Copyright © 2009 by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D. · All Rights reserved · E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many people spend a lifetime aggressively trying to protect an injured or vulnerable "self." Traditionally, psychologists have termed such people "narcissists," but this is a misnomer. To the outside world it appears that these people love themselves. Yet, at their core they don't love themselves--in fact their self barely exists, and what part does exist is deemed worthless. All energy is devoted to inflating the self, like a persistent child trying to blow up a balloon with a hole.
Because they need continuous proof of the significance of their voice, narcissists must find people, particularly important people, to hear and value them. If they are not heard, their childhood wound opens, and they quickly begin to melt away like the Wicked Witch of the West. This terrifies them. Narcissists use everyone around them to keep themselves inflated. Often they find flaws in others and criticize them fiercely, for this further distinguishes them from those who are defective. Children are ready targets: narcissists consider children flawed and lacking, and therefore most in need of severe "teaching" and correction. This negative picture of children is a sad projection of how the narcissist truly feels about his or her inner self before the self-inflation began. But the narcissist never recognizes this: they consider their harsh, controlling parenting magnanimous and in the child's best interest.
Spouses receive similar treatment--they exist to admire the narcissist and to remain in the background as an adornment. Frequently, spouses are subject to the same barrage of criticism. This can never be effectively countered, because any assertive defense is a threat to the narcissist's wounded "self." Not surprisingly, narcissists cannot hear others: spouse, lover, or friends, and especially not children. They are interested in listening only to the extent that it allows them the opportunity to give advice
Voicelessness and Emotional Survival