When Narcissists Get Sick..

Narcissists thrive on their narcissistic supply, it is the very oxygen of attention that they need. So, a serious illness or is like manna from heaven for a narcissist. They can demand almost unlimited attention from their family and carers, even potentially regaining control of adult children who have fled the nest and all of them have to, because who would ignore a sick or dying parent ?

Being seriously ill is no picnic for anyone and normally sympathy and help are due, quite rightly. The trouble is if the sick person is a narcissist, then what would normally be offered, falls far short of what is required.

Let me tell you about my tumour

When well, a narcissists will boast about their physical achievements and in particular a somatic narcissist will put on great physical displays. Their physical achievements will be the subject of grandiose gestures and boasts. Should their health fail however, they can quickly turn tragedy into an advantage, turning their illness into a mission for attention.

Should a narcissist have major surgery, a car accident where they are hurt, or develop cancer then their journey with the illness will be the subject of equally grandiose boasts. Either their operation will be the most complex, their cancer rarer, their chemo more gruelling, or their survival more miraculous than anyone else’s, ever! In addition, they will be able to recount exactly how many times their “died” in the table.

The illness will give them a new lease of life as they feast on the narcissistic supply of attention. Even when in remission or when given the all clear they will hang on to the care and attention by claiming to need something to carry on living healthily. This may include everything from a reduction in stress, so they need ongoing care to reduce that, to a special diet which a loving carer will have to travel miles to get on their behalf. This exaggerated helplessness ensures the continuity of the narcissistic supply.

My doctor is incompetent

Another peculiar aspect of a sick narcissist is their relationship with the medical profession. Narcissists require “the best”. If they are offered the top surgeon or the specialist with a reputation, this of itself will satisfy their need for grandiosity and narcissistic supply. They will see it as their due and something to boast about.

However, in certain circumstances, a narcissist may denigrate the professionals who care for them:

Firstly, a young medic or a junior will automatically be “not good enough” to deliver their care because there will not be enough reflected glory. Plus, any fear that they may have about their body failing may cause them to panic, a feeling which can only be reduced by access to THE expert.

Secondly, if the medical practitioner suggests a change in lifestyle such as losing weight might help, then of course in the eyes of the narcissist they know nothing of the difficulties that achieving such a change may bring to their poor suffering:
“Because of this disease, I can’t even go the gym now and you are asking me to give up pasta!”

Thirdly, if a doctor disagreed with the narcissists self-diagnosis and acts as a gatekeeper for a higher power or referral. For example, a person convinced they have pancreatic cancer may be told that their pain is merely IBS and treatable by anti-spasmodic. This could provoke full blown narcissistic rage including formal complaints and telephone calls to superiors.

Lastly, the doctor who lets a person know they are cured and can resume normal activities may also be denigrated since this will deprive the narcissist of the attention and care they have been getting from their “sick role”. The narcissist may not accept the loss of their supply without a fight which may involve letter writing and meetings with senior management of the hospital.

Treating a narcissist may well seem like being caught in a catch 22 scenario for an inexperienced medic and is best avoided if at all possible.

This could have been prevented

A narcissistic patient may well become an expert on their condition, researching and learning everything about the illness, the correct terminology, the latest research and media speculation. Examples such as environmental pollution, radio waves from transmitters, failed drugs or vaccination tragedies could all fit the bill here.

They will seek attention for the injustice they have suffered, less concerned with putting matters right or preventing future injustice, but rather to bask in the sunshine of their avoidable suffering (This role could also be adopted by a narcissistic parent with a sick child because attention is attention, who cares where it comes from right?).

In the role now of expert they will make a lot of noise about what has gone wrong and may even be instrumental in setting up charities, information websites, Facebook groups or even appear in Vox pop slots on TV as a “patient expert” or advocate.

I only have weeks to live

Once diagnosed as ill then the quest for attention and the narcissistic supply begins. Such a quest is now made easier by the role of social media in almost everyone’s lives these days. Post which provide graphic detail of a narcissist’s suffering can be liked and shared as often as those with genuine “appeal” since most users of social media including Twitter and Facebook, rarely apply their critical faculties to the stuff they read and share.

