What IS a “Narcissist”??

First, here’s my own definition:

Narcissist (n.) a person who deceives others in order to take, deplete, and consume their life energy (“soul”) because the Narcissist lacks it

Let’s break this down and look at the Narcissist a bit more closely.

1.  The Narcissist lacks life energy.

It’s well-known in the Narcissistic Abuse Recovery community that a Narcissist requires continual “Narcissistic supply” from other people.  This energy comes in visible forms such as time, attention, effort, and sex.

(Money is a tangible thing that we usually acquire by exchanging our energy for it.  It serves several roles in Narcissistic abuse and merits its own discussion elsewhere.)

In other words, a Narcissist is dependent on other people for a form of energy that they have (and can give) but the Narcissist lacks.  Thus, the Narcissist needs one or more human targets as sources of supply.

Without this energetic “supply,” the Narcissist experiences such emotions as boredom, irritability, panic, and/or rage.  These resemble withdrawal symptoms, so it seems that Narcissism can be compared to an addiction–a dependency on energy received from other people.

What is this energy?

It isn’t electricity.  It isn’t food or nutrition.  It isn’t sunlight or microwaves or gravitation.  “Narcissistic supply” is another form of energy, one which can be exchanged between people and used in the process of human living.  It can also be used up, hence the Narcissist’s continual demands for it.

I call it “life energy”.

2.  Life energy is “soul”.

Non-Narcissists (that is, the rest of us grownups) don’t require this energy from others because we produce it within ourselves and use it for ourselves, sort of like having rechargeable batteries.  We use this “life energy” to live and thrive as human beings.  We also use the excess of it, beyond what we need for ourselves, as a sort of fuel to sustain our relationships.

If we run low on life energy, we have to replenish it by resting or “recharging” in some way.  This is called “taking care of you.”  We all need life energy just as we need food, and–also like food–we don’t have an unlimited supply of it.  (Just ask anyone who has raised children.)

If we don’t have enough of this energy to give, our relationships suffer.  When we continually give life energy to a Narcissist (or anyone else) who continually demands it, the giving of it drains us.  Our supply becomes the Narcissist’s supply.  Eventually, our relationships and even our health can fail because our life energy, our vitality, is drained.

This is how Narcissistic abuse weakens the target, invisibly, from the inside out.

What is this “life energy” that is not electricity or food; can take the form of time, attention, effort, or sex; can be depleted in the process of sustaining human life, health, and relationships; and can be shared or exchanged with others?

Basically, it’s emotional energy.

Emotion or feeling is a function of the heart–not the physical muscle, but the non-physical inner “feeling part” of a human being’s psyche.  The heart, on a deeper level, is connected to the soul.  (This is another subject that merits its own discussion elsewhere.)

Many people who have been targets of Narcissistic abuse describe the experience as “soul-crushing” or “soul-destroying.”  Some have said that the Narcissist “has no soul.”  This is because of the Narcissist’s continual demands for emotional energy from others, depleting their life energy, their vitality, their “soul”…as if the Narcissist lacks his or her own “soul.”

On the other hand, recharging our life energy–our emotions, our heart, our vitality–makes us FEEL good and strong on the inside; it’s “good for the soul.”

Narcissistic abuse is an assault on the heart and soul of a target.  Ultimately, it’s an inner struggle between the target and the Narcissist, which is why other people do not recognize it.

3.  A Narcissist takes, depletes, and consumes other people’s life energy (“soul”).

Let’s look at Narcissistic abuse from the other side, from the point of view of the Narcissist’s target of abuse (his or her source of supply).

In “normal” or healthy human relationships, people give of themselves to each other with some form of mutual understanding or reciprocity.  What we give can be in the form of time, attention, effort, or sex–and we tend to receive these forms of energy from others in return.

In other words, “normal” or psychologically healthy people respect each other.

When we freely give other people our energy, and expect no gift in return, we call this “love”.  Love is how we share our life energy with our children.  It’s also how a (grownup) Narcissist expects and demands to receive it from others.

A Narcissist wants to receive other people’s life energy freely, without having to give anything in return.  But the never-ending Narcissistic demand for supply is not love.  It’s the opposite of love.

Love gives freely.  Narcissism demands…for free.  However, unbeknownst to the target who is willing to give freely to the Narcissist, there will be no end to the giving, nor to the demands for it.

Children will eventually grow out of their normal “narcissistic” developmental stage and stop demanding supply, becoming adults who can produce their own supply.  Adult Narcissists will not, because they are apparently stuck in the “narcissistic” stage of childhood growth forever.

