The Depressive NarcissistWritten by Sam Vaknin
Many scholars consider pathological narcissism to be a form of depressive illness. This is position of authoritative magazine "Psychology Today". The life of typical narcissist is, indeed, punctuated with recurrent bouts of dysphoria (ubiquitous sadness and hopelessness), anhedonia (loss of ability to feel pleasure), and clinical forms of depression (cyclothymic, dysthymic, or other). This picture is further obfuscated by frequent presence of mood disorders, such as Bipolar I (co-morbidity).
While distinction between reactive (exogenous) and endogenous depression is obsolete, it is still useful in context of narcissism. Narcissists react with depression not only to life crises but to fluctuations in Narcissistic Supply.
The narcissist's personality is disorganised and precariously balanced. He regulates his sense of self-worth by consuming Narcissistic Supply from others. Any threat to uninterrupted flow of said supply compromises his psychological integrity and his ability to function. It is perceived by narcissist as life threatening.
I. Loss Induced Dysphoria
This is narcissist's depressive reaction to loss of one or more Sources of Narcissistic Supply – or to disintegration of a Pathological Narcissistic Space (PN Space, his stalking or hunting grounds, social unit whose members lavish him with attention).
II. Deficiency Induced Dysphoria
Deep and acute depression which follows aforementioned losses of Supply Sources or a PN Space. Having mourned these losses, narcissist now grieves their inevitable outcome – absence or deficiency of Narcissistic Supply. Paradoxically, this dysphoria energises narcissist and moves him to find new Sources of Supply to replenish his dilapidated stock (thus initiating a Narcissistic Cycle).
III. Self-Worth Dysregulation Dysphoria
The narcissist reacts with depression to criticism or disagreement, especially from a trusted and long-term Source of Narcissistic Supply. He fears imminent loss of source and damage to his own, fragile, mental balance. The narcissist also resents his vulnerability and his extreme dependence on feedback from others. This type of depressive reaction is, therefore, a mutation of self-directed aggression.
Grandiosity BubblesWritten by Sam Vaknin
As one Source of Narcissistic Supply dwindles, narcissist finds himself trapped in a frantic (though, at times, unconscious) effort to secure alternatives. As one Pathological Narcissistic Space (the narcissist's stomping grounds) is rendered "uninhabitable" (too many people "see through" narcissist's manipulation and machinations) – narcissist wanders off to find another.
These hysterical endeavors sometimes lead to boom-bust cycles which involve, in first stage, formation of a Grandiosity Bubble.
A Grandiosity Bubble is an imagined, self-aggrandizing, narrative involving narcissist and elements from his real life – people around him, places he frequents, or conversations he is having. The narcissist weaves a story incorporating these facts, inflating them in process and endowing them with bogus internal meaning and consistency. In other words: he confabulates – but, this time, his confabulation is loosely based on reality.
In process, narcissist re-invents himself and his life to fit new-fangled tale. He re-casts himself in newly adopted roles. He suddenly fancies himself an actor, a guru, a political activist, an entrepreneur, or an irresistible hunk. He modifies his behavior to conform to these new functions. He gradually morphs into fabricated character and "becomes" fictitious protagonist he has created.