Dragon slayers: the origins of grandiosity.

michael_dragon
Raphael: Michael Slaying the Dragon

In an earlier post, a commenter wrote this:

I still have fantasies of being an abnormally strong, capable, resilient survivor, like Katniss Everdeen, which I developed as a lonely teenager who took on the role of looking after her family. I also have a mechanism for creating and reinforcing self-value by playing at being the “precocious child”, in which I try to be noticeably smart to impress people, which originates in early childhood. I had been quite worried that these are narcissistic tendencies

I wanted to comment on this, because while reading it suddenly a connection was made. We know most narcissists are emotionally arrested at around age 3 or 4 (sometimes a little later or earlier), but narcissists also have grandiose fantasies of themselves as “heroes” or special in some superhuman way they can’t realistically attain, and they also can’t stand to be taken down to size and will throw a tantrum (in an adult this could take the form of a “quiet” tantrum including gaslighting, triangulating, or the silent treatment although actual tantrums are certainly not unheard of, especially in NPDs with BPD or HPD traits).

Narcissists never leave their childhood fantasy world. Because they were arrested at that stage of development, they use their grandiose, childlike fantasies as an escape. It soon becomes an addiction, like a drug they can’t do without.

So they never move on from the make-believe world of a small child because the real world is too painful and the grandiose fantasies of being a king or a princess or a superhero are a beautiful escape they can’t resist. In their minds, they become the heroes and the dragon slayers because they can’t face the reality that they are really just like everyone else–or worthless, as they may have been told–and the reason they can’t face it is because they don’t know who they are.
They are dissociated from reality.
The incipient narcissist’s childhood fantasies of themselves as dragon slayers, kings and princesses is the matrix around which the false self is built. It becomes the false self.

I remember as a child, people used to always say, “Just be yourself!”
I had no idea what that meant.
I even remember asking my mother, “How can I be myself when I don’t know who I am?”
I was 7 years old when I said that.

Please see my related article, Narcissists in Fantasyland.

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8 thoughts on “Dragon slayers: the origins of grandiosity.

  1. That’s odd. My momster would never ever have told me to “be yourself.” Myself was what she hated. Errr, I should say hates. She is 80+ and still hating. She’s gotten really good at it, having so many years of practice. 🙂

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    1. My mother would say that when I didn’t know how to act or was afraid to meet new people because she probably didn’t have any other advice. It was a pat phrase. Everything for her is a pat phrase or cliche. She has no ideas of her own.

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        1. Yes. She’s in her 80s now and deeply miserable, with nothing to show for her life. I think somatic narcissists take a nosedive into emotional hell once they are old and their looks are going.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny, but I often told one of my kids that the world didn’t revolve around her or run on her schedule. This was my usual response to her tantrums, kind of as you’ve described them. Now that she is in the real world (she’s also 23, like your daughter) I think she acknowledges and accepts that fact! I also used to refer to her (not to her face, though) as my devil child. 😈 👿 😉

    And, I almost hate to say this but…It struck me that you might be breaking your arm while patting yourself on the back with the statement/observation that you realized you didn’t know who you were at age 7. That did sound a bit narcissistic to little old sometimes still insecure me. Or maybe you’re just saying that as a confidence builder to confirm that you do have some current value in this world?

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    1. Real life is the best teacher there is as far as growing up and getting more mature. It’s not an easy lesson though, that’s for sure, and is full of both dangers and wonders. I’m glad your daughter realized the world didn’t revolve around her, but I think that’s pretty normal. Teenagers are usually very narcissistic and self centered but they outgrow it when reality hits them upside the head.

      Hmmm, honestly I’m not sure. If what I said was narcissistic I wasn’t aware of being narcissistic. See? I don’t even always realize when I’m coming off that way, so I guess there’s a lot I’m still blind to, I guess it takes time and practice to see me the way others do all the time.
      But I really wasn’t saying I had a sudden awareness at age 7 of not knowing who I was. It was a knee jerk response to the advice to be myself, when I tried to be and coulnd’t find anything there, just an empty void. So as a child I imitated others a lot.
      I hope that makes sense.

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