Dissociation and confabulation in narcissistic disorders (2023)

I am a vacnine
Visiting Professor of Psychology, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia and Professor of Finance and Psychology at CIAPS (Center for International Advanced and Professional Studies), Nigeria
Telephone:+38 978319143 / +79 884640967,

received date: March 3, 2020

acceptance date: March 17, 2020

release date: March 25, 2020


Narcissists and psychopaths dissociate (erase memories) a lot (they are amnesic) because their contact with the world and with others is through a fictional construction: the false self. Narcissists never experience reality directly, but rather through a darkly distorted lens. They get rid of all information that challenges their grandiose sense of self and the narrative they have constructed to explain, excuse and legitimize their anti-social, self-centered and exploitative behaviors, choices and idiosyncrasies.

In an attempt to fill in huge memory gaps, narcissists and psychopaths work together: they invent plausible "add-ons" and scenarios for how things plausibly could, could, or should have happened. To outsiders, these fictitious stopgap acts seem like lies. But the narcissist fervently believes in their reality: they may not actually remember what happened, but it certainly couldn't have happened any other way!

These flimsy made-up fillers are frequently revised as the narcissist's inner world and outer circumstances evolve. This is why narcissists and psychopaths often contradict each other. Tomorrow's action often negates yesterday's. The narcissist and the psychopath don't remember their past stories because they aren't endowed with the emotions and cognitions that are integral parts of real memories.


Feedback from other people regulates the narcissist's sense of identity, self-esteem, boundaries, and even their reality check (their correct perception of the world around them). The narcissist needs this constant input to maintain a sense of continuity. Thus, the narcissist's nearest and dearest, his secondary sources of narcissistic supply, serve as "external memories" and as "flow regulators" whose function is to maintain a regular and steady stream of corroborating and consistent data.

The narcissist has been conditioned from childhood through abuse and trauma to expect the unexpected. Her world was in flux, where (sometimes sadistically) capricious caretakers and companions often behave haphazardly. He was trained to deny his true self and nurture a false one.

Having invented themselves, the narcissist sees no problem in reinventing what they originally designed. The narcissist is his own creator.

Hence its size.

Furthermore, the narcissist is a man of all seasons, always adaptable, constantly imitating and mimicking, a human sponge, a perfect mirror, a nothing that simultaneously unifies all entities.

The narcissist is best described with Sartre's phrase: "Being and nothing". Into this reflective void, this sucking black hole, the narcissist draws the sources of his narcissistic supply.

To an observer, the narcissist appears broken or discontinuous.

Pathological narcissism has been compared to dissociative identity disorder (formerly multiple personality disorder). By definition, the narcissist has at least two selves. His personality is very primitive and disorganized. Living with a narcissist is a nauseating experience, not only because of what it is, but also because of what it isn't. Not a fully formed human, but a dizzying kaleidoscopic gallery of erratic images that flow seamlessly into one another. It's incredibly confusing.

It's also extremely annoying. The narcissist's promises are easily rejected by him. His plans are fleeting. Your affective ties: a simulation. Most narcissists have an island of stability in their lives (spouse, family, career, hobby, religion, country, or idol) that is plagued by the turbulent currents of disordered existence.

Therefore, investing in a narcissist is a futile, useless, and meaningless activity. For the narcissist, every day is a new beginning, a hunt, a new cycle of idealization or devaluation, a reinvented self.

There is no accumulation of credit or goodwill because the narcissist has no past or future. It occupies an eternal and timeless present. It's a fossil locked in the frozen lava of a volcanic infancy.

The narcissist doesn't stick to agreements, doesn't obey the law, and views consistency and predictability as demeaning qualities. The narcissist hates the kiwi one day and passionately devours it the next.


Narcissists and psychopaths dissociate (erase memories) a lot (they are amnesic) because their contact with the world and with others is through a fictional construct: the false self. Narcissists never experience reality directly, but rather through a darkly distorted lens. They get rid of all information that challenges their grandiose sense of self and the narrative they have constructed to explain, excuse and legitimize their anti-social, self-centered and exploitative behaviors, choices and idiosyncrasies.

In an attempt to fill in huge memory gaps, narcissists and psychopaths work together: they invent plausible "add-ons" and scenarios for how things plausibly could, could, or should have happened. To outsiders, these fictitious stopgap acts seem like lies. But the narcissist fervently believes in their reality: they may not actually remember what happened, but it certainly couldn't have happened any other way!

These flimsy made-up fillers are frequently revised as the narcissist's inner world and outer circumstances evolve. This is why narcissists and psychopaths often contradict each other. Tomorrow's action often negates yesterday's. The narcissist and the psychopath don't remember their past stories because they aren't endowed with the emotions and cognitions that are integral parts of real memories.


We often marvel at the discrepancy between the private and public lives of our idols: celebrities, statesmen, stars, writers and other accomplished personalities. It's as if they have two personalities, two selves: the "real" one they reserve for their nearest and dearest, and the "fake" or "fake" or "made-up" one they flaunt in public.

In contrast, the narcissist has no personal life, no true self, and no domain reserved solely for his nearest and dearest. His life is a spectacle, open to all, constantly on display, and draws a narcissistic supply from his audience. In the theater, which is the life of the narcissist, the actor plays no part. Just continue the show. The false self is everything the narcissist would like to be but unfortunately cannot be: omnipotent, omniscient, invulnerable, impregnable, brilliant, perfect, in short: divine. Your most important role is to receive the narcissistic supply of others: admiration, flattery, awe, obedience, and in general: relentless attention. In Freud's three-part model, the false self supersedes the self and corresponds to the narcissist's unattainable, grandiose, and fantastic self-ideal.

The narcissist constructs a narrative of his or her life that is partly conspiratorial and whose purpose is to corroborate, demonstrate, and prove the truth of the fantastically magnificent, and often impossible, claims of the false self. This narrative assigns roles to significant others in the narcissist's personal history. Inevitably, it's difficult to sustain such a narrative believably for long: reality intrudes, and a yawning chasm gapes between the narcissist's self-proclaimed divinity and his drab, prosaic existence and attributes. I call it the Greatness Gap. Additionally, the significant figures surrounding the narcissist often refuse to play their assigned roles, rebel, and abandon the narcissist.

(Video) Dissociation (Amnesia) & Confabulation in Narcissism (Intl. Conf. Clinical Counseling Psychology)

The narcissist deals with this painful and inescapable realization of the disconnect between their sense of self and this less than stellar state by first denying reality, delusional ignoring it, and filtering out any uncomfortable truths. When this coping strategy fails, the narcissist then invents a new narrative that incorporates and incorporates the same intrusive data that served to subvert the old, now discarded, narrative. He even goes so far as to deny that he ever modified any narrative other than the current one.

The narcissist's (and co-dependent's) introjects and inner voices (assimilated representations of parents, role models, and significant partners) are mostly negative and sadistic. Instead of offering help, motivation, and direction, they reinforce your underlying ego dystonia (unhappy with who you are) and the instability of your self-esteem. They evoke shame, guilt, pain, blame, anger, and a host of other negative emotions in the child.