A Narcissist does not (and maybe cannot) respect his or her target–because the Narcissist is not psychologically healthy.  For whatever reason, the Narcissist doesn’t have enough life energy to give to others, or the ability to produce or even sustain it.  But the Narcissist can be quite good at faking it.

Indeed, pretending may be the Narcissist’s only strategy for survival.

4.  The Narcissist deceives others.

Ideally, a person has enough life energy to fulfill his or her own needs and share some with others in respectful, loving relationships.  I like to think of this as like a cup being filled to overflowing and spilling over to others.

A Narcissist, lacking this life energy in his or her own cup, seeks it from others–but, having none to give in return, the Narcissist (like a child) can only take it.  But the Narcissist’s “cup” never seems to stay filled and always demands more, more, endlessly MORE.

No amount of giving to a Narcissist ever seems to be enough.

A human being’s life energy is not unlimited.  Most people do not wish to endlessly pour their own life energy into another person’s “cup” on demand and deplete their own until (and beyond) the point of self-harm.  Psychologically healthy people may be willing to sacrifice their soul for love, but they don’t wish to sacrifice it for nothing.

However, since this is exactly what a Narcissist requires, he or she must therefore deceive other people into giving their life energy freely to the Narcissist.

Deception is the Narcissist’s primary (and also the easiest) way to get his or her “fix” of supply.  The ways in which this plays out in a close relationship is all-too familiar to the target of Narcissistic abuse.

The Narcissist lies.  The Narcissist cheats.  The Narcissist makes “future” promises.  The Narcissist swears to God, on the children’s lives, on his or her own life.  The Narcissist betrays.  The Narcissist leaves…and then comes back.

No one likes to be lied to.  When the target has had (given) enough, and the “fix” of supply is threatened, the Narcissist lashes out at the target.  The Narcissist belittles.  The Narcissist blames.  The Narcissist threatens.  The Narcissist attacks, goes for the throat, desecrates the soul.

The Narcissist abuses.  Why?

It’s simple.  The target of abuse is the source of supply.  Abuse is how the Narcissist keeps supply flowing.

This doesn’t make sense, though.  How does it work?

For a young child who demands attention (“supply” or emotional energy) from the parent, even negative attention is better than none at all.  Likewise, a Narcissist thrives on other people’s emotional responses to the Narcissist, whether positive or negative.

Sometimes this requires that the Narcissist provoke a negative emotional response.  If this is successful (the Narcissist gets supply), and the target stays in the relationship (the Narcissist gets supply), the Narcissist has “won” (the Narcissist gets supply)–and is assured that the supply will continue (the Narcissist gets supply).

And so deception leads to quite the powerful source of supply…if the Narcissist has chosen well…and the target proves his or her willingness to stay with the Narcissist…by enduring the Narcissist’s disrespect, lies, and abuse…which transfer the target’s vitality to the Narcissist…as merely a temporary “fix” of supply…and ruins the target’s relationships and health…and perhaps even damages his or her soul…all so that the Narcissist can continueto be a Narcissist.

5.  The Narcissist is a person.

Maybe a Narcissist is a broken person.  Maybe a Narcissist is a hurt child, forever trapped in an adult’s body.  Maybe a Narcissist is an extremely spoiled and abusive grownup.  Maybe a Narcissist is an unfortunate soul, possessed by a demon.  Maybe a Narcissist is a human being who has no soul.  Maybe a Narcissist is a real-life vampire who feeds on other people’s life energy instead of blood.  Or a human robot, or an alien pretending to be human in a “snatched” human body.

I don’t know.  What I do know is that, for the purpose of dealing with a Narcissist, it doesn’t matter who or what the Narcissist is–or how he or she got that way.

Whatever we may think and feel about the Narcissist(s) in our lives, under every law of human society Narcissists are people and we must treat and regard them as people.  This attitude towards them is absolutely necessary, for the protection of both ourselves and our children.

However, it does not mean that we have to pretend to ourselves that the Narcissist is (or behaves) like the rest of us.

After enduring the torture of Narcissistic abuse, it can be easy to see the Narcissist as a non-person: an evil, self-serving, all-consuming, slippery, sneaky, lying, sadistic shell of a creature that only looks like a human being…but has no real person inside.

This perception may be true.

Nevertheless, we must remember that Narcissists have the same rights under the law that we do, as human beings, as adults, and as parents.  We may be all-too familiar with his or her ability to make up lies–and believe them wholeheartedly, with a convincing emotional display–but in a court of law, the Narcissist’s word is as good as ours.

