compliance as a narcissistic regression

The story line is frequently similar.  The conflict originates when the patient innocently enough sets out to want to be liked.  It sounds innocent enough, but the rub comes when he or she is asked to do something that they are clearly not wanting to do.  Rather than discuss the chore or the event, the patient complies with the wishes thinking that he or she is being cooperative and a nice guy–but; the rub sets in slowly and over time.  The longer the patient lingers in this semi-coperative state and compliant to someone else’s wishes the greater is the tendency to develop a resentment.

Once even a minor resentment has set itself into the psyche it festers much like an infection would in the body.   At first a host of white blood cells rush to the site to overwhelm the foreign object.  If the army of white blood cells are successful, the infection is overwhelmed and the infection is beaten.  However, if the infection is resistant to the attack it continues to grow and in time will kill the host organism.

If a resentment is allowed to fester in the psyche a form of mental infection sets in that begins to totally overtake the space normally uses for productive and creative endeavors. In time the host agency, the mind, becomes so controlled by the infectious resentment that it hardly is able to do anything normally.  All actions are subject to passing through the infection and that is such an unpleasant prospect that soon the mind begins to abandon itself to the infection and no longer even knows how to let it self want something.

The resentment has slowly turned itself inward and has morphed into a major depression.  In other words the patient, was so overwhelmed by his or her feelings that rather than continue to move forward in life, it decides to abandon living well and that eventually turns into abandoning wanting to live at all.

You know I have spent my life studying narcissism and the special in’s and out’s of treatment of this all to evident disorder.  I came to my senses about it all when I first recognized that the great passion that I had for this condition was that i suffered so badly from it myself…..Once I let myself know that it was really me that i had set out to cure the rest of my career as a practicing psychoanalyst became a breeze and a joy.

At some very essential level, I think we are all narcissist and to what ever degree we are able to let ourselves see the far most reaches of our personalities we get to feeling more comfortable developing ourselves and making use of our interactions with the world to learn just a tad more about ourselves….

Narcissism is not only a condition like neurosis; but, in addition it is also a stage of development that all communicating organism’s go through.  So a regression to narcissism is really nothing more that a travel backwards to our most early experiences in life prior to the time that we had language….

It is frightening to find ourselves there because without the language that we have come to rely on, we tend to be afraid of the dark–that is, the dark places in our selves that make us think that we just “CAN”T go on….The point is once we realize that we can tolerate a narcissistic wound, that is to say–once we can feel hurt and return from the hurt, we recognize that we can do anything—even be in a relationship with a difficult guy, if at some level that guy or gal pleases us….

So back to the beginning of our discussion on compliance and defiance.  It is a narcissistic regression that conducts us into a compliant mode.  Once we are there it is difficult to find our way out.  If we have become use to pleasing as a way of getting ourselves to feel liked, we tent to neither like our selves, nor  be very successful at getting the “Other” to like us either.

Compliance and defiance is only one of the many manifestations that beset the narcissistic mind.  It is a way of relating to the world that can remain uncovered and undetected for nearly a life time.  A skilled narcissist can live with this matrix as part of his or her mode of being in the world,  and it is not until a very sweeping event occurs that we can find the lock to this matrix.

Once unlocked though, it can make a profound difference in how we approach the world. Unlocking the compliance/ defiance matrix goes a long way toward unlocking the essence of the narcissistic personality, but much more work needs to be done before the patient is able to prevent regressions in general.

For a narcissist to feel cured, he or she must be convinced that they are capable of preventing any regression.  This is no small task, because the adult narcissist has learned so many ways to feed his regressions.

More on regression later………..


4 comments on “compliance as a narcissistic regression

  1. claudia says:

    Thank you for this, Al – resentment is something I think about a lot. Great description and thoughts.

  2. Chris says:

    Very well said, Al. Thank you.

  3. You hit a profound bull’s-eye! … found myself overextended going into summer – helping so many with so mucn in and out of work. … then the barely discernable resentments setting in – growing, festering, compounding. I’m like that damned “Giving Tree” (Shel Silverstein)… giving, giving, giving unitl I’m little more than a stump! Then I become like one of those aggitated porcupine fish that blows up with all it’s threatening stickers pointing out. And the killer is that I do it to myself! … big repetitive cycle for me to see – REALLY see. Your piece somehow made me see this in a new light – just really struck home so thank you!! … Left with thoughts from “Invictus” (William Ernest Henley)…”I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul!” …taking 2 weeks off this summer and just said “NO” to a number of ‘favors’ that could readily turn me into ‘Collette-zilla!’ I’d rather take responsibility for my destiny and captain the seat of my soul – with THE Master’s help.

  4. Ellen says:

    Thank you, Al, for the great reminder of how all of my resentments begin…

    I’d also like to comment on what a nice job Collette did with her response. Much of what you said resonates with me too, Collette. Thanks for your willingness to share so much of yourself.

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