To deal with and to address the vagaries of life, human beings have developed coping mechanisms. These coping mechanisms vary in terms of the extent of their use, their impact on the user, the impact on others and the frequency of their deployment. Some coping mechanisms are regarded as ‘healthy’ and others as ‘unhealthy’ and some may be a hybrid of the two, dependent on the extent and duration of usage.
Distancing is a coping mechanism. You may distance yourself from a situation and people, but prolonged and extensive distancing may lead to isolation with the associated problems which such isolation can bring. Short-term distancing can allow recovery, re-charging and avoidance of an ongoing harmful situation. Longer-term distancing which is targeted on one or more chief proponents of harm can lead to near complete removal from toxic and harmful influences. No contact of course is a coping mechanism which incorporates distancing as a central tenet of it and is the most effective coping mechanism to apply with regard to your recovery from ensnarement with our kind.
Crying is another coping mechanism. The release of tension, held-grief, feelings of misery often evaporate as a consequence of somebody crying. You may be told ‘have a good cry, you will feel better’ and indeed many people have testified to the beneficial impact of doing so and thus crying achieves release and often acts as a signal to invite comfort from others. It is a coping mechanism deployed by people to deal with a stressful, worrying or hurtful situation.
Self-harming is a further form of coping. The distraction caused by the painful response of cutting (cutting being just one form of self-harming) enables an individual to relieve the pain of certain other feelings, it achieves a release, a distraction and also enables that individual to exert control in circumstances where they feel unable to exert control (or to the extent that would make them feel comfortable). Self-harming whilst a coping mechanism is regarded as a negative form of a coping mechanism.
Expression of feelings. Being able to ‘talk it out’ and ‘air your feelings’ is a coping mechanism also. The ability to talk to someone else who will just listen, even if they offer nothing in response or even just to talk to yourself about how you are feeling (be it generally or in relation to something specific) enables people to experience a sense of release, a lightening of a particular load and it often brings clarity in terms of understanding themselves and finding a way forward.
There are many coping mechanisms that humans deploy – some are conscious and others occur unconsciously.
Narcissism is one such coping mechanism and it is a powerful and invariably hugely effective, although its effectiveness does depend on the school of the narcissist and which particular outcome one is having regard to. The outcome of our narcissism is something that I shall address in a separate article.
Narcissism must maintain the construct (the false self) and imprison the creature (the true self). Collectively this is the Self-Defence of the Narcissist. This Self-Defence is achieved through the The Prime Aims (fuel, character traits and residual benefits).
Central to this Self-Defence and the achievement of The Prime Aims is control. The narcissist must at all times have control of his or her environment and the people within that environment which of course includes you. Whether you are a stranger, an acquaintance, a friend, a colleague, a relative or a romantic partner. Whether you are a neighbour, a date, sister or brother, that man from the corner store or fiancée – you come within the fuel matrix of the narcissist and you have to be subjected to the control of the narcissist.
This control has to be exerted second by second of each and every day. Every passing moment must be owned and governed by the narcissist. We must exert control all around us, this has to be complete and total as if the very clouds were tethered by us. Why is that?
Because once upon a time the narcissist did not have control.
That lack of control meant the narcissist felt powerless, weak, vulnerable and exposed.
The combination of a genetic predisposition and the imposition of this lack of control created narcissism as the coping mechanism. These two ingredients combined and gave ‘birth’ to narcissism as a means of coping with the world, with the lack of control that the world causes for individuals. Many people have no issue with this lack of control, others have alternative coping mechanisms and then there is us – the narcissists. Around one in six of the human population of this planet became narcissists in order to cope with this loss of control.
Narcissism allows the imposition of control through manipulation. The imposition of control allows us to achieve the Prime Aims. The achievement of the Prime Aims allows our Self-Defence and thus we survive and we thrive.
Narcissism is a coping mechanism.
People believe that abuse is the ingredient in the formation of a narcissist. It is an ingredient, yes, but there are two ingredients in the formation of our kind. The first ingredient is the genetic predisposition, if you will this is the fertile soil which provides the basis for the narcissism to grow and flourish. The second ingredient is the lack of control (of which abuse is part of that lack of control) and this is the ‘seed’ which is placed in the fertile soil of the genetic predisposition and thus narcissism ‘grows’ as the coping mechanism. For some, the soil is there but no seed ever arrives and thus no narcissist. For others, there is no soil but there is the seed, but again with one essential ingredient missing, there can be no narcissism.
Genetic predisposition plus lack of control (at a formative stage of life) equals narcissist.
What does this lack of control (at a formative stage of life – i.e. childhood) look like?