Therefore, we must remember (and be able) to back up our words with facts.  We must be able and prepared to have documentation and even witnesses whenever we know we’re dealing with a Narcissist, especially when we have children with one.

We may not like it, and may not even know it, but to a Narcissist we are the enemy.

That’s not quite true.  To a Narcissist, we are food, a potential source of energetic supply.  A Narcissist is a predator, like a lion or a crocodile–not someone to “heal”, or help, or be more patient with, or give the benefit of a doubt “this time” or (yet) “another chance” (to consume you).

6.  What does this mean for the rest of us?

Never forget that for all practical purposes, and in the eyes of everyone else, you are dealing with a person as decent and rational as yourself (and maybe even more so) when you are dealing with a Narcissist.

Better yet, just stop dealing with the Narcissist as much as you possibly can, right now.  You cannot win a battle for your soul when the battle itself destroys your soul.  So fight as little as possible, get as far away as you can, and stay there.

This is the only way to win.

Once you are away from the Narcissist, your life energy can begin to recharge, your vitality can start to return, your cup can start to fill again, and your soul can begin to heal.  Only then can you be any good to anyone else, because only then will you have enough energy to take care of yourself AND share with those who both need and deserve it.

Fighting with a Narcissist will only empower the Narcissist and weaken you–and people you care about, too.  If you continue to fight with a Narcissist, you will not be able to help others, or even yourself.

If this isn’t clear to you yet, or if you don’t understand why, please re-read this article.

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54 Responses to What IS a “Narcissist”??

  1. beareed says:

    Thank you for your brash non-technical passionate advice. I have been painfully awakened to the tipping point from hurting and undestanding to wanting to move toward healing. But, YIKES! You captured my struggle with “hope” (a pearl but maybe not for pigs Matthew 7:6). Ugggg, this shift is hard! I appreciate your bold honest sharing. I have written this quote on my mirror, “You cannot win a battle for your soul when the battle itself destroys your soul.” Look forward to more posts.

    • venbaxter says:

      Thank you very much for your kind comment, and you’re welcome. It’s very difficult to give up hope in someone else, at least partly because it feels like giving up on oneself, or (rather narcissistically) admitting defeat.

      There’s no shame in admitting that a cunning predator fooled you long enough to”hook” you, any more than admitting that you ate a bad sandwich at a nice-looking restaurant and got sick from it.

      You just eat somewhere else now. 🙂

      Easier said than done, I know. But the lack of botulism is totally worth making the effort to change!

  2. Onward_and_Upward says:

    Ven, thanks for the post. Even though I don’t believe in the traditional idea of a soul, what you described is what I experienced — energy depletion. I think one of the most powerful ways my ex narc got me to keep giving was by gaslighting me. Not only was she draining me of my life force, but she was successfully making me believe that I couldn’t trust my own intuition and that my memory had suddenly deteriorated to the point that I was convinced (by her of course) that I had early onset Alzheimers. For someone who had always prided himself on being a lifelong learner and a rational observer of people, my strongest weapons to fight against the crazy-making were taken from me. I was in a battle I had no idea I was in with my hands tied behind my back.

    I’ve learned not to talk about this outside of the Narcissistic Abuse Community because people just have a difficult time believing it. Heck, I’m not sure I would believe it had I not experienced it myself.

    From time to time though, 11 months later, I still find myself hoping to have my “best friend” back. My life force isn’t anywhere near recharged yet, but I know for certain that any more time spent with my ex is a bad thing and not very loving toward myself.

    I’ve found strength in this community and I’m thankful you took the time to share what you’ve learned.

    • venbaxter says:

      Thank you for this helpful comment.

      I say “helpful” because, as you know, much of the support that people in this community receive is not from reading articles. It’s from reading other people’s comments ON those articles, comparing notes, and realizing that 1) “I’m not crazy after all!” and 2) “These stories sound just like mine!”

      I’m glad that you got out, and that you’re doing what you need to do in order to heal and move on.

      Thank you for reading and for posting your comment here. And you’re welcome!