As Lidija Rangelovska points out, the paradox is that the child's egodystonic guilt and shame emanates from the very primitive defense mechanisms that later understand and underlie his false self.” Damaging as it is, the child begins to attack himself ascribed delusional abilities to hurt and harm family members, for example.

Such an imaginary ability is the logical extension of both the child's grandiosity (omnipotence, "I have the power to hurt Mom") and magical thinking ("I think, I wish, I hate, I get angry and therefore with the unlimited power I think I'm causing real disasters out there in the real world"). So it's the child's natural primary narcissistic defenses that allow them to feel so miserable! These defenses allow them to construct a narrative , which meets and justifies the critical and hateful reviews and ridicule of its abusers.In his young mind, he accepts that he is evil because he is omnipotent and magical and because he uses his divine qualities to wreak havoc, or at least his own to bring misfortune to loved ones.

In order to circumvent this overwhelming inner negativity, the child "appropriates" and envelops this very defense in a protective shield, thus hijacking his fragile and vulnerable self. Preoccupied with the ongoing project of his budding pathological narcissism, the boy's defenses are no longer available to build and sustain the narratives offered by the abusive voices of his tormentors. Furthermore, by appropriating and using their fantastical grandiosity, the child feels as empowered as their abusers and is no longer a victim.

The introjects play a crucial role in forming an exegetical (interpretative) framework that allows one to decipher the world, model reality, one's place in it, and consequently who one is (self-identity) . Overwhelmingly negative introjects, or introjects that are overtly false, deceptive, and manipulative, hinder the narcissist's and codependent's ability to construct a true and effective exegetical (interpretative) framework.

Gradually, the disharmony between the perception of the universe and oneself and reality becomes unbearable and generates pathological, maladaptive and dysfunctional attempts to deny the painful discrepancy (illusions and fantasies); make up for it greatly by evoking positive external voices to counteract negative internal ones (narcissism about the false self and its narcissistic supply); attack him (antisocial/psychopathy); complete withdrawal from the world (schizoid solution); or disappear through merging and merging with another person (co-dependence).

Once established and functioning, the False Self stifles and paralyzes the growth of the True Self. From now on, the ossified True Self is virtually non-existent and plays no part (active or passive) in the narcissist's conscious life. It is difficult to "revive" it, even with psychotherapy. The False Self sometimes flaunts the childish, vulnerable, needy, and innocent True Self in order to capture, manipulate, and attract empathic sources of narcissistic supply. When the supply runs out, the false self is emaciated and decrepit. He is unable to contain and suppress the True Self, which then emerges as a stubborn, self-destructive, depraved, and codependent being. But the moments of true self in the sun are very brief and usually inconsequential.

This replacement is not just a matter of despair and alienation, as Kirkegaard and Horney respectively have pointed out. Following in the footsteps of the Danish proto-existentialist philosopher, Horney said that because the idealized (= false) self sets impossible goals for the narcissist, the consequences are frustration and self-loathing, which grow with every setback or failure. But the constant sadistic judgment, self-reproach, and suicidal thoughts emanate from the narcissist's idealized and sadistic superego, independent of the existence or functioning of a false self.

The false self is a kind of positive projection: the narcissist attributes to it all the positive and desired aspects of themselves, giving it an almost separate existence. The false self fulfills the role of a deity in the narcissist's obsessive-compulsive private religion: the narcissist worships it and adheres to the ceremonies and rituals through which it interacts with him. The True Self, on the other hand, is at best ignored and mostly denigrated. This process is similar to projective splitting: when parents project positive traits and talents onto the golden child while scapegoating negative and undesirable traits for the child. In this sense, the narcissist is a father with two children: his two selves.

There is no conflict between the True Self and the False Self. First, the true self is too weak to fight against the overbearing false. Second, the false self is adaptive (albeit maladaptive). Help the True Self to face the world. Without the False Self, the True Self would suffer so much damage that it would dissolve. This is what happens to narcissists going through a life crisis: their fake ego becomes dysfunctional and they experience an agonizing sense of annihilation.

The false self has many functions. The two most important are:

1. Serves as bait, "attracts fire". It is a representative of the True Self. He is badass and can absorb any amount of pain, injury, and negative emotions. In inventing it, the child develops immunity to indifference, manipulation, sadism, oppression, or exploitation - in a word, abuse - inflicted on it by its parents (or other primary objects in its life). It is a cloak that protects him, making him invisible and omnipotent at the same time.

2. The false self is misrepresented by the narcissist as their true self. The narcissist ends up saying, "I'm not who you think I am. i am someone else I am this (false) self. Therefore, I deserve better, painless, and more considerate treatment.” The false self is therefore a gimmick designed to change other people's behavior and attitudes towards the narcissist.

These roles are critical to the survival and proper psychological functioning of the narcissist. The false self is far more important to the narcissist than their decrepit and dysfunctional true self.

The two selves are not part of a continuum, as the neo-Freudians posited. Healthy people do not have a false self that differs from its pathological equivalent in being more realistic and closer to the true self.

It is true that even sane people have a mask [Guffman] or personality [Jung] that they consciously present to the world. But these are far from the false self, which is largely unconscious, dependent on external feedback, and compulsive.

The false self is an adaptive response to pathological circumstances. But its dynamic allows it to dominate, engulfing the psyche and preying on the true self. Hence, it prevents the efficient and flexible functioning of the personality as a whole.

It is well known that the narcissist has a prominent false self and a repressed and degraded true self. But how intertwined and inseparable are these two? Do they interact? How do they influence each other? And which behaviors can be fully attributed to one or the other of these protagonists? Also, does the False Self take on traits and attributes of the True Self to deceive the world?

Let's start with a frequently asked question:

Why aren't narcissists suicidal?

The simple answer is that they died a long time ago. Narcissists are the real zombies of the world.

Many academics and therapists have attempted to deal with the emptiness at the narcissist's core. The general view is that the remnants of the True Self are so ossified, crushed, cowed into submission, and repressed that the True Self is virtually dysfunctional and useless. In treating the narcissist, the therapist often seeks to build and nurture an entirely new, healthy self, rather than building upon the distorted remnants scattered throughout the narcissist's psyche.

But what about the rare glimpses of the true self that are often reported by those who interact with the narcissist?

Pathological narcissism is often comorbid with other disorders. The narcissistic spectrum consists of gradations and shades of narcissism. Narcissistic traits or style or even personality (overlap) are often coupled with other disorders (comorbidity). A person may well appear to be a full-fledged narcissist, they may well have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), but they are not in the strict, psychiatric sense of the word. In such people, the true self is still there and sometimes observable.

In a full-fledged narcissist, the false self mimics the true self.

To make it ingenious, it employs two mechanisms.


It causes the narcissist to reinterpret certain emotions and reactions in a flattering and socially acceptable way. For example, the narcissist may interpret fear as compassion. If the narcissist hurts someone they fear (say, an authority figure), they may later feel bad and interpret their discomfort as empathy and compassion. Being afraid is humiliating; Having compassion is commendable and deserves the praise and social understanding of the narcissist (narcissistic supply).


