When a Covert Narcissist Collapses.

It looks like insanity.

When my ex collapsed I had no idea what was going on, the shift happened in the blink of an eye and it was my introduction to hell on earth. He behaved in the most shockingly deceitful way to a therapist I had gone to with him to find support for what was occurring because his behavior had become so alien. I did not know it at the time but the whole thing had been a setup. He’d raged and terrorized me for weeks before the appointment, humiliating me, screaming at me, going on rampages, and when we got into the appointment I was beside myself — while he sat there calm and docile, sweet as can be. “See what I have to put up with?” was the setup.

I was blindsided, the therapist ate it right up and asked him straight up “How do you put up with this?” I felt like I’d been struck, I sunk into my chair and cried for the rest of the time in that room. I was completely broken. I asked him on the drive home why he had done that, why had he lied, and he told me it was because of me coming out of my sick room (4 months prior, when I’d wrapped my arms around him and said how happy I was to be getting better and looked forward to being husband and wife again instead of patient and carer), that I had interrupted his life and he was angry. I had no way to process that. It got very bad from there, passive aggression became active aggression. The man I loved for half my life had disappeared and a stranger who looked and sounded like him had taken his place. I had just been through a very long and dire ordeal with my health, this was the worst shock that could have happened. Which is what he liked best about doing it. If I had been strong I could have coped, but if I had been strong he’d never have done any of it — the hatred was off the charts shocking. This man had been my ‘angel’ while I lay there in bed for over a year, but in reality while I was swimming under the surface of consciousness in untreatable pain, losing all my skin due to a medication reaction, he was walking out with a girl in her 20s and planning to replace me with the widow down the street. He let me know all this and so so so much more, but in the moments with me at the time not a hint of this was shown — these creatures are deception to the nth degree. The more angelic the mask, the darker the depths of evil underneath.

The behaviors were infantile, over the top, and downright frightening. I was in a nightmare I could not wake up from, and I was still too ill to leave — which he knew and he let me know how much he enjoyed tormenting me. It took 3 years to process the shock of what he really was. The power and total control over me went straight to his head, it was off the charts bizarre. I didn’t know about pathological Narcissism then, I thought he was having a psychotic break from stress and that was why I’d sought outside help. I was so worried about my poor sweet husband, I spent my waking hours researching and organizing getting him tested for things like B12 and methylation, I created a support group to research the potential of psychedelics and other alternative therapies to save his mind from what I assumed was depression (and he was deeply depressed, but it was because of total loss of supply sources). There had to be a reason for this dramatic change in character! … There was, but it was out of my realm of reality, and slowly all was revealed.

He enjoyed tormenting me with the truth of what he was, what he’d always been behind the mask, and reveled at my horror. It was demented. Over time the mask went back, differently — more dangerously — and the abuse was less overt, the violence slowed (somewhat), he became more cunning, more cruel, there were more mind games and he wasn’t caring to hide he was playing them now. It was a full-on psychological assault in every sense.

They are so full of self-hatred they project all of that loathing onto the target and want that target destroyed. Only with total annihilation can they feel better about themselves. When an NPD collapses, you get to see how sick and warped the person really is, nothing in life prepares you for it. A collapsed Narcissist is a dangerous Narcissist. Eventually, he self-soothed himself to be his own supply and here I’ll use Sam Vaknin’s words to explain what occurs internally:

“Overwhelmed by negative or absent Narcissistic Supply, the narcissist is forced to let go of it.

The narcissist then resorts to self-delusion. Unable to completely ignore contrarian opinion and data – he transmutes them. Unable to face the dismal failure that he is, the narcissist partially withdraws from reality. To soothe and salve the pain of disillusionment, he administers to his aching soul a mixture of lies, distortions, half-truths and outlandish interpretations of events around him. These solutions can be classified thus:

The Delusional Narrative Solution

The narcissist constructs a narrative in which he figures as the hero – brilliant, perfect, irresistibly handsome, destined for great things, entitled, powerful, wealthy, the center of attention, etc. The bigger the strain on this delusional charade – the greater the gap between fantasy and reality – the more the delusion coalesces and solidifies.

