Why Does The Narcissist Compartmentalise Appliances?



As narcissists we often engage in compartmentalisation. This articles concerns how and why we compartmentalise various appliances in our fuel matrices.

We view our lives as a series of compartments. The compartments are linked and there is an archway from one compartment to another but this archway has been bricked up by us and only we know the secret word that will open up the archway and admit us to the next compartment. You will try and search for an opening so that you may move from one compartment to another but your search will be fruitless. You will rhyme off all the passwords you can think of from ‘open sesame’ through to ‘abracadabra’ but none of them will work. There is a simple reason for that. We want you to stay in your compartment until we come back to it. We do not want you interacting with any of our other compartments because then it makes each area harder for us to control. A greater need for control mean more energy expenditure which will mean that there is less available for me to use to gather fuel and that is not something I can allow to happen.

A blissful domestic set-up will be in one compartment where I play the role of doting husband and caring father. To the external observer who looks in on the scene through the Perspex it appears to be a picture of harmony and good relations. Yet the observer cannot hear the shouting nor listen to your sobs as you are on the receiving end of another tirade. The fearful cries and the scathing admonishments fail to air beyond this compartment. You are not able to escape to another place and reveal what is really going on in this compartment. As soon as I depart to the next one then the brickwork closes behind me with lightning quick speed, trapping you where I want you. Of course I will tell you all about what is happening in the other compartments when I return, so that you will be subjected to tales of my magnificence in the work place and anecdotes about the new ‘friend’ I have in order to create some triangulated jealousy from you.

My work compartment show me as all conquering and masterful yet those that have been subjected to my brutal put downs and suffered from my repeated dumping of work on them as I breeze around town are forbidden from escaping this compartment to pollute the carefully constructed image that I have made for myself.

The members at the golf club who find my boasting odious and have seen me mark down a lower score than that which I had achieved on my score card are unable to blacken my name to my admirers beyond this particular place. Instead I depart the golf club and scurry to the bar where I regale my hangers-on with another story of my five under par round which won the competition. They coo over my success oblivious to what has actually gone on.

Home life, work life, mistress, friends, club, family and more are allotted these compartments. In each one I am a god. I rule supreme able to do as I please so that I can carry forth my stories of heroism into another compartment and there drink deep of their admiring fuel.

I spend much of my time ensuring that the inhabitants of each compartment know about one another, to multiply my fuel of course, but rarely shall I ever allow them to cross paths. This might lead to someone squaring the circle and working out what is behind my carefully orchestrated campaigns of divide and conquer. A must never speak to B who must not be allowed to tell C what really happened. I must maintain my constructed world where these people are little more than dolls in a huge segregated dolls’ house. I put them in poses and play with them so that I can create a scenario by which I can brag to others in the next room about. If they ever escaped and managed to follow me through these archways so they could compare what I have said with what has actually happened I would be truly finished. Sometimes this happens and then the compartment must be set ablaze, scorched from the record and denied an existence. Next time this compartment will be refurbished, repainted and with new dolls put in place. I must control everything around me. Everyone in their place and a place for everyone.

66 thoughts on “Why Does The Narcissist Compartmentalise Appliances?

  1. Em says:

    Why is my ex narc deliberately trying to mix the compartments? I know he wants me to come across IPPS as I know he’s about to introduce her into the workplace. To see fireworks and fuel?
    Triangulation. I know now that in the past he tried to get us to overlap and bump into each other. As I left his bed she would be on her way to his house.
    If I asked to meet his kids it was always point blank no.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Triangulation, as you identify.

  2. SMH says:

    The extreme compartmentalization helped clue me in to his mental illness because it simply is not normal to function this way. It was another reason I told IPPS – breaking down those walls was part of the final battle. That said, I didn’t even know what compartmentalization was (or hot/cold behavior or intermittent reinforcement) before my epic struggle with him. I hope it has all been for nought and I will never need to know these things again…

  3. wounded says:

    Quite stunning how much this makes sense and how well it works. It also explains why I didn’t see it coming…the usual rumor mill broke down and most people who had worked with him for years didn’t make mention of his tendency to sleep around or dump work on subordinates. The people that did know probably weren’t in much of a position to say anything. I thought for awhile he was reckless in such open triangulation. But he wasn’t at all. He was calculated and knew what cards to play.