The narcissist possesses an uncanny ability to penetrate others psychologically. This gift is often misused and put at the service of the narcissist's control freaks and sadism. The narcissist uses it liberally to crush their victims' natural defenses by feigning empathy.

This ability is combined with the narcissist's uncanny ability to mimic emotions and the behaviors (affects) associated with them. The narcissist has “emotional resonance charts”. He logs every action and reaction, every expression and consequence, every piece of information that others give him about his mood and emotional state. From these he then builds a series of formulas that often lead to impeccably accurate interpretations of emotional behavior. This can be very misleading.


The narcissist's true self is introverted and dysfunctional. In healthy people, the ego functions are generated from within, by the ego. In narcissists, the ego is latent, in a coma. The narcissist needs input and feedback from the outside world (from others) to perform the most basic ego functions (e.g., "acknowledging" the world, setting boundaries, forming a self-definition or identity, differentiation, self-esteem, and self-regulation). This input or feedback is called narcissistic supply. Only the wrong being comes into contact with the world. The True Self is isolated, repressed, unconscious, a shadow.

(Video) It's not me, it's you … An inside into narcissistic personality disorder

The false self is therefore a kind of "hive self" or "hive self". It is a collage of musings, a mosaic of outsourced information, gossip, gathered from the narcissist's interlocutors and carefully stitched together and pieced together to maintain and reinforce the narcissist's inflated, fantastic, and grandiose self-image. This discontinuity explains the dissociative nature of pathological narcissism, as well as the narcissist's apparent inability to learn from their mistakes.

In normal, healthy people, the functions of the ego are strictly internal processes. In the narcissist, the ego functions are imported from the environment, they are entirely external. Consequently, the narcissist often confuses their inner psycho-psychological landscape with the outside world. He tends to blend and blend his mind and surroundings. He views significant others and references as mere extensions of himself and appropriates them because they fulfill crucial internal roles and consequently he perceives them as purely internal objects without objective, external, and autonomous existence.

Forcing the narcissist's false self to see and interact with their true self is not only difficult, but can also be counterproductive and dangerously destabilizing. Narcissistic disorder is adaptive and functional, albeit rigid. The alternative to this (mal)adaptation would have been self-destructive (suicidal). This self-directed, bottled poison is sure to reappear as the narcissist's various personality structures are forced to make contact.

That a personality structure (like the True Self) resides in the unconscious does not automatically mean that it creates conflict or is involved in conflict or has the potential to cause conflict. As long as the true self and the false self remain out of contact, there is no conflict.

The false self claims to be the only self and denies the existence of a true self. It is also extremely useful (adaptive). Instead of risking constant conflict, the narcissist chooses to “detach”.

The classical ego proposed by Freud is partly conscious and partly preconscious and unconscious. The narcissist's ego is completely submerged. The preconscious and conscious parts are detached from him by early trauma and form the false ego.

The superego of healthy people constantly compares the ego with the ego ideal. The narcissist has a different psychodynamic. The narcissist's false self serves as a buffer and buffer between the true ego and the narcissist's sadistic, punitive, and immature over-ego. The narcissist strives to become a pure self-ideal.

The narcissist's ego cannot develop because it is deprived of contact with the outside world and therefore does not suffer conflict that causes growth. The false self is rigid. The result is that the narcissist is unable to respond and adapt to threats, illness, and other crises and circumstances in life. You are fragile and tend to break rather than surrender to life's trials and tribulations.

The ego remembers, evaluates, plans, reacts to, and acts in and on the world. It is the locus of the "executive functions" of the personality. Integrates the inner world with the outer world, the id with the superego. It operates on a "reality principle" rather than a "pleasure principle".

This means that the ego is responsible for delaying gratification. It postpones pleasurable actions until they can be performed safely and successfully. The ego is therefore in a thankless position. Unsatisfied desires create discomfort and fear. The ruthless fulfillment of desires is diametrically opposed to self-preservation. The ego must mediate these tensions.

To thwart fear, the ego invents psychological defenses. On the one hand, the ego channels basic impulses. They have to "speak their language". It must have a primitive, childlike component. On the other hand, the ego is responsible for negotiating with the outside world and ensuring realistic and optimal "deals" for its "customer", the id. These intellectual and perceptual functions are overseen by the extraordinarily severe court of the superego.

People with a strong ego can objectively understand both the world and themselves. In other words, they have insight. They are able to consider, plan, forecast and schedule longer periods of time. They choose decisively between the alternatives and follow their solution. They are aware of the existence of their impulses, but control and channel them in a socially acceptable way. They resist pressure, social or otherwise. They choose their course and pursue it.

The weaker the ego, the more childish and impulsive its owner, the more distorted his perception of himself and reality. A weak ego is incapable of productive work.

The narcissist is an even more extreme case. His ego is nonexistent. The narcissist has a fake surrogate self. Therefore your energy is exhausted. He spends most of it to nurture, protect and preserve the distorted and unrealistic images of his (false) self and his (false) world. The narcissist is a person who is exhausted by their own absence.

The healthy ego maintains a certain sense of continuity and permanence. It serves as a reference point. Connect past events to present actions and plans for the future. It involves memory, anticipation, imagination and intellect. It defines where the individual ends and the world begins. Although not coextensive with the body or personality, it is a close approximation.

In the narcissistic state, all of these functions are relegated to the false ego. His halo of conspiracy spreads to all. The narcissist is forced to develop false memories, create false fantasies, anticipate the unreal and work their intellect to justify them.

The falsity of being false is twofold: not only is it not "the real," but it also operates on false premises. It's a false and false indicator of the world. Regulates impulses incorrectly and inefficiently. It fails to thwart fear.

The false self conveys a false sense of continuity and a "personal center". Weaves a magnificent and enchanted fable as a substitute for reality. The narcissist moves outside of himself and into a plot, a narrative, a story. He constantly feels like a character in a movie, a fraudulent invention, or a con artist temporarily exposed and summarily socially ostracized.

Additionally, the narcissist may not be consistent or coherent. Your false self is busy searching for the narcissistic store. The narcissist has no boundaries because their ego is not sufficiently defined or fully differentiated. The only record is the narcissist's feelings of diffusion or annulment. This is especially true in life crises when the false ego stops working.

From a development point of view, this is all easily explained. The child responds to internal and external stimuli. However, you cannot control, change or predict them. Instead, it develops mechanisms to regulate the resulting stress and anxiety.

The child's search for environmental domination is compulsive. He is obsessed with providing satisfaction. Any delay in your actions and reactions forces you to tolerate increased stress and anxiety. It is very surprising that the child eventually learns to separate stimulus and response and to delay the latter. This comfortable wonder of self-denial has to do with the development of intellectual abilities on the one hand and the process of socialization on the other.

The intellect is a representation of the world. In this way, the ego vicariously examines reality without suffering the consequences of possible mistakes. The ego uses the intellect to simulate different courses of action and their consequences and to decide how to achieve its goals and the corresponding satisfaction.

The intellect allows the child to anticipate the world and believe in the accuracy and high probability of his predictions. The intellect introduces the concepts of “laws of nature” and “predictability through order”. Cause and consistency are all mediated through the intellect.

