Do Narcissists Really Love Themselves Too Much?
A common misconception regarding narcissists is their feelings about themselves. People often say, "No, no, they don't hate themselves! They love themselves! That's what narcissism is!" Not exactly. Narcissists are pathologically focused on themselves and their own needs, this is definitely true. But this does not translate into love. It's need. That's all they have and all they understand. This is hard for other people to understand because their internal experiences are more evolved and sophisticated than that. The narcissist's internal experiences are not evolved and sophisticated. They are primitive and immature. It's like a child, a really young one. "I want. I need." You don't take breaths because you love yourself. You take breaths because you have to in order to stay alive. It's just a reaction caused by your need for air. The narcissist works this same way.
Now, you might say, "A lot of the things they freak out over are not needs like air or food. Air and food are important." And that's true. This is where the self-hatred comes in. It's all subconscious.
The narcissist hates themselves so much that they don't believe they deserve anything, not even to live, in some cases. As a way to try and counter the horrible feelings that come with this belief, they have created an opposite belief in themselves, and this one says that they deserve everything. And the word "created" is used to describe how this this second opposing belief came about because it is not a true belief. It's just a smokescreen, a fake. It's a defense mechanism against the seriously toxic self-hatred these people are drowning in all the time.
The idea that they deserve everything is fake and therefore, very fragile. When they do not get any one of the things in the category of "EVERYTHING," it destroys that very frail fiction and reiterates the idea that they deserve nothing. Because this idea that they should have literally everything is ludicrous, unrealistic and unreasonable, they are confronted with the truth of their self-hatred over and over again, every time they cannot have something. These feelings overwhelm them and because they have such poorly-formed and immature defense systems against things like that, they simply melt down. They cannot do anything else. Their entire being is focused on pretending those things, those feelings, are not true.
It's like a toddler having a tantrum over spilled milk. The child cries because they do not understand that there is more milk, it can be cleaned up, it's not that big of a deal, etc.. In other words, they cry because their understanding of the world is very immature and so are their emotions. They have no control over their emotions or their behavior. The only difference is that the toddler does not feel self-hatred. They are simply responding to emotion and need. The milk got spilled and they wanted it. Now they feel bad and sad and will scream and cry. Most children will grow out of this behavior as they learn to control their emotions and as their understanding of the world increases. This does not happen for the narcissist.
Narcissists are attacked 24 hours a day by a sadistic, vicious superego that assaults them with cruelty, lies and insults nonstop. Think of the kind of things they say to you. They are hearing that and worse in their heads constantly. Many people seem to be happy to learn that, and while it's understandable to hate the narcissist, if the narcissist hadn't heard that voice 24 hours a day for their entire lives, they probably wouldn't act the way they do. That's the voice they're listening to instead of you when you try to explain that they're wrong about how you feel, what you did and what you said. That's the voice that tells them you hated them since the day you met them, that you're evil and that you're trying to control, manipulate and destroy them. Every single thing they do is a defense mechanism against that voice and the overwhelming feelings it creates. Being happy it exists seems a little counterproductive. Just food for thought.
At any rate, the grandiose expectations, the hysterical tantrums, the complete self-focus and every single maladaptive behavior we observe in the narcissist is the result of trying to deny the self-hatred that little voice provokes.
The superego's voice says, "You're garbage. You're trash."
The narcissist responds with: "I'm not garbage. I'm extremely valuable & matter a lot."
The superego's voice says, "Nobody cares about you. You're worthless."
The narcissist responds with: "I am the most important thing."
The superego's voice says, "You deserve nothing. You're scum."
The narcissist responds with: "I deserve everything. I'm the best thing there is."
The superego's voice says, "You're stupid. You're dumb."
The narcissist responds with: "I'm highly intelligent. Other people are stupid."
The superego's voice says, "No one wants you."
The narcissist responds with: "Everyone wants me. Look at all these people I have slept with."
And on and on that way. If you look at the narcissist's behavior with this understanding, it all falls into place. But even if someone doesn't understand any of this psychological mumbo-jumbo, there is no way to look at a narcissist's behavior and conclude that this is a person with balanced self-esteem who cares for themselves at all. People who love themselves do not behave the way that narcissists behave. It just doesn't happen. People who love themselves don't sabotage their own efforts on a regular basis. They don't cause horrible problems in their own lives for no reason, destroy good relationships, tank great jobs, turn loved ones against them, alienate their children, overmedicate themselves on drugs and alcohol, embarrass themselves repeatedly... people who love themselves don't do these things. These things happen because the narcissist is so poisoned with self-hatred. They spend their entire lives trying to pretend this is not true and hide from these feelings because they can't handle them, but the facade is so thin that as soon as any little thing happen that contradicts it, the whole thing falls apart.
People often ask, "Who are they trying to kid?" And the question is facetious of course, but the answer is dead serious. They are trying to fool themselves. People often think the narcissist is trying to fool them, but they aren't. Not really. They are trying to fool themselves. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Even at the height of their abusive behavior, even with smear campaigns and gaslighting and everything else, the motive has nothing to do with you or anyone else. It's about getting some relief from that toxic, smothering self-hatred.