Many of you have been in a relationship or been a friend with someone who was an extreme narcissist. These types of relationships are filled with drama unless you totally please the narcissist, which is impossible. The typical extreme narcissists are full of themselves and are overtly pompous. I would like to focus on a kind of extreme narcissist that most people fail to recognize. First, let me explain what extreme narcissism is all about.
Extreme narcissism is an egotistical preoccupation with self. It focuses on personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how one’s self is perceived by others. Some basic narcissism is healthy. This kind of narcissism is better termed as responsibly taking care of oneself, or what I would call “normal” or “healthy” narcissism.
The egotistical narcissists are typically created in one of two ways. One way is through excessive pampering on the part of the parents. Parents create an attitude in the child that he/she is better than others and entitled to special privileges. This creates an arrogant child who lacks a healthy dose of gratitude and humility. It describes the proverbial brat that no one likes.
Another way that extreme narcissists are created is when a child receives a significant emotional wound or a series of them culminating in a major trauma of separation/attachment. This can happen when the parents, as narcissists themselves, are emotionally disconnected from their child. It creates a dysfunction in the ability for the narcissist to connect emotionally to others. No matter how socially skilled an extreme narcissist is, he/she has a major attachment dysfunction and wound. This wounded person constructs one or more false fronts in order to survive and insulate themselves from people because of distrust and fear (Lopez De Victoria, 2008).
A narcissist is a completely self-absorbed person. There can be no other gods in an extreme narcissist’s world, regardless if they say they believe in God or not. In practical terms, a narcissist is God in his/her own imagination. Ego rules supremely in the narcissist’s life. In light of this, what energizes a narcissist is whatever fuels the ego. Ego loves pleasure and gain. In most cases, these can come from one of two ways of feeding the ego. One way is through aggrandizement, which means “to make bigger.” Ultimately, the extreme narcissist feels he/she is most special and, therefore, entitled. To the extreme narcissist, people are actually things to use.
Another way that the narcissist’s ego gets special attention is through the role of being a victim. Welcome to the victimized extreme narcissist. Most persons recognize ego as arrogance. At the same time they fail to see the subtle deception of ego when it takes the role of a being a victim. As kind and compassion-driven human beings, we easily are fooled by this form of extreme ego. We are constantly hearing the voices of the needy in the media through a variety of forms. The disenfranchised, the poor, the homeless, the hurting, the refugees, the abused, and the list goes on. What we often do not see is that we are many times shamed by these voices for not doing enough for them. All along it is easy to be manipulated as we respond from our hearts. The deception of the ego is that the narcissist can hide behind misfortune and victimization in order to shame you into feeling and believing that they suffer more than you do. They will say that you don’t care enough for them. They will make you feel that you have not done enough to help them. The ego wants attention, control, gain, and power over others by positioning itself as a “poor and helpless” victim. It does this; all the while it soaks up the attention and control over others. In the eyes of an extreme narcissist, their situation is always right and totally justified. Instead of taking responsibility for self and consequences, the extreme narcissist tries to make others feel responsible for their plight. Because extreme narcissists are incredibly adept at the game of manipulation, they will always find a way to turn the tables on you. They will try to make you responsible and feel guilty for not helping them or taking their side and cause.
Extreme narcissists often shift gears from visible grandiosity to acting that they are better than others because they suffer more than others. You can see an extreme narcissist who hogs the limelight and credit from achievements and self-praise also getting similar recognition from milking an injury or a seeming misfortune that has occurred to them. Victimized extreme narcissists are on the constant prowl looking for any gullible soul that will believe their version of calamity whether it is real, exaggerated, or fictitious. What they claim that makes their calamity different is that it is worse for them. Beware of this kind of extreme narcissism. It is just as selfish and manipulating as that of a pompous egotist. The moment they see that you don’t “fully” cooperate and act with extreme concern for them, serving and pampering them, they will eliminate you from their list of “loving” folks. They may even badmouth you and gossip or slander you as being selfish and uncaring. Imagine that! I have seen these types over and over again in work I have done in the field of pain medicine management. It is usually the individuals who are humble, full of gratitude, and joyful who are the ones most capable of coping with their injuries and pain. Those who are selfish, moaning, and full of self-pity take much longer to heal or sometimes never heal but go further downhill in their health. My recommendation is to avoid treating this person’s misfortune as the ultimate suffering of all humans. Be polite. Recognize their pain and no more. Don’t be pulled into their web of emotional manipulation. Stay away from extreme narcissists.
Lopez De Victoria, S. (2008, August 4). How to Spot a Narcissist. Posted on Psych Central Web site.