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Unlocking Mental Well-being: iflow Psychology
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Addicted to Me: Narcissistic Supply

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Article by: Emily Bosman (Intern) and Dean Harrison (Principal Counselling Psychologist)


Are you dating a narcissist? Perhaps you have recently ended a relationship with a narcissist or divorcing a narcissist? ...or are you attempting to sever the bonds of a destructive relationship with a narcissistic friend?


It does not matter if the person is a narcissistic boss, co-worker, parent, partner, family member, friend, or romantic partner. Any relationship with a pathological narcissist can severely affect a person’s mental health and well-being.

how-to-deal-with-a-narcissist
A narcissist focuses on their own needs

What is a Narcissist?

Pathological narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Narcissists present a false self to others. They advertise themselves as more charming, accomplished, intelligent, heroic, altruistic or sexually desirable than they are. They have a strong need for admiration and attention.


They are also so focused on their needs that they tend to have a diminished ability to empathise.


Narcissistic Relationship Pattern

The pathological narcissist does not engage in healthy and mutually fulfilling relationships. Instead, the pathological narcissist only views people on how they can benefit the narcissist. Individuals are tools to be used and discarded when no longer needed.

Narcissistic Behaviour

The narcissist feeds off the attention, admiration, respect or fear they illicit through their false self.


Think of a narcissist as being similar to an individual who is addicted to drugs. They are addicted to being idealised by others, like a person might be addicted to cocaine or heroin. The narcissist’s drug of choice is how others react to them and the image they present to the world.


Narcissistic Supply

Responses to their false self is referred to as narcissistic supply. Like someone seeking drugs, the narcissist constantly seeks new sources of narcissistic supply to meet their limitless need. Some examples of narcissistic supply include:

  • Praise,

  • Achievements or winning,

  • Reputation,

  • Fame,

  • Sex,

  • Feeling powerful or having power over others and

  • Being in control or having control over others.

If you have encountered a narcissist in your life, chances are, you have been a source of narcissistic supply.


Narcissistic Abuse

Not all narcissistic supply needs to be positive. Narcissists will often garner negative attention and emotional energy.


An example is the narcissistic parent who deliberately makes scheduling mistakes to provoke an angry reaction in the other parent. This provides the narcissist with a sense of power.


Narcissist Cycle of Abuse

When you feed a narcissist with attention and admiration, they are likely to respond to you positively. However, when their needs are not met, they will engage in behaviours to control or even punish you. This is the narcissist abuse cycle.


Narcissistic Injury

Narcissists are also sensitive to perceived insults. They can easily experience narcissistic injury. This is because narcissists inflate themselves to compensate for a fragile ego. Anything that scratches the surface of their false facade can expose their vulnerable core self which they are trying to hide.


How Does a Narcissist React When They Can't Control You?

To elicit narcissistic supply from their sources, narcissists commonly utilise seduction, manipulation, anger, and bullying tactics. They can also engage in narcissist silent treatment, where they effectively deny your existence. This can be profoundly disturbing for the person they are trying to control.


Narcissist Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse. It involves the narcissist engaging in behaviours that cause a person or group to question their perception of reality, memories, and even their sanity. Gaslighting can cause people to feel confused and anxious and lose trust and confidence in themselves.


Dealing with a Narcissist

If you think you might be acting as a source of narcissistic supply, often the best course of action is to remove the narcissist from your life. Cease communication. Eliminate any possible means through which they might be able to influence you.


What a Narcissist Does at the End of a Relationship

Be aware when ending a relationship, the narcissist might employ techniques to retain control over you. This could take the form of ‘love bombing’ consisting of flattery, being overly affectionate, implying that you are ‘soul mates’, telling you they need you. It might also involve bullying tactics involving degradation, lowering self-esteem, and making you doubt yourself.


How to Take Control Away from a Narcissist

Sometimes, it is not possible to eliminate a narcissist from your life. For example, if the narcissist is a family member or a co-worker.


In this instance, keep communication brief, neutral and non-emotive. Learn to implement appropriate boundary setting. Stop sharing personal information about yourself with the narcissist, and refrain from seeking it from them.


Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

Finally, see a psychologist. Prolonged interaction with a narcissist can leave a person depressed, anxious, unsure of their beliefs, and with self-doubt and low self-esteem.


A psychologist can help you develop the tools and insight necessary for recovery. There is light at the end of the tunnel!


Need help?

Support is available if you, or someone you know, is experiencing difficulty with a narcissist or narcissistic abuse.


Please get in touch with iflow Psychology to book an appointment if you need further assistance.


iflow Psychology offers in-person (face-to-face), telehealth and telephone counselling. We are registered psychologists. We also offer Medicare Rebates when you have a doctor's referral and a Mental Health Plan. We would love to be part of your journey to a healthier lifestyle.



Location Details: iflow Psychology is located in Leichhardt Inner West Sydney, NSW, Australia


Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is suggestions only. Speaking with your treating doctor and health professionals before making changes is always advisable. This is particularly important if you have health concerns or have existing medical conditions.


(c) 2021 Dean Harrison

References:

Dentale, F., Verrastro, V., Petruccelli, I., Diotaiuti, P., Petruccelli, F., Cappelli, L., & Martini, P. S. (2015). Relationship between parental narcissism and children’s mental vulnerability: Mediation role of rearing style. International Journal of Psychology & Psychological Therapy, 15, 337–347.


Rappoport, A. (2005). Co-narcissism: How we accommodate to narcissist parents. The

Therapist, 16, 36-38.


Vaknin, S. (2008, November 30). Narcissists, Narcissistic Supply and Sources of Supply,

HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, June 9 from:

https://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/malignant-self-love/narcissists-narcissistic-supply-and-sources-of-supply

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