Narcissism, in lay terms, basically means that a person is totally absorbed in self. The extreme narcissist is the center of his own universe. To an extreme narcissist, people are things to be used. It usually starts with a significant emotional wound or a series of them culminating in a major trauma of separation/attachment. No matter how socially skilled an extreme narcissist is, he/she has a major attachment dysfunction. The extreme narcissist is frozen in childhood. He/she became emotionally stuck at the time of his/her major trauma of separation/attachment.
In my work with extreme narcissist patients I have found that their emotional age and maturity corresponds to the age they experienced their major trauma. This trauma was devastating to the point it almost killed that person emotionally. The pain never was totally gone and the bleeding was continuous. In order to survive, this child had to construct a protective barrier that insulates him/her from the external world of people. He/she generalized that all people are harmful and cannot be trusted.
The protective insulation barrier he/she constructed is called a false persona. He/she created a false identity. This identity is not the true person inside. The many types of false personas or identities that an extreme narcissist creates can vary.Try to get close or ask personal questions as to how he/she is internally doing and feeling and you will find is that he/she will quickly distract you. They will sidestep the question with another joke, making you suddenly forget what you were asking. Narcissists can be very skilled at dodging and ducking personal questions. If you press them, they will then slot you as “unsafe” and will begin to avoid you and exclude you from their life.
There is also the success oriented narcissist. He/she will be your friend and keep you close to him/her as long as you are useful. Once you do not have anything more to offer and he/she has taken all they wanted from you, you are history. You are no longer desired, wanted, or sought.
I remember a significant half dozen of these in my life. One narcissist in particular avoids me like the plague because he knows that I do not ultimately plan my life around whether people like me or not. Hence my behavior cannot be controlled by him. He is threatened by my self-assuredness. I’m not safe to him. It does not matter that I have helped him in critical moments of his life. When he realized that he could not control me to make him look good when I was with him, he dropped me like a heavy weight. I received no more phone calls and was taken off his radar screen.s there hope for an extreme narcissist living in an emotional and relational fort of isolation. Is a narcissist able to have a healthy life? Definitely! I’ve seen many extreme narcissists become extremely healthy in their emotional and relational life. The first step is to find competent and safe help that knows how to heal emotional traumas. Just because a counselor may have all kinds of credentials it does not mean they are competent in dealing effectively with trauma issues. Because extreme narcissists tend to have an early history of emotional wounds they are full of distrust. If they can get past this hurdle then they can begin to find help to heal.
Second, extreme narcissists have to be willing to enter the realm of their feelings again. They have been the masters of covering and hiding, even to themselves. They now have to start uncovering painful wounds. They have taught themselves to stuff and disconnect their own feelings for years. Because of this, they tend to live inside their heads, in the realm of so called reason. They are likely to live in the world of rational principles, laws, rules, which are all linear. This domain is a realm they feel they can control. It is devoid of feelings. The realm of the heart or feelings is very intimidating and unsafe to them because it is non-linear and there is very little control of the outcomes. If extreme narcissists can overcome these two hurdles then there is much hope for them. They are on their road to healing.