Re: Narcissistic Injury? ( 12:24:58 MonMar 15 2004 ) |
The term is valid, but like any other psychological concept, it can be misused. In "Humanizing the Narcissistic Style", Johnson defines it well:
"The injury is a deep wound to the experience of the real self. In the more extreme cases of narcissistic disorder, the injury is so deep and the compensations so tight that the person has no residual experience or comprehension of the real self. In the less extreme variations of this disorder, which are endemic to the culture, there is often a veiled awareness of the real self but a concomitant rejection of it. Even though narcissism comes from the Greek myth superficially understood to represent self-love, exactly the opposite is true in the narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic style. The narcissist has buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.
"Narcissistic injury can take an infinite number of specific forms, but essentially it occurs when the environment needs the individual to be something substantially different from what he or she really is. Essentially, the message to the emerging person is, 'Don't be who you are, be who I need you to be. Who you are disappoints me, threatens me, angers me, overstimulates me. Be what I want and I will love you."
There is this type of narcissistic injury in all disorders of the self, but one can be said to have a narcissistic disorder when most of the injury occurs within a certain point of the child's development, known as the rapprochment with reality. In this phase, there is an attempt to reconcile the polarities of symbiosis vs. separateness and grandiosity vs. limitation, and injuries sustained at this critical time can result in a developmental arrest. The child becomes stuck at the stage of grandiosity/symbiosis.
The false self compensates for the lack of development at this stage. A narcissistic person will experience both fear and hurt when life's experiences threaten the false self, because a breakdown of that defense always takes him or her back to the original injury.
Your question is an interesting one, and I can only give my opinion. That would be yes, I think someone could defend against narcissistic reinjury by holding up a good front, and numbing their feelings. It's the underlying feelings that are real, while the false self is not, no matter how good it is made to appear.