Is Narcissism an Addiction?


We all like to feel special.

When someone NEEDS to feel special to feel good, then needing to feel special becomes an addiction, in a misguided effort to treat the pain of a lack of self-worth.

This psychological need develops in genetically-vulnerable children who did not receive responsive and secure nurturing when they were in pain growing up. This somehow damages the brain. The experience of not being connected to others, valued, validated and cared for despite our imperfections creates a profound existential insecurity.

Ideally, every child grows up with the connection, love, and limits that create a humble security in one’s value. The question of one’s basic goodness is a non-issue.

In sufferers of narcissism, the quest for Specialness crowds out humility. Humble people have renounced the need to be special.

Without humility, the “Three Es” of narcissism emerge: Entitlement, Exploitation, and lack of Empathy. When consumed by a disregard for oneself, one loses their regard for others. Victims of narcissism create relational disharmony. This merely perpetuates both the disconnection and the addiction.

Unfortunately, many victims of narcissism are unaware of their illness. Often they are consumed by arrogance. They can be very challenging to work with and live with. They obliviously exploit others, act with entitlement, and fail to show others empathy.


For a fortunate few, an awakening occurs (usually in therapy, with those who have a capacity to honestly look at themselves). There is a seeing of all the unnecessary suffering of the victim of narcissism and those they touch, and the loss of the precious opportunity to savor life. This usually occurs during a shame cycle after a particularly painful loss or trauma provoked by the sufferer’s narcissism.

With the awakening, there is a renouncement of the need to be special and a dedication to humility. This is facilitated by a daily practice of cherishing oneself the way one would cherish one’s own child. By giving him or herself love and validation, the sufferer of narcissism can begin to forget him or herself. Inherent goodness is now a non-issue.

People with this affliction need to adopt a daily practice of renouncing the need to be special. This comes through self-watchfulness. Seeing the compulsion to be special, they can smile at it and let it go, seeing how destructive this compulsion is. This is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment , lifelong practice.

Along with renouncement comes the need to dedicate oneself to nurturing positive connections with others…to developing a mutuality of loving and being loved. Rather than addictively working to be special in one’s own eyes, one can instead dedicate oneself to humbly being special to others by virtue of one’s love for them.

With this dedication to others, the sufferer gradually creates the capacity to now manage the many pains of living through self-nurturing combined with the nurturing of others. This is both an intrapersonal and a transpersonal process of healing The original wound is gradually healed, though the vulnerability to a recurrence of the disorder remains for a lifetime. This is why recovery from the addiction of narcissism is a daily life practice.

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