This blog post is about healing your life, by healing your mind. A journey of self-discovery and recovery from narcissistic abuse. I am going to explain what narcissistic supply is, and give you some examples of what some Narcissists set out to do, in order to get it.
The reason the Narcissist needs you in their life, is because they are looking for meaning to fill up their emptiness. This is the primary reason that the typical self-absorbed narcissist has an interest in pursuing a relationship with another person.
Very sadly, since childhood the Narcissist has learned (for whatever reasons) to disconnect from him/herself. As a result, they have no true inner sense of self, and because of this lack, they need outside validation from others to remind themselves that they exist. Therefore, they have a tremendous need for someone (or anyone) to cater to their needs and fill the enormous crippling void of emptiness they feel inside.
Narcissists need their Narcissistic supply, just as much as we need air to breathe. They have very specific reasons for being in a relationship with others. However, these reasons are not built on the universal need we all have, which is to love. They do not enter or stay in relationships for love. Their motives are quite different. They become involved in relationships for three reasons.
Their first motive for being in a relationship is in connection with their ego – Narcissists love to be admired. If the narcissist is weak, his/her false self will present as being strong. The narcissist will tell you all manner of heroic fantasies in which they are the hero of their stories, and tell you tales in which they have managed to achieve, accomplish, or conquer certain situations in order to obtain the ideal outcome. In doing so, their false self has an external sense of validation from those around them. And in my opinion, because of this external validation, they quickly go from feeling empty and void inside, to temporarily feeling greater – feeling superior, admired and respected.
And in order to continue feeling this way, they may often seek to obtain objects which people admire- this may be the man who has the trophy wife on his shoulder, he is invested in her simply because she makes him look good. Accordingly, she will be treated like an object, (frowned upon and devalued) rather than be seen as a person with her own wants and needs.
The second motive the Narcissist has for getting into a relationship, is to get someone to cater to their needs. This may be the Narcissistic stay at home wife, who continually stretches her husband’s finances by constantly buying things that are way above and beyond their means. Her husband, in this case, will do all the giving, while his wife shamelessly proceeds to do all the taking. She feels she is superior and therefore feels entitled. She has no genuine feelings for her husband, or any concerns for the debt she is mounting up in her husband’s name. She simply sees her husband as performing his duty – and his duty is to caters to her ever demanding needs.
Whilst he has money, and the husband is able to cater to his wife’s, needs he has some form of value. However, when he can no longer afford the cost of her lavish lifestyle, he will no longer have any significant purpose in her life, and will probably be discarded.
The third motive for the narcissist to enter the relationship is centred around the form of control. They have a need to control you, to use you, and then dispose of you. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you will have been brought into the relationship to play a specific role. You are the object the narcissist has carefully chosen for a very specific reason.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, they already have your role in their life mapped out for you – just like a character out of a movie. Firstly, they may entice you into their lives by love bombing you – and then – as soon as the Narcissist knows you are heavily enough invested within the relationship, they begin to pull the plug on you. This is when the narcissist begins playing his/her mind games with you. They may begin playing with your emotions, putting you down constantly. Just like a cat digging its claws in, playing with a mouse – they know that putting you down continuously must really hurt you. And yet, when you get upset, you will be told they are just playing and you are the problem for not having a sense of humour, and they will proceed to tell you, you are being way too sensitive.
So, when it comes to Narcissists supply, what you need to realise is that Narcissists feed off of the attention they get from people. Adoration from others is what fuels them. Attention is their drug, and they are addicted to it, just like a heroin addict is addicted to heroin. This drug is what we call Narcissistic Supply (NS) and it is any form of attention a Narcissist receives from others.
