All I Want for Christmas is . . .
The narcissistic-sociopath with a Cluster B personality disorder desires three essential things required for survival.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests that approximately 9.2% of people in the United States meet the criteria for a personality disorder which includes narcissism and anti-social personality disorder, also known as sociopathy. Often the conditions exist together as co-morbidities, hence the new term narcopath. It is imperative that we understand the underpinnings of this disorder in order to recognize it and steer clear of it.
Narcissism exists on a spectrum and most of them are unaware of the logistics that make them tick. Acknowledgment of these inner mechanisms rarely happens because it would require some degree of self-reflection and honesty, and the Cluster B disordered person is not capable of either. But there are three common things that every narcopath (narcissistic-sociopath) requires simply to survive. Their whole life is about the acquisition of these three things, and they will do absolutely anything to get them.
Number One: The Acquisition of Fuel and Supply
Number Two: The Acquisition of Residual Benefits
Number Three: The Acquisition of Character Traits
The Acquisition of Fuel and Supply
The narcopath cannot survive without fuel. He is an addict who is addicted to narcissistic supply. Delicious, delightful, decadent supply. Generous amounts flowing like a never-ending waterfall of fuel. They will murder their mothers, eat their children, and suffocate their spouses to get that life-sustaining fuel.
The majority of narcissists seeking fuel can be converted to the quest for sadistic supply when they discover that humiliating another individual is even more gratifying and thus they become converts who become addicted to the stronger addictive drug of psychopathic supply. It is almost like an epiphany or religious experience from whence they seldom return.
Various kinds of fuel can be obtained in a number of ways.
Fuel is the emotional energy and food that is given to the narcopath that feeds them and keeps them going. It is derived from various forms of contact and once they have depleted one source, they must move on to other sources to provide this sustenance. They are constantly on the hunt for sources of fuel and have both primary, secondary, and even tertiary sources of fuel in a multi-tiered system. They love to create a reaction, whether good or bad, as long as they have the power, control, and spotlight.
Attention is like water for a person suffering from a narcissistic-sociopathic disorder. They must have it daily and in copious amounts in order to stay alive. Positive attention is preferred; however, any kind of attention will do as long as all eyes are on them.
Affection is another important component to fuel acquisition. They thrive on being on the receiving end of affectionate gestures which could be anything from a hug to a massage or a cuddle under a blanket. They love being touched and petted, stroked and held. And not only physical affection, they also love gestures of affection: little gifts and surprises, acts of kindness and service, acts of sacrifice and sweetness. It’s as if he wants you to be his mother which is an apt dynamic for unresolved issues with parental figures from a painful past. He expects the “parentified partner” to soothe him and provide him with safety, and this time expects a different outcome because by converting the partner into the parent, he can create a different ending to what was a failure with the parent of origin. It is a no-win situation.
Adoration is one of the best sources of fuel. They love being elevated to the status of a god. They want to be the highest deity in your own personal temple who holds all the power and wonder and awe. Their sense of entitlement makes it understandable that the need for a cadre of worshipping groupies is irresistible to the narcopath.
Narcopaths try to elicit admiration from those around them by exuding a sense of superiority and an air of being special, unique, and powerful. They are actually quite charming and create a sense of “stickiness” as they ensnare their victims, much like a spider in a web. He expects his partner to become his parent, co-conspirators, fellow adventurers in his fantasy world created by the false self. Partners usually succumb and join a shared fantasy world where they live beside the narcopath in an illusory world of delusion until the abuse cycle continues on to the final discard stage.
The Acquisition of Residual Benefits
The narcopath is the world’s greatest opportunist. They are survivors of the highest caliber. They intuitively seek what they need and will do whatever it takes without conscience or remorse to obtain it. So what are these residual benefits that are so important to the narcissist?
Residual benefits are anything and everything that you have that the narcopath wants. Since they are entitled and have no boundaries, they believe that these resources you may have to offer are theirs for the taking. These are the perks that the narcissist enjoys as a by-product of their relationship with you.
I was a college professor, dance teacher, and esteemed member of the academic community when I met my ex-husband who was young, uncultured, and trapped in poverty. He saw an opportunity and took it. For the next fifteen years, he developed into everything he had aspired to be and even more than he could have imagined. When he had taken everything I had to offer and contaminated every relationship I had with those most valuable to me via his many transgressions throughout the many years, he decided it was time to get fresh fuel, thus he discarded me without warning. After sixteen years together, I thought we were bulletproof. We were planning a move and a future and the next steps of our lives right up to the minute he turned on me and ripped my soul right out of my body. Even now, I can’t believe he could be capable of such savage butchery.
