We all have