The Narcissists Addiction to Fame:
One of the reasons that the narcissist has an insatiable need for fame is because it leads him to the inexhaustible repository of praise and admiration which he craves in order to fill the “Gap” of his shameful childhood. The intolerable shame experienced as a child leaves the narcissist to experience pervasive feelings of self-contempt and worthlessness.
Since the painful effects of shame cannot be regulated, the narcissist develops an effective way not to experience it. He routinely “splits off” from that part of himself that feels the shame, thus allowing him to “bypass” his shameful feelings. To the onlooker, by-passed shame looks like shamelessness, or an absence of conscience. The “shamelessness” works in such a way that it directs the shame outward, away from the Self, where nothing is ever his fault, thus defending the narcissist against the feelings of self-contempt and unworthiness that he feels.
His tried and tested way of alleviating the effects of such feelings is by having admiration from his endless menu of narcissistic supply, and this he manages to maintain by assuming an attitude of grandiosity and entitlement, which in turn makes him feel famous and special.
The feelings of fame make him feel alive, and the more alive he feels, the more he plays to his audience. His audience reflects his celebrity image and status back to him, and his very existence is affirmed. This affirmation of himself is expressed outwardly in his narcissist hubris and over-confidence. Hubris refers to the exaggerated self confidence or pride displayed by the narcissist, and it often operates within the connotation that retribution will follow if you should dare to cross him.
Hubris is a grandiose self-conception of confidence (a buoying stimuli born out of feeling of being famous) that allows the narcissist to reduce other people into mere “things”. Once he reduces a person into a thing, then that person has no rights in his mind; they can be used and abused willy-nilly without any guilt. The hubris narcissistic personality easily convinces himself that he is “all good”, and he projects all unsavory predicaments (his badness) on to others, making them the scapegoats and outcasts for his deception. It was the psychiatrist M. Scott Peck that called scapegoating “the genesis of human evil.” Of course, the narcissist revels in his hubris that is why hubris leads to his nemesis, where he believes that he is invincible, and that he can not be stopped.
Just like any other addict, getting his “fix” of attention is the only thing that matters to the narcissist. Being in the public eye and getting attention gives him the high he is after. To him, attention is attention. Positive attention may well be better than negative attention, but negative attention is better than no attention at all; one is as good as the other to the narcissist. Without attention the narcissist feels empty, hollow, neglected, inadequate, and humiliated, all of which can tip him into his all pervasive shame. Without the “reactions” he receives through his fame (being admired, noticed, watched etc) he does not feel that he exists, he then experiences inordinate pain. When this happens, the narcissist’s painful feelings are likely to turn into defensiveness, anger, rage, and sometimes aggression.
Essentially, any attack on the narcissist’s core self may give rise to instances of shame-rage. The pain felt from evaluating himself as defective or inferior may lead the shamed individual to lash out and blame others in order to regain a sense of control over his life. This may lead to increased amounts of shame that subsequently feeds right back into the rage and further destructive acts, what Scheff called the “shame-rage spiral”. That is why the narcissist incessantly and relentlessly looks for the reassurance that he is a worthy super-star in everybody’s eyes. The getting of such feedback (known as narcissistic supply) feeds into his sensibilities, allows him to appraise his image and regulate his labile sense of self-worth.
However, in order to guarantee a constant source of narcissistic supply he has to entice constant interest in himself, not just physically, but in his deportment, so that he can appear as a kind and loving individual. Success in these areas is important if he is to be successful amassing friends and acquaintances for feeding his addiction for primary and secondary supply. This he manages to do by projecting a version of himself, known as the False Self, a self that is acceptable to social norms. However, in reality the False Self is everything the narcissist is not: charming, genuine, omniscient, omnipotent, intelligent, etc.
Having split-off from his True Self, the narcissist has managed to cut off the mental processes of the brain so that he does not experience his shame, but by so doing, he has also made himself devoid of other mental processes, such as empathy, conscience, compassion etc, all aspects of the Self that is necessary for having healthy relationships.
Within the addiction to be famous, regardless of how daft it really is, there is an intelligence at work that encompasses a few important functions: it endows the narcissist with power, provides him with a constant Source of Narcissistic Supply (admiration, adoration, approval, awe), and fulfills important Ego functions (Vaknin).
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