Narcissists present the very essence of confidence and composure, appearing in public as charming, bright, capable and cool. But beneath this façade lies an alter ego wracked with fears and insecurities.
Keeping Jekyll & Hyde apart
At the very core of a narcissist lies their “real self” – someone wracked with shame, self-loathing and misery. Their entire life’s work is to maintain a false self that is the polar opposite – confident, charismatic, charming, popular and admired. So whilst if you google ‘fears of the narcissist’ you will find all manners of lists, fundamentally each and every fear is boils down to failing to maintain their false self. Their entire reason for being is fatally threatened by society seeing their real self for what it is, and that they can maintain the illusion no longer.
Ask the Narc
How does this manifest itself? Look out for variations on the following themes. We start with self-confessed narcissist HG Tudor describing his own top five fears:
1. You will leave and turn off the supply
Narcissistic supply is the fuel that drive the narcissists, enabling them to maintain the charade of “real self vs false self”, and the Grandiosity Gap between the two. It is the ego-boosting admiration and adulation that gives them the sustenance to maintain the pillar of society image. The Dr Jekyll that camouflages the toxic Mr Hyde.
So important to them is their supply of this fuel that they will ensure maximum sources of plentiful supply at any one time. But despite this, as a general rule their most bountiful supply is their partner – the disappearance of whom would leave a significant dent.
Many other commentators talk about abandonment as Narcs’ greatest fear. Many narcissists will use the exact same word in discussion and debate with their partner.
Interestingly, it is not necessary the breakup of the relationship that heralds the turning off the tap for the narcissist – unless their partner is able to break free quickly and go No Contact effectively. Often post-breakup narcs will more onto their New Supply whilst still deriving narcissistic supply through Triangulation and Hoovering. As these two methods also dry up, expect the Mission to Destroy as a method to extract the last few drops.
Quite simply, supply allows them to maintain the charade to the outside world.
2. I am ignored
Depriving the narcissist of attention also deprives them of supply. No adulation and applause, it tells them that they are not omnipotent, that they can’t control everything despite their best attempts to manipulate, that they lack significance. This gives them that glimpse in the mirror of reality – that their false self is just that, and the reality is ugly indeed. It serves as a reminder of the enormity of their task – securing the supply required to maintain the illusion.
3. I am exposed
Depending on who sees their real self, and how influential they might be on a day-to-day basis, exposure is their biggest, continually present fear. A lifetime’s work to maintain an illusion could be shattered in an instant with it. The moment that they can no longer maintain the deception is the moment at which they start losing friends, Flying Monkeys and Enablers. They are left to face and accept the harsh reality of their real self – Narcissistic Collapse. Equivalent to a massive breakdown from which there is little hope of recovery, if they don’t commit suicide they invariably live out the rest of their days as bitter and abrasive recluses.
4. I grow weary
Age catches up with us all. For most of us, we adapt ourselves to the various phases of life, as indeed does the satisfaction we derive from each metamorphose. But for the narcissist, age is particularly unwelcome. Wrinkles, greying hair, bodies that lose strength and virility, bits that head south – these all eat into the beauty and charm on which the narcissist is so reliant. Kids fly the nest, people wise up, they retire and therefore lose status and control.
As the years go by, so does the ability of the narcissist to attract, retain and control their sources of supply. And with less and less supply, so the pressure increases on the duality of their personalities. More than most, as they get old they get everso cranky.
5. The Creature escapes
Being exposed by someone else is one thing, but even the narcissist has to question their ability to maintain the charade for their entire lives. Narcs are very careful not to reveal their real selves other than behind closed doors. But even with the most polished act, such is there unquenchable thirst for supply, they need to be so very careful as to what abuse they exact on who, and with what evidence and witnesses. They may well pull off a campaign of terror behind closed doors, but it is impossible to keep the lid on this indefinitely. It’s a fear they live with constantly, and explains why they deploy so many layers of defence.
Other lists read as follows:
- Being Exposed
- Being disrespected
- Being made fun of, insulted
- Being ignored
- Being abandonment
- Real Intimacy
- Losing Control of Others
- Losing Narcissistic Supply
The 7 Things Narcissists Fear Most | The Minds Journal
- Abandonment & Rejection
- Being Made Fun Of
- Being Disrespected
- Being Ignored
- Loss of Trappings of Youth & Success
The Ten Things that Terrify Narcissists | Psych2go
- Relationship Commitment
- Looking Deep into their Soul
- Lack of Admiration from Others
- Getting Called Out on their Lies
- Not being in Important Positions
- Feeling Remorse
- Feeling Gratitude