    Very interesting.

  4. Renarde says:

    Hmm. I had an ex once who when discussing various childhood ‘traumas’ would state, quite happily when asked how he emotionally dealt with said traumas, that he puts them all in a shoe box and back on the shelf.

    This was years ago and I remember being so confused. Repression is the worst thing you can do in response to traumatic events. Of course, I didn’t know then what I know now. I would say to him ‘But that’s not how I deal with it’. He suggested that is precisely how I should deal with it and it worked for him.

  5. amanda SNapchat says:

    Research has shown that social media creates a context collapse, i.e., you suddenly have all your friends, coworkers, the mistress, in one same space. How would you guys say that narcs compartmentalize on social media?

    Great writing HG. I think I need to practice compatmentalizing. I liked what u said about better controlling your power this way

    1. Renarde says:

      Hey Amanda. I do this to a certain degree and it is helpful. To have one person even knowing too much about your movements is sometimes not good. As a result of ‘weaponisation’ I’ve got a much greater awareness of information and how I give it. Not one person knows everything whereas before I was an open book.

      I don’t agree with compartmentalising emotions though as the howlback when they are finally releasied can be extremely traumatic.

      1. amanda SNapchat says:

        very true. thanks for sharing. You are right, it is a weapon we can use for ourselves. You are right that u don;t want to do it for everything.
        thanks for sharing

    2. Fuel on the Shelf says:

      I wanted to comment on the compartmentalization via Facebook and social media. I have come to the realization that my MMRN does this. Literally as he makes filters or “groups” of people who see certain stuff.

      He has not unfriended or “blocked” me from seeing his entire page. Because that would damage his “nice guy” facade and be rude. He is never ever rude. He has over 1600 “friends”. Never unfriends anyone and the number usually grows not declines. He will make filters so that certain people see things and others don’t. It explains why there will be months with no activity at all and then all of a sudden posts will show up.

      I have suspected that he has been doing this for awhile and I never really figured it all out until now. I figured he just took a break from posting. Nope. After his son was born and I did not see any posts about it, one of our mutual friends reached out to me to ask me if I “saw” the news on Facebook. When I told her I had not and expressed my displeasure at being left out she said “oh that is weird” and then prompted me to reach out to him to “see what he says”.

      Well I fell for this little trick and I reached out to him. “Hey there….X told me about your news…why did you leave me out?” And he played it off like he had no idea why that happened. Then he assured me it was not personal and not just me “Oh a few others had the same issue where they could not see certain posts…” Yeah, whatever. Sure…

      What made me realize what he was doing was when he prompted me further to tell him more about the conversation I had with our friend. “So tell me what is going on with X? What else did she say when she reached out?”

      Also, he has asked me a few times since then if I can see his posts yet. He will text me that he fixed the issue and to “check his page” because I should now be able to see his posts. I shrugged him off and said “Oh I am not sure, I have not checked since X reached out and that was when I did not see anything”. He says “Okay well let me know if you still cannot see anything, you should be able to see it now”.

      Again, I said nothing about it but he asked again a few days later if I was able to see his posts. Again I said that I had not checked but I would let check and let him know.

      I still cannot see anything but I never followed up with him to tell him. He knows damn well who can see things and who cannot.

      It is all a game and he obviously knows what he is doing otherwise he would not keep asking me if I can see stuff (when he knows I can’t) and he would not reach out to our mutual friend and bait her into being the go-between to share his news.

      Oh and I also suppose it is a good way to keep all his “lives” separate too.

      1. SMH says:

        Ah, FOTS, that is super twisted but of course it all makes perfect sense (to a narc of course).

        In breaking down those walls I discovered that there was no reason for my MRN to hide anything, since I already knew about IPPS. The only thing that makes sense to me is that their control issues are in part about keeping ‘the mystery’ going to make themselves seem much more intriguing than they really are.

        If Piano Man were to come to you in ‘real life’ – I mean really show up, think about if you would even want him. I knew I would not want MRN because our value systems and lifestyles were way too different – we simply did not care about the same sorts of things out there in the world.

