Do you think you are a narcissistic supply?
Fuel (n.) a substance that can be consumed to produce energy.
Synonyms: diesel oil, gasoline, kerosene, coal oil, coal gas, fossil fuel, illuminant, combustible material, lamp oil, petrol, charcoal, fire, butane, gasoline, nuclear fuel, propane
Fuel (v.) provide with a combustible substance that provides energy
Synonyms: render, supply, provide, refuel, furnish, gas up, take up, take in
Survivors of narcissistic abuse are often caught in the crosshairs of dismantling cognitive dissonance in the aftermath of recovery. Part of the process of healing is acquiring a deep understanding and psychoeducation of the nature of narcissistic abuse.
Survivors read about Narcissistic Supply (NS), or the “ego fuel” that narcissists require from their relationships to maintain their precariously fragile psychological innards.
As mentioned in other articles, we know that extreme narcissists exist without a solid core identity due to factors that, in many cases, stem from childhood abuse and lack of a consistent, nurturing caregiver. In order to fill their psychic void, narcissists spend the vast majority of their day- time energy mining for emotional reactions from the people in their lives.
Emotional fuel can be positive, as in admiration, adulation, praise, empathy, compassion, attention, kindness, physical affection, and validation. Or it can be negative, as in an emotional response that shows anger, hurt, tears, humiliation, shame, yelling, embarrassment, and jealousy.
Extreme narcissists use both forms of NS to top off their gas tank of ego fuel, although the negative emotional reaction is actually a more potent and high-quality form of emotional propane.
Part of the healing process for survivors of this form of psychological abuse is the understanding that their narcissistic abuser actually did not feel empathy towards the survivor’s pain and suffering.
In fact, it is the sadistic extraction of NS as a result of causing emotional pain to the survivor that generates the most ego fuel for the abuser.
An extreme narcissist feels powerful and in control when they can simultaneously bolster up their love object on a pedestal and then subsequently wallop them off with abusive words. For extreme narcissists, the love relationship is not about love. It is about acquiring and extracting prime grade NS, or ego fuel, even at the expense of their love object’s well-being. To an extreme narcissist, relationships exist for that reason alone.
The extreme narcissist actually seeks out high-empathy individuals to supply this delicious, exceptional quality ego fuel. If you are an individual who happens to be intuitive, empathic, compassionate, authentic, and a person of integrity, often extreme narcissists will target you for high-grade premium combustion.
Whether in work, love, or family relationships, it is the reaction of a caring individual that fills the psychic void of the extreme narcissist parasite, because the abuser lacks those very qualities and is, in essence, seeking to absorb the exquisite emotional fuel from their host.
Those abusers who tend toward the malignant end of the scale of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) deliberately seek to cause harm in a sadistic fashion so as to extract the NS of their love objects/subordinates/family members.
They actually take pleasure in emotionally abusing a supply-source after a period of seduction/infatuation/love-bombing. Those abusers who are more garden-variety narcissists may not operate consciously to cause intentional harm but nonetheless, if emotional reaction fuel is available, then it will be taken and lapped up eagerly should the opportunity present itself.
What can a high-empathy, intuitive individual do to protect themselves from the seduction and mesmerizing advances of a pathological emotional vampire?
First off, know your worth. Any relationship that is healthy takes time to gradually build with mutual vulnerability, reciprocity and trust-building.
If you are suddenly slammed with a marriage proposal and you feel like it’s too good to be true, the pace is dizzying, the sex is mystical, other-worldly, and spell-bounding, you best slow down and take a deep breath.
More than likely your romantic partner has commenced love-bombing so as to secure you as a source of Grade A Narcissistic Supply. All the potent bonding chemicals of endorphins and oxytocin are bathing your system to create an irresistible bond.
Devaluing and Discard will be shortly around the corner; what goes up must come down. And down it will come, with abusive language, silent treatments, gaslighting, verbal and emotional abuse and put-downs, blame-shifting/projection, and smear campaigns. Cortisol and adrenaline surge in the survivor during this trauma of emotional abuse. A trauma bond has been formed. All to elicit ego fuel for the extreme narcissist.
When survivors go No Contact from their abusers, they cease to provide that desirable cocktail of essential Narcissistic Supply. The survivor generates a shield of protection from further abuse by instigating and continuing with No Contact, in addition to healing from the trauma of emotional abuse by working with qualified helping professionals.
Recovery work includes further reduction of cognitive dissonance through trauma-informed psychotherapy, enhancing self-esteem and fortifying boundaries, developing healthy and strong social support networks and self-care regimes, and of course, working through the traumatic grief of the relationship.
As a survivor heals through all these stages, s/he is able to hold on to their precious life energy which includes the beautiful qualities of empathy, integrity, authenticity, reciprocity, honesty, compromise, accountability, and compassion.
The survivor turns these healthy qualities towards themselves and is empowered to share their psychological and emotional strengths with deserving and safe others who can reciprocate such compassion.
The extreme narcissist eventually ceases to sink fangs in the survivor’s neck, because the survivor has embraced his/her strength and inner knowing, fortifying self-awareness and compassion with solid and healthy boundaries, strong social supports, and renewed self-confidence. When the inevitable hoover occurs, the soul vampire is not able to partake of a prior love interest’s lifeblood. And eventually, the emotional abuse is extinguished.
Healing for the survivor is inevitable with No Contact and trauma-informed psychotherapy with a compassionate psychotherapist skilled in understanding narcissistic abuse.
Are you ready to heal?
Originally appeared on ANDREA SCHNEIDER, MSW, LCSW
Republished with permission