This can present a vital opportunity for a narcissist since they can get actual numbers
on their narcissistic supply for example:

“My post about how sick the medicine made me received 500 likes and 250 shares!”

And, whilst this supply isn’t as nutritious as that from family and friends face to face, it can be the gift that keeps on giving as posts can achieve penetration slowly and notifications can keep on arriving for days.

Illness and disability suck for everyone including narcissists but they can make something of it that the rest of us can’t.

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About Alexander Burgemeester

5 Responses to “When Narcissists Get Sick..”

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  1. Anything that grabs attention works. My tormentor has been “maybe” diagnosed with –Lupise-Fibromyalgia-RA-always something with a recognizable name. She will insist on telling me about it–even thuogh she knows I won’t play along–at present she has moved out but she more than meets the requirement for criminal slander ,libel, harassment, and co-conspiring to trick me into moving out.

  2. Alessa says:

    My mum is 90 this year and has a long, long medical history of illness and accidents – and guess who has always been there for her … I supported her through her third husband’s long terminal illess and have continued to do so for the last 40 years. She hasn’t done anything for me since I left home in my teens – I didn’t have children, so she was never asked to help out, has never had to drive me anywhere or do my shopping etc etc . She has occasionally helped me out financially, but nowhere near as much as she could have as she is quite well off and I have had a low income for ages (and jobs I disliked intensely). I’m frankly bored by her endless medical issues and hospital visits and self absorbed life. She has no interest in mine and is conveniently deaf when I talk about myself! I can’t expect her to change at her age and she is actually not too bad compared to some of the stories I have read about narcissistic mothers. I am single, recently retired and doing up my new home which needs a lot of work, which I know she resents. I know I’ll miss her very much when she dies (unless she outlives me) but I wish I had moved further away when I was younger!

  3. Amaranthus says:

    I have been a victim of silent treatment aka emotional torture for 1.5 years. It seems unbearable even today as the person who tortured me as if never said anything abusive or shouted at me – just one the contrary! The last time we met and spoke he was very calm and collected and he read my emails all this time but never answered any question. It seems like being imprisoned even though I am free and not dependent on anyone. It seems the worst form of abuse I ever had. My therapist said he definetely is mentally ill, and also narcissistic yet I oppose. There is doubt whether mentally ill can stay calm and collected, read thousands of emails and never responded to them. before he could call me 40 times day and shower in compliments, asked me to marry him, sweared to the God he want only me and 3 kids, pretended he left work and another country just for me, was calling constantly day and night, and pretended to be unable to exists without me. Who he really was? What type of these people are? Do they also treat their family like this?

  4. edmondeddiewang says:

    i think very few people have heard of narcissistic personality disorder where i am from, TAIWAN, i stumbled on the terms when i was trying so desperately figured out what’s going on in my relationship. my ex-bf thinks sth was wrong with his private parts , so he travelled all the way to london has it checked out ,the surgeon didnt thin it needed fixing , but he still felt there sth wrong with it. so after flying over there for consultation twice. i travelled with him to london on his 3rd trip there to have a minor procedure done . i nursed him back to health a few months later , with hi trying on me to see if his thing does work properly. i didnt think there was anything wrong with his thing to start with . anyways, he broke up with me after he is back to his normal self. a month after our breakup , he wrote to me he was gonna have his 2nd surgery on his thing , so he needed me back. he found a cowboy surgeon in Taiwan to operate on him. after the 2nd surgery , his thing really has problem now . but i never said anything, only aired him that i would be with him forever no matter what. my bf would say things like i am a working class and he is the upper class, and thats why we see things so differently. for the 5 years we have been together , i have never met any of his friends. he would break up with me every 3 months and only to ask me back by using excuses like he is not well or about to undergo a surgery . he would verbally abused me , has no sympathy when i was physically hurt, lie to me when it’s unnecessary , the list goes on, i have never encountered anyone like this before, and i started thinking it’s my fault and i tried everything to make him happy. i was once so confident and positive about people and life and now i am so scared of going out and meeting people. i am suicidal and very depressed and have problem sleeping every night . in order to find out what’s wrong with my relationship , started reading around and i think he might have narcissistic personality disorder. we are supposedly engaged since he gave me a ring so that i wouldn’t date other people . but then he disappeared for months, even when my grandmother died he didn’t say anything until his mom told him that he should say sth to me. he texted my : my condolences . i haven’t heard from him after that two words. he would stay one night in my house only to break up with me the next day , and when he saw me on the street he would run away…
    i am so heart broken , because i feel so violated by all his actions toward me .
    i don’t want to contact him but there are so many things i wanna ask him, why did he do all those hurtful things to me when he knows that i love him .
    i still have the ring , because no one knows we have been dating for the past 5 years . in his life, only his parents know about me . even though we have some mutual friends who know about us , but they know about the relationship from me, he has never mentioned me to them in 5 years. he normally pretends he is single and was seen with other girls by my friends . if i returned the ring on my own , it feels like he can just write our 5 years of relationship off , pretended we were never together . he didn’t come ask for the ring back.
    for the past 3 years , his mom tried to talk me into staying with him and putting up with him. i now know she manipulated me all there time . i am so broken .
    my family is well off and i went to boarding school and medical schooling in the UK , so i don’t know why he treated me like i am beneath him and not good enough for him. i have been told most of my life that i am very graceful and pretty with good figures . i really dont know why i let him treat me this way and still want to get an answer from him.