The Antisocial Solution

The narcissist renounces reality. To his mind, those who pusillanimously fail to recognize his unbound talents, innate superiority, overarching brilliance, benevolent nature, entitlement, cosmically important mission, perfection, etc. – do not deserve consideration. The narcissist’s natural affinity with the criminal – his lack of empathy and compassion, his deficient social skills, his disregard for social laws and morals – now erupt and blossom. He becomes a full fledged antisocial (sociopath or psychopath). He ignores the wishes and needs of others, he breaks the law, he violates all rights – natural and legal, he holds people in contempt and disdain, he derides society and its codes, he punishes the ignorant ingrates – that, to his mind, drove him to this state – by acting criminally and by jeopardizing their safety, lives, or property.

The Paranoid Schizoid Solution

When narcissism fails as a defense mechanism, the narcissist develops paranoid narratives: self-directed confabulations which place him at the center of others’ allegedly malign attention. The narcissist becomes his own audience and self-sufficient as his own, sometimes exclusive, source of narcissistic supply.

The narcissist develops persecutory delusions. He perceives slights and insults where none were intended. He becomes subject to ideas of reference (people are gossiping about him, mocking him, prying into his affairs, cracking his e-mail, etc.). He is convinced that he is the centre of malign and mal-intentioned attention. People are conspiring to humiliate him, punish him, abscond with his property, delude him, impoverish him, confine him physically or intellectually, censor him, impose on his time, force him to action (or to inaction), frighten him, coerce him, surround and besiege him, change his mind, part with his values, victimize or even murder him, and so on.

Some narcissists withdraw completely from a world populated with such minacious and ominous objects (really projections of internal objects and processes). They avoid all social contact, except the most necessary. They refrain from meeting people, falling in love, having sex, talking to others, or even corresponding with them. In short: they become schizoids – not out of social shyness, but out of what they feel to be their choice. “This evil, hopeless world does not deserve me” – goes the inner refrain – “and I shall waste none of my time and resources on it.”

The Paranoid Aggressive (Explosive) Solution

Other narcissists who develop persecutory delusions, resort to an aggressive stance, a more violent resolution of their internal conflict. They become verbally, psychologically, situationally (and, very rarely, physically) abusive. They insult, castigate, chastise, berate, demean, and deride their nearest and dearest (often well wishers and loved ones). They explode in unprovoked displays of indignation, righteousness, condemnation, and blame. Theirs is an exegetic Bedlam. They interpret everything – even the most innocuous, inadvertent, and innocent comment – as designed to provoke and humiliate them. They sow fear, revulsion, hate, and malignant envy. They flail against the windmills of reality – a pathetic, forlorn, sight. But often they cause real and lasting damage – fortunately, mainly to themselves.

The Masochistic Avoidant Solution

The narcissist is angered by the lack of narcissistic supply. He directs some of this fury inwards, punishing himself for his “failure”. This masochistic behavior has the added “benefit” of forcing the narcissist’s closest to assume the roles of dismayed spectators or of persecutors and thus, either way, to pay him the attention that he craves.

Self-administered punishment often manifests as self-handicapping masochism – a narcissistic cop-out. By undermining his work, his relationships, and his efforts, the increasingly fragile narcissist avoids additional criticism and censure (negative supply). Self-inflicted failure is the narcissist’s doing and thus proves that he is the master of his own fate.

Masochistic narcissists keep finding themselves in self-defeating circumstances which render success impossible – and “an objective assessment of their performance improbable” (Millon, 2000). They act carelessly, withdraw in mid-effort, are constantly fatigued, bored, or disaffected and thus passive-aggressively sabotage their lives. Their suffering is defiant and by “deciding to abort” they reassert their omnipotence.

The narcissist’s pronounced and public misery and self-pity are compensatory and “reinforce (his) self-esteem against overwhelming convictions of worthlessness”(Millon, 2000). His tribulations and anguish render him, in his eyes, unique, saintly, virtuous, righteous, resilient, and significant. They are, in other words, self-generated narcissistic supply.

Thus, paradoxically, the worst his anguish and unhappiness, the more relieved and elated such a narcissist feels!

Finally, if it is sufficiently protracted, it replaces reality and the narcissist’s reality test deteriorates. He withdraws his bridges and may become schizotypal, catatonic, or schizoid.”

The Delusional Way Out

For the partner, it becomes the ultimate horror show.

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