What Do We Feel?
It is often said about our kind that we are effectively dead. This refers to an emotional demise. This emotional demise is linked to the perception that we do not feel. This state of emotional deadness is also connected to the concept that our kind feel empty, that there is a vast chasm inside of us, a howling wilderness where there is nothing. If we are emotionally dead, what caused that? Who or what might the slayer be? Is there any prospect of resurrection? Do we feel nothing? Is there this all-pervading sense of nothingness inside of us?
I am not emotionally dead.
Why do I write this? It is because I do feel things. I feel the burning harshness that flows from criticism of me. I feel jealousy when people are listening to somebody else in the group and not me. I feel envy when I see a car that is superior to mine. I feel frustration when I am not causing someone to do as I want. I feel hatred for those who have turned against me and through their perfidious treachery they seek to do me harm. I feel the fury when I respond to the criticism. Those feelings are strong, visceral and real. I also feel power. I feel that familiar surge as the first flames of power spark into life, brought into being by the application of fuel and then they grow. The surging sensation increases and courses through me, invigorating me and edifying me. It drives me forward, causes me to feel like I am bursting as it enables me to shine, to dazzle and to perform. The intensity of this feeling is substantial and not only is it necessary for me to feel like this, it is addictive.
What then of those other emotions, sadness, joy, happiness, fear, concern, compassion and so forth? Where are those emotions? They are absent. I do not feel them. I have seen in those around me certain responses and listened to people describe them so that I know what happiness looks like and I know what it feels like to you, but I do not feel it. It is clear to me that when you feel happy, I feel powerful. When you feel joy, I feel a greater sense of power. Accordingly, it is correct to state that in respect of those emotions I am dead, or is that entirely accurate. For something to die it must first have once lived. Something must have been there to begin with and then have vanished, been obliterated or removed. Was I once happy and then the capacity to be happy was taken away from me? Who removed it? Was it the act of someone else or did I decide to strip happiness from myself and arm myself with power instead? Then again, is it the case that certain elements of my emotional spectrum are not dead at all but instead I have experienced some kind of emotional paralysis. Are those emotions somewhere but they have been halted, capped, muted? I know from my reading and observation that, for example, compassion appears to be learned from others. Was I once learning to be compassionate and then for some reason it stopped and has never been allowed to develop again? Was I once able to experience joy but then that was stunted and halted and kept from me?
Alternatively, it might be that with regard to certain emotions I am neither emotionally dead or emotionally paralysed. In both those instances it must follow that the emotion was once there but has either been removed (death) or halted (paralysis). What if the emotion was never there to begin with? What if I was created without the capacity for joy, for sadness of for compassion? What if I was created in a different way? What if my creation and development meant that it was necessary to forgo such emotions in order to facilitate a certain way of being which allowed me to achieve and accomplish more effectively without being hampered or hindered by such emotions. I have no concern for who I might tread on, on the way up, so I climb that much quicker and that much higher than other people. Might it be the case that in order to have those who excel in so many fields it was necessary for us to be denied certain emotions to ensure we were effective? I readily admit that not everyone who is a leader in their field, an achiever and a winner is necessarily one of us, but we are over-represented. Even if someone might not be regarded as one of our kind, I know that they will possess more of our traits and to a greater degree than they do not. Perhaps this was a necessary trade-off so that the pioneers, conquerors and leaders would advance but at a personal cost in terms of the provision of certain emotions. Perhaps we were never granted those emotions to begin with? Through my increasing awareness with the good doctors I am forming a view.
Do I laugh? Am I amused? Do I have a sense of humour? Yes, I do and I know I have an excellent sense of humour (aside from when you do not do what I want or criticise me). I have been asked what do I feel when I laugh? If I am laughing along with others at something I have said, then I feel power because I am being fuelled. What do I feel if I laugh when I am watching a comedian on stage or on television? I laugh because I know it is expected of me in such a scenario. I laugh because I can work out that what was said was witty or amusing, but I do not feel any power. I do not feel any uplifting sensation in the way that you have described to me. Often I feel a sense of unrest and the clamour of jealousy because people are laughing at someone else’s wit and not mine.
What do I feel when I see one of my country’s athletes securing gold at the Olympics? Am I proud of them? I know to say the correct things to provide recognition for their achievement but again I feel a sense of envy that it is not me on that podium receiving the accolade of the crowd in the stadium. I can see you sat next to me clapping and smiling and I am jealous that you are clapping this person on the television and not me. I can feel the first prick of the wound because your applause for them and not me suggests they are better than me and thus you are criticising me. I feel the need to tell you about my sporting achievements so you give me praise and thus the criticism is abated before it has caused too much damage and before my fury is ignited. I may instead allow the fury to ignite and find some way of lashing out at you so you react and provide me with your attention through being hurt and upset. This is why on so many occasions you will be doing something with us that is pleasant and enjoyable and then in the blink of an eye an argument has come out of nowhere or a brag or boast appears linked to what we are doing. I cannot feel happy for that athlete. I can acknowledge the achievement because he is a winner and I love to win. I will acknowledge the achievement and apply what I have learned in order to show the correct feelings if I am in a situation where it would not be appropriate to unleash some heated fury, for instance if it would crack my façade, but I will be desperate to bring the conversation or attention onto me by remarking how I won gold in the country championships as a teenager or start talking about my latest achievement at work.