So, there a few types of Narcissistic supply, but I am going to just focus on the commonly known ones which are the Primary Source of narcissistic supply and secondary source of narcissistic supply
So, this is what Sam Vaknin (who is a self-professed Narcissist) and Author of Malignant Self Love has to say about narcissistic supply
People generally seek positive cues from people around them. These cues reinforce certain behaviour patterns. There is nothing special in the fact that the narcissist also seeks positive feedback from his environment. However, there are two major differences between the narcissist and a normal person.
The first difference is quantitative. A normal person will welcome a moderate amount of attention in the form of adoration, approval, praise. However, too much attention is perceived by a normal person as onerous and to be avoided. Similarly, negative people avoid destructive and negative criticism. This is not so for the narcissist. The narcissist is the mental equivalent of an alcoholic, he/she is insatiable and directs their whole behaviour, in fact their whole lives to obtaining attention. The narcissist uses this attention to create a coherent, totally biased picture of themselves to themselves. He uses narcissistic supply to regulate his precarious sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
A narcissist provokes people interest and attention by projecting a confabulated, factitious version of himself. This is known as the false self. The false self that the Narcissist pretends to be, is actually everything that the Narcissist is not. The false self is all knowing, all powerful, charming, intelligent, rich, well endowed, talented, skilled. The narcissist projects this false self then proceeds to harvest reactions from friends, family, business partners and co-workers. If the reactions are not forthcoming or sufficient, the narcissist demands people to give him adoration, adulation, attention, applause, and affirmation.
If they can find supply from a source that they deem superior to them in some way – then that becomes the best source of supply. They may admire someone for whatever reason – their intellect, their knowledge, their beauty, their position. These people would be really good sources of supply for the narcissist. These are the type of people they target for their primary source of Narcissistic supply. He insists on it. In extreme cases he extorts it. Compliments, appearance in the media, or sexual conquests. It is all converted to the same currency in the mind – this currency is Narcissistic supply.
So, according to Sam Vaknin, there are two types of Narcissistic Supply — Primary and Secondary. Primary Narcissistic Supply is the day-to-day changing attention one receives from various different people they encounter throughout their day. When one does not receive enough Primary NS from strangers or others to fulfil their desires, they turn to what is called Secondary NS.
Secondary Narcissistic Supply is strictly for backup purposes. Secondary NS is obtained from the Narcissist’s significant other. The significant other is a constant presence in their life. Therefore, they are always available and accessible to them, should they encounter deficient Primary NS at some point during the day.
However you may notice that most of the literature about narcissistic supply is centred around positive forms of attention such as flattery and adoration – Nevertheless what you may find interesting (or rather sad actually) is when it comes to pathological narcissists ANY attention, positive or negative is a great source of supply.
In terms of the victim narcissist – according to H G Tudor, in his book Sitting Target: How and Why the Narcissist Chooses You (p. 16)
All narcissists play at being the victim at some point, but not all narcissists are of the victim variety. Non-victim narcissists are content to use their perception of victim hood by virtue of manipulating their targets and victims. Furthermore, they will use their perception as being a victim for the purposes of driving their desire to act against people. Non-victim narcissists use the concept of being a victim as a device and place it on themselves, and remove it at will, like a mask.
Unfortunately, (in my opinion) within romantic relationships, when it comes to the spouse of the victim narcissist, this is why, within extreme cases where police are involved, police may find it difficult trying to defer who the actual victim is. This is because both parties are making similar allegations, as the narcissist wears their false victim mask. This may then result in the Narcissist further gaslighting the victim, by using the police to arrest the innocent victim.
However, with that being said, the good news is, a new law regarding psychological abuse was put into place in 2015 to target people who psychologically and emotionally abuse their spouses or family members was put under the serious crime bill. The legislation will see psychological abusers facing up to five years in prison or a hefty fine, or both if found guilty.
