Narcissistic deflation as a pathway to Depression
It is important to discern what is driving the depression. There are many different pathways that cause depression, which are not mutually exclusive, and a thorough assessment with careful attention to one’s history will help guide an effective treatment approach.
A few thoughts on 1 pathway:
From what I have seen in my practice a ‘narcissistic crisis’ in depression is oftentimes quietly and unconsciously at work, behind the scenes, but powerfully playing a significant role in the depression. When there is disappointment, frustration, or some kind of let down, the grandiose image one has of oneself collapses, and depression may be a response.
In general, a narcissistic deflation is a state of psychic helplessness. For some, there is a pre-existing narcissistic vulnerability that leaves them incredibly vulnerable to what I would call the slights and disappointments of everyday life. These slights and everyday losses are incredibly painful, difficult to manage, and lead to feelings of intense helplessness and/or “rage” (click here for some thoughts on the role anger and rage play in causing depression). A simple example of this is when a couple is out socializing and she, for one reason or another, draws attention to herself. If there is NOT a pre-existing narcissistic vulnerability he can feel happy, or even proud of his partner and the attention she is receiving. However, when there is this kind of vulnerability, the only thing he can say to himself is something akin to, what is wrong with me, why is the attention not on me, why am I not admired, special, or loved. These thoughts, as one can imagine, may leave him feeling defeated and depressed.
Depression is often linked to particular experiences of narcissistic injury and may yield to interpretation or repair of that injury. How to repair the injury needs to be flushed out further, but we can see that the depressed individual’s method of repair, such as withdrawing from life to protect the self from further injury, on some level has positive adaptive roots. However, this mode of repair does not ameliorate but instead prolongs the suffering and depression. Therefore, we need to examine more effective ways to repair the damage. I will do that in a later post!
If you or someone you know is struggling to manage their emotions it may be helpful to contact and talk with a qualified mental health professional. If you have any questions about this commentary or if you would like to set up a consultation to talk about your emotional state feel free to reach out.