      • Disposable Star says:

        YES!!! Reading all your comments makes me feel like I’m not a loser….I was beating myself up and blaming myself for everything when he was the one who lied, cheated, disposed, all of the above and more. Yet I felt I was to blame…if I would have moved closer to him, if I had only lost a few pounds, I cooked all the time maybe I should have cooked more, I was not a neat freak, but was totally a freak in bed and that is what shocked me….the sex was amazing and like he said nothing he ever experienced before – lies lies lies …just pumping my ego – well not lies because I was very giving when we made love and did not hold anything back …so not even great sex can make them happy….they need to feel they have the upper hand and have something over – in my case the side piece…so I went from the side piece to in his words #1, then his wife left him not because of me but because she was cheating for a few years and he found out and it destroyed him and NOW he had to find another side piece.
        Too bad so sad that I did not make him #1 over my son and OUR well being and staying where I own my own little home and have a great job…..he wanted me to move to where he lives so i could be controlled and not have the social life – The Village of friends I have here – so I am be solely dedicated to HIM only- well his new girl friend has kids where the youngest is 10….does he really think he is going to be number 1 with her.
        He is not a normal human being with feelings and compassion for others – a vampire sucking the life force out of me. When you called it life force -my mouth dropped – that is EXACTLY what it was like – draining yet I was happy to make him happy because he was so sad and “no one” ever took care of him like I did…..
        Learn from the Past – Be in the Present – Plan for the Future – MY focus it to learn from the past and keep moving forward.

        Thank you for all your posts – I did not get closure from him but I am getting closure seeing I was not the only victim who was fooled by such an upstanding citizen. HA! Now that is a joke.

  3. tangle2312 says:

    This is probably one of the best articles I have read, and I have read many articles, books, had months of counselling etc, etc…Thank you for this.

    Onward and Upward I was also convinced I had early onset of dementia, severe PND, while my husband as taking gingko and able to apparently remember twelve digit numbers, I lost my keys, glasses, wedding ring, wallet on a week to week basis, I have been alone over a year, since moving I have misplaced my keys but that is it! It was a long dark 15 years with a glorious flipside, I miss that bit, I think every thing has an equal opposite, which is the glory of the side we fall head over heels with, then we see less and less of this as the years go by, clinging onto the crumbs as they say!

    • venbaxter says:

      I appreciate your kind words here and am glad to hear that this article has helped you in some way. Thank you for reading!

  4. lmmc says:

    How do you explain a narcissist staying in a long term marriage. They must use up the supply of the spouse at some point and why does the spouse stay long term?

    • venbaxter says:

      Thank you for your comment.

      Sure, a Narcissist can be married for a long time. This is probably the rule, not the exception. If you were an alcoholic and you found a bar that gives you free beer, wouldn’t you keep going there?

      As for the spouse’s supply being used up, consider that various mental, emotional, and even physical problems can occur as a result of ensuring stress for a long period of time. Yes, as one’s life energy is steadily depleted over time without recharging, one will suffer in various ways, up to and possibly including neurosis, chronic illness, and even an early demise.

      Why would a Narcissist’s spouse stick around for the long term? There are lots of individual reasons why–from values to finances to conditioning–but ultimately it’s because the spouse believes it’s the right (or best) thing to do.

      • Useless says:

        The spouse stays for so long because the spouse loses ego. The narcissist always brainwashes the spouse to believe that they are dumb, and useless, and cannot possibly survive without the narcissist. So some day, some of us kill the narcissist, or we get real lucky and somehow leave.

    • Disposable Star says:

      They have affairs – they are skilled liars and they cheat and use the supply from the affairs in addition to the supply from the spouse.

  5. Disposable Star says:

    You just described the last 19 years affair where the last 4 of those 19 years became a relationship. HOLY EYE OPEN batman!!! WOW….I feel so much better after reading this about 5 times and the rest of your page. I was the other woman – I was the life force he needed – full of energy – and now I am reading this and remembering every word he said about his wife and I feel bad and feel sorry for her and what she must have been going through. I am paying the price for cheating but never again.
    And for my son’s mental health and more importantly my own I must stay away even though it has been so hard.

    It’s been 8 weeks since he disposed of me as he fell in love with someone who was not 3.5 hours away like I was someone close by – he found a new source. I agonized in the physical pain I was feeling Lost 30 lbs in 5 weeks (which was great by the way) but NEVER EVER has anyone made me feel as a piece of toilet paper that was used to wipe your butt and toss in the garbage with the way he just turned off the light switch. He was not planning on telling me as he was trying to process all this (going through a divorce, bankruptcy, IRS issues, entitled kids all messed up and the youngest already smoking dope, drinking – but that did not disturb him) He thought he could get past his “mistake” “weakness” as he put it…he was going to have his new side piece in his local area and me where I am….I saw through it as he changed – that WITHDRAWAL thing they do…HA – to think I thought he was just going through a tough time.

