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Grandiosity Bubbles and the False Self

Grandiose Self



Unrealistic ideas of one’s superiority, uniqueness, invulnerability,  phantasms of outstanding success, power, and self-aggrandizement, insatiable cravings for  attention, approval, admiration, love, over-ambitiousness, with unrealistic high goals, and schemes, intolerance of imperfection, feelings of entitlement, expectation of special favors, negative, hostile, haughty, pretentious, self-centered, boastful in interpersonal relationships.

The effort of the child to be perfect and thereby, given “good enough” parents to gain their approval and affirmation of the child’s self- worth and value. A pathological grandiose self  develops  in the face of parental empathic failure.

 Simply a carry over from infancy that one is the center of the universe that everyone and everything exist only to serve the needs of the Narcissist. This is expressed through the merger transference. This is when others are merged with and used as tools or machine that the patient tried to control and use when and how it suits them.

Side by side with the child’s grandiose concept of itself is the high dependent needs, high feeling of helplessness, which indeed was the case in infancy therefore, the stage is set for the idealization of the therapist, for a need to fuse with the therapist, as they become the parent they never had.

The grandiose self always has been and remains alone and in a strangely temporal world of repeating cycles of wants, temporary idealizations, greedy incorporation and disappearance of supplies. Grandiosity increases because of a perceived injury to self-esteem and painful self-consciousness. The control of others is driven by their need for inner structure.

Some maneuvers to keep their illusory greatness intact: 1. The glass bubble where they feel they are living by themselves in a glorious, albeit lonely fashion enclosed by impervious protection. They can see others but they cannot be touched by them               2. Transitional fantasies that consist of imaginary and rather banal tales of personal glory that these persons habitually indulge in when faced with a threat to their self-esteem.
The central feature of grandiosity is seen as defensive against feelings of inferiority often traced back to severe frustration in early childhood. Grandiose self-images are compensatory against any  helpless self-deprecatory self-images that may occur.

Grandiosity has four components.

Omnipotence


The narcissist believes that he will live forever. "Believe" in this context is a weak word. He knows. It is a cellular certainty, almost biological; it flows in his blood and permeates every niche of his being. The narcissist "knows" that he can do anything he chooses to do and excel in it. What the narcissist does, what he excels at, what he achieves, depends only on his volition. To his mind, there is no other determinant. Hence his rage when confronted with disagreement or opposition – not only because of the audacity of his, evidently inferior, adversaries. But because it threatens his worldview, it endangers his feeling of omnipotence. The narcissist is often fatuously daring, adventurous, experimentative and curious precisely due to this hidden assumption of "can-do". He is genuinely surprised and devastated when he fails, when the "universe" does not arrange itself, magically, to accommodate his unbounded fantasies, when it (and people in it) does not comply with his whims and wishes.

He often denies away such discrepancies, deletes them from his memory. As a result, he remembers his life as a patchy quilt of unrelated events and people.

Omniscience


The narcissist often pretends to know everything, in every field of human knowledge and endeavor. He lies and prevaricates to avoid the exposure of his ignorance. He resorts to numerous subterfuges to support his God-like omniscience.

Where his knowledge fails him – he feigns authority, fakes superiority, quotes from non-existent sources, and embeds threads of truth in a canvass of falsehoods. He transforms himself into an artist of intellectual prestidigitation. As he gets older, this invidious quality may recede, or, rather, metamorphose. He may now claim more confined expertise. He may not be ashamed to admit his ignorance and his need to learn
things outside the fields of his real or self-proclaimed expertise. But this "improvement" is merely optical. Within his "territory", the narcissist is still as fiercely defensive and possessive as ever. Many narcissists  unwilling to subject their knowledge and insights to peer scrutiny, or, for that matter, to any scrutiny. The narcissist keeps re-inventing himself, adding new fields of knowledge as he goes. This creeping intellectual annexation is a round about way of reverting to his erstwhile image as the erudite "Renaissance man".

Omnipresence


Even the narcissist cannot pretend to actually be everywhere at once in the PHYSICAL sense. Instead, he feels that he is the centre and the axis of his "universe", that all things and happenstances revolve around him and that disintegration would ensue if he were to disappear or to lose interest in someone or in something. He is convinced, for instance, that he is the main, if not the only, topic of discussion in his absence. He is often surprised and offended to learn that he was not even mentioned. When invited to a
meeting with many participants, he assumes the position of the sage, the guru, or the teacher/guide whose words carry a special weight. His creations (books, articles, works of art) are extensions of his presence and, in this restricted sense, he does seem to exist everywhere. In other words, he "stamps" his environment. He "leaves his mark" upon it.

Narcissist the Omnivore (Perfectionism and Completeness)

There is another "omni" component in grandiosity. The narcissist is an omnivore. He devours and digests experiences and people, sights and smells, bodies and words, books and films, sounds and achievements, his work and his leisure, his pleasure and his possessions. The narcissist is incapable of ENJOYING anything because he is in constant pursuit of perfection and completeness.

Classic narcissists interact with the world as predators do with their prey. They want to own it all, be everywhere, experience everything. They cannot delay gratification. They do not take "no" for an answer. And they settle for nothing less than the ideal, the sublime, the perfect, the all-inclusive, the all-encompassing, the engulfing, the all-pervasive, the most beautiful, the cleverest, the richest, and the most brilliant.

The narcissist is shattered when he discovers that a collection he possesses is incomplete, that his colleague's wife is more glamorous, that his son is better than he is in math, that his neighbor has a new, flashy car, that his roommate got promoted, that the "love of his life" signed a recording contract. It is not plain old jealousy, not even pathological envy (though it is definitely a part of the psychological make-up of the narcissist). It is the discovery that the narcissist is NOT perfect, or ideal, or complete – that does him in.

