Do Narcissists Love Themselves?

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

Time for some review. It is easy for me to forget that new readers may not have read all the posts of this blog and perhaps a little more than presumptuous to think that anyone would try. So occasionally I need to restate some of my perspective on the subject of narcissism. This is especially true when posts from this blog are reposted to other sites and when dealing with a topic that generates such cultural excitement.

So my recent post on narcissistic friendships was challenged by someone who, in effect, said that narcissists don’t have friends because they love themselves too much. No one would be attracted to them because of their self-focus.

This idea that narcissists love themselves is something we need to challenge. We understand that it certainly looks like they love themselves. They boast about their accomplishments, treat others as inferior, and assume that everyone should listen to and respect them. They expect others to praise them, serve them, and defer to them. Their lack of empathy and tendency to judge others negatively makes it looks like they love themselves only and greatly.

Consider this: true self-love should be manifested in confidence, rest, and security. A person who is completely in love with who he is, content and assured in himself, should not be concerned about the ideas or achievements of others. If someone disagrees with him, he should simply shrug it off. If someone takes credit for something, he should be undamaged. If someone else succeeds, he would have no reason to be jealous or defensive. The person who truly loves himself should be at peace with himself and with the world around him.

So how well does that describe your narcissist? I’m sure that there are some who appear to pull this off, but most of the narcissists I have met have been very quick to get angry and easily offended. They seem to hate the accomplishments of others and are quick to criticize and condemn. Those who disagree with the narcissist are often ruthlessly attacked and even humiliated. Narcissists are usually very competitive, especially for attention and praise. They are envious, arrogant, and abusive.

Does that sound like someone secure in love for him or her self?

A few years ago I posted an overview of the clinical and practical definitions of a narcissist, one from the DSM-IV and the other from Dr. Nina Brown. Here’s the link to that post: What is a Narcissist?  Look it over and see if this describes a person in love with himself.

The literature of narcissism is widely agreed that the narcissist is insecure in himself and, based on that insecurity, has produced and promoted an image of superiority in order to distract others from the inferior and vulnerable self. The narcissist sees himself as unacceptable and weak, but attempts to cover that by hiding behind this grandiose image. Thus, he becomes adept at making friends, manipulating people, and gathering support. The image is attractive, charming, confident, strong, and exceptional. But that’s not the way the narcissist thinks of himself. He worships the image more than anyone else. He depends on the image, is addicted to the image, needs the image. And he needs you to worship the image with him.

Those who counsel narcissists find them to be evasive and dishonest. They usually leave counseling when the counselor gets close to the truth. Those who work with or live with narcissists should understand that they want you to think that they love themselves and believe that you should love them too. Otherwise, you might discover the truth.


Filed under Narcissism

20 responses to “Do Narcissists Love Themselves?

  1. KayJay

    Yes! And then it seems like, as they get older, with the onset of different illnesses and/or weakness of old age, the mask starts to slip and they can no longer be the charming force of nature that once held their “place” in this world. Now they’re just grumpy, bitter sourpusses who no one in their right mind would choose to be around. They definitely do NOT love themselves!

  2. Cora Marandino

    Your articles help me keep reality in focus with the narcissist I love … the link to the Nina Brown article in today’s post (10/31/14) was incomplete … could you send it out again? Thanks.

  3. 38 years and counting...

    Great depth of insight in this post. This quote from within your post, “The person who truly loves himself should be at peace with himself and with the world around him.”, brings to light a paradox. Life with a narcissistic spouse makes it difficult, at times next to impossible, to love self and be at peace with the world around me while, at the same time, being aware of the painful and punitive potential of the narcissist. When I’m immersed in the Word of God I find Christ’s love satisfying and I find peace with the world through God’s ever present, all powerful and all knowing eyes. I’m fully aware that God’s reality trumps my husband’s narcissistic reality, hands down. My spouse’s world view of SELF-centeredness can’t trump God’s reality, however, he can and does inflict great pain.