- Abuse. Whether it is physical, emotional, sexual or psychological, any form of abuse towards us amounts to a lack of control. We could not defend ourselves against the abuse and therefore this is a lack of control, over ourselves and over those who meted out abusive harm towards us. The abuse is an act of commission – we were beaten, molested sexually, told we were useless, insulted etc.
- Isolated. Whether this was being locked in a cupboard under the stairs, prevented from playing with other children, kept apart from other family members, not allowed to participate in group activities of any nature, given silent treatments and treated as if we did not exist, isolating and ostracising us in some form again constituted a lack of control. We were not able to control our own interactions, someone else did this for us and to our detriment. We were controlled by another and thus lacked control.
- Neglect. Whilst there may not have been abusive acts of commission , there are abusive acts of omission. Therefore we were not given a safe environment, we were not taught effectively (be it about ‘facts’, relationships, behaviour, responsibility), we were not emotionally supported, we were not fed, clothed or protected, we were not shielded from an abuser of commission and/or we could roam where we wanted. Once again we were denied control over ourselves because we were not provided with the assets, resources and tools to achieve effective control over our lives and this neglect (lack of control) exposed us to hurt, pain, disease, injury, loneliness and/or acts of abuse through commission.
- The Golden Child. Everything we did was lauded and praised. It was invariably held up as a glowing and shining example of brilliance, even when it was not or the praise was excessive for a valid achievement. This meant we lacked control in the sense of earning achievements in a valid fashion. We had greatness thrust upon us without being ready for it, without having earned it and without appreciating it. Everything came to us too easily and this also amounted to a lack of control. We had no control over the outcome from our endeavours, we felt no compulsion to achieve and apply endeavour because whatever we did (bad, mediocre or good) was met with accolade, praise and the lavishing of ‘how brilliant’. We were denied the ability to control our own destiny.
- Shifting Sands. Where we experienced Shifting Sands we had a lack of control because the environment around us at that formative stage lacked constancy. One day the sun shone and the next day, even though everything else appeared to stay the same to us, there was a thunderstorm. On Monday our painting was declared to be ‘Rembrandt in the making’ (a la Golden Child) and by Friday our painting ‘was the work of a moron wielding a potato for a paintbrush’. The application of black and white thinking by the aggressor created an uncertain environment, one of push and pull, idealisation and devaluation and we had no control whatsoever on which version was going to appear to us. There was a lack of control in our lives through uncertainty, unpredictability and those shifting sands.
- B Graders. ‘It’s good but not good enough.’ ‘You can do far better.’ ‘You are not trying hard enough.’ ‘You are letting yourself down but moreover you are letting me down.’ These phrases and those similar to it encapsulate the loss of control felt by those who are ‘The B Graders’. Each time the hill was climbed and the summit anticipated, another hill suddenly appeared. The effort was okay, decent enough, acceptable but never that which met with approval. Keep going, learn more, be faster, swim stronger, climb higher, shine brighter. There was no control because we were never allowed a moment to settle, to cherish that which had been achieved and to reflect. We could not establish our own parameters of achievement and satisfaction but instead we were always beholden to the standards of another which ultimate proved to be unobtainable standards and thus we had no control.
- The Facsimile. We were shaped to be precisely like the aggressor. Sometimes this was entirely at the behest of the aggressor and sometimes we saw how this individual behaved and decided ‘I want that power also’ (usually unconsciously but sometimes, such as was the case for me – consciously). Whilst you may think a conscious decision to copy the aggressor and thus seize power was a form of control, it was not – this was actually a product of the already establishing narcissism and thus a symptom rather than a cause. Where the aggressor caused us to be moulded just like them – forming our opinions, our views, our behaviours, our likes and dislikes, what we wore, what we ate, where we went, what we did and in some instances alongside this there was an unconscious decision to mimic and copy those behaviours and characteristics, we were once again denied control.
Thus, whether we came from an impoverished background, a gilded background, a seemingly run-of-the-mill background, any of those environments had the potential to cause a lack of control in our lives. Take this lack of control and add it to the genetic predisposition and thus our coping mechanism of narcissism was given birth to.
Narcissism became our way of coping with the world.
Narcissism allowed us to exert control.
A lack of control equates to a lack of power.
A lack of control equates to being vulnerable.
A lack of control equates to being weak.
A lack of control equates to being worthless, meaningless and unimportant.
When we lack control, we start to fade and will no longer exist.
A lack of control now returns us to the lack of control then.
This must never happen for too long and thus we were formed from this lack of control adding to our genetic predisposition and in order to survive and thrive we must never, ever lack control for if this persists, well, then, it ends.
We must have absolute control. And that means absolute control over you, him, her, them but most of all YOU.