The False Self

Narcissism is about protection of the self and is a completely natural defense mechanism which is employed in situations whereby we need to protect our self.  This completely natural human trait usually begins to develop when we are a child and on through adolescence when we are vulnerable and need to be cut off from all of the very real threats of the outside world.  Children have a safety barrier which protects them from having to worry about such wordly matters, their parents/guardians are there to protect them and so they have a high degree of narcissism which in most cases is healthy.

Malignant narcissism, or NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is about protection of the false self in order to defend the perceived "damaged goods" that remain concealed beneath; the person they have become.  I use the words "damaged goods" in quotes because this is what one female covert narcissist had revealed during an extremely rare relationship counseling session.  She was scared that if she revealed her true self that people would see her as "damaged goods" and she thought this because deep down inside she saw herself as damaged goods, damaged by the negative experiences she had been through during her childhood (sexual abuse) which had ultimately led to the development of her compulsion to develop and uphold her false self.  She had many underlying insecurities and a highly distorted view of the world.  Her values and beliefs were completely skewed by her early (negative) experiences in life.  She believed that the world (and everyone in it) were indebted to give her the life she desired yet that life she so desired was nothing more than sitting around repeatedly day after day while she had everyone else running round after her and she was having multiple secret affairs.  She even had a second life* with one of her secret partners which had gone on for nearly a decade.

* Many narcissists are living a secret second life or having affairs behind their partner's backs, many of these relationships  involving children.  There are several reasons for this which will become clearer throughout the course of this book, though one of the main reasons is the narcissist's intense fear of abandonment.  To be living a second life could mean that the narcissist is maintaining two seperate main relationships with two different partners (the narcissist has therefore secured more sources of primary narcissistic supply).  They may even have children with both partners without the children even being aware of each other.  It's very possible that one of the narcissist's partners may know about the other relationship (or family)  but inevitably at least one of the narcissist's partners (or families) will be kept in the dark.

As you probably know by now if you are reading this book, to quickly summarize, being subject to long-term abuse wears down at the self-esteem of the victim until there is basically none left before then moving on to seemingly wear the victims soul down to the very core - at least this is how it feels for the victim.   The victim is put through a process of devaluation, dehumanization and dissociation - they have been made to feel worthless, degraded and cut off from the world and this has happened gradually and subliminally over a long-term period of time.  Eventually, the victim feels that no-one wants them any more, that they have no life any more and that there is no other destiny for them.  The narcissist has left the victim with one choice; to keep coming back to them every single time.  The narcissist has no genuine self-esteem and therefore has to regulate, or generate, it from external sources of narcissistic supply - attention, adoration and adulation and they do this to uphold the false self.  For people who have never experienced narcissistic abuse first-hand this may seem difficult to understand and appreciate but the reasons that a victim of narcissistic abuse stays in such a relationship will become clear.  The projected false persona of the narcissist must be perceived as someone of goodwill, someone angelic, charismastic and who comes across as being as 'good as gold'.  The more a narcissist can portray themselves as being genuine, charismatic and likeable the more they can get away with using their lack of empathy to manipulate the people around them.

The good-as-gold person that everyone has grown to love and respect is, in reality, nothing more than a false front; a barrier to deter suspicion and to deflect allegations, which would normally seem ludicrous and outlandish when claimed against such people.  This is not something which just anyone can pull off.  Narcissists have been practicing this 'art' all their lives from a very early age and have refined it to a perfect, flawless form - no-one would ever know, as only the selected special few actually get to see the darker side of the narcissist; the change between Jekyll and Hyde.  Narcissists no longer need to practice these skills, they have refined them until they have become an automatic, seemingly natural response which is now a part of them, it has become embedded and is now automatically used as part of their everyday life, a part of their instinct and intuition - they become experts at it and nobody can ever beat them.

Despite the angelic exterior that the narcissist portrays, behind the scenes the victim is worn down to rock bottom.  Eventually they are left with no self-esteem, no self-worth, no hobbies, no interests and they have no money and do not get to see their family or friends any more.  They are left without important documents such as identification and can no longer prove who they are - they are trapped.  The demon disguised as an angel has taken the victims entire livelihood from them and they are now nothing.  They have nothing.  If made to endure the abuse long enough the victim may eventually go on to feel worthless, degraded and devoid and will be unable to find an escape route.  The narcissist has manipulated them into a situation they can seemingly never get out of.

Ultimately, the victim has fallen in love with a person that they just cannot understand no matter how hard they try.  They seem to be so angelic and innocent in their intentions yet they seem to make no sense and the victim can never quite figure them out until it's too late and a significant amount of time has passed (at least several years).  The victim actually feels sorry for the narcissist because they do have empathy and so they try to understand things from the narcissist's point of view but really all the narcissist is doing is exploiting their empathy, they just can't see it.  When a victim of narcissistic abuse is first sucked into the relationship the subtle shifts towards co-dependence initially seem like a good thing.  Because the narcissist is taking things into their own hands it relieves some of the stress that the victim faces in life and so it seems that the narcissist is helping the victim with their problems.

Initially, the narcissist is providing the victim with all the essentials they need to live their life so that the victim does not need to worry and the victim often welcomes this.  However, over time the narcissist attains more and more control and influence until eventually the victim is solely reliant upon the narcissist in order to live life.  It is once such control has been established that the narcissist starts to suck and drain on the emotions and energy of their victim.  The narcissist decides what possessions the victim is allowed to own, where the victim is allowed to go and who they are allowed to see.  Eventually the victim begins to realize that the narcissist does not care about their future or their ambitions or desires and needs in life and the victim is restrained from ever achieving the things they truly desire.  Whenever the victim finds the motivation to work towards their ambitions the narcissist subtly ridicules and belittles them for doing so and for having such desires which the narcissist makes out are ridiculous and unachievable.  The narcissist may even go as far as to sabotage the victim's work behind the scenes without the victim even knowing.

Eventually, they wear down the victim until the motivation, ambition and drive to work towards their goals in life have been worn away to nothing.  The victim just cannot seem to find the motivation, determination or desire any more.  As far as they can see, they are destined for failure.  It's important to understand that if this is done openly and not covertly then the narcissist will be exploiting the empathy of the victim.  The narcissist will simply twist everything in their favour in order to get the victim to feel sorry for them and the victim will empathize and sympathize with the narcissist whilst the narcissist gets the victim to adhere to their intentional distortion of reality.  The narcissist has no empathy of their own and so exploits the empathy of their victim.

Although they may not realize it, the victim is left surrounded by a web of deceit; layers upon layers of pathological lies that all help to form the narcissist's false self.  The victm has had all escape routes and resources cut off and has been made to fall in love with a reflection of a personality that is being projected; that doesn't exist - someone that can never truly love them back.

Subpages (1): The Perfect Example?