  4. Karol Harper-mcIlveen

    Is there no way to help a narcissist? I love a narcissist………I know he can’t love me back, and I’ve taken steps to protect myself……….but……I still want to help him….he is so miserable. He supposed ly is a Christian.

    • Lily

      Karol, if you´re stil in relationship, you must abandon him … this is only way to help him. I´m sorry, I know it´s hard and it hurts like hell, but believe me …. they don´t understand our feelings, they´re aliens.

    • UnForsaken

      Karol, Ns are hard to deal with even for trained councelors. But remember, Prayer is effectual because Christ’s healing power, justice, love, and understanding is greater than ours. Only He knows the heart and can reach it.

      It’s Great to hear you are in a place of safety! Now is the time to focus on your own healing and be at peace that the N – as well as yourself – is in God’s hands. Bless you!

      • Megan

        This reminder is what i need right now Unforsaken as i am really struggling with leaving my N in God’s hands and feeling helpless in how to help him. He’s going out of control with our break up and hurt me so badly again but i know i can’t do or fix anything other than pray and leave it all to God. I’ve had so much trouble abandoning him and God has stepped in for me with a series of events and he cannot come near us but i still feel its my fault in some way as i have the ‘if only i did this’ or ‘if only i did that’ mentality going on. Its been hard to leave him as over the years he has modified behaviors in order for me to stay with him. I saw he was trying although i knew that he could not truly change on the inside. In other words i was happy to be around him and he looked after us. Of course when i uncovered past secrets or he couldnt be there for us in a crisis i would confront him or tell him he had to leave. That of course created chaos and havoc as he was being rejected and would lose the plot. I have to let him go and do what he has to do and leave him in God’s hands but it really does hurt.

  5. Still Reforming

    I remember once telling my narcissist husband how angry he is deep down, to which he replied, “I don’t think I’m an angry person; I think I’m a very happy person.” So I pointed out some of his behaviors and words that belied that belief of his, and he just kind of shrugged and walked away. Ofttimes, when I’d come too close to home for his liking – not in any way demeaning to him, but in an honest discussion of things that occurred in our home for which he was responsible, he’d just walk away – sometimes he’d stammer something like, “Well, you were…. blah blah blah” but nothing substantive, and often said while walking away – not in any real effort to discuss or get at the truth. I think there’s a lot of self aggrandizing in a way that is so self-self-self-oriented all the time it ends up pulling others in – especially spouses or kids – like a magnet into this vortex swirling around the self – and we sadly lose focus on our first love: Jesus. I lament this, but I thank the Lord for His always drawing us nearer and never ever letting us go, as do our narcissists. Greater is He Who is in us than he who is in the world and the narcissists in our lives. I don’t think before anyone knows Christ s/he knows love, but the narcissist all the moreso.

  6. Ann

    It really hurts when you have known someone for so many years and then the so called relationship ends. This has been very difficult for me. In addtion, the family of this person has really let me down. I have known them for years and can’t believe the comments they have made to me.
    I feel like I will never learn.

  7. Gabrielle

    I felt sorry for my “insecure” narcissist sister for years. What did she do with my good will toward her? Escalated her lying, manipulating, back-stabbing, and basically treated me like a rag to mop the floor with. So much for compassion!

  8. Ann

    Gabrielle, this person is a severe alcoholic, this is the reason for all her medical problems. She too, has lied, manipulated, back stabbed and basically treated me like garbage for years. I just keep feeling sorry for her. This time I have had enough.

  9. Trying to cope

    I did discover the truth. I may have talked to the narcissist the wrong way. Had I had known this person was so fragile I would have never said kiddingly…”you are judgemental”. That is all it took. I m discarded. And everyday I wonder how do I apologize. I can’t, the N’s wrath is too great, the N will ruthlessly attack and humiliate. I was not worshipping the image. Oops. So here I am years later, I am discarded but have to be around the N daily. I am consumed by thoughts of how do I just get the N to undiscard me, how do I get forgiven. I do not like the role I have been given in this play. I used to work in a friendly fun environment, but because of the N I am an outsider. The N has the superpower. I just want normal back. How to get and stay in N ‘ s good graces after you accidently tarnished the image?

