Narcissists–Their Bottomless Well of Emptiness

“In narcissistic personalities the experience of emptiness is most intense and almost constant…” (Otto Kernberg, Md. clinical expert on the narcissistic personality).  “The narcissist’s experience of emotional emptiness is beyond sadness.  It is a severe and intractable wounding, a pain…savage and deep. The psychological (inner) landscape of the narcissist is bleak.” (From: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life). This is the narcissist’s unconscious experience of himself. (I use the male pronoun “he” in this post to represent male and female narcissists).   As a result the narcissist is a very restless human being, always surveying his external environment for narcissistic supplies: adulation, praise, self indulgence, the company of highly attractive men and women, sexual escapes, the pursuit of material possessions, seeking raw power to control others, manipulation of those whom they experience as competitors.

“The successful narcissist creates an intricate system of positive feedback in the form of friends, associates, partners, spouses—who perpetually fulfill his endless needs.” (From Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life) The narcissist is incapable of having a real relationship with another person. He doesn’t have a relationship with himself. Everything in his life is externalized and the most prized possession of all is the elaborate golden image that he creates and perpetuates all of his life.

Beneath the surface, in the unconscious, molten rage is bubbling. This fury is projected on to others, especially spouses, children, siblings, business associates, etc. The narcissist cannot perceive that this rage is completely inappropriate and harmful to others. He simply spits it out or vomits it forth in a projectile that is highly disturbing and hurtful to its recipients. This is the narcissist’s extreme self loathing in action. The narcissist cannot own any of these unconscious feelings and therefore they are ejected out on to his victims.

When you learn about the dynamics of the narcissistic personality, you have gained knowledge and power. Now you understand what makes them tick, why they react with such venom and why they are constantly searching for narcissistic supplies to fill up the bottomless pit of their psychological emptiness. Learn to detach from the narcissist. Keep your physical distance (if possible since they are very unpleasant to say the least) and maintain your psychological boundaries. You are entitled to respect. You are a separate human being who has intrinsic value, integrity  and dignity.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

5 thoughts on “Narcissists–Their Bottomless Well of Emptiness”

  1. Comment: From Lori
    That is an absolute 100 percent description of my husband of 33 years. I just don’t know how to free my self from him, as he won’t move out of the home. He wants me to leave so he doesn’t have to disturb his comfort zone,and I refuse to let him have his cake and eat it too.

  2. Comment: From Peter Mizla
    Narcissists hate boundaries. The one I knew tried to slip back into my life– not so fast! I agreed to meet- in a public place- NO!
    He wanted back into my life as before. I learned everything about NPD- The know I have them ‘pegged’– this person over time left so much data on his obnoxious personality to me that over time it was easy to go back and analyze- put the puzzle together and easily define the behavior as nothing less then NPD.

    Block them, ignore them- and if you must have contact- a neutral location where you do much of the listening- just and nod or stay silent- make then offer reciprocity- expect little- then move on.

    1. Thank you so very much for all comments! I have been married for 15 years and never know this even existed…till now.
      It’s difficult – and a roller coaster that cannot stop too quickly for me. I continue to gather strength and knowledge every day.

  3. Comment:From Shelley-Ann
    Very accurate article. I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder and this describes exactly my experience with a Narcissist. I saw in him the strong male figure I had lacked in my life and he ripped me to shreds, leaving me a frightened broken childlike ghost of myself.

  4. “The narcissist’s experience of emotional emptiness is beyond sadness. It is a severe and intractable wounding, a pain…savage and deep…”

    I’m trying very hard to understand why my mother is NPD, and of course what will “fix” her. The quote above makes me very sad for her. It also helps me understand the depths this woman will go to get what she wants. At times, when met with pushback from me, she gets almost manic and says or does things that any sane person can clearly see as crazy, but she can’t see it. It is frustrating that I can empathize with her, but she can’t with me. The saddest of all is that apparently that “emotional emptiness” will never be full.

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