For the Narcissist-Image is Everything

The identity of the narcissist is largely based on his/her external image. I am talking about personal appearance, the look of success–homes,cars,planes, yes—even wives, mistresses and children. The narcissist feeds on his grandiose feelings of superiority but must present perfection to the world. His act is so smooth. He or she is perfectly turned out–so charming, affable, persuasive with those from whom he is seeking approval, power, money, praise. Those on the receiving end of this act feel a thrill of excitement in a highly developed narcissist. He surrounds himself with an aura of overriding confidence, When the narcissist is “on”, he or she can seduce us with their magnetism (unless we know how to read them psychologically).

Those who have spent years of suffering living through relationships or marriages to narcissists know that this velvet exterior is an act, a device of manipulation. Even so, many spouses and partners of narcissists trudge on, staying with these masters of image because they want to believe that this is the real person. Narcissists rip off their masks when they leave a particular stage. They are consummate actors—they even produce tears that appear to be genuine. The dark side is exposed readily enough. The rages, recriminations, criticisms, humiliations, accusations resume. The partner is blamed for everything that goes wrong. The self hatred that the narcissist unconsciously feels inside is spewed out onto those closest to him. They take the blows. There are no real apologies for these verbal assaults. The narcissist justifies all of his actions, even his cruelest deeds.

I remind those who are recipients of the narcissist’s vitriol that he/she is not going to change. You can stand there and take the blows, numb yourself, detach emotionally, in some cases, become psychologically or even physically ill, or you can make the decision to end what was never a reciprocal relationship and reclaim what you deserve: your life together with all of your gifts, energies, dreams, talents and potential. It’s not too late. It is your decision. Visit my website:

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
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