The Narcissists Addiction to Adrenaline:

Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland in the body of many animals, including man. When it is produced in the body it stimulates the heart-rate, dilates blood vessels and air passages, and has a number of more minor effects. Adrenaline is naturally produced in high-stress or physically exhilarating situations and it is another addiction of the narcissist.  The narcissistic adrenaline junkie displays a constant need for excitement, urgency, drama, even panic, to get them through the day.  Like an alcoholic after a night of binge drinking, the adrenaline addict will often sit at home and wonder how life became so chaotic, and vowing to take back control the next day. And then that day begins and their addiction kicks in once again, giving them a sense of comfort even as it hurts them.

There is something particularly deceptive about being an adrenaline addiction.  Unlike other addicts whose behaviours are socially frowned-upon, adrenaline addicts are often praised for their frantic activity, many are often even promoted for it during their careers. And so, getting positive attention for what is actually problem behaviour, the narcissist wears his “badge” with pride, failing to see it as an addiction at all in spite of the pain it causes the people around them. Of course, the narcissist, who is a dramatist, gets a degree of satisfaction from their addiction because it gives them an opportunity to draw attention to themselves and their plight. They complain about and describe their overwhelming situation, seemingly seeking admiration or pity from those upon whom they unload their problems.  If you should dare to confront a narcissist about their problem of being an adrenaline addicts, they will soon defend themselves by telling you about their endless list of responsibilities, and all the useless people who can’t do anything right, so they have to do everything themselves. And while they’ll often complain about their situation, they’ll quickly brush off any constructive advice from spouses, friends or co-workers who, according to them, “just don’t understand.”

 Just as with any addiction, there is a cost to be paid.  First to the narcissist himself, while getting busier and busier, with no sign of relief, the rush from their addiction subsides and their job satisfaction starts to plummet. Activities that they once enjoyed, that they aspired to do for years, suddenly become drudgery, causing the quality of their work to drop too. They can then become resentful of all that they have to do, that they are working harder than ever, with less results and personal satisfaction, their  frustration and boredom only increases.  They feel envy of others seeming to get more time to relax, and they become angry at everybody around them for being so useless. But the addict is not the only victim of this problem. Anyone who has to work or live with the narcissist will find themselves whipped in different directions, seemingly at random, based on whatever issue is causing the narcissists adrenaline to spike. Strategic planning goes out the window, replaced by reactivity and self-inflicted crisis.  No one within close proximity will be spared from the effects of the narcissists adrenaline addiction, all they can do is respond to – even enable the narcissist while keeping their heads down while the panic and lies ensue. According to Dr. Sam Vaknin, in his book Malignant Self Love, the Adrenaline Junkie feels that he is in control, alert, excited, and vital. He does not regard his condition as dependence. The narcissist firmly believes that he is in charge of his addiction, which he can quit at will and on short notice.

One thing is for sure, Narcissists have an insatiable need for excitement in order to feel good about themselves, and they are forever chasing thrills.  Because they are so full of aggression, any excitement helps them to burn off their furious anger that is always bottled inside of them.  Of course, their aggression comes in many guises, and one of their favorite disguises is boredom.   Faced with boredom, the narcissist plummets into the abyss of despair where he touches old feelings of helplessness, and inadequacy born out of earlier experiences (for example, it may be feelings of inferiority that came from an inability to understanding lessons in school, or as a result of being bullied, etc.).   Boredom creates anxiety for them; it simply devastates their morale, so they won’t tolerate it for very long.   It is precisely these feelings of anxiety that lead the individual to search for “narcissistic supply” in the first place.

In particular, the Narcissist is addicted to the adrenaline rush of their Narcissistic Supply, the reason being that this is one of their greatest outlets for pleasure.  During the adventure of the “chase and the catch” they are filled with excitement. They are never more omnipotent, omniscient, sexy, invincible, and irresistible then when they find a new source of supply.  This is the time when the narcissist feels most elated; this gives them their greatest high. However, when their narcissistic supply is not available they become paranoid and manic, and will do all in their power to find another victim to supply their needs.  If they are unsuccessful, without their source of supply they become lost, and withdraw, what Sam Vaknin described as “a zombie-like state of numbness”.  In this place their consciousness becomes even more restricted and distorted.  In order to relieve their pain, they will then resorts to “abnormal” narcissistic supply.  Desperate, their only goal is to seek out their drug in whatever way they can, which may mean behaving recklessly, or by living dangerously in order to find a victim.  Once they have found a new “supply”, they become the center of attention, and the feelings of excitement begin all over again, and for a while everything is all right in their world.

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Christine is a Psychotherapist, Educator, Author and Supervisor of mental health professionals for over 28 years. She was part of a team in the Trauma Unit of St. Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital, Dublin, and has worked specifically with victims of pathological narcissistic abuse in her private practice for many years.
Her books, “The Three Faces of Evil: Unmasking the Full Spectrum of Narcissistic Abuse” and “When Shame Begets Shame: How Narcissists hurt and shame their victims” set out to to help those who have been affected by a narcissist and also to address the shortfalls in a therapist’s education, so that they become better equipped to work with survivors of narcissistic abuse.Much of her knowledge has come from her post-grad studies in Criminology and Forensic Psychology, and it is through these disciplines that she has gained her understanding of “The Dark Triad”, (Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy).
These three faces of evil are vital information for understanding the full spectrum of narcissistic abuse and the dire effects on the victims.It is her vision that narcissistic abuse becomes part of the curriculum of all Mental Health clinicians.
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