      2. amanda SNapchat says:

        this was super interesting to read!! thanks for sharing. it was amazing learning that some narcs use filters on social media. I mean think about it, its so complicated and time consuming to keep up with filters. It is amazing they invest the time in that.

        I think your narc used your friend as a proxy hoover. What do you think? he might be ma nipulating her to keep in touch with you? She is a flying monkey /minion to him.

        keep strong. you can do it!

      3. Fuel on the Shelf says:


        “If Piano Man were to come to you in ‘real life’ – I mean really show up, think about if you would even want him.”

        I would want him, SMH. I would. 😔

        1. SMH says:

          FOTS, well, sometimes I think my entanglement with MRN is the love story of the century too 🙂

          1. Fuel on the Shelf says:

            I call it the “magnetic intoxication of the century” over here. Piano Boy still gives me butterflies, goosebumps, makes me feel lightheaded and higher than a kite. Even just hearing his voice on the phone does this. But seeing him in person, feeling him hug or kiss me…..it is amplified. And sex with him? Pssshht forget it!

            And 2SF who asked me something similar….see response to SMH above. How the hell do I give that up? Who was the person here who said it is like “mainlining crack”?

            At this point I think crack or some other hardcore drug would be a suitable alternative and easier to quit.

          2. SMH says:

            FOTS, I think most of us have that problem but GOSO is the equivalent of quitting cold turkey. You just have to do it if you don’t want to die.

          3. MB says:

            SMH & FOTS, It does present quite a problem when there is no “downside” to the “relationship”. There’s no overt abuse. Going no contact is the last thing you want to do when the attention feels so good. #narcjunkie

          4. Fuel on the Shelf says:

            Indeed. The struggle is real. My attraction to him is intoxicating, even if it is intermittent. As I have stated many times, how the hell do I give that up? See comment about “mainlining crack”.

          5. J says:

            FOTS, this is not a popular opinion, but it is mine. I found the only way I could leave was with a VERY rigorous, very strict “weaning off” regimen. I tried ‘cold turkey’ and it was completely unsuccessful. Weaning off worked for me. Now, I’m completely NC, but I cannot overstate how much work and self-discipline this process takes… much like any other addiction, I imagine.

          6. SMH says:

            MB, Yup and just like with drugs, our brains play tricks on us. With drugs the high is followed by withdrawals and physical deterioration. With narcs the high is followed by emotional and sometimes physical abuse. The highs make us forget the lows so we think we can have another hit and before we know it, another nail is in the coffin (lots of addicts are clean for a long time, get high on a whim and die). #justsaynotonarcs

      4. 2SF (Blank) says:

        Fots, nice new pic!
        You still want piano man, because you can’t stop the emotional thinking. I can’t either. Besides HG’s information, philosophy classes help me to think more logical and rational. You should try it, honestly. (Just wait and see, in 6 months I’ll have turned into a narc ;))
        Did you contact pianoman again ? I think you did, when HG was gone. Am I right? I did contact my narc recently, but have gone NC completely now, because when I keep looking at all the social media (from himself and the band) I will be hoovered again. I just can not resist a hoover, because that’s when my emotional thinking is activated again.

        1. Fuel on the Shelf says:

          Hi Blank, thank you for the nice comments. I try to rotate the old user pic every once in awhile. 😉

          I do not think we can become narcs but oh I have wished to turn into a narc many times. I have a constant need for reassurance and validation from Piano Boy. I wonder how that would be translated to a need for fuel. I imagine it would feel similar (except right now I do not go around using and hurting others, I only want his attention).

          “Did you contact pianoman again ? I think you did, when HG was gone. Am I right?”

          Sigh. Yes you are right. I did contact Piano boy (I use the word “boy” since using the word “man” is too generous). I confronted him about being left out regarding the birth announcement of his son. He played off the social media games like I was not the only one it happened to, it was a Facebook “glitch” and I was not the only one who was left out (my “exclusion” was “accidental”) and how I should not take it personal. I know his explanation was going to be similar bullshit to that excuse yet….I just HAD to see what he would say! 😒

          We began talking again. And we met for dinner and he brought me the conversation and attention I had been seeking, just like the good old days. And then…well….you can use your imagination for what happened after that. Sigh.