The bad news is, I have been informed by the police, the new law is only applicable to those within romantic relationships, or family members. And even then….. (besides the victim being left to feel suicidal) psychological abuse is extremely difficult for anyone to prove. Working as a counsellor and life coach I am more than aware, that phycological abuse can happen absolutely anywhere – it can happen at work, it can happen at church– or at home, via the pathological narcissist who lives next door. In short, it can happen anywhere there is a Narcissist who has identified a prime target, in order to get their constant flow of NS. And remember. even if the Narcissist receives negative attention (maybe from the police, or from others) it is still attention, and the narcissist wants more of it – I sincerely hope, in light of this, that one day this is recognised, and that the law is changed to help people who are being psychologically abused – regardless of their relationship status with the narcissist.
According to HG Tudor (self-confessed Narcissist) True Victim Narcissists adopt a permanent state of being a victim both in outlook and behaviour. They regard the world as a place whereby they have been denied their rightful inheritance of looks, intellect, wealth and power and they rely on others to provide it to them instead. The Victim Narcissist will look to others to repair his failings, such as lack of money, lack of home, lack of job and overall lack of competence.
He is however a narcissist and needs to seduce his victims all the same and he does so by presenting as a victim who needs looking after.
So in the case of the victim narcissist, If they have an illness, their illness is much worse than anyone else’s. This ensures your attention, your sympathy, your presence, your support and that you will take care of chores and practical tasks. They play on the empath’s sense of caring and nurturing and present as a victim in order to be taken care of (so to speak) by the empath.
You may, for instance, find yourself offering the victim narcissist advice on how to help them better look after themselves – this will be welcomed with a long list of yes but’s.
- Yes, I know fruit is good for me, but I don’t like it.
- Yes, I know I should go to hospital, but I don’t like to be a bother to anyone.
- Yes, I know I should take those tablets, but I don’t like the shape of them. I’m frightened I will choke.
- Yes, I know I shouldn’t eat junk food, but I don’t know how to cook.
You get the picture. Every suggestion you make in order to help the victim narcissist to move forwards is met by some form of resistance. Ultimately, the sad truth in my opinion is, the narcissist has so much of his/her identity wrapped up in being a victim (as this ensures a stable sense of self & NS) that they do not wish to lose their victim position, because to do so, would be to lose the narcissistic supply that comes with the victim stance they have firmly adopted.
The narcissist wants your sympathy, your empathy, your time and your attention. They want that more than anything, in fact, when it comes down to their very own physical, or mental health, they tend to cast their own wellbeing aside, in preference to their NS.
Another great place for NS is Social Media. The narcissist loves an audience. It is a platform (like a stage) that can be used for their main performance. Social media is therefore a breeding ground for NS.
The Narcissist uses this platform to distort reality beyond any recognition to the true victim. They place their false victim mask on very firmly (after abusing their prime target) and in doing so, set about using character assignation in order to distort and discredit other people’s perception of the true victim’s character.
This is like putting dinner on the table for the victim narcissist. Social media has provided both a space in which they can use their false smear campaign against their victim, and gain plentiful NS from their poor little old me – false victim posts in doing so.
If this has happened to you, I know it is really hard not to take it personally. I have certainly been the victim of these types of smear campaigns myself. However, to the Narcissist you could have been absolutely anyone. You are almost like a character out of a movie – the narcissists movie – You have been chosen for a very specific role- and you are merely playing out the role the narcissist has planned out for you within their minds.
Narcissist will stop at nothing to get their NS. Here is another example. They may call someone – and inform them they are suicidal. This person will be someone whom which they know will contact the emergency services and inform the police they are suicidal. The person in question has merely been used by the narcissist to validate their story.
The police (who are probably much needed elsewhere – with the people who are genuinely in need of help, or with the people who are genuinely feeling suicidal) will then spend time with the narcissist, making sure they are okay before they leave. This will have provided the Narcissist with their much-needed NS.
After the event, the Narcissist will brag and laugh about how concerned the police were – and about the amount of time they spent with them. Everyone has been played- the concerned person who initially contacted the emergency services, and both the police alike.