But the intellect is best served with an emotional complement. Our image of the world and our place in it comes from experience, both cognitive and emotional in nature. Socialization has a verbal-communicative element, but remains detached from a strong emotional component dead letter.

For example, the child is likely to learn from parents and other adults that the world is a predictable and law-abiding place. However, when your primary objects (most importantly your mother) behave in a way that is moody, discriminatory, unpredictable, illegal, abusive, or indifferent, it hurts, and the conflict between cognition and emotion is strong. It is supposed to paralyze the child's ego functions.

Gathering and recording past events is a prerequisite for both thinking and judging. It is detrimental to both when personal history conflicts with the contents of the superego and the teachings of the socialization process. Narcissists fall prey to such a stark disconnect: between what the adult characters in their lives preached and their contradictory ways of doing things.

Once bullied, the narcissist swore "no more." He will now take over the victimization. And as bait, he presents his false self to the world. But he falls victim to his own means. Inwardly impoverished and malnourished, isolated and protected to the point of suffocation, the True Ego degenerates and decays. The narcissist wakes up one day to find that they are as at the mercy of their false self as they are of their victims.

Elsewhere ("The Stripped Ego") I dealt with the classic Freudian concept of the ego. It is part conscious, part preconscious, and part unconscious. It operates on a "reality principle" (as opposed to the id's "pleasure principle"). He maintains an inner balance between the onerous (and unrealistic or ideal) demands of the superego and the almost irresistible (and unrealistic) impulses of the id. He must also defend himself against the unfavorable consequences of comparisons between himself and the ego ideal (comparisons which the superego is too fond of making). In many ways, therefore, the ego in Freudian psychoanalysis is the self. Not so in Jungian psychology [1-24].

“The complexes are psychic fragments that have been split by traumatic influences or by certain irreconcilable tendencies. As the association experiments show, the complexes disrupt the intentions of the will and disrupt conscious action, they create memory disorders and blockages in the flow of associations. They appear and disappear according to their own laws, can temporarily occupy consciousness or unconsciously influence speech and actions. In a word, complexes behave as independent beings, a fact which is particularly evident in the abnormal mental states heard by the insane, even assuming a character of personal ego, like that of ghosts transformed by automatic writing and similar techniques manifest.


"I use the term 'individuation' to mean the process by which a person becomes a psychological 'individual', that is, a separate and indivisible entity or 'whole'."

"Individuation means becoming a unique and homogeneous being, and to the extent that 'individuality' encompasses our most intimate, ultimate, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming our own 'realization'."

"But again and again I observe that the process of individuation is confused with the arrival of the ego in consciousness and that the ego consequently identifies itself with the self, which of course produces hopeless conceptual confusion. Individuation is then nothing more than egocentrism and auto-erotism. But the 'I' is infinitely more than a mere 'I'... It is one's 'I' as well as all other 'I's and the 'I'. Individuation does not exclude one from the world, but unites the world with itself.

(Video) Narcissistic relationships and dissociative disorders

For Jung, the self is an archetype, THE archetype. It is the archetype of order that manifests itself in the totality of personality and is symbolized by a circle, a square or the famous quaternity. Sometimes Jung uses other symbols: the child, the mandala, etc.

“The ego is an entity that is above the conscious ego. It encompasses not only the conscious but also the unconscious psyche and is therefore, so to speak, a personality that we are too... There is little hope that our ability to attain even a remote awareness of the self, for no matter how much conscious we are make, there will always be an indefinite and indeterminable amount of unconscious material pertaining to the totality of the self.

“The ego is not only the centre, but the entire periphery, encompassing both the conscious and the unconscious; it is the center of that totality, just as the ego is the center of consciousness.”

"The Self is the goal of our life because it is the fullest expression of that fateful combination which we call individuality..."

Jung posited the existence of two "personalities" (actually two selves), one of which is the Shadow. Technically, the shadow is a part (albeit a minor part) of the overall personality (a consciously chosen attitude).

The shadow evolves like this

Inevitably, some personal and collective psychic elements are deficient or inconsistent with one's personality (narrative). Their expression is suppressed and they merge into an almost autonomous "split personality".

This second personality is the opposite: it denies the official, elected personality, although it is completely relegated to the unconscious. Jung therefore believes in a system of "checks and balances": The shadow balances the ego (consciousness). That's not necessarily a negative. The behavioral and attitudinal compensation that the shadow provides can be positive.


"The shadow embodies everything that the subject does not want to recognize in himself and yet is always forced on him directly or indirectly, for example inferior character traits and other incompatible tendencies."

"The shadow is that hidden, repressed, mostly inferior and guilt-ridden personality, the last ramifications of which reach back to the realm of our animal ancestors and thus encompass the entire historical aspect of the unconscious... If so, until now it has been believed that the human shadow is the source of all evil , it can now be determined after closer examination that the unconscious human being, i.e. his shadow, not only consists of morally reprehensible tendencies, but also shows a number of good qualities, such as normal instincts, appropriate reactions, realistic intuitions, creative impulses, etc. ( ibid.)

It seems fair to conclude that there is a close affinity between the complexes (separate materials) and the shadow.

Perhaps the complexes (also the result of incompatibility with the conscious personality) are the negative part of the shadow. Perhaps they are simply in it or working closely with it in a feedback mechanism. Perhaps whenever the shadow manifests itself in an obstructive, destructive, or disruptive way to the ego, we call it a complex. They can really be one and the same, the result of a massive splitting of material and its relegation to the unconscious realm.

This is an integral part of the individuation-separation phase of our early childhood development. Before this stage, the child begins to distinguish between himself and everything that is not himself. He hesitantly explores the world, and these excursions create a differentiated world view.

The child begins to form and store images of himself and the world (initially the primary object in his life, usually his mother). These pictures are different. For the infant, this is revolutionary stuff, nothing less than a rupture of a previously unified universe and its replacement with fragmented, separate entities. it's traumatic

These images themselves are also shared. The child has separate images of a "good" mother and a "bad" mother, each associated with the satisfaction of his needs and wants and with his frustration. He also constructs separate images of a "good" self and a "bad" self associated with subsequent states of gratification (from the "good" mother) and frustration (from the "bad" mother).

At this stage the child is unable to see that people are both good and bad (that unity with a single identity can be both satisfying and frustrating). It gets its own sense of being good or bad from the outside. The "good" mother inevitably and inevitably leads to a contented "good" self, and the frustrated "bad" mother always begets the frustrated "bad" self.

But the image of the "bad" mother is very threatening. It's scary. The boy is afraid that if his mother finds out, he will leave him. Also, the "bad" mother is a forbidden subject of negative feelings (mother shouldn't be looked down upon!).

So the child separates the bad pictures and uses them to make a separate collage of "bad objects". This process is called "object splitting". It is the most primitive defense mechanism. If it is still used by adults, it is an indication of a pathology.

This is followed by the “separation” and “individualization” phases (18-36 months). The child no longer shares his objects (bad objects on the repressed side and good objects on the other conscious side). He learns to relate to objects (people) as integrated wholes, with 'good' and 'bad' aspects fused together. It inevitably follows an integrated self-image.