    This article REALLY opened my eyes and I am pissed at myself for not reading it before I made a memory book and send it to him of our wonderful time together. So So stupid…HE DOES NOT CARE!!!! I was so blind. I am seeing more clear now.

    EVERYTHING YOU said in your article is SPOT ON – I was not a subject to verbal or physical abuse but I see now that I was EMOTIONALLY abused and I can narrow it down even though this was just him feeding off my energy and then he met a new drug that was more exciting as now I met is whole family, even his wife her new boyfriend his kids, sisters everyone. His world crushed when he found out his wife was having an affair and then we came out of the closet (hiding) a few months later – but see that was his drug …the sneaking and lying and excitement – and not to mention I am the ball of energy he lacks and feeds off from…..

    AND YES – I did start to feel that my cup was becoming empty after reading this and can totally pin point when. He made plans that he had no intention of keeping says yes to concert tickets that I purchased for us to go to…yes he was generous with me too more so as he is the “seemingly successful” one but i can hold my own and take care of my son (which is not his)

    This really REALLY REALLY helped me a lot!!! Thank you.

    Also for others reading this look up the Covert Narcissist Abuse – my life force drainer is a text book Covert and just like this article says – appears to be a pillar of the community / work strong and put together but he was a crumbling child inside who did not have a relationship with his mother as she was mentally ill and did not get that mother love so he IS that man/adult with a child mind of wanted to be first always.

    THANK YOU for posting this and for my friend who sent it to me!!!!

    • venbaxter says:

      You’re welcome! And thank you for sharing your very personal account of your experiences here. You are not alone, and your words will help others to see that they are also not alone. ❤

  6. diane mccormick says:

    My brother was a narcissist. It took much research for me to discover that. I finally said no for the first and last time when he turned 50. He was lost. Moved back in with mom and destroyed everyone and everything in his path all the while proclaiming that everything was my fault. My fault was not being allowed to tell him NO when he was 5.

  7. diane mccormick says:

    To add to my comment he destroyed everything including himself. At the end when no one was left to “feed” him he overdosed and died. I am sure he knew once his support system was gone he could not sustain even his basic needs and drugs came first. Quite the ride.

    • venbaxter says:

      Thank you for sharing that insight here. I hope you’ve found a measure of peace after what sounds like a long and difficult struggle.

  8. Read this it will help. Xoxo

  9. PS says:

    I recently moved my mother from several states distance to live closer to us, having lived apart for 30+ years.. Her health had deteriorated more than she had let on and I was forced to place her in a nursing home. In the meantime, we discovered she had been diagnosed as bipolar, yet she never told me. She also exhibits many of the symptoms of being narcissistic in this article. Is there any correlation between the two, in your opinion?

    • venbaxter says:

      Hello, PS. First, I am NOT a psychologist or psychiatrist. However, from my study and experience, I can offer the following opinions:

      1) Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder that can be treated with medication.

      2) Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is sometimes misdiagnosed (for several reasons) as Bipolar Disorder.

      3) The two are not mutually exclusive. Borderline patients are sometimes also diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

      4) There is much overlap in symptoms and behavior between Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders.

      5) Personality disorders cannot be “cured” with medication, although some symptoms or behaviors might be reduced with certain medications.

      I encourage you to look further into BPD if this article seems to describe your mother. If she has BPD, you likely have suffered from childhood abuse, neglect, or emotional trauma.

      There may be nothing you can do to “fix” your mother, but you have all the power you need to address your own life. The first step is to educate yourself as much as you can.

      Thank you for your comment!

      • PS says:

        Thank you for your opinion. I will definitely research it. I have already made adjustments to protect myself (and my daughters, as they did not grow up with her around) and continue to understand how to act (or react) with her in our lives.

      • venbaxter says:

        You’re welcome! It all comes down to boundaries — what you will and won’t allow, and what you do when someone violates them.

        Keeping visits light-hearted, short, and sweet (so things don’t have time to disintegrate into nastiness), and learning how to tell when it’s time to go, might be a good starting point.

        Aside from the emotional and family ties to your mother, this might also be a fascinating subject to give you and your daughters a common interest to learn about together and strengthen your bond. Just a thought, based on my own experience.

        Good luck!

  10. Rita Coronis says:

    Are you saying once a Narcissist always a Narcissist? I have always believed people can change.

    • venbaxter says:

      Hi, Rita. No, I’m not saying that here, although I’ve said it elsewhere. The fact is, I don’t know if Narcissistic or Borderline Personality Disorders (NPD or BPD) are “curable” or not.