      5. Fuel on the Shelf says:

        Amanda Snapchat,

        For some reason I missed your comment until now. Yeah I believe I experienced the “proxy” hoover. A week beforehand I liked a few pics on his FB and he got bothered by it and asked me to “please stop stalking his FB”. *eye roll*

        Then he filtered me from seeing things and then “baited” our friend into reaching out to me to share that he had posted. “Hey did you se the news…”

        Then when I expressed displeasure to the friend (“no I have not”) she suggested I reach out to see what he says.

        So I did. And apparently it was a “FB glitch” and a few other people were affected too. Wow, who would have thought! (Excuse the drippy sarcasm…)

        Social media games!

      6. 2SF says:


        Do you think that if you felt less lonely and had more distraction, you might be able to forget Piano boy? What do you think it would take for you to get over him? Do you have any ideas about that?

      7. 2SF says:

        Fots, so long for you the positive prevails the nagative, you will not end this. It’s only when you are hurt over and over and over, you will finally decide it’s enough. Perhaps you haven’t been hurt enough (don’t take this the wrong way, I don’t want you to be hurt more) or your addiction needs an intervention. But I wouldn’t know what it would need for you to quit.
        Take care Fots, I hope you’ll find a way. xx

  6. ava101 says:

    So true … **sigh** ….

  7. Kiki says:

    Hi all

    I’m curious as to what to do here.
    I failed with a grand Hoover , I know I don’t feel great after this.
    The Hoover was quite unexpected , honestly I was not expecting it as I have been out of the formal relationship for some time.
    I was wrong , I was sent gifts , phone calls , and I gave in out of shock and curiosity.
    Lo and behold the moment After the call ,he vanished again.
    That was three weeks ago.I am used to this silent treatment and I’m not really bothered .Should I just let it lie , no reaction or return the card and gifts .
    I don’t want to add fuel , but part of me wants to show him I don’t care .
    Well returning would show I care wouldn’t it .

    Any suggestions

    1. K says:

      Ignore the Silent Treatment (ST) and reestablish no contact (NC). Give away the gifts and throw out the cards (they are ever presence).

      Returning the items may give him fuel and cause another hoover. Walk away and starve him.

    2. amanda SNapchat says:

      ignore him Act like the gifts never arrived and keep them. Gaslight him about the gifts. Keep them or give them to a male friend and post pictures about it on social media.
      Good luck

  8. Jane hall says:

    Back in 2012 – even before I knew about narcissism and had heard of you HG – I had a clear picture one day in my mind. Up flashed an image, My husband as a boy of about 8 years old. And I was a big doll. He shouted at the doll, then stroked the dolls hair, then he would yell again, make the doll cry, the boy would cry, yell , then laugh at the doll, with the doll. Looking back at that time – I see my sub conscious was trying to tell me, even then, that I was just a THING.

    However, HG, I don’t see my husband as comparting a lot of DOLLS, – he didn’t seem to have this up and running to the extent you have.

  9. foolme1time says:

    Well HG over the 12 million mark you go! Congratulations!! You work so very hard and deserve this! Congratulations again! 🍻🌺😘

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Thank you.

  10. Em says:

    Mine even told me he put me in a compartment and at the time I didn’t understand.

    1. Fuel on the Shelf says:

      My MMRN used to always say “we can never be intimate again, I have too much guilt and shame and it is destroying me”. Then a few months later it would be “I cannot wait to see you and be intimate with you”.

      Me: “But you said that you could not do that anymore…”

      Him: “I was finally able to successfully compartmentalize my guilt from the last time….”

      1. Em says:

        Oh fots – how strange that they know it.

        1. Fuel on the Shelf says:

          How can they “know it” if they do not know what they are? It seems sometimes it’s as if they come here and read everything and use the same things discussed here in their explanation of their behavior! Do you know what I mean?

    2. shesaw says:

      Hi Em, curious… did he say this literally to you?
      Your comment made me remember that mine told me he put me in a pit or something (and that he would be back). It was very disturbing to me and it was on that day I remember I found HG’s site.