What do I feel when I see an advert for a charity on the television? Am I moved by the images and the mournful accompanying soundtrack. Do I feel pity, sympathy and compassion? No, I do not. I feel nothing. If I hear you making sympathetic noises then just as in the example above I want your attention on me, not on the orphan on the screen. I may comment about my charitable work so your praise me. I may pass a scathing remark about how it is a waste of money because very little of the money donated actually reaches the person who needs it, the bulk of the money being swallowed up by administrative and advertising costs in order to make you react. I may go further and blame the subject of the charitable activities as culpable for their own predicament in order to bring a heightened emotional reaction from you at my callous remarks.
I do feel. I feel many emotions and many emotions I do not feel at all. I also do feel a sense of emptiness which I seek to fill through the sensation of power. I need to fill up with this power to remove this sense of emptiness. This emptiness makes me feel uneasy and unsettled. I feel like I am disappearing and that by gathering fuel to make me feel powerful I am asserting my existence again. I am recognised, venerated and lauded.
I know what I feel. I also know what I do not feel. I have an awareness and growing understanding of why I feel as I do. I have an awareness as to why I must act as I do with regard to those feelings. I am ascertaining and working out why I feel in a different fashion to you. I understand my need for power and what it does for me. I understand the effects of this power and the consequences of its generation.
I am not the walking dead. I am walking towards something.
12 thoughts on “What Do We Feel?”
Hg – How aware of the creature are lesser and mid rangers? I know they don’t know what they are but how aware are they that they “feel better” after getting fuel or “feel worse” when levels are low? What do they attribute these feelings to if they don’t understand fuel?
“What if my creation and development meant that it was necessary to forgo such emotions in order to facilitate a certain way of being which allowed me to achieve and accomplish more effectively without being hampered or hindered by such emotions.” This is so sad because it is precisely not acieving or accomplishing that the narc is doing; the narc is in a permanent state of suspended animation in regard to personal and interrelational development . . which are the things that make for meaning and happiness in life. This post made me feel sympathy for narcs, even though I have survived the abuse of two of them and have a lot of anger about that.
What fascinates me (among other things) is how someone with your perspicacity and insight (clearly you are aware of all of your frailties) can have such double vision – in a sense, seeing yourself in two ways at once. A) You see all of this about yourself and can even describe it in cynical detail as if a contemptuous observer. And yet B) you (seemingly) cannot stop acting these infantile, pathetic, and toxic (both to yourself and others) ways. I guess that’s why it’s called mental illness. It is sad.
It’s fascinating and dreadful. I wish I could talk to you more about it and learn more. I guess aside from being a psychiatric doctor, this is as good as it gets.
It reminds me of once when I teased (I used to tease him about being a “sociopath”) my ex narc, saying to him, tauntingly, “You don’t care”. He stopped and looked at me, and said, “What do you think, I’m dead inside?” I had to admit that pretty much yes, that is what I thought. And let’s face it, it’s half true. Then he launched into lies about being in love with me.
Thank you for this post.
You are welcome.
The irony of narcissism is that your feelings are entirely enmeshed with the ‘other’. You seek power and feelings you crave through an external locus of control rather than an internal locus of control which is a paradox of thinking that a narcissist serves himself. In reality the narcissist relies on others for himself.
Spot on indeed! Thank you for sharing. With every post comes a better understanding.
Joy is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires (Merriam Webster). What you experience when you possess the desired “fuel” is joy: “The surging sensation increases and courses through me, invigorating me and edifying me. It drives me forward, causes me to feel like I am bursting as it enables me to shine, to dazzle and to perform.”
“Feeling powerful” is reasoning as you calculate you are in control, not emotion per se. So, I believe, you do know what joy feels like. Your sources for joy are limited, while for some they are plentiful: from a butterfly landing on a flower to Olympian winning a medal. Hence, when one doesn’t have to fight for it, they are lacking traits that you develop, and set on enjoying life.
You are right that there are more and more people like you, who work hard on manufacturing their image.
It sort of helps them to understand that what they do doesn’t really make them happy. Hard to find a more powerful person than a happy one…)
A very fascinating article. I am impressed by your level of depth at understanding these emotions.
HG – you wrote “I am not the walking dead. I am walking towards something”. This gives me hope. For you. I want to believe this. I want to believe that through therapy, you can and will find something. Something good. Something which was stolen from you as a child. I only wish that every Narcissist would do the same. Either seek therapy or be mandated, as you were. Thanks for sharing.
Do you know what you are walking towards HG?
No, Twilight, I do not.
I thank you for this post and the valuable information. Many instances with my narc now make sense. I do have one question though. Does a middle range narc have this much insight to feelings and emotions?
I ask because my narc is mid-level, not greater level as yourself. I am curious to know if the mid range understand the damage they cause people or if they are satisfied with being the victim.
No they do not.