The child internalizes the mother (remembers her roles). He becomes his own father (mother) and performs his functions alone. Acquires "Object Constancy" (learns that the existence of objects does not depend on their presence or alertness). The mother always returns to him after disappearing from view. A marked reduction in anxiety follows, and this allows the child to devote their energy to developing stable, consistent, and independent sensations for themselves and introjections (internalized images) of others.

This is where personality disorders form. Between the 15th and 22nd month of life, a sub-phase of this separation-individuation phase is called "approaching".

During this phase, the child explores the world. This is a scary and scary process. The child needs to know that they are protected, that they are doing the right thing, and that they deserve their mother's approval. The boy regularly returns to his mother for comfort, validation, and admiration, as if to ensure that his mother would support his newfound autonomy and independence, and accept his distinct individuality.

When the mother is immature, narcissistic, or mentally ill, she denies the child what it needs: approval, admiration, and validation. She feels threatened by her independence. She feels like she's losing him. She doesn't let go enough. She smothers him with excessive care and forbearance. She offers him overwhelming emotional incentives to remain "mother-bound", dependent, underdeveloped, part of a symbiotic mother-child dyad.

The child, in turn, develops deadly fears of being abandoned, losing his mother's love and support. Your unspoken dilemma is: become independent and lose your mother, or keep your mother and never have a self?

The boy is angry (because he is frustrated in his search for himself). He is afraid (fear of losing his mother), he feels guilty (because he is angry with his mother), he feels attracted and repelled. In short, he's in a chaotic state of mind.

While healthy people experience such erosive dilemmas from time to time, for those with personality disorders, they are a constant and characteristic emotional state.

To resist this unbearable whirlwind of emotions, the child keeps them out of his awareness. The "bad" mother and the "bad" self and all the negative feelings of abandonment, fear and anger are "disconnected".

But the child's over-reliance on this primitive defense mechanism hampers its orderly development: it fails to integrate the shared images. The bad parts are so charged with negative emotions that they remain intact (in the shadows, as complexes) practically throughout life. It's impossible to integrate such explosive material with the more harmless Good parts.

Hence the adult remains fixed at this earlier stage of development. He is unable to integrate people and see them as complete objects. They are all "good" or all "bad" (cycles of idealization and devaluation). He is (unconsciously) afraid of abandonment, in reality he feels abandoned or threatened with abandonment and subtly manifests this in his interpersonal relationships.

Does the reintroduction of separate material make any sense? Is it likely to lead to an integrated ego (or me)?

To ask this question is to confuse two questions. With the exception of schizophrenics and some types of psychotics, the ego (or self) is always integrated. The fact that the patient cannot integrate the images of objects, both libidinal and non-libidinal, does not mean that he has a disintegrated or disintegrated ego.

The inability to integrate into the world (as in the case of borderline or narcissistic personality disorders) is related to the patient's choice of defense mechanisms. It's a secondary layer. The point is not what state the self is in (integrated or not), but what state the self is perceived to be in.

(Video) Narcissist: Confabulations, Lies

So, theoretically, reintroducing fragmented material does nothing to "increase" ego integration. This is especially true if we adopt Freud's concept of the ego, which includes all fragmented material.

But does the transfer of the split material from one part of the ego (the unconscious) to another (the conscious) affect the integration of the ego in any way?

Dealing with repressed and split material remains an important part of many psychodynamic therapies. It has been shown to reduce anxiety, heal conversion symptoms and generally have a positive and therapeutic effect on individuals. But that has nothing to do with integration. It has to do with conflict resolution.

That different parts of the personality are in constant conflict is an essential tenet of all psychodynamic theories. Dredging the material into our consciousness reduces the scope or intensity of these conflicts. By definition it is like this: The fissile material introduced into the consciousness is no longer fissile material and can therefore no longer take part in the "war" raging in the unconscious.

But is it always recommended? Not in my opinion.


Personality disorders are adaptive solutions in given circumstances. It is true that as circumstances change, these 'solutions' prove to be rigid straitjackets, maladaptive rather than adaptive. However, no coping substitutes are available to the patient. No therapy can offer you such a substitute, as the entire personality is affected by the pathology that follows, not just one aspect or element of it.

The application of separate material can limit or even eliminate the patient's personality disorder. Then what? So how is the patient supposed to cope with the world that is suddenly hostile, abandoned, moody, moody, cruel and all consuming again, just like it was in his childhood before he encountered the magic of the world division?


The narcissist experiences his own life as a protracted, incomprehensible, unpredictable, often frightening, and deeply saddening nightmare. This is the result of the narcissist's self-promoted functional dichotomy between their false self and their true self. The latter, the petrified ashes of the original and immature personality, is the one who experiences.

The false self is nothing more than a concoction, a product of the narcissist's mess, a reflection in the narcissist's hall of mirrors. He is unable to feel or experience. However, he is completely the master of the psychodynamic processes raging in the narcissist's psyche.

This inner struggle is so intense that the True Self experiences it as a vague threat, even though it is imminent and extremely scary. Fear arises and the narcissist is constantly ready for the next hit. He does things and doesn't know why or where. Saying, acting and behaving in ways that he knows will put him at risk and subject to punishment.

The narcissist hurts those around them, breaks the law, or goes against accepted morals. He knows he's wrong and feels uncomfortable on the rare moments when he sits down. You want to quit but don't know how. Gradually he distances himself from himself, possessed by some kind of demon, a puppet with invisible threads of thought. This feeling bothers him, he wants to rebel, he's disgusted with that part of him he doesn't know. In her efforts to exorcise this demon from her soul, she dissociates.

A creepy feeling spreads and takes over the psyche of the narcissist. In moments of crisis, danger, depression, failure, and narcissistic hurt, the narcissist feels like they are looking at themselves from the outside. This is not an out of body experience. The narcissist doesn't actually "come out" of their body. It's just that he unknowingly takes the position of a bystander, a polite observer mildly interested in Mr. Narcissistic's whereabouts.

It's like watching a movie, the illusion is neither complete nor accurate. This distancing lasts as long as the narcissist's dystonic ego behavior persists, as long as the crisis lasts, as long as the narcissist cannot come to terms with who they are, what they are doing, and the consequences of their actions.

Since this is mostly the case, the narcissist becomes accustomed to seeing themselves as the protagonist (usually the hero) of a film or novel. It also goes well with your grandiosity and fantasies. Sometimes he talks about himself in the third person singular. Sometimes he calls his “other”, narcissistic self by a different name.

He describes his life, its events, ups and downs, pains, joys and disappointments in the most distant, "professional" and coldly analytical voice, as if he were describing (albeit with a minimum of implications) the life of an exotic insect (echoes from the "Kafka's Metamorphosis").

So the metaphor of "life as a movie," gaining control by "writing a scenario" or "inventing a narrative," is not a modern invention. Caveman narcissists have likely done the same. But that's just the outer, superficial facet of the mess.

The fact is, the narcissist actually feels that way. In reality, he experiences his life as belonging to another person, his body as a dead weight (or as an instrument in the service of some being), his actions as amoral and not immoral (he cannot be judged for something he has not done). you can now?).