Narcissists resent the fact that they have to rely on other people, and they resent the fact that they have to pretend in order to get other people to like them. This can sometimes be experienced inside as there being something wrong with themselves,, but is denied and projected outwards as their being something wrong with other people.
So Narcissistic Supply is any form of attention that can provide meaning to the Narcissist in order to fill up their chronic feeling of emptiness. Attention is their addiction, and they will do whatever is necessary, in order to obtain it. And they do not care who they use, and who they hurt in order to obtain it.
Most victims of Narcissistic abuse, after the false smear campaigns, and after being gaslighted by the Narcissist, are left suffering with CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder).
If you feel you may have symptoms of CPTSD, then I urge you to seek some form of professional help. And please make sure in advance before you work with anyone, that they have in depth knowledge of Narcissistic abuse, as unfortunately, many counsellors are still unaware of the depths of this form of psychological abuse.
They can, albeit unintentionally, end up re-traumatising the victim by getting victims to look for the facts for your thoughts (and because psychological abuse is so difficult to prove). There has been a potential for Counsellors to assume that victims of abuse may be having paranoid thoughts and therefore ask you the victim if there is another way to look at this situation.
After being gaslighted so much by your abuser into thinking you crazy, you may feel your counsellor is now questioning your reality too. This is because people who do not know about narcissistic abuse, have difficulty in believing all this stuff could actually be true, and therefore may lean more towards the thought of the victim being delusional in some way.
So please, whatever you do – whoever you seek help from, make sure you work with someone who really understands this form of abuse in depth.
A very dear client of mine, Richie, sent me this quote that he found online, and from my perspective, this is an excellent description of NA.
“These are dangerous predators that cut people off from the rest of the group by promising them a dream relationship and sells that like no tomorrow. Fact of the matter they are the worst kind of psychotic vampires and suck everything innocent and wholesome out of you and pack you full of self-doubt so they can systematically destroy you.
And systematically they do proceed to destroy your sense of self, self-confidence, ability to experience happiness and joy is stripped away. Your friendships and connections to the outside world are stripped off as your dependency on them and their control of you are solidified.
If your survival instincts don’t kick in and you leave at some point, the narcissist will suck you dry and with nothing left to take they will drop you in the worst way at the worst possible time.
And they will walk away like you never even mattered, which is proof that you never even mattered.
If you have not been narcissistically abused, you will never understand it.
Belief in the truth of this answer will fall sharply into two camps, the people that believe it will be the ones that were subjected to narcissistic abuse. The people who think this is a gross exaggeration have been spared the horror of narcissistic abuse.”
After being a victim of NA myself, that statement really resonated with me. I feel the most traumatising thing is, once you finally are able to put a name to your experience and realise that you have been a victim of NA and that you are not the crazy one, you can gain a sense of relief. And yet, when you reflect further, and look back through the history of your relationship, you realise that you were being played all along.
However, with hindsight (after the relationship) you can recognise the love bombing, the idolisation in the beginning of the relationship, followed by the devaluation- and the games that they played- such as the word salad – so you could never get to the bottom of anything, if ever have a normal conversation, or the gas lighting and smear campaigns and be able to recognise the amount of NS your partner gained from being in this relationship with you.
Hopefully, if you have left your Narcissistic Partner, your knowledge of this form of psychological abuse, and the ability to recognise some of the tactics that Narcissists use, may eventually help you to spot somebody with this personality disorder a lot sooner. And hopefully help you to avoid another toxic relationship.
And please remember there really is hope, and there really is help out there, and you really cannot just recover, but really thrive, after narcissistic abuse. Although that may be hard to believe where you are right now.
I really hope you have found this information on Narcissistic Supply to have been useful in some way today.
If you are a victim of NA, don’t forget to join my FB group for victims of narcissistic abuse. Or contact me for counselling or coaching.
Thank you so much for being a part of my day, and a part of my life, and thanks for allowing me to be a part of yours.