      1. Em says:

        Shesaw – yes literally. He would describe the compartments and how he’d walk from one to another. He’d also say he put me in a box. A ‘just for sex’ box.
        He’d also describe flicking through files in his head.

        1. SMH says:

          Em, That is too funny – I giggled. I once told mine that I had never known anyone who compartmentalized as well as he did but I am not even sure he was aware enough to understand what I meant. It is interesting to see it described from the narc perspective. I can see that mine also flicked through files in his head – that is the way he thinks. My head is just a mush of wood pulp!

        2. J says:

          Mine also talked about “boxes,” that put me in the Love Box, then wanted to put me in the Friend Box.

        3. shesaw says:

          Hi Em, that’s interesting. Mine never was that clear about it. But he was the type that gave a lot of things a mysterious twist. So he would say things like ‘I will keep you somewhere in a room where I will visit you every day’ – which I now interpret as ‘putting me in a box’ – or ‘trapping me where he wanted’ – as HG states it.

          1. Em says:

            Shesaw isnt it weird that we can see so much retrospectively. We had many a circular conversation about me being in a box. I thought I was strong and stubborn I would rebel and refuse to accept but I was truly in a box of his defining. I can still have enlightened moments of new deceptions nearly 2 yrs on.
            When I asked why he had lied he said I wouldn’t have done what he wanted otherwise.

          2. windstorm says:

            “When I asked why he had lied he said I wouldn’t have done what he wanted otherwise.”

            That sounds like something my Pretzel might have said!

          3. MB says:

            Em & WS, it is shocking to me that a narcissist would admit telling a lie for any reason!

          4. windstorm says:

            My Pretzel is often up front about himself. He doesn’t “pretend” a lot with me.

            And if you think about it, the shock value from our reaction from realizing that they purposely lied to manipulate us is fuel.

          5. MB says:

            You are correct WS. The astonished look on my face at that revelation would fuel.

          6. shesaw says:

            Yes, I recognise what you say about the retrospective aha-moments.
            I believe when I was with him I didn’t want it to be true, I wanted to believe that he saw me for who I was. Only now that I am away from him I am able to handle/bear the thought that he saw me as a useful appliance only.

            However, I still find it hard to imagine how that must be for someone – to see others as appliances and themselves as an operating machine. I suppose that’s an important reason why they are bored so easily : they miss the depth of the human connections. He would say ‘It’s all a game, you know…’

  11. JustEmpath says:


    if you have a great supply that narcissist craves (you have a very wide circle of friends, lot of parties, lot of opportunities) and the narcissist is addicted to you and your resources and of course he tries to seduce you to be his IPPS but you resist and keep him as a friend, you just let him spend some time with you, you give him access to your group of friends, will his idealisation never end? Will he love bomb you forever? It is very difficult for him to replace this supply with someone else, cutting you off meaning sitting at home so will he agree to be “just friends” to keep the supply or will he keep trying to install you as an IPPS or will he eventually feel offended and walk away? Talking about mid-range narcissist.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      It is governed by the Hoover Trigger and the Hoover Execution Criteria. To provide an answer which covers various scenarios is detailed and is therefore a matter best addressed through consultation.

  12. Leslie says:

    The doll house…how funny how apt

    Please be so kind as to sit inside the next compartment you set ablaze. I will refurbish it afterward.

  13. J says:

    I am curious about the strength of this need to compartmentalize. I once accidentally bumped into my N outside my compartment and I have never seen him so nervous, and I never saw him lie more pointlessly and in such a frantic manner. (There wasn’t even reason TO lie given the circumstance.) It was as though he would be utterly destroyed if his worlds collided, in even innocuous ways. Does this need vary by school/cadre?

