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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It’s all about the will. Who’s stopping you from confirming to do good, but you?
I’ve been married to one for 38 years. It has been a special kind of hell. His agent has been affairs for his needed source of adrenaline. He is also a workaholic.
But when you love someone it’s so much more than the narcacistic behaviors. Hard to explain when you give your heart at such a young age…
well said. I agree everyone has problems, some more than others and no one should be an outsider.
Way to go, demonising a segment of society who actually need someone to come up with an effective treatment plan so they can stop hurting themselves and others. While I understand the hurt they can cause and how terrible it is. It’s just as bad being on the inside of this. Not every narcissist consciously seeks to harm others, often they are acting to protect themselves with the tools they have acquired in life. No, I’m not advocating for a free pass for this behaviour but it’s counter productive and ultimately disempowering for victims too, to build all narcissists up as some kind of terrible and overpowering evil in the world.
While some of the articles here are informative they are also rather biased in their characterisation of people suffering from NPD as being soulless, power mongering and hungry people consciously plotting the destruction of others. It’s not the truth at all. A lot of narcissistic behaviour is completely unconscious and presents to the individual with it as a terrible life cycle they don’t feel they can ever escape. Some narcissists actually want to break out of the hell which is their life and experience what it’s like to live well adjusted. Do I like the fact my life crashes and burns constantly? Do I enjoy having to start over and over and never enjoying even the modest success that most people do? No.
I can’t really get behind a therapist who characterises individuals with a personality disorder as evil. That kind of thing has forced me to exile myself from society. I feel as if I have no right to be part of the society I was born in and am forever conscious of no people contact to ensure I don’t hurt others with my actions or words. Do you have any idea what kind of a hell that is to live in? It’s also completely disempowering and despairing to be told over and over that you can never be helped and people attempting to do so will only increase your power of evil by teaching you new tools with which to manipulate others etc.
Therapists need to get real here, and admit it’s a personality disorder they are baffled by and unsure about how to treat. Rather than writing people off as lost causes and teaching others to fear, marginalise and ‘protect’ themselves from this terrible scourge of the earth. You might want to consider what a narcissist is, it’s a small child trapped in an infantile state of development with no chance for the development they should have received, through no fault of their own. Many of them seek a solution to their problem only to be told they can never join the normal folks, only hope to imitate and limit themselves while interacting with others. Would you like to be told this if you were sick or injured?
Lily, You say “his grandchildren”, so I am not sure if they are also your grandchildren. If they are your grandchildren and you have contact with them, then you can keep an eye on what is happening for them with there grandad, and keep the lines of communication open with them. However, if you are not in contact with the said children, then probably there is little you can do. The chances are that he has “bad mouthed” you, and people think that you are the problem. You may get the backlash of this if you try to warn the children’s parents. Sorry I cannot be more helpful. Christine
Your material has all really hit the nail on the head. After experiencing life with a narc, it has taken years of healing. There are lots of aha moments when I look back to his behaviours and witness reports.
For years I have worried about safety of the new supply. More recently I have become panicked by the thought of him having access to his grandchildren who are very young. I want to warn others about him but believe I will be labelled as crazy. My therapist years ago assigned to me a book by Beverly Engel, about emotionally abusive relationships. My oyschiatrist assessed me as normal other than the
Today I want to know what can I do to protect the children? He has history of high risk behaviour, explosive temper, road rage, etc…. I really fear for these children. He has lots of sports toys, ATVs, motorcycles, boats, etc. Please advise what I can do.
Thank you, Lily
This helped me find out more about what I go throw thank you. How ever I suffer like so many others I have seen. I have looked for years to put a Name to what was going on and even after reading the name doesn’t go with everything I go throw. I also don’t think this explains everything. There is much more going on with this. Sadly I have tried to look up stuff with key words trying to find anything on this and online there is not much at all or any details. Never any kind of “what could help” posted anywhere which leads me to believe once you have it it says like a scar. But no group help, comparing with others, places to talk about this. but never find any. So, you also can feel alone in this. This post is the closest I have came to any answers. thanx….