Over time, the narcissist accumulates a mountain of mishaps, unresolved conflicts, well-hidden pains, abrupt breakups, and bitter disappointments. She is exposed to a constant barrage of societal criticism and condemnation. He is ashamed and scared. You know something is wrong, but there is no correlation between your perception and your emotions.

He prefers to run away and hide like he did as a child. Only this time he's hiding behind another self, a fake one. People mirror back to him this mask of his creation until even he believes in its existence and acknowledges its dominance, until he forgets the truth and doesn't know any better. The narcissist is only vaguely aware of the crucial battle raging within them. He feels threatened, very sad and suicidal, but there seems to be no outside cause for all of this and it makes him even more mysteriously menacing.

That dissonance, those negative emotions, those lingering fears turn the narcissist's "movie" solution into a permanent solution. It becomes a feature of the narcissist's life. Whenever you are confronted with an emotional or existential threat, withdraw into this haven, this type of coping.

Relegates responsibility and submissively assumes a passive role. Those who are not responsible cannot be punished is the subtext of this capitulation. The narcissist is thus conditioned to destroy himself, both to avoid (emotional) pain and to bask in the glow of his incredibly grandiose fantasies.

He does this with fanatical zeal and efficiency. Perspectively, he assigns his whole life (decisions to be made, judgments to be made, agreements to be made) to the false self. Retrospectively, he reinterprets his past life in a way that is consistent with the current needs of the false self.

It is not surprising that there is no connection between what the narcissist felt at a certain stage of his life or in relation to a certain event and how he later sees or remembers it. You may describe certain events or phases of your life as "boring, painful, sad and exhausting" even though you experienced them very differently at the time.

The same retrospective coloring occurs in relation to persons. The narcissist completely distorts the way they view and feel about certain people. This rewriting of your personal history is designed to directly and fully address the demands of your false self.

In short, the narcissist does not occupy their own soul, nor does they inhabit their own body. It is the server of an appearance, a reflection, a function of the ego. To please and appease his master, the narcissist sacrifices his own life. From then on, the narcissist lives vicariously through the good offices of the false self.

At all times, the narcissist feels disconnected, alienated, and alien from their (false) self. You constantly feel like you are watching a movie with a plot over which you have little control. He watches with some interest, even fascination. Still, it's just passive observation.

Thus, the narcissist not only relinquishes control of his future life (the movie), but gradually loses ground to the false self in the struggle to maintain the integrity and authenticity of his past experiences. Eroded by both of these processes, the narcissist gradually disappears and is replaced by their full-blown disorder.


  1. Stormberg D, Roningstam E, Gunderson J, Tohen M (1998) Pathological narcissism in patients with bipolar disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders 12: 179-185.
  2. Roningstam E (1996) Pathologic Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Axis I Disorders. Harv Rev Psiquiatría 3: 326-340.
  3. Alford CF (1988) Narcissism: Socrates, the Frankfurt School and Psychoanalytic Theory. Yale University Press, Connecticut, USA.
  4. Fairbairn WRD (1954) An object relations theory of personality. Basic Books, New York, USA.
  5. Freud S (1905) On Sexuality: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality and Other Works. Hogarth Press, London, UK.
  6. Freud S (1991) Freud's "On Narcissism: An Introduction". Yale University Press, Connecticut, USA.
  7. Golomb E (1995) Trapped in the Mirror. HarperCollins, New York, USA.
  8. Greenberg J (1983) Object relations in psychoanalytic theory. Harvard University Press, Massachusetts, USA.
  9. Guntrip H (1961) Personality structure and human interaction: the evolving synthesis of psychodynamic theory. International Universities Press, New York, USA.
  10. Horowitz MJ (1975) Sliding meanings: a defense against threat in narcissistic personalities. Int J Psychoanal Psychother 4: 167-180.
  11. Jacobson E (1973) The self and the world of objects. International Universities Press, New York, USA.
  12. Kernberg OF (1975) Borderline states and pathological narcissism. Jason Aronson, New York, USA.
  13. Klein M (1975) The Writings of Melanie Klein: Envy and Gratitude and Other Works. Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, New York, USA.
  14. Kohut H (1971) The analysis of the self: a systematic approach to the psychoanalytic treatment of narcissistic personality disorders. International Universities Press, New York, USA.
  15. Lasch C (1991) The culture of narcissism: American life in the age of diminishing expectations. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, United States.
  16. Lowen A (2012) Narcissism: Denial of the true self. Simon and Schuster, New York, USA.
  17. Millon T, Davis RD (1996) Personality disorders: DSM IV and beyond. John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA.
  18. Millon T, Millon CM, Meagher SE, Grossman SD, Ramnath R (2012) Personality disorders in modern life. John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA.
  19. Ronningstam E (1997) Disorders of narcissism: diagnostic, clinical, and empirical implications. American Psychiatric Press, Washington, DC, USA.
  20. Rothstein A (1984) The narcissistic search for reflection. International Universities Press, New York, USA.
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  22. Stern DN (1985) The infant's interpersonal world: A view from psychoanalysis and developmental psychology. Basic Books, New York, USA.
  23. Vaknin S (2015) Narcissism and Malignant Self-Love Review, 10Dierevised print. Skopje and Prague, Narcissus Publications.
  24. Zweig, P. (1980): The heresy of self-love: a study in subversive individualism. Basic Books, New York, USA.
(Video) The Narcissists' Code 492- Narcissists and dissociation. Some Narcissists dissociate to avoid things

Citation:Vaknin S (2020) Dissociation and confabulation in narcissistic disorders. J Addict Addict Disorder 7:39.

Copyright ©:© 2020 Sam Vaknin, et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium as long as the original author and source are credited.


What is narcissistic confabulation? ›

In an attempt to compensate for the yawning gaps in memory, narcissists and psychopaths confabulate: They invent plausible "plug ins" and scenarios of how things might, could, or should have plausibly occurred. To outsiders, these fictional stopgaps appear as lies.

How do you dissociate from a narcissist? ›

How to Disengage
  1. Stop all communication – take a break from social media, do not answer your phone or text messages from the narcissist. ...
  2. Have a plan – know when you are going to leave and where you are going to go. ...
  3. Find support – work with a therapist or counselor experienced in supporting people leaving narcissists.
1 Feb 2021

What are narcissistic coping mechanisms? ›

The narcissist typically runs through a sequence of defenses to discharge painful feelings until he or she finds one that works: unconscious repression. conscious denial. distortion (including exaggeration and minimization), rationalisation and lies.

Can narcissistic abuse cause dissociation? ›

As much as people still want to believe that emotional abuse is somehow less significant than physical trauma, emotional and narcissistic abuse is traumatic. Many of the issues listed above coincide with symptoms of posttraumatic stress including: hypervigilance, dissociation, detachment, self-blame, and isolation.

How do you respond to confabulations? ›

Often, the best response to confabulation in dementia is to join the person in her reality, rather than attempting to correct and point out the truth. Rarely, if ever, does arguing with someone who has dementia reap any benefits.

What is an example of confabulation? ›

Another example of confabulation is when a person with gaps in their memory is asked to remember and describe the details of a past event. Rather than responding that they do not know, the person's mind fills in missing details with confabulated memories of the event.

