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  • Writer's picture Zalman Nelson - Therapist

Narcissism and the Life Patterns

Some People with the Emotional Deprivation Life Pattern* Counterattack; they compensate for their feelings of deprivation by becoming hostile and demanding. These people are narcissistic.

They act as if they are entitled to get all their needs met. They demand a lot, and often get a lot, from the people who become their partners. But regardless of how much nurturing they receive, they still feel that their need are not being met. However, instead of acting hurt or rejected about not getting enough, they becomes angry.

There are others who are also hypersensitive to emotional slights, but instead they remain silent about their needs. Two different styles of coping with Emotional Deprivation: anger and demandingness are typical of the Counterattack coping style,* while silence is characteristic of Surrender as a way of coping.

Why do some people react to Emotional Deprivation by becoming narcissistic?

The answer lies in a combination of the Emotional Deprivation Life Pattern and the Entitlement Life Pattern.* Although as children their emotional needs were not met in important ways, narcissists have learned to fight the feelings of deprivation by becoming very demanding about other, more superficial needs.

For example, you might be very demanding about what you eat, or how you dress, or whom you are with, or where you go. You might be very demanding about material things. You might be demanding about anything except the true object of your craving, which is emotional nurturance.

Unfortunately, these material demands are ultimately a poor substitute for love and understanding, and so you are not satisfied. You go on craving tangible rewards, never addressing the underlying issue, and are never satisfied.

As a child, you were not allowed to be demanding about emotiona