As populations across the globe move into forced isolation, so the pressure between narcopaths and their victim will peak to dangerous levels.
With many countries go into obligatory lockdown, so couples and families are forced together in ways they have never experienced before. For many, forced isolation will give them an opportunity to spend quality time with their family, develop stronger bonds and to share in a wartime spirit of resilience and kindness.
For others, it is going to be a tinder keg ready to ignite, a pressure cooker set to explode. Sadly many spouses will start to see a personality in their partner that they had been oblivious to before – a veritable monster of Mr Hyde emerging from behind the charming Dr Jekyll that they had fallen in love with.
Not all of us are “normal”. In fact around ten percent of the general population have some form of Cluster B personality disorder – psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissistic and borderline personality disorders. Unlike the characters portrayed by Hollywood, they aren’t immediately identifiable – they don’t run around wielding chainsaws and sporting demonic glares. On the contrary, they seem to be thoroughly charming individuals when playing out their public charade. Just as a con artist is able to play a very convincing story to lure us into parting with our money, the Cluster B spins an exciting and alluring yarn, a convincing web of deceit that captivates and mesmerizes their quarry into parting with their hearts and emotions. Once the honeymoon of the Love-bombing Phase is over having achieved its aims, so the relationship slides inexorably into one of Devaluation – a parasitic bond in which the narcopath systematically drains their victim of self-confidence and identity in order to prop up their own fragile ego.
Tragically this is where the fairytale ends and the nightmare begins. Lockdown is going to have some very major impacts on the pathological narcissist, or Narcopath, (and it is pathological narcissism that underpins the malignancy in all Cluster Bs).
The Strangling of Narcissistic Supply
Narcopaths depend on a steady stream of what is called narcissistic supply – essentially anything that reinforces their false sense of self as being popular, successful, admired, revered, significant and important. It can take many forms –the veneration of potential lovers, the recognition of success in the form of income / bonuses / rewards, the hedonism of affairs, the obedience of work colleagues, the reassurance of power and influence, the indulgence of gossip amongst friends etc.
Lockdown will deprive many narcopaths of these sources of positive narcissistic supply. Confined to the home and without the uplifting distraction of excitement, they are faced with themselves and the reality of the monster within. Desperate for any form of supply (or “fuel”), they now turn to their partners and indeed kids to provide it – and negative narcissistic supply might have to be the drug of choice. In this form, supply is harmful – extending all the way to deadly. The abuse metered out to “loved ones” can take many forms – physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, psychological, financial, intellectual, spiritual, property abuse (incl embezzlement, misappropriation etc). Narcs will triangulate, impose the silent treatment and gaslight their victims in order to make them go crazy and develop insecurities.
Abuse behind closed doors
In essence, victims of narcissistic abuse who are cooped up with their abuser in the confines of their home can expect a veritable maelstrom of ill-treatment – but often disguised as anything but. And the most surprising thing about it all is that, as with boiling frog syndrome, many victims will be totally unaware that it is evening happening – symptoms of such an abusive relationship can be so subtle that they just think that something is off.
Furthermore, to the outsider, Narcs have an uncanny ability to switch the roles, portraying themselves as victims (and often heroes), whilst their victims are framed as villains with a host of false allegations, smear and lies. The clever ones will bait-and-trap their prey into incidents that give the narc snippets of proof and evidence that are then weaved with their fake narratives. So whilst presenting the very essence of charm to the world, behind closed doors the narc is a monster – the ultimate wolf in sheeps’ clothing.
Pushed into Suicide
I have yet to come across a survivor of narcissistic abuse who hasn’t been pushed into suicidal thoughts at some stage. For some, suicide ideation is a constant theme in their lives until they are able to do the inner work required to heal. Tragically, many do not live to tell their stories – their passing put down to anything but abuse – depression, job loss, financial woes amongst the most common reasons. Suicide is not restricted to discarded partners – children of narc also have significant demons to contend with.
The Absent Partner
I wonder how many spouses will use a range of excuses to be “stuck” elsewhere when lockdown is announced. Having to shack up in whatever shelter they can find locally – which may coincidentally be that of a new provider of narcissistic supply. The impact of such a move on their spouse/partner will be devastating – the only upside being that the sidelined partner now has an opportunity to evaluate the situation without bamboozle, come to terms with it and embark on their journey of recovery.
Managing the Narc in Lockdown
There is no cure for pathological narcissism – rather than save the partnership, victims are instead advised to save themselves (and any dependent children). Getting well away and cutting all ties is the overwhelming prevailing advice – where such a move is possible.
This remedy may be impractical for many during lockdown, and as such the following tips and tricks for managing the narc and relationship during isolation are at Managing the Narcopath in Lockdown.
Someone to talk to
If you need someone to talk to, I will happily give anyone 15 mins of my time for free – please just book at slot with me here. I work with fellow survivors to validate their experience (in lieu of diagnosing the narc), strategising to clarify quick and efficient escape, provide counselling services and recovery plans, and help victims resolve the trauma and recover their lives.