      However, I believe “once a Narcissist, always a Narcissist” to be true at least 99% of the time, and therefore a good rule of thumb.

      The consensus among the professionals whose work I follow seems to be that NPD (and, to a lesser extent, BPD) MIGHT be curable, with determined and sustained effort on the part of the disordered person, but since one trait of a personality disorder is lack of awareness of one’s own disorder, they rarely (if ever) commit to treatment long enough to be “cured”. Instead, they continue to blame others for their problems and refuse to acknowledge their own issues or accept responsibility for their actions.

      To change, one has to WANT to change. No one else can do it for them. But if there’s no problem to begin with, why change? It’s much better to “fake it” long enough to satisfy others’ demands, throw off the hounds for a while, and still get what you want from someone in the end–that is, still WIN!

      Oh, the supply that comes from winning…

      The problem is that Narcissists don’t WANT to change. There’s always another stooge (target, victim, enabler) to give supply for a while.

  11. arowen says:

    But why do WE allow ourselves to be treated like this? What is it ABOUT US that lets us put up with it for so long? Is it because we are already weak going into the relationship? Is it because of “low self-esteem” (whatever that means)? Is it because we are so desperate for relationship that we’ll put up with a bad one over none at all? Is it because we don’t believe we are worthy of more? Is it the way we were raised, and it feels “normal” to let someone use us like this?

    What do we have to learn about ourselves so that we don’t allow it to happen again, and how / where do we go to learn that?

    • Disposable Star says:

      Okay so you just need to stop reading my mind because THIS Is where I am now. EVERY thought you just said about why to WE allowed this hit close to home!

      WHY did I allow this to happen…WHY do I accept this treatment. THIS is what I am just about to start talking to my new therapist about next visit because enough me talking about HIM being a JERK and a narcissist and more about what am I doing to attract this? I did see a lot of this behavior with my family our aunts allowing men to treat them this way and not having options cause they needed a man to help them pay bills…but that is NOT the case with me.

      I want to learn what the red flags are, how to spot a person like this, what am I doing to attract men like this?

      I do know I need to love me and do me and make ME a priority (and my son of course)

      Love to hear what you all have to say about how to LEARN from this past and be happy in the Present.

      • venbaxter says:

        Hello again! You might want to see my recent reply to arowen’s comment. I also have several other posts on here that might be of interest.

    • venbaxter says:

      Hi, arowen. I believe you’ve answered at least one of your own questions! 🙂

      Why do we (codependents, enablers, people-pleasers, fixers, caretakers, etc.) allow ourselves to become a Narcissist’s (target, victim, supply, etc.)?

      In my opinion, it boils down to:

      **We BELIEVE it’s the right thing to do.**

      There are tons of reasons for this belief, and it’s cemented in place by unexpressed emotional pain, a sort of residue from past experience. This emotion is the fuel for our desire to “do it right (this time)”.

      Yes, I believe that the past draws us to these experiences in the present.

      In my experience, once we’ve had enough, AND realized the futility of what we’re doing, we stop allowing it. The decision is mental, but the breaking point is emotional.

      I didn’t know when to quit, so I endured and persevered until I just couldn’t take any more emotionally. I experienced proof of utter failure (at “fixing” someone else, which is impossible). Then I started to educate myself. It didn’t take long after that.

      I realized that I had to give up. I had FAILED, and failed at a worthless, impossible, damaging venture — a complete waste of time, energy, and (my) LIFE. Giving up brought the emotional release that unburdened and healed my heart (and which had cemented the BELIEF in place!).

      At this point, I was broken. I had two choices: let myself heal or let myself stay broken. Healing required, essentially, No Contact.

      I speak here of my own experience. I suspect that others’ experiences are different, but with a similar dynamic going on.

      For further info, I recommend Kim Saeed, Dr. Tara Palmatier, Shari Schreiber, and Dr. Ross Rosenberg. I also have a few other blog posts here that might help.

      Thank you for your questions!

      • arowen says:

        So what you’re saying is we can’t change anyone else, we can only change ourselves. But first we have to recognize that as the true limit of what we can do. I can understand that; I think the difficulty is letting ourselves realize that there is a part of us that is broken and allows ourselves to be treated this way. We don’t get there until we reach a breaking point.

        What do you think of the concept of “blame” in these relationships? Because from what I’m understanding from this is that the narcissist can’t help himself because he doesn’t know any better and doesn’t even see that what he is doing is wrong – for whatever reason, he has zero awareness of it.