Ask anyone who shared a life with a narcissist, or knew one and they are likely to sigh: "What a waste". Waste of potential, waste of opportunities, waste of emotions, a wasteland of arid addiction and futile pursuit.

Narcissists are as gifted as they come. The problem is to disentangle their tales of fantastic grandiosity from the reality of their talents and skills. They always tend either to over-estimate or to devalue their potency. They often emphasize the wrong traits and invest in their mediocre or less than average capacities. Concomitantly, they ignore their real potential, squander their advantage and under-rate their gifts.

The narcissist decides which aspects of his self to nurture and which to neglect. He gravitates towards activities commensurate with his pompous auto-portrait. He suppresses these tendencies and aptitudes in him, which don’t conform, to his inflated view of his uniqueness, brilliance, might, sexual prowess, or standing in society. He cultivates these flairs and predilections, which he regards as befitting his overweening self-image and ultimate grandeur.

But, the narcissist, no matter how self-aware and well meaning is accursed. His grandiosity, his fantasies, the compelling, overriding urge to feel unique, invested with some cosmic significance, unprecedented bestowed – these thwart his best intentions. These structures of obsession and compulsion, these deposits of insecurity and pain, the stalactites and stalagmites of years of abuse and then abandonment – they all conspire to frustrate the gratification, however circumspect, of the narcissist's true nature.

An utter lack of self-awareness is typical of the narcissist. He is intimate only with his False Self, constructed meticulously from years of lying and deceit. The narcissist's True Self is stashed, dilapidated and dysfunctional, in the furthest recesses of his mind. The False Self, his fabricated self is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, creative, ingenious, irresistible, and glowing.

Add combustible paranoia to the narcissist's divorce from himself – and his constant and recurrent failure to assess reality fairly is more understandable. The narcissist overpowering sense of entitlement is rarely commensurate with his accomplishments in his real life or with his traits. When the world fails to comply with his demands and to support his grandiose fantasies, the narcissist suspects a plot against him by his inferiors.

The narcissist rarely admits to a weakness, ignorance, or deficiency. He filters out information to the contrary – a cognitive impairment with serious consequences. Narcissistic are likely to unflinchingly make inflated and inane claims about their sexual prowess, wealth, connections, history, or achievements.

All this is mighty embarrassing to the narcissist's nearest, dearest, colleagues, friends, and neighbors, even on-lookers. The narcissist's tales are so patently absurd that he often catches people off-guard. Unbeknownst to him, the narcissist is derided and mockingly imitated. He fast makes a nuisance and an imposition of himself in every company.

But the narcissist's failure of the reality test can have more serious and irreversible consequences. Narcissists, academically unqualified to make life-and-death decisions often insist on rendering them. I "treated" my father for muscular pain for five days at home. All that time, he was enduring a massive heart attack. My vanity wouldn't let me admit my diagnostic error. He survived. Many others don't. Narcissists pretend to be economists, engineers, or medical doctors – when they are not. But they are not con-artists in the classic, premeditated sense. They firmly believe that, though self-taught at best, they are more qualified than even the properly accredited sort. Narcissists believe in magic and in fantasy. They are no longer with us.

The Grandiose checklist


  • Exaggerated achievement and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without achievements to back up.
  • Preoccupy with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal Love.
  • Believes that they are special and unique.
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • It takes an advantage of others to achieve their own goals and purposes.
  • Unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings or needs of others.
  • Is envious of others or believes that all other are envious of them.
  • Displays arrogance, haughty behaviors attitudes.
  • These behaviors’ continue to show themselves into adulthood.




Grandiosity Bubbles

As one source of Narcissistic Supply dwindles, the narcissist finds himself trapped in a frantic (though, at times, unconscious) effort to secure alternatives. As one Pathological Narcissistic Space (the narcissist's stomping grounds) is rendered "uninhabitable" (too many people "see through" the narcissist's manipulation and machinations) - the Bubblenarcissist wanders off to find another.
These hysterical endeavors sometimes lead to boom-bust cycles which involve, in the first stage, the formation of a Grandiosity Bubble.
A Grandiosity Bubble is an imagined, self-aggrandizing, narrative involving the narcissist and elements from his real life - people around him, places he frequents, or conversations he is having. The narcissist weaves a story incorporating these facts, inflating them in the process and endowing them with bogus internal meaning and consistency. In other words: he confabulates - but, this time, his confabulation is loosely based on reality.
In the process, the narcissist re-invents himself and his life to fit the new-fangled tale. He re-casts himself in newly adopted roles. He suddenly fancies himself an actor, a guru, a political activist, an entrepreneur, or an irresistible hunk. He modifies his behavior to conform to these new functions. He gradually morphs into the fabricated character and "becomes" the fictitious protagonist he has created.
All the mechanisms of pathological narcissism are at work during the bubble phase. The narcissist idealizes the situation, the other "actors", and the environment. He tries to control and manipulate his milieu into buttressing his false notions and perceptions. Faced with an inevitable Grandiosity Gap, he becomes disillusioned and bitter and devalues and discards the people, places, and circumstances involved in the bubble.
Still, Grandiosity Bubbles are not part of the normal narcissistic mini-cycle (see the resources in the section titled "Also Read" below). They are rare events, much like trying on a new outfit for size and comfort. They fizzle out rapidly and the narcissist reverts to his regular pattern: idealizing new sources of supply, devaluing and discarding them, pursuing the next victims to be drained.
Actually, the deflation of a grandiosity bubble is met with relief by the narcissist. It does not involve a narcissistic injury. The narcissist views the bubble as merely an experiment at being someone else for a while. It is a safety valve, allowing the narcissist to effectively cope with negative emotions and frustration. Thus cleansed, the narcissist can go back to doing what he does best - projecting a False Self and garnering attention from others.





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