If you have something they deem valuable, you become a prime target. It could be money, connections, career assistance, social status, a meal-ticket, or lifestyle. They are glib, charming, charismatic predators who are highly manipulative, Machiavellian even. The ends justify the means. So if you have something that will benefit them in some way, watch out. These are the residual benefits they seek when hunting for the perfect partner.
The Acquisition of Character Traits
The narcissistic sociopath or psychopath has no inner core or authentic identity, so they must stitch one together from their main source of supply they have coupled with for the purpose of assimilating their personality and character traits. One common feature that occurs is dissociating which essentially means that they erase memories that challenge their grandiose self-perception and false narrative that justifies their exploitative, anti-social, and cruel behavior. They suffer a type of amnesia because their contact with others is conducted through a fictitious construct called the false persona or the false self. Narcissists never experience reality directly but only through a distorted lens tempered by magical thinking, projection, blame-shifting, revisionist history, entitlement, and numerous pathological constructs designed to create and protect the false self. The beautiful, charming mask remains firmly in place as they move through life.
In an attempt to compensate for the yawning gaps in memory, narcissists and psychopaths confabulate: They invent plausible fillers and scenarios of how things might, could, or should have conceivably occurred. To everyone else, these fictional stopgaps appear as lies, but the narcissist fervently believes in their own distorted reality. He may not actually remember what actually happened, but it simply could not have happened any other way! So if they think it must be true, it is their truth.
These fabricated fantasies are frequently revised as their inner world and external circumstances change over time. The result is that they often contradict themselves. Today’s confabulation often negates yesterday’s which doesn’t match up with tomorrow’s. They can’t keep their stories straight because they don’t possess the emotions or awareness that are necessary components of real memories. They are easily adaptable to change and constantly imitate and emulate.
So if their lives exist in a bubble of delusions fueled by magical thinking, false narratives, and a fluid reality defined by a mercurial history, how do they acquire character and personality traits that weave a personal identity?
The narcopath’s sources of fuel and supply serve as external memories and whose function is to maintain a constant flow of affirming and cohering data that grounds them and makes them seem real. As a result of early childhood abuse and trauma, he has had to invent himself, and therefore sees no problem in re-inventing something on an ongoing basis since he designed it all from scratch in the first place. The narcissist is his own creator. He is his own God. But how does one invent himself if there is nothing in their inner landscape to draw from? They are empty and hollow and never developed healthy emotions, so how do they cobble together an identity?
They assimilate yours. Like a sponge. Like a shape-shifter. Like the chameleon they are. Piece by piece, bit by bit, they absorb you until their new persona is complete. It’s easy to think you have met your dream come true, your soul-mate, your energetic twin flame destined for you and you only. But you are only in love with yourself and that familiarity is you being reflected back at you like a mirror. With each new partner, they cannibalize their former construct and replace it with a shiny new one. They may be unrecognizable as you search for the person you knew and loved and slept beside every night for years or even decades. They become completely different people with completely different identities so quickly that you cannot believe what you are witnessing. The old false self is gobbled up by the new one and their memory of the previous life evaporates like it never existed.
That is the most painful part of the recovery from malignant narcissistic/sociopathic abuse — the fact that they hit the erase button and your whole life together is instantly annihilated and forever extinguished as if it never happened. Every memory, every precious moment spent together. . . the whole thing just burned to the ground. It is invalidating and inhumane. It crushes the heart and soul of those who believed it was all real, and like any dead thing, it should be treated with respect and reverence.
There is no hope that the narcopath can ever be healed.
The narcissist has no past and no future. He occupies an eternal present that is fluid and knows no rules or boundaries, reality or connection, emotion or hope. He is an artifact, a tragically beautiful corpse floating in the dark frozen sea of a tempestuous childhood.
Prajinta Pesqueda is a veteran of a war against trauma-induced C-PTSD caused by a 15-year marriage to a covert somatic mid-range narcissist-sociopath and addict. She is a recovery facilitator and holds a Master’s degree with an emphasis on guidance and counseling.
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