The 7 Things That Terrify Narcissists to Their Core
4. Being ignored.
This is a no-brainer. Ignoring a narcissist means giving them no supply at all, and without narcissistic supply, the narcissist dies a slow death. Or believes they will. That’s why some narcissists would even rather be hated than be ignored. Negative attention is still attention, and at least it provides acknowledgement that they still exist. When you ignore a narcissist, it’s as frightening to them as being killed. They’re no longer confident they exist without your attention.
If you call out a narcissist on their abusive behavior, they will usually become very angry. Their anger might be expressed in rage or in more covert means such as the silent treatment or gaslighting you. They don’t like to be held accountable for the things they do to others, because that means they have to admit they are less than perfect. It also means they have to acknowledge the humanity of someone else, which they aren’t capable of doing. Narcissists are all too aware of their imperfections, but only at the subconscious level, and the way they handle this is to project their own imperfections onto you. So a narcissist might tell you that YOU are the narcissistic one, or that YOU are the abuser. They’re also good at getting others to side against you, and those people become their flying monkeys. They will accuse you of doing things that they themselves have done and everyone believes them and not you.
You start to feel like you’re living in a hellish world of smoke and mirrors, where you’re no longer sure what’s real and what isn’t. The narcissist has, unconsciously or consciously, set up this elaborate lie as a massive defense mechanism against being exposed as imperfect and flawed just like everyone else, because being forced to acknowledge their shortcomings is to expose their vulnerabilities, and being vulnerable is incredibly terrifying to them. They blame so they don’t have to feel shame.
6. Loss of the trappings of youth and success.
As narcissists age, they often grow even more abusive (a very few may improve–but they probably weren’t high spectrum to begin with). That’s because aging means a loss of looks, career, health, possibly even a spouse (who provides a narcissist with supply), and in some cases even financial solvency. All these things are proof to a narcissist that they still have value and are still admired and respected.
Somatic narcissists, who are most concerned with their health or physical appearance, have never developed other aspects of themselves that could be fallen back on when those things begin to go; that’s because the false self is a flimsy one-dimensional construct and is incapable of love, true attachment, friendship, and other things that the rest of us can fall back on when we’re old and not in such great physical shape or health anymore. If someone has spent their entire lives only concerned with their appearance, once that goes, what’s left?
Cerebral narcissists, who are concerned with their intellectual ability or business acumen, may be able to hang onto those assets a bit longer, but eventually, their minds may begin to become less sharp or they may be forced to retire or reduce their hours working. Having to retire is a huge blow to a narcissist whose entire identity is tied up in his or her career and earning ability. What is left?
In both cases, a narcissist experiences an almost total loss of supply and to avoid the ensuing depression, they lash out and attack others like angry dogs. That’s why old narcissists are so often cranky and mean. They’re also terrified of death, the last thing on the list that terrifies them.
Every narcissist I’ve ever known lives in mortal terror of death. That’s because death is the ultimate loss of narcissistic supply. Death means complete annihilation of the ego and there’s nothing more horrifying to a narcissist than that because their ego is all they are. Personally, I think some also fear hell. They know on some deep level how badly they’ve treated and exploited others and think they might be held accountable for it in the afterlife. I’ve seen a lot of narcissists who suddenly become extremely religious in their old age. I think that’s because they think by being religious, they may be able to ward off any accountability after they die.
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