To Control Is To Cope – Narcissism and Its Creation


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 theingredient 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 earningachievements 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.



  1. Mr.H this by far the best article you have written. My ? Is so who are you really and why are you hiding behind a facade? Are you a hidden from yourself? And why?

  2. Very clear how narcissism became a coping mechanism. My empathetic nature allows me to understand. But as an enlightened empath why should you get a pass?

      1. I think that is why I am enjoying giving a a narc the widest possible berth there is by placing him on no contact. It does give me some solace to know he hates it. After reading “No Contact” I value the tips you shared that will help me keep him there. I knew what a Hoover was but now in recognize it without having to be confused first and wonder what’s going on.
        He is just like you and he happens to be my brother. Precarious place I find myself in the family environment.

  3. Dearest HG: So many paths to choose how to live. This song, MARTYR, was on my youtube feed today: I’ve been a martyr for love
    And I will die in the flames
    As I draw my last breath
    As I’m closing on death
    I will call out your name

    I’ve been a martyr for love
    Nailed up on the cross
    While you’re having your fun
    As the damage is done
    I’m assessing the cost

    I knew what I was letting myself in for
    I knew that I could never even the score

    I’ve been a martyr for love
    I need to be by your side
    I have knelt at your feet
    I have felt your deceit
    Couldn’t leave if I tried

    I’ve been a martyr for love
    Tortured every hour
    From the day I was born
    I’ve been moved like a pawn
    By the greatest of powers

    I knew that I would have to suffer in vain
    Aware that I would never outgrow the pain

    I’ve been a martyr for love.. ~~DM

  4. This article is one of the best on the site.

    In the very brief conversation my narc and I had about his narcissim… he put himself
    In the “Golden Child” catergory. Said that he found me good for
    Him because I kept him grounded and wasn’t constantly putting him up on a pedestal (clever intelligent bastard to use that line for me to stay). Which didn’t work… thankfully.

    Anyhow I must admit. It was pretty difficult to feel bad for him. I felt like “oh poor you you were worshiped all your life… must have been rough”. And even after reading this I still feel that way… all those other reasons seem sad and tragic and his…. just doesn’t. I can understand how it would give someone an inflated sense of self… but it’s hardly tragic.

    If anyone has more insight to that particular point that may soften my view I’d be interested in hearing it. It might help me understand things better.

  5. I have two questions about this:

    First, when you say loss of control back then equals a loss of control now. Are there certain things from the narc being abused or neglected that causes a trigger for them? Let’s say for sake of this example a narc was abused as a child by always being criticized by being shouted or yelled at? Would the narc still seek fuel via all other possible ways but prefer not to receive it via way of shouting or yelling because it reminds them of that sort of abuse? Or does that not matter as Fuel is Fuel? Yes Piano Boy is the reason I am asking this. He seems to not care about how he engages with me and how he gets his Fuel (The majority of the fuel he gets from me is from sexual interaction) however he has a propensity to get very rattled when he is yelled at. He will shy away from me and say that he’s nervous of getting yelled that. That he doesn’t matter how we talk or deal with one another just as long as I don’t “yell” at him. I guess I’m just wondering how the need for fuel (I.e. yelling or hitting) clash with the traumatic memories of the abuse (being yelled at or hit, etc.) I mean would the narc somewhere subconsciously recall the horrible memories of abuse and not want to witness or enact similar behavior? I mean don’t usually those who are abused suffer within? You would think by reenacting the same type of behavior that it would cause more trauma based on what happened to them? I hope this makes sense.

    And my second question… How is it possible to experience the things on the list above and NOT become a narc? I was not abused as a child but I was severely neglected emotionally. Does that mean that the soil wasn’t there (no genetics) but there was a seed? (Neglect). That instead of becoming a narc and blaming others that I blamed myself for what happened? I know I have some narcissistic tendencies (selfishness being one of them since I continue to engage with piano boy and he’s married and I don’t care that he’s married.) Many of your articles have me wondering if I am a narc.

    1. There are three interactions, (1) Pure Fuel – no control issue, (2) Challenge Fuel – fuel but a control issue (3) Wounding – no fuel and a control issue.

      1. Is not a problem.
      2. Is problem because of the threat to control which must be addressed.
      3. Is a problem because we are being starved of fuel AND our control is being threatened.

      Our creation from a genetic predisposition and a LOCE means that any threat to control unconsciously returns us to that first LOCE and that must be prevented, stamped out, halted as quickly as possible come hell or high water.

      Question Two – by the absence of genetic predisposition or not sufficient exposure to the LOCE.

      1. HG.
        In your answer to Gabby, you stated #3:
        Is a problem because we are being starved of fuel AND our control is being threatened.