Why do narcissists confabulate? ›

Confabulation serves narcissists for these self-protective purposes, usually in order to protect them from living in the truth. In fact, their relationships are damaged because narcissists defend their confabulations at all costs, reinterpreting reality.

How does an empath detach from a narcissist? ›

The answer is that an empath will begin to notice that they are not being loved and treated the way that they need to be from a narcissist and will move on from the relationship. An empath needs to be loved and be with someone that is who they claim to be, which is not the case for a narcissist.

Why is it so hard to detach from a narcissist? ›

Narcissists can make us feel special.

If we were to lose them, we would also lose the spotlight that shines on them. We may feel resistant to leaving, because we're afraid of sacrificing the feeling of specialness we gained by being linked to them.

What the narcissist fears most? ›

Although narcissists act superior, entitled and boastful, underneath their larger-than-life facade lies their greatest fear: That they are ordinary. For narcissists, attention is like oxygen. Narcissists believe only special people get attention.

What are the 5 main habits of a narcissist? ›

Common Narcissist Characteristics
  • Inflated Ego.
  • Lack of Empathy.
  • Need for Attention.
  • Repressed Insecurities.
  • Few Boundaries.

What is the usual cycle of a narcissist? ›

The narcissistic abuse cycle is a pattern of highs and lows in which the narcissist confuses their partner through manipulation and calculated behaviors aimed at making their partner question themselves. The cycle has three specific phases: Idealization, devaluation, and rejection.

What trauma causes a person to become a narcissist? ›

Narcissism tends to emerge as a psychological defence in response to excessive levels of parental criticism, abuse or neglect in early life. Narcissistic personalities tend to be formed by emotional injury as a result of overwhelming shame, loss or deprivation during childhood.

Can long term narcissistic abuse cause brain damage? ›

The effects of psychological and narcissistic abuse come with many devastating consequences, but there are two that almost no one knows aboutunless theyre a doctor or neuroscientist.

What signs might a person show if they are being emotionally abused by a narcissist? ›

You have symptoms of anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression commonly develop as a result of narcissistic abuse. The significant stress you face can trigger persistent feelings of worry, nervousness, and fear, especially when you never know what to expect from their behavior.

What mental illness causes confabulation? ›

[11][12] Confabulations are more commonly associated with Korsakoff syndrome, while delusions more commonly correlate with schizophrenia. That said, both errors in information processing may exist in both disorders.

Does confabulation ever go away? ›

Confabulation won't go away unless the underlying condition is addressed. Doctors can treat some conditions. For example, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is treated with vitamin B1. Other conditions lack effective treatments.

What part of the brain is responsible for confabulation? ›

The areas of the brain generally associated with confabulation are the frontal lobes and basal forebrain. Confabulation can be addressed with psychotherapy and/or cognitive rehabilitation that involve helping people become more aware of their inaccuracies.

What are the symptoms of confabulation? ›

Someone with confabulation has memory loss that affects their higher reasoning. They subconsciously create stories as a way to conceal their memory loss. They aren't aware that they aren't telling the truth. They don't have any doubt about the things they are saying, even if those around them know the story is untrue.

Is there a test for confabulation? ›

We conceived a screening test for confabulation, the Confabulation Screen (CS), a brief test using 10 questions of episodic memory (EM), where confabulators most frequently confabulate.

What is confabulation in mental health? ›

Confabulation refers to the production or creation of false or erroneous memories without the intent to deceive, sometimes called "honest lying" [1]. Alternatively, confabulation is a falsification of memory by a person who, believes he or she is genuinely communicating truthful memories [2-4].

What part of the brain is damaged in a narcissist? ›

Narcissistic traits have been linked to structural and functional brain networks, including the insular cortex, however, with inconsistent findings. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that subclinical narcissism is associated with variations in regional brain volumes in insular and prefrontal areas.

Can a narcissist have a mental breakdown? ›

Let's recap. A person with NPD who's challenged in their sense of superiority may experience a narcissistic collapse. This is an emotional reaction of pain and vulnerability that may lead them to withdraw or act vindictively.

What are telltale signs of a narcissist? ›

Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder
  • Grandiose sense of self-importance. ...
  • Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur. ...
  • Needs constant praise and admiration. ...
  • Sense of entitlement. ...
  • Exploits others without guilt or shame. ...
  • Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others.

How does an empath hurt a narcissist? ›

Usually, the empath believes (often subconsciously) they can heal and help the narcissist, so they pour themselves into showing the narcissist their worth, but the narcissist never will see it. The narcissist in this position will take advantage of the empath and see their compassion as weakness.

What happens when a dark empath meets a narcissist? ›

Narcissists and dark empaths are no strangers to lying and being in control. Their absence of guilt and hunger for power makes them masters of manipulation. When a narcissist and a dark empath meet, they may immediately try to bring each other down through passive-aggressive means.

What attracts an empath to a narcissist? ›

Empaths are "emotional sponges," who can absorb feelings from other people very easily. This makes them them very attractive to narcissists, because they see someone who will fulfill their every need in a selfless way.

How do you break a trauma bond with a narcissist? ›

Although the survivor might disclose the abuse, the trauma bond means she may also seek to receive comfort from the very person who abused her.
  1. Physically separate from the abuser. ...
  2. Cut off all lines of communication as far as possible. ...
  3. Acknowledge you have a choice and can choose to leave the relationship.

Do narcissists feel the trauma bond? ›

Do Narcissists Also Feel the Trauma Bond? Abusive narcissists likely do feel the bond too, but differently. It's so confusing for anyone in a relationship with a narcissist who's abusive to understand why they continue to hurt them, even when they say they love them.

How do you emotionally let go of a narcissist? ›

How to get over a narcissist
  1. Stop obsessing.
  2. Avoid trying to rationalize.
  3. Find ways to cope with your anxiety.
  4. Keep busy.
  5. Don't blame yourself.
  6. Focus on self-love.
  7. Prioritize your pleasure.
  8. Acknowledge your jealousy.

What frustrates a narcissist the most? ›

Lack Of Admiration From Others

Narcissists feed heavily on the admiration of others. Without other people, they are nothing. That's why one of the biggest fears for narcissists is the complete lack of admiration from others. This is not quite as feared as being shamed by others, but it's very close.

What are narcissist weaknesses? ›

A monumental weakness in the narcissist is the failure to look internally and flesh out what needs to be worked on. Then, of course, the next step is to spend time improving. The narcissist sabotages any possibility of looking deep within.

What words not to say to a narcissist? ›

8 Things You Should Never Say to a Narcissist
  • Don't say, "It's not about you." ...
  • Don't say, "You're not listening." ...
  • Don't say, "Ina Garten did not get her lasagna recipe from you." ...
  • Don't say, "Do you think it might be your fault?" ...
  • Don't say, "You're being a bully." ...
  • Don't say, "Stop playing the victim."
15 Dec 2017

What are the four subtle signs of a narcissist? ›

1 The following are some elements of narcissism:
  1. Having a sense of self-importance or grandiosity.
  2. Experiencing fantasies about being influential, famous, or important.
  3. Exaggerating their abilities, talents, and accomplishments.
  4. Craving admiration and acknowledgment.
  5. Being preoccupied with beauty, love, power, or success.
14 Jul 2022

What are the red flags of a narcissist? ›

Here are some narcissism red flags to look out for: Lacking empathy. They seem unable or unwilling to have empathy for others, and they appear to have no desire for emotional intimacy. Unrealistic sense of entitlement.

