(Disclaimer: I referred to narcissists in the masculine form here just out of convenience, but men and women can both be narcissists.)
Narcissists can often seem invincible, indestructible and without weakness; but it is often their extreme, pathological fears that make them behave in these ways.
Below, I describe 4 of the major fears that drive the narcissist to act without conscience or empathy.
By better understanding the dynamics and subconscious drives of the narcissist, it allows us to see them for what they are. This gives us the ability to make informed decisions when dealing with such individuals so the impact on us and others is not as psychologically damaging.
1. Real Intimacy
Intimacy requires authenticity. The narcissist is an act. Anyone getting too close to a narcissist will be able to see their falsehoods, lies, and inconsistencies. such a discovery is a tremendous fear for a narcissist because without this false narcissistic persona, the narcissist does not exist. The narcissist’s true self, or authentic self, is atrophied and unable to cope should it need to step in. Therefore, since the narcissist has no genuine self left to return to in such a situation, they equate exposure of their false self to death.
2. Losing Control of Others
The connection between narcissism and control is strong. Narcissists attempt to control others in order to enhance their own sense of power and entitlement. Narcissists need to maintain control over other people, especially family and significant others, often by keeping them dependent in some way. This enables them to devalue these individuals at will, and by doing so immediately inflate their false sense of self-esteem. This parasitic relationship allows the abuser to obtain a steady, reliable source of narcissistic supply (a narcissist’s drug of choice).
Another reason narcissists need to control others is because of their extreme fear of abandonment. However, though they are petrified of it, narcissists will often orchestrate their own abandonment entirely. In this way they accomplish two separate goals:
1-They get it over and done with. Narcissists cannot bear the extended thought and uncertainty of possible abandonment. So they do the abandoning, before it’s done to them.
2-By bringing about the abandonment the narcissist can tell himself that he wasn’t abandoned. He was the one who did the abandoning, and in time he will come to believe this fully. He will then project out all his faults and shortcomings onto the ex-partner, allowing his rigid pathological mind to spiral further into the delusion that he is wonderful, perfect, and therefore, will never be abandoned.
4. Losing Narcissistic Supply
The narcissist can only inflate his self-esteem through what is mirrored back to him from his “hosts” (his sources of narcissistic supply). In normal people, self-esteem is regulated internally; However, the narcissistic personality needs adoration and attention reflected back to it from others in order to regulate self-esteem. This makes the narcissist actually very needy of other people, and also adds to why the narcissist needs to control others so much.
Without narcissistic supply the narcissist is totally incapacitated, and the personality starts to break down. The narcissist is, therefore, totally dependent on narcissistic supply; and they will do anything, just like a drug addict, in order to obtain his drug of choice, adoration and attention of other people.