    1. HG Tudor says:


      1. Fuel on the Shelf says:

        Do mid rangers compartmentalize more than others? Piano boy is a super compartmentalizer. At the outset when we made plans together it could never be in the town he lives/works in. He was too paranoid for that. He has never invited me to his home. He also refuses to spend time with me at my home despite me inviting him to over. Lately he seems to have less issue seeing me in the town he lives/works in, he seem to not be bothered as much now, but I am still kept separate from others. I have yet to meet anyone except for a few (not close) friends.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Yes. Lessers do not have large fuel matrices (generally) therefore there is less to compartmentalise and their lack of façade management means it is less of a concern. Greaters have larger fuel matrices but have the ability to ease passage smoothly where certain worlds collide owing to ability. Mid Rangers have reasonable-sized fuel matrices but their passive aggressive cowardly nature and reliance of façade means that compartmentalisation is of particular importance to them and is thus an instinctive significant part of the their Devil’s Toolkit.

          1. windstorm says:

            Thank you, HG, for explaining about compartmentalization. While my Pretzel MnM does compartmentalize on occasion, he doesn’t seem to very often, and certainly never like he’s hiding something from himself or others, like I’ve heard described by others here. I had wondered about this. Now I understand. Thank you, again.

          2. HG Tudor says:

            You are welcome WS.

          3. Fuel on the Shelf says:

            Thanks for the reply, HG. I have many tangential questions about this but I will not be greedy with your time. All I will say is that this is ringing a bell in my head of a few things he always says to me.

            “You are getting too close and I am getting uncomfortable”

            “You need to be patient. I need some balance here okay? You need to trust me”

            I am interpreting these remarks to your dollhouse metaphor to mean “stay where I put you, I will come back but don’t you dare cross over where I don’t want you to be”.

            Also, you say it is instinctual? That seems so hard to believe as he seems to do quite a bit of this juggling and “balancing” that he always goes on about. If I acted like that I would be exhausted!

    2. Fuel on the Shelf says:

      My MRN is the same way. I have never bumped into him out of my compartment before but he’s nervous, paranoid and so on. Until he’s not again. And then he is. Again. He too, acts like it would be utter destruction if I collided with anything else in his world.

  14. Michelle says:

    This is how Narc Friend messed up and gave himself away — he let two compartments intersect. I was in one, blissfully unaware of the IPPS and chasing him, while the IPPS was probably blissfully unaware of me. At least one other secondary source was very surprised to find out about me, and probably doesn’t know about the IPPS. In a sort of cinematic twist, he made the mistake of telling me where he was going with the IPPS (without mentioning her) but underestimated how cheaply and easily I could get there. Chaos ensued. Upon discovery, he tried to act like he wasn’t hiding anything, that this was just how he normally behaved and it was no big deal. When I was with him, he maintained the fiction that these other compartments didn’t exist, but I now suspect that several blank Facebook accounts in his name are actually him, used to maintain these different arenas of fuel. His friends and relationships can’t be traced, his online times can’t be consistently traced by any one person, and there is no way to tell his physical location at any given moment. The planning put into this compartmentalization is astounding, but I can see how it is necessary for someone like him to function. The real question is, does my knowing this preclude my being considered as a future source of fuel? Probably not . . .

    1. K says:

      Your statement below reminded me of this article:


      Upon discovery, he tried to act like he wasn’t hiding anything, that this was just how he normally behaved and it was no big deal.

      “Thus the narcissist dilutes the effect of the behaviour by suggesting it is the perspective of the victim which is the problem and not the narcissist.”

  15. kel says:

    HG, can you write a story on empaths putting their heads together and fighting against narcissism, it would be an ultimate revenge too.

    1. amanda SNapchat says:

      we should do it. The empaths should write the story. we can win.

  16. Fuel on the Shelf says:

    “A blissful domestic set-up will be in one compartment where I play the role of doting husband and caring father. To the external observer who looks in on the scene through the Perspex it appears to be a picture of harmony and good relations.”

    And the above paragraph accurately describes my struggle.

    And the A, B and C example? That pretty much describes the week I had.

    Piano Boy is A.
    B is our mutual friend.
    I am C.

    B shared some news with C. But C was fairly certain A wanted B to tell C. Because no way would A want C out of her compartment, but B still told C. And when C had the audacity to question A to ask why it was like that, A briefly shared the news but then went silent and said nothing in response to C’s question. And the brick wall has closed up around C again.

    Most relatable article I have ever read on here.

    This is the best article I have read on here, HG. Thank you for re-sharing it.

  17. Claudia says:

    Applauds loudly.

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