What is the most important thing to a narcissist? ›

Control, control, control. A narcissist needs to have control over the situation they're in. Whether that's in a relationship, in a social scenario, or something else, a narcissist will manipulate the circumstances to maintain control.

At what age is narcissism set? ›

Narcissistic personality disorder affects more males than females, and it often begins in the teens or early adulthood. Some children may show traits of narcissism, but this is often typical for their age and doesn't mean they'll go on to develop narcissistic personality disorder.

What happens when a narcissist gets old? ›

According to Julie L. Hall, author of “The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free,” narcissists become more extreme versions of their worst selves as they age, which includes becoming more desperate, deluded, paranoid, angry, abusive, and isolated.

What kind of parenting creates a narcissist? ›

To summarize, overparenting, lack of warmth, leniency, overvaluation and childhood maltreatment have all been associated with higher levels of narcissism. However, these parenting behaviours have often been examined in isolation or in different combinations, with mixed findings.

What childhood issues cause narcissism? ›

Social learning theory holds that children are likely to grow up to be narcissistic when their parents overvalue them: when their parents see them as more special and more entitled than other children (9).

What is the root cause of narcissism? ›

While an outward show of superiority is a definite part of the narcissistic personality, a sense of superiority (or pursuit of it) is not the central factor of the disorder. The root of the disorder is actually a strict resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone at any time.

Why does childhood trauma attract narcissists? ›

So it makes sense that unloved daughters may tend to enter relationships with people with NPD or narcissistic traits due to their childhood experiences. Some reasons include: Your need for validation makes them feel powerful. Manipulation, control, and gaslighting feels familiar to you.

Can you get PTSD from narcissistic abuse? ›

The emotional/psychological manipulation and abuse that are characteristic of Narcissistic Abuse can lead to the development of PTSD among survivors of this type of trauma (sometimes specified as post traumatic relationship syndrome).

Do narcissists have memory problems? ›

DISSOCIATIVE GAPS AND CONFABULATION. Narcissists and psychopaths dissociate (erase memories) a lot (are amnesiac) because their contact with the world and with others is via a fictitious construct: The False Self. Narcissists never experience reality directly but through a distorting lens darkly.

Can narcissism be detected by a brain scan? ›

We can now see narcissism in the brain. A brain scan of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) shows less brain matter in areas associated with emotional empathy. Actually, this is the first time anyone has seen the proof of narcissism in brain structures.

What are typical behaviors of narcissistic abuse survivors? ›

The aftermath of narcissistic abuse can include depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, a pervasive sense of toxic shame, emotional flashbacks that regress the victim back to the abusive incidents, and overwhelming feelings of helplessness and worthlessness.

What does abuse from a covert narcissist look like? ›

The Covert Narcissist's Abusive Behaviors

These self-serving tactics can include gaslighting and distorting reality; manipulations to get what they want; showing contempt and giving the silent treatment; dominating and controlling their partner; and belittling and humiliating verbally and emotionally.

What does arguing with a narcissist look like? ›

Those who live with narcissism may find it difficult to hold positive and negative feelings for someone at the same time. As a result, things may get heated in an argument. You may experience insults, put-downs, and even mocking behaviors, like laughing as you express hurt.

What are the signs someone was raised by a narcissist? ›

Narcissists have an excessive need for praise and validation and have little regard for the feelings and needs of others. As parents, they are often emotionally unavailable, neglectful, and abusive. Their children often struggle with self-esteem issues, anxiety, depression, and unhealthy relationships.

What are the 3 stages of narcissism? ›

The narcissistic abuse cycle is a pattern of highs and lows in which the narcissist confuses their partner through manipulation and calculated behaviors aimed at making their partner question themselves. The cycle has three specific phases: Idealization, devaluation, and rejection.

What does confabulation mean? ›

: to fill in gaps in memory by fabrication. A major characteristic of brain-damaged patients is the tendency to confabulate—to hide and dissemble about their damage.

What triggers confabulation? ›

Confabulation is caused by brain damage or poor brain function, but researchers are unsure which parts of the brain are at fault. The frontal lobe or the basal forebrain may be involved. Confabulation occurs with several brain disorders. These are some of the most common.

What condition is associated with confabulation? ›

Confabulation has been known to occur among clients with brain damage, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), traumatic-brain injury (TBI), and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS).

How can you tell a red flag from a narcissist? ›

Here are some narcissism red flags to look out for: Lacking empathy. They seem unable or unwilling to have empathy for others, and they appear to have no desire for emotional intimacy. Unrealistic sense of entitlement.

At what age does narcissism develop? ›

Narcissistic personality disorder affects more males than females, and it often begins in the teens or early adulthood. Some children may show traits of narcissism, but this is often typical for their age and doesn't mean they'll go on to develop narcissistic personality disorder.

What are the telltale signs of a narcissist? ›

Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder
  • Grandiose sense of self-importance. ...
  • Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur. ...
  • Needs constant praise and admiration. ...
  • Sense of entitlement. ...
  • Exploits others without guilt or shame. ...
  • Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others.

What is the most extreme form of narcissism? ›

Malignant narcissists are often regarded as having the most extreme form of NPD, and while they will have the regular qualities of someone with narcissistic personality disorder, their self-absorption and self-obsession is accompanied by some darker behaviors as well.

What are subtle signs of narcissism? ›

Signs of a covert narcissist
  • High sensitivity to criticism. NPD typically involves insecurity and an easily damaged sense of self-esteem. ...
  • Passive aggression. ...
  • A tendency to put themselves down. ...
  • A shy or withdrawn nature. ...
  • Grandiose fantasies. ...
  • Feelings of depression, anxiety, and emptiness. ...
  • A tendency to hold grudges. ...
  • Envy.

Is confabulation conscious or unconscious? ›

In other words, there are two ways to confabulate. One is the unconscious, spontaneous way in which a memory goes through no logical, explanatory processing. The other is the conscious, provoked way in which a memory is recalled intentionally by the individual to explain something confusing or unusual.

Is confabulation a delusion? ›

Delusion is commonly defined as a false belief and associated with psychiatric illness like schizophrenia, whereas confabulation is typically described as a false memory and associated with neurological disorder like amnesia.


1. Dissociative Identity Disorder and Narcissism
2. Understanding and Overcoming Dissociation in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
(Angie Atkinson)
3. Narcissism? Borderline Personality Disorder? This May Imitate Both...
4. Covert Narcissists Always Do These 6 Things (Empaths Beware)
(Psychology Element)
5. Narcissistic Fantasies - What You Need to Know
(Dr. Daniel Fox)
6. Toxic Amnesia - The Narcissist's Selective Memory
(Darren F Magee)


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Introduction: My name is Rev. Porsche Oberbrunner, I am a zany, graceful, talented, witty, determined, shiny, enchanting person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.