistic behaviour regardless of the outcome. They love looking after needy people, keeping them impaired, inferior and lost, dependent on their attention and approval. They can’t allow others to struggle with difficult feelings, as they can’t tolerate their own. They feel empty, undesired, and disillusioned with guilt experiences if they don’t help others, as it triggers abandonment issues. For pleasure, they work longer hours, take on extra tasks, never take holidays and never ask for a raise. They avoid direct confrontation at all costs but are passive-aggressive, judging others and filled with resentment when not reciprocated. The resentment may manifest as sarcasm, physical/sexual withdrawal, silent treatment, or delaying or not following through on commitments.

SCHREIBER, S., 2018. Do You Love To Be Needed, Or Need To Be Loved? 1st ed. Denver, Colorado: OUTSKIRTS Press.