Terri, I think that adrenaline addiction could be one of the reasons for picking fights constantly. But another no less important reason is that narc sees the world as one big hostile place full of danger. And especially danger that is after to destroy his false self. First of all because of two reasons. Because their parents created a hostile place for a future narc to live and because narc secretly feels some kind of subconscious lack in their false self. Therefore they constantly need to protect it. Even though the danger is just perception and not real.
Mix that with the use of meth and you have a walking time bomb. I have a friend who is classic “N”. Comes from a family of “N’s” He is the black sheep. I have pointed out to him his upbringing in his totally brutal family. And of course they hate me and blame me for is behavior like I have any control over that guy. Give me a break. My friend steals in stores and never gets caught. he uses meth everyday all day long. Im embarrassed by his behavior. We are followed in stores and I always move away from him when I get that feeling he went in this store now to steal not just look to see what they have that’s kewl. This friend has a record a mile long for drug use and possession, for traffic citations, no license, and for dangerous copper wire thefts along rail roads. Many times cutting live wires. He will take on any dare. He goes where he wants always. He lives by the rule of no rules they are for everyone but him. I tell him I am moving and he shows up and now is living with me. He won’t get a job. his father sends me a check for 400.00 a month. this friend is 35 yrs old. I think he is ruined. I think he can’t follow direction and he doesn’t respect anyone. He lies when the truth is a better option for him. He sleeps with anything that is wiling to be his partner in crime. He is handsome and very charming. He use to call and text me 200 times in a day, 600 times a day if we apart and now he doesn’t even have a cell phone or tablet. I kicked him out and after 4 months of telling me no, he now hangs out up where we use to live 3 hours away at a guys auto shop where tweakers always hang out at. I don’t see him for days which is great, thats what I wanted. But suddenly he will show up like nothings changed at my door. He swears he hasn’t been with someone else. He can be. But he lies and says no. but I know him well and it has to be new game that keeps him that glued to up there where he hasn’t a pad of his own to go kick it at. All the details paint a conclusion of he is chasin skirts. And like I said that’s what he should. i WANT TO MOVE and not be here.
he is a classic case of what your article is about. He brings chaos everywhere he goes.
Hi Terri M,
The answer is not as simple as it seems. When someone is an adrenaline junkie, they are addicted to endogenous epinephrine (produced by the body). Narcissists live in a state of constant rage, repressed aggression, envy and hatred. Their world is a constant whirlwind of comings and goings, reunions and separations, loves and hates…..constant drama! This causes adrenaline to constantly drip into their system. Many narcissists get their “highs” as a result of self-inducing a “fight-or-flight response” by intentionally engaging in stressful or risky behavior, which causes a release of epinephrine by the adrenal gland. That is often how they become addicted to adrenaline.
The narcissist is normally a highly anxious person (even when they look calm). They are prone to extreme boredom and have a need for stimulation, so they constantly create a lot of excitement for themselves (through their compulsions, physical threats, and their general violent behaviour). Their body kindly responds by releasing adrenaline into their system on such occasions. If there are no healthy outlets for burning off the adrenaline, their rage is easily activated, and often leads to violence, making them more dangerous.
Research on high-level narcissistic (psychopaths) has found that many narcissists suffer from damage to the orito-frontal cortex, and this affects impulse control, where violence is easily triggered. The narcissist’s anger is directly related to their thoughts and feelings, usually fear. Whenever a narcissist experiences a “narcissistic injury” (whether real or imagined) their fear causes their anxiety to go through the roof, and they will go into an uncontrollable rage, and act out their violent aggression. When they are in a rage, anybody who offers any form of resistance (yelling, threatening, or even the simple act of putting their arms up to protect themselves) increases the narcissists anxiety, releasing even more adrenaline into their system, making them worse, and they will blow. Most narcissists enjoy the brief burst of relief after suffering narcissistic injury……… it brings them a feeling of freedom, and burning off some of the adrenaline. Of course the narcissist also uses anger as a fantastic tool for controlling and manipulate others, and it works.
Hope that answers your question for you.
Christine, is it possible that a Narcissist’s addiction to adrenaline might be the underlying motive for constantly picking fights and starting arguments?