The Narcissistic Primary Aggressor

In psychology narcissism is a complex topic. But in practical terms, pathological narcissism is dedicating oneself to an image of being superior. All feeling and evidence is suppressed if it is not consistent with the image. More oppressively, the image is enforced on others through a mix of actual achievement, impression management, lies, manipulation, and keeping others off balance. If a situation exposes the truth, or others back the narcissist in a corner, rage will emerge. A narcissist cannot tolerate criticism. This does not just mean that a narcissist will reject or dislike criticism, but that he will escalate and lash out in the face of it.

Narcissism is a lot easier to see going than coming. That is, it is always very exciting and positive to interact with a person with narcissism in the beginning. This is not just being fooled, people with narcissism often provide a dazzle that could be an element of any satisfying relationship, but the other ingredients that one assumes will also be coming do not materialize.

A narcissistic type of primary aggressor shares some features with the psychopathic type, but will be more disciplined and careful. This discipline often results in real social power and high status, such as being a physician, lawyer, corporate or non-profit executive, consultant, public official, etc. It also usually helps this narcissistic primary aggressor avoid committing any actual chargeable offense.

The abusive tactics may seem less noxious to naive onlookers. They can include financial control and secret dealings. 'golden hand-cuff's for the survivor, highly skilled gas-lighting, discouragement disguised as seeking high standards, monopolizing the allegiance of a social and work group then turning it against the survivor, and fierce litigation. Divorce actions may be drawn out for years.

The survivor in a relationship with a narcissistic primary aggressor has the highest likelihood of being blamed or deemed crazy. That is because the 'de-selfing' that occurs over years is not obviously connected with the narcissist's actions, in the eyes of the average person, and that can include friends in common or even the survivor's own family. The narcissist appears to be an ideal husband.

Therapists in general are generally slow or unable to recognize narcissism. This has several reasons but a basic one is that therapy is mistaken by many practitioners and many clients as a task of becoming 'perfect' (rather than becoming real) and so the narcissistic point of view is validated while the power dynamic is completely missed. In the case of couples therapy or court evaluators this extends the abuse. Short of having been caught red-handed in some serious offense, narcissists do well in family court.

Click here somewhat longer discussion of narcissism on my other website