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The Life of the Inverted Narcissist

The IN is, usually, exceedingly and painfully shy as a child. Despite this social phobia, his grandiosity (absorbed from the parent) might direct him to seek "limelight" professions and occupations, which involve exposure, competition, "stage fright" and social friction. The setting can vary from the limited (family) to the expansive (national media) - but, whatever it is, the result is constant conflict and feelings of discomfort, even terror and extreme excitement and thrill ("adrenaline rush"). This is because the IN's grandiosity is "imported" and not fully integrated. It is, therefore, not supportive of his "grandiose" pursuits (as is the case with the narcissist). On the contrary, the IN feels awkward, pitted on the edge of a precipice, contrived, false and misleading, not to say deceitful.

The Inverted Narcissist grows up in a suppressive environment. It could be an orthodox, hyper-religious, or traditionalist culture, a monovalent, "black and white", doctrinarian and indoctrinating society - or a family which manifests all the above in a microcosm all its own. The Inverted Narcissist is cast in a negative (emergent) role within his family. His "negativity" is attributed to his gender, the order of his birth, religious, social, or cultural dictates and commandments, his "character flaws", his relation to a specific person or event, his acts or inaction and so on. In the words of one such IN:

"In the religious culture I grew up in. Women are SO suppressed, their roles are so carefully restricted. They are the representation, in the flesh, of all that is sinful, degrading, of all that is wrong with the world.

These are the negative gender/cultural images that were force fed to us the negative 'otherness' of women, as defined by men, was fed to me. I was so shy, withdrawn, unable to really relate to people at all from as early as I can remember."

The IN is subjected and exposed either to an overbearing, overvalued parent, or to an aloof, detached, emotionally unavailable one - or to both - at an early stage of his life.

"I grew up in the shadow of my father who adored me, put me on a pedestal, told me I could do or be anything I wanted because I was incredibly bright, BUT, he ate me alive, I was his property and an extension of him. I also grew up with the mounting hatred of my narcissist brother who got none of this attention from our father and got no attention from our mother either. My function was to make my father look wonderful in the eyes of all outsiders, the wonderful parent with a genius 'wunderkind' as his last child, and the only child of the six that he was physically present to raise from the get go. The overvaluation combined with being abjectly ignored or raged at by him when I stepped out of line even the tiniest bit, was enough to warp my personality."

The invert cannot, or is prevented from developing full-blown secondary narcissism. The invert is so heavily preoccupied in his or her pre-school years in satisfying the narcissistic parent, that the traits of grandiosity and self-love, need for adoration and narcissistic supply from ANY viable source remain dormant or repressed.

The invert simply "knows" that only the narcissistic parent can provide the requisite amount of narcissistic supply. The narcissistic parent is so controlling that any attempt to garner praise or adulation from any other source (without the approval of the parent) is severely punished by swift devaluation and even the occasional spanking or abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual).

This is a vital part of the conditioning that gives rise to inverted narcissism. Where the narcissist exhibits grandiosity, the invert is intensely uncomfortable with personal praise, and wishes to always divert praise away from himself onto his narcissist. This is why the IN can only truly FEEL anything when he is in relationship with another narcissist. The IN is conditioned and programmed from the very beginning to be the perfect companion to the narcissist. To feed their Ego, to be purely their extension, to seek only praise and adulation if it brings greater praise and adulation to the narcissist.

The Inverted Narcissist's Survival Guide

Listen attentively to everything the narcissist says and agree with it all. Don't believe a word of it but let it slide as if everything is just fine, business as usual.

  • Offer something absolutely unique to the narcissist which they cannot obtain anywhere else. Also be prepared to line up future sources of primary NS for your narcissist because you will not be IT for very long, if at all. If you take over the procuring function for the narcissist, they become that much more dependent on you which makes it a bit tougher for them to pull their haughty stuff - an inevitability, in any case.
  • Be endlessly patient and go way out of your way to be accommodating, thus keeping the narcissistic supply flowing liberally, and keeping the peace (relatively speaking).
  • Get tremendous personal satisfaction out of endlessly giving. This one may not be attractive to you, but it is a take it or leave it proposition.
  • Be absolutely emotionally and financially independent of the narcissist. Take what you need: the excitement and engulfment (i.e., NS) and refuse to get upset or hurt when the narcissist does or says something dumb. Yelling back works really well but should be reserved for special occasions when you fear your narcissist may be on the verge of leaving you; the silent treatment is better as an ordinary response, but it must be devoid of emotional content, more with the air of boredom and "I'll talk to you later, when I am good and ready, and when you are behaving in a more reasonable fashion."
  • If your narcissist is cerebral and NOT interested in having much sex - then give yourself ample permission to have sex with other people. Your cerebral narcissist will not be indifferent to infidelity so discretion and secrecy is of paramount importance.
  • If your narcissist is somatic and you don't mind, join in on endlessly interesting group sex encounters but make sure that you choose properly for your narcissist. They are heedless and very undiscriminating in respect of sexual partners and that can get very problematic (STDs and blackmail come to mind).
  • If you are a "fixer" which most inverted narcissists are, then focus on fixing situations, preferably before they become "situations". Don't for one moment delude yourself that you can FIX the narcissist - it simply will not happen. Not because they are being stubborn - they just simply can't be fixed.
  • If there is any fixing that can be done, it is to help your narcissist become aware of their condition, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, with no negative implications or accusations in the process at all. It is like living with a physically handicapped person and being able to discuss, calmly, unemotionally, what the limitations and benefits of the handicap are and how the two of you can work with these factors, rather than trying to change them.
  • FINALLY, and most important of all for the inverted narcissist: KNOW YOURSELF.

What are you getting from the relationship? Are you actually a masochist?

Why is this relationship attractive and interesting?

Define for yourself what good and beneficial things you believe you are receiving in this relationship. Define the things that you find harmful TO YOU. Develop strategies to minimize the harm to yourself. Don't expect that you will cognitively be able to reason with the narcissist to change who they are. You may have some limited success in getting your narcissist to tone down on the really harmful behaviours THAT AFFECT YOU, which emanate from the unchangeable WHAT the narcissist is. This can only be accomplished in a very trusting, frank and open relationship.

We firmly believe that it is only the inverted narcissist who can have a reasonably good, long lasting relationship with the narcissist. You must be prepared to give your narcissist a LOT of space and leeway.

You don't really exist for them as a fully realized person - no one does. They are not fully realized people so they cannot possibly have the skills, no matter how smart or sexy, to be a complete person in the sense that most adults are complete.

Parent Category: Disorders