        And there’s us, who don’t see how broken we are, and so we don’t see how we’ve been set up by our past, by our religions, by our family patterns, or whatever. So I don’t want to say I am to blame for it either, if it was circumstances of my life that set me up as a sitting duck.

        So “blame” does not apply at all, at least not to the two individuals involved? It’s more a matter of becoming aware of choices, but it’s not about deliberate choices to do evil. Would you agree with that? Blame is a useless concept in these situations, it doesn’t really apply, and might even make things worse?

      • venbaxter says:

        If you’re starving, you’ll die without food. If you’re starving even though you have food, you have yourself to blame–unless you’re a Narcissist. Then you have endless people and circumstances to blame because Narcissists are always the victim.

        “Blame” is the domain of young children and Narcissists. It’s an immature attempt to dodge personal responsibility.

        Yes, we can only solve our own problems. But we have to see them and OWN them first. Our problem is that we’ve been trying to solve someone else’s problems…which is a bit Narcissistic, if you think about it. 😉

      • venbaxter says:

        I accidentally deleted your last comment while I was trying to reply to it, but it had to do with the Narcissistic tendency to try to”fix” someone else instead of working on our OWN issues.

        Sorry about that!

        I think your ideas are in the ball park. I see codependency as a sort of “Narcissism Lite” or “75% Narcissist”. According to some experts (notably, Dr. Ross Rosenberg), codependency arises from similar childhood experiences to those that produce Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

        No one seems to know exactly why some children become codependents and others develop personality disorders, but there are some convincing theories.

        At any rate, although there may be some Narcissistic traits in codependency (“Let me fix you, I can handle this, I’ll take care of it, etc.”), the two conditions are vastly different, inside and out.

        Both are other-oriented — the codependent wanting to “help” and the Narcissist wanting to BE helped (but not let this dependency on others be known).

        The Narcissist is dependent on the codependent to function, and the codependent enables the Narcissist’s dependency because it feels good to be NEEDED.

        I understand that, while Narcissists are extremely difficult therapy patients, codependents are very easy. They seek to please and honestly want to improve, while Narcissists do anything and everything NOT to improve, or even see a problem in themselves.

        The whole point of having an enabler is to allow the Narcissist to remain a Narcissist! But an enabler is able to function alone, while a Narcissist is not.

      • arowen says:

        I remember what I was asking, I’m sorry you deleted it. But it was about the idea that it’s narcissistic on our part in a way, to think we have the ability to “fix” someone else. If we really believe we can do that, it’s narcissistic to think we have that kind of power, and it’s also OUR immature way that WE dodge our own personal responsibility. So both of us are dodging personal responsibility, and I’m doing it by trying to make the other person the one who needs fixing instead of looking at my own issues. Yes, I see how that could also make me narcissistic too. “Narcissism Lite’ – LOL but I like it. I can see how that applies.

        What is ‘covert narcissism’ – is that a real thing, have you heard that term before? From what I’ve read about it, it sounds like kind of like a “poor me, pity me” form of attention grabbing? Not so much about feeding a big ego, but feeding someone who constantly needs someone to feel sorry for them.

      • venbaxter says:

        Yes, both Narcissists and their codependent enablers are avoiding their own issues — but for entirely different reasons. One seeks to help others and easily admits fault, while the other seeks to deceive others and avoids admitting fault like the plague, blaming others instead.

        Please consider that some TRAITS can be “narcissistic” without the PERSON being a “Narcissist”. With a little honesty and effort, narcissistic traits in a non-Narcissist can be changed.

        Here’s the thing about “ego” (and this pertains to the “covert Narcissist”). The popular idea of the ego is that a Narcissist has an “over-inflated” one. That is, the prototypical Narcissist is “full of himself” or “in love with himself”. He is LOUD and imposing, not quiet and reserved.

        It’s true that a Narcissist has an enormous ego…but our understanding of the”ego” (as used here) is flawed. The “ego” here isn’t Freud’s “ego” or “self”. It’s a corrupt inner condition of self that is NOT “self”.

        The Narcissist’s “ego” obscures his or her “(true) self” within and creates an outer mask or “false self” to deflect others’ (and his own!) attention from the true inner condition.

        “Ego” here is a corruption of the heart and mind. It is inner darkness, unconsciousness, unawareness of “self” (and, therefore, of the “self” in others!).

        A Narcissist is nothing BUT “ego” –in this sense. The covert Narcissist operates through, with, and by “ego” just as the somatic Narcissist does — both with an utter lack of regard or respect for others.

