The Clingy, Craving, Callous Co-Dependent: the “better half” of the Narcissist
I seem to have an obsession with this type, the egomaniac, also known as narcissist, although I don’t get it myself. I have met a few and damn, they are so annoying and, well, narcissistic. You can’t help but loathe them or simply want to get the hell away from them and this seems to be a sensible reaction to a narcissist. In fact, I discovered a few cool things about personality disorders and two types of people: those who sense the unhealthy personality and avoid it, and those who sense it (or don’t sense it) and enter into a relationship with that person. That’s a tad worrisome. Imagine knowing instinctively that something is creepy about someone and instead of becoming cautious, becoming intrigued and attracted? That’s just wrong. There is a profile of person who gets involved with the narcissist, and, not surprisingly, that profile is also rather weird.
Just as the egomaniac (which we fondly refer to as an ass—le) has a fancy, psychiatric label so does the unfortunate submissive who becomes involved with him or her (although more frequently it is a “him”, just as more frequently the female is the dependent). The co is controlled by another person, who is affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism or drug addiction). Narcissists are natural magnets for the codependent. Codependent people are constantly in search of acceptance to the point where they martyr themselves, and practice excessive self-sacrifice. They suffer from abandonment anxiety. They accept the role of victim yet in this manner they attempt to control their abusers to a degree.
The Type 1 Co-Dependent – Clinging and smothering behaviours, almost mortal fear of abandonment and separation. They never obtain true autonomy.
Case Study: Mona, 32
I know I won’t actually die, but it often feels like it.” – says Mona and nervously pats her auburn hair – “I can’t live without him, that’s for sure. When he is gone, it’s like life switching from Technicolor to black and white. There is no excitement, this electricity in the air that seems to constantly surround him.” Sometimes she feels like throwing up at the mere thought of separating or being abandoned by him. She is helpless without him: He is gorgeous and a great lover. Is he intellectually stimulating? “He is more the silent strong type.” She is supporting him financially. “He is studying“. In the last seven years he had switched from psychology to political science to physical therapy. How long will she continue to support him? “As long as it takes. I love him”.
She acknowledges that he is verbally and physically abusive. He has cheated on her many times. She even participated in group sex to make his fantasies come true. So, why is she still with him? “He has his good sides. I want to learn how to hold on to him.”- she whispers – “He is a very special man and has special needs. I am looking for guidance on how to hook him. I want him to become addicted to me, like a junkie.” She consulted all her friends and casual acquaintances. Does she have many friends? Not any more. People get tired of her, they say that she is clinging. But that’s not true – she only asks their advice on a regular basis. “What are friends for, anyhow?”
The Type 2 Co-Dependent – The Drama Queen. They gain control over others by feigning helplessness, manipulating others into meeting their needs. They use emotional blackmail.
The Type 3 Co-Dependent – This person lives vicariously through others, often their children. They suspend their own needs in order to fulfill the needs of others. This creates a sense that they are “needed“; they cannot stand the thought of being alone and no one needing them.
A female friend of mine keeps going for guys that are underdogs, losers that drain her financially and emotionally. It’s now causing her real problems. She’s early 40’s and finding hard to move out of a relationship that’s not doing her any good. She admits that she has some sort of saviour. She says she needs to, “look at why I have to do this for everyone and how the savior in me desires to constantly save. It is true that he is a chauvinistic narcissist and that his behaviour is unacceptable and repulsive. But all he needs is a little love and he will be straightened out. I will give him the love that he lacked as a child. Then his narcissism will vanish.”
The Type 4 Co-Dependent – The Counter-Dependent – This one is subtle. A Narcissist often displays a counter-dependent personality. They despise authority figures. Their sense of self depends upon defying authority. They are fiercely independent and controlling. Many are anti-social (you don’t say). The counter feels trapped in an intimate relationship. This nut is locked into a cycle of approach and avoidance.
The Type 5 Co-Dependent – The Covert Narcissist – A co-dependent can be a narcissist (talk about messed up). Also called “the inverted narcissist” this co depends exclusively on narcissists. The inverted narcissist craves a relationship with a narcissist. She seeks relationships with narcissists and only with narcissists. She feels empty and unhappy in relationships with non-narcissists.