  10. Penny

    Dave: this post leads me to yet another question. Do narcissists mourn? I mean, do they truly mourn? I mean…can they really mourn, or deeply feel the loss of a spouse or a child or a loved one… or even a pet? Or, are they so self-absorbed, so lacking in empathy, that the “mourning” is STILL about them…is their mourning is about the “loss” of having someone [anyone] to worship & adore them? Is mourning “inverted’ for the narcissist…meaning that rather than missing a real person, the unique, “created in His image” soul…..they miss what that person did FOR them? Rather than mourning, are they more accurately described as angered (“how dare they die and leave me here alone!”) or are they irritated (“now I have to find another dog who is already house trained”) or inconvenienced (I just planned the funeral and now I have to get rid of all his clothes.) I think the topic of mourning and loss is an enigma when a narcissist is involved….can you help us understand it?

    • HDG

      My experience: N lost a close friend while we were broken up (I have since went NC).He emailed me with the news.Foolishly,I called to see if he was upset or needed to talk.He was very calm,almost “icy”. Later he gave me a copy of the eulogy he’d written-pastor & several others spoke but he reserved the word “eulogy” for only himself.Criticized all other “speakers.”It was almost as if he’d been an actor in a play with the others as supporting cast! He told everyone how HE’D miss his buddy,the help HE’D given his friend over the years.Posted messages of HIS sadness.Couldn’t wait to get to the house to help her clean out the workshop.Kids(middle age) did not want him there.NEVER heard a word of sympathy for the ailing widow,children or other family & friends!!!!

    • UnForsaken

      That’s a great question Penny, and I’d love to hear Dave’s answer! I watched my N lose both mother and father, the only people he was really ‘close’ to . The response was interesting. Of course, he isn’t a ‘full blown’ N ,but I do think the type of coping is similar in all N behavior. Yes, he made a show of it and had to be the center. Yes, he acted Fine and yet in need of empathy. He even managed to be jealous in the midst of it.

      But what I observed beyond the act was also part of the story. A good many people find that grief brings out the worst in them, or exaggerates wrong thinking. Because these were his parents, his security blanket died and he began to display N traits more openly on a regular basis. He didn’t put the same amount of gusto into the ‘drama’ or impressiveness at the funeral that he usually would, but it came out with an almost tangible resentment. I interpret that to mean he wanted to keep it all for himself, not just the glory but also the grief. In doing so, he never really grieved ’til a year later in a reminiscent depression . Then he used it to try to make us go through it with him again.

      Did he miss them? I think so. But I can’t tell if it was Entirely self-centered or not. They were the best thing in his life because they completely accepted him….And he had very little control over them. It called for an unusual kind of respect for an N to feel. He responded like many healthy, but disturbed people would with a few petty undercurrents. I believe his emotion matched ours ( but wasn’t greater ). Ns cannot let themselves show feeling unless it is a tool. He put it off, then used it. Was his feeling grief real? Yes. But as usual, even with real feeling, the N is complicated and griefs many stages are too.

      All of your examples are valid, and there are probably a ton more. Maybe choosing which coping method to use, they try several on for size ! As soon as all funeral stuff was taken care of, my Ns absorption in his parents turned toward us . It had never been so strong. It felt as if the coping of control had just kicked in. Although unpredictable control had been there all those years, his parents had taken up more of his time. We became his ‘new’ focus, so much so I kept praying for things to distract him. ( A lot of answered prayer there! 😉 ) I think he began to use his type of coping – control, etc. – as a numbing drug.

      If Ns in grief will remain an enigma to me, your question still helped me think it out better, Penny. I wonder if being about oneself all the time is so addictive that they may not know how to function without it, even at their most tender moments .

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