        His or her methods are different, but no less designed to feed off of other people’s emotional energy. This requires inducing SOME form of sympathy or pity from an enabler.

        Whereas a “typical” Narcissist goes about this indirectly, a “covert” Narcissist does it more directly. Why go to the trouble of pretending to be strong when you can just show your weakness and get the same result (Narcissistic supply) from a sympathetic enabler?

        Then it’s also easier to induce guilt later on for being so cold, cruel, heartless, and indifferent to their suffering…which is, of course, all the enabler’s fault.

  12. Disposable Star says:

    Shaking my head…Yes we DO believe it’s the right thing to do. Yes …it’s true…..and yes since I left my first marriage failed 17 years ago …and I wanted to see if this relationship would blossom as he continually professed and said and wrote to me that we were soulmates.

    The No Contact thing was so hard for me as we spoke daily I am on 2 weeks of solid no contact or emails or texts and I still want to reach out – but then I ask why. I sent that memory book to him and it arrived yesterday based on the confirmation – then while talking to a friend I was anxious to know if he actually got it and looked at it. She asked me – will it make you feel better to call him and find out ..so just call him? Then I thought about it and said No it wont…I felt it would make me feel worse as he was so distant during the last contact we had even though he said he missed his best friend (me) – crumbs –

    I am still in somewhat of disbelief that there were no feelings during our time when things were good…how could someone say all he said and then switch it off – in his words it was a slow decline due to the distance…whatever.

    I am still sad, angry, my ego is bruised, then I feel bad that I am angry and all the things I write to myself about him and feel I am being harsh…up and down up and down are my emotions.

    When I made that memory book….I felt better somehow…While I was making it I was anxious but not crying…after it arrived I looked at it and was oh yes that was fun and this was a nice time….to me it felt like I was preparing a body for burial – for a funeral – then I stuck the book in a drawer and did not look at it again. Well I have only had it a week.

    I sought out a therapist to just talk about all this as I did not want to exhaust my friends anymore with my pity party – to me I seemed pathetic – as each day goes by I feel a tiny bit better and better but then I find something of his at my place and I get sad. My birthday was this past weekend and he was supposed to be with me here celebrating – the plans he made and said yes to and didn’t really mean…I went out with my village of friends to a concert and other activities during the weekend and my friend threw me a little bday party at her home. That really made me feel loved and fortunate that I have such great friends.

    Keeping busy is so key and even with my insane schedule of life thoughts of our time still pop in my head – it’s getting better though.

    Sorry for such a long post – it is still to very raw for me but I am better than yesterday and much better than last week. No Contact Rule!

    Keep posting – any suggestions you have on how to forget are welcomed. going out this weekend with friends…need a distraction

    Thank you

    • venbaxter says:

      Try writing a long letter to him. Pour out your soul to him. Tell him everything.

      Then burn it without telling him you wrote it. It will likely have the same effect on him as if you gave it to him.

      Finally, consider the worthlessness of wasting time on a person like that — and ask yourself if you’re really that worthless…and answer yourself honestly.

      • Disposable Star says:

        Thank you…..I know I am not worthless …I need to stop feeling like I am and get to the root of why. I will write the letter then watch it burn. Thank you!

      • venbaxter says:

        You’re welcome! And may you rise from the ashes. 🙂

  13. […] I wrote an article explaining and expanding upon this definition here. […]

  14. Shauna says:

    I’ve recently divorced my husband of 31 years. I’ve researched NPD probably way more than I should have (I’ve read that’s what we do). I actually have a few more questions that I haven’t found answers to yet. Can anyone help me?

  15. Great article! Very true, informative and straight to the point. Thank you for sharing, I love this new perspective, very helpful.😀

  16. […] this blind and fearful inconsiderate negation of the will of other people by an adult human being: Narcissism, with a capital “N”. “Do Unto Others”…How? In a Christian society, there would be no destitute, […]

  17. […] is the realm of cravings, addictions, attachments, obsessions, and Narcissism…and the dysfunctional human behavior that results from […]

  18. […] is pure ignorance, darkness, and evil, with no redeeming value, in my experience. What ego releases from its grasp when we hose it off, […]

  19. […] Author Bio – Ven Baxter lives in Florida, where he works as a canoe outfitter, teaches, writes, and enjoys being father to his three children.  You can find this article on his blog, Ven Baxter – Go deep into the nooks and crannies of life and the human experience… […]

  20. […] deeply asleep in the darkness of ego is deeply identified with the […]

  21. This is my first time visit at here and i
    am actually pleassant to read everthing at alone place.

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