The Pathological Narcissist’s Multi-addictions

The narcissist’s pervasive feelings of shame are the root cause of their multi-addictions. So, whenever they experience a narcissistic wound, the narcissist turns to one of their addictive mood-altering experiences to deliver them from pain, in this way their addiction becomes their form of self-soothing.  For example, unable to regulate their strong feelings associated with shame, they may turn to one of their multi-addictions, i.e. a chemical substance as an auxiliary regulator (Hotchkiss, 2003), or to retail therapy to get their fix.

Narcissism, by its very nature, is an obsession and a compulsion, therefore the narcissistic personality is particularly prone to addiction. Obsessed by the illusion of a False Self, and an inflated sense of their own superiority, power, and control, the narcissist renders themselves susceptible to all sorts of obsessions, compulsions, and addictions. 

As well as being addicted to some of the classical addictions (i.e. drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, food, sex, etc.) the narcissist will also become addicted to anything that will assure the survival of their False Self.  That is, anything that allows them to self- medicate against the pain of any unpleasant anxious emotions (i.e. loneliness, illness, failure, uncertainty, shame etc.) and guarantees the paralysis of the True Self.

The addictions are the nutrients to the narcissist appearing to be in control, and being beyond the control of others.  For example, their addictions to “self” support their feeling  superior and being better than anybody else in their presence; cultivates their  feeling of being “special” so that they feel acceptance wherever they are;  satisfies their need for the copious amount of excitement needed to burn off their deep anger and rage;  maintain the illusion of the inflated self, thereby they can avoid facing their limitations, defeats, and ordinariness; relieves their horror of boredom, and fills the inner “Gap” in order to feel whole for at least a little while; and to gain access to their endless need for “narcissistic supply”.

Narcissism is indeed a pattern of addiction.  The narcissist’s greatest addiction is not so much in getting attention than it is on having a grand view of themselves.  Their goal in life is to gain admiration, power, and control, and in this way, they boost their self-esteem and avoid their constant intrusive shameful feelings. 

The best way for a narcissist to reach this goal is specifically through their addiction for “narcissistic supply”.  The narcissist in their addiction is like other types of addicts.  They both yield to their urges of a preferred “fix”; for the drug addict, it may be their heroin, but for the narcissist, it is their new source of narcissistic supply (victim).  In their pursuit, the narcissist is highly motivated, and will successfully search out a suitable candidate for their purpose. 

They are especially drawn to people who are “caretakers”, those people who have advanced empathy because it is these people who offer the most satisfaction and pleasure, and who help them to self-regulate.  Just like a drug addict, their craving for intense satisfaction grows stronger and stronger with each conquest, until it dominates their thought processes and behaviours.

They are continually on the lookout for new and greater triumphs that bring greater glory to their self-esteem.  As they progress along this path, with their repeated behaviour they are likely to become bored, or, they may set the bar too high, and crash.  Either way, this will result in the narcissist experiencing diminishing levels of satisfaction and self-esteem.  So just like the junkie, they develop a “tolerance” to their drug, seeking even higher dosages to feel better about themselves. In time, because of their pathological behaviour, the pathological narcissist will eventually ruin the relationship that provides for these cravings.  

When the narcissist gets their “high” through their narcissistic supply, they feel as if they are reaching their goal of sought-after admiration. They enter a period of inflated self-regard, where they feel wonderfully euphoric, flying high on the feeling of connection with another. 

They are feeling relatively normal with a secure attachment and mirroring eyes that tell them that they are wonderful. Unfortunately, like the addict, they are likely to indulge their craving in a way that becomes destructive in the extreme. Unfortunately, before long, their acquired drug (their victim) will, unfortunately, disappoint them, and their self-aggrandising feelings soon deflate. 

Like the junky whose fix wears off, the narcissist comes back to earth with a bang, and their self-esteem takes a tumble.  Inevitable, the victim will stir up feelings of dependency and vulnerability in the narcissist-pilot, and in doing so, they find themselves becoming an enemy.  The narcissist will then withdraw from them, devaluing them, and likely to turn to one of their multi-addictions in order to get back control.

The Gaslighting Syndrome

When Shame Begets Shame

The 3 Faces Of Evil

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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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