  5. Edmondeddiewang says:

    i think very few people have heard of narcissistic personality disorder where i am from, TAIWAN, i stumbled on the terms when i was trying so desperately figured out what’s going on in my relationship. my ex-bf thinks sth was wrong with his private parts , so he travelled all the way to london has it checked out ,the surgeon didnt thin it needed fixing , but he still felt there sth wrong with it. so after flying over there for consultation twice. i travelled with him to london on his 3rd trip there to have a minor procedure done . i nursed him back to health a few months later , with hi trying on me to see if his thing does work properly. i didnt think there was anything wrong with his thing to start with . anyways, he broke up with me after he is back to his normal self. a month after our breakup , he wrote to me he was gonna have his 2nd surgery on his thing , so he needed me back. he found a cowboy surgeon in Taiwan to operate on him. after the 2nd surgery , his thing really has problem now . but i never said anything, only aired him that i would be with him forever no matter what. my bf would say things like i am a working class and he is the upper class, and thats why we see things so differently. for the 5 years we have been together , i have never met any of his friends. he would break up with me every 3 months and only to ask me back by using excuses like he is not well or about to undergo a surgery . he would verbally abused me , has no sympathy when i was physically hurt, lie to me when it’s unnecessary , the list goes on, i have never encountered anyone like this before, and i started thinking it’s my fault and i tried everything to make him happy. i was once so confident and positive about people and life and now i am so scared of going out and meeting people. i am suicidal and very depressed and have problem sleeping every night . in order to find out what’s wrong with my relationship , started reading around and i think he might have narcissistic personality disorder. we are supposedly engaged since he gave me a ring so that i wouldn’t date other people . but then he disappeared for months, even when my grandmother died he didn’t say anything until his mom told him that he should say sth to me. he texted my : my condolences . i haven’t heard from him after that two words. he would stay one night in my house only to break up with me the next day , and when he saw me on the street he would run away…
    i am so heart broken , because i feel so violated by all his actions toward me .
    i don’t want to contact him but there are so many things i wanna ask him, why did he do all those hurtful things to me when he knows that i love him .
    i still have the ring , because no one knows we have been dating for the past 5 years . in his life, only his parents know about me . even though we have some mutual friends who know about us , but they know about the relationship from me, he has never mentioned me to them in 5 years. he normally pretends he is single and was seen with other girls by my friends . if i returned the ring on my own , it feels like he can just write our 5 years of relationship off , pretended we were never together . he didn’t come ask for the ring back.
    for the past 3 years , his mom tried to talk me into staying with him and putting up with him. i now know she manipulated me all there time . i am so broken .
    my family is well off and i went to boarding school and medical schooling in the UK , so i don’t know why he treated me like i am beneath him and not good enough for him. i have been told most of my life that i am very graceful and pretty with good figures . i really dont know why i let him treat me this way and still want to get an answer from him.

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