Case Study – Unhappy Childhood
A psychiatric patient described her experience as her father’s “favourite” child: I grew up in the shadow of my father, who adored me. He told me I could do or be anything I want to be because I was brilliant, but, he ate me alive. I was his property. I also grew up with a mounting hatred of my narcissist brother who got no attention from my father or my mother. My job was to make my father look wonderful to all outsiders, with a genius wonderkid. When I stepped out of line even the tiniest bit, these were enough to warp my personality.
- The Adult Inverted Narcissist
The fear of losing and being humiliated is so intense that I’m terrified of showing people that I care about doing well, because it’s so shaming for me if I lose. When I’m in a competitive dynamic with someone, I can’t hear about any of their successes or compliments they have received. I don’t even like to see the person doing good things, like bringing Thanksgiving leftovers to the sick. Those things make me feel inferior for not thinking of doing them myself. It is just so incredibly painful for me to see the other person’s good qualities because it immediately brings up my feeling of inferiority. This deep and obsessive envy is destroying my joy in other people. I have a hostile, corrosive envy at other people for being all the wonderful things I can’t be. I would love to feel happy for someone else, but I can’t stop the incredible pain that explodes in me.
- A female inverted narcissist stated: When my pathological envy gets triggered I would be bluntly honest about it. I’ll say, you always get the good stuff and I get nothing. People like you better. I’m a jerk. Or I might get hostile and say it must be nice to have so many people worshipping you. i am totally flooded with the pain of feeling utterly inferior. From my therapist’s point of view I am much better off than a full-blown narcissist because I know I am unhappy.
- Another female inverted narcissist claimed: One thing that triggers my rage is my inability to control another person, to dominate and force my reality on them. Part of what I’m feeling is envy. That person who can’t be controlled clearly has a Self, and I don’t. I also want to get narcissistic supply by being in control and on top and have the other person become submissive and compliant. It`s as though I`ve been possessed by a demon acting out all this abusive, horrible stuff and then after the departure of the demon it`s like, what have I done.
The Co-Dependent in a Relationship
Ther co’s view their relationships in terms of “black and white” (an infantile psychological defense mechanism known as “splitting”.) are the result of regarding their relationships as either doomed to failure or everlasting and their mates as both unique and indispensable (“soulmate”, “twin”) or completely interchangeable (objectified.) As a codependent, you tend to jump to conclusions and then “jump the gun”: you greatly exaggerate the significance of even minor infractions and disagreements and you are always unduly fatalistic and pessimistic about the survival chances of your relationships.
Object Relations Theory
A co’s unfortunate circumstances usually begin with a codependent parent (here we go blaming poor mom and dad again). With that type of parent, the needs of an infant are necessary but temporary, whereas the needs of the codependent are constant. If you believe in psychiatric theories, then you might ascribe to the Object Relations Theory, which refers to a child’s natural process in turning people and events into object (rather like a stamp on the unconscious mind). These objects are carried into adulthood. If you experienced a happy childhood with a mother who encouraged your autonomy while at the same time providing a safe haven for your upbringing, you would probably find the same experience in your future. By contrast, an adult who experienced neglect or abuse in infancy would expect similar behavior from others who remind him of the neglectful or abusive person from their past, particularly when codependence has been part of this experience.. This unhappy existence isn’t the fulfillment of a psychological dream. It’s familiarity, the only relationships the co-dependent or narcissist understands.
The Irony of Recognition
Should a person, say a man, believe that his wife is codependent, he can be sure the same is true of himself. It takes two to make or break a relationship, and this is as true of the codependent relationship as any other type. At the same time that a husband complains about the clingy, needy, nagging wife, he has also shown an attraction to such women and hence he has ended up in a tiresome marriage. These men are unable to establish stable boundaries between themselves and their demanding wives. At first, the codependent man feels flattered and manly: he is rescuing a needy female and providing her with security. Over time of course, her needs become unreasonable and the only way he can remove himself from her smothering demands is to become a workaholic, have affairs, or turn to drugs and alcohol. Codependent couples are reactive because they each lack autonomy and are emotionally dependent upon each other. Some men are verbally and even physically abused by their wives and girlfriends and don’t know how to handle it. Often, they’re afraid that authorities won’t believe that their wives are violent and feel humiliated and ashamed that they can’t deal with it themselves.
And you thought your relationship had problems?
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