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.