        So wounding can be worse than just the threat of control being lost?

          1. HG Wounding is the worst outcome for us.
            I am blown away. My second lesson of the day. I always thought it was loss of control.
            And so that is why wounding raises the Hoover bar?

          2. I thought loss of control was the worst outcome too. Piano Boy often complained that he felt like he was “losing control”. Most of the time he felt depressed and nervous and when I tried to help he would mention losing control.

    2. He’s not “afraid” of being yelled at SF. That’s just an excuse to try and make you feel badly for your behavior instead of focusing on his which is the actual problem. In fact he probably loves it when you yell at him and plays the victim.

      I will say though.. that speaking calmly with them does tend to work a lot better then not. I assume because we aren’t providing a lot of fuel in those instances ?

      Also, and more importantly I heard you use some past tense words in another comment.. does that mean you went NC?!?! 😀

  6. Hello HG,
    interesting post – thanks for sharing. Apologies if this sounds a tactless question and I hope you’re not offended by my asking… can narcissism be “cured”? Or does this early psychological trauma cause the child to be permanently altered – “emotionally stunted” not a turn of phrase but literally meaning normal healthy development is prevented, brain structures changed? What’s happening at a neurological level? I’m guessing you might know.
    I’ll away and do some reading. Can’t speak for others but personally thinking about this now I’m quite repelled at the thought I’ve engaged romantically with someone who is categorically unable (if I’ve understood it right, and my suspicions are correct) to empathise, and wired to manipulate and control, *because they are damaged*. It’s a horrible thought, def not a romantic beauty and the beast story. I know we’re talking about grown adults here but if childhood trauma never went away there’s something queasy making about it. I think so anyway. Again, no offence to anyone intended if I’ve phrased this badly :-/

  7. Well thought out, concise article. as always.
    From my other readings, this same environment can also produce codependent/empath types, right. Narcissism is one of the 2 outcomes of these circumstances??
    I might have gotten away from the Narc today. It’s a little early to celebrate, but it seems he’s agreed to leave me alone. 🤞

    1. Hi congra—the statistics on who is produced from different environments would be fascinating. The variables are so numerous though that such an endeavor would have to be broken down quite tediously among other matters. I will say that in my work world nearly all of the males I work with have been incarcerated and are not high functioning at all. I do suspect some had more inborn aptitude though—was simply never fostered so it withered away and became even more blunted by apathy and often substance abuse. Anyway—it’s a fascinating subject. **I am also certain that not all of these men with a history of incarceration are narcissists but most indeed are. Too many individual elements to persuade etc. Many females as well that I see in my work life who classify similarly, but not quite as high in percentage. I’m aware of the incarceration rates due to some screening I have to do on everyone so it’s a “subjectively objective” experience if that makes sense.

  8. Thank you for this article HG 💖 it clears my confused mind.
    So I’m not a narcissist. As a child I was in control. Now I don’t need control

  9. In-depth insights with regard to narcissism at its core. I feel incredibly grateful to be a person who in my personal life finds great peace in the freedom to allow things to take a natural course.

  10. HG I love the image that you chose for this article. This image shows how it feels to be a child of a narcissist. The young lady was being hugged or pulled in by arms coming out of the wall that she cannot hug back. It seems like she was being hugged but it she was really being taken in by the wall as if the wall is absorbing her and capturing her. She doesn’t have any free space and there is an additional part of the wall that is restricting her left arm so she could not get away. This isn’t love; it is ownership.

    Also I have been reading a lot about locus of control and one empath who is a survivor of narcissistic abuse said that narcissists have an external locus of control when bad things happen to them. It is never their fault and they blame everything even God and Satan even when they don’t even believe in them for every bad thing that happens to them. But they have a strong internal locus of control when good things happen, they will take credit for them even when it was because of someone else’s efforts. I have totally seen that with the people that I think were/are narcissists that I have been involved with in my life.

    Then she pointed out another interesting thing about codependents and their locus of control. Codependents have a strong internal locus of control when it comes to their entanglement with narcissists because they believe that their behaviors can control or affect the narcissist’s behaviors and they even blame themselves for the narcissist’s poor behaviors.

  11. Excellent post, HG. Don’t know how I missed it the other two times. It is very clear. Contextualizing narcissism in other coping mechanisms – ones with which many of us are more familiar – is a great way to make this disorder understood.

  12. With the utmost sincerity I thank you for this explanation. I needed to know the “why” and you explained it fully.

  13. Brilliant article HG! This is the one that explains Narcissism in the easiest way to understand; how the Narcissist evolved and why I became ensnared by him..and I can also show my friends for them to understand exactly what I have been through as well. Thank you so much HG 😊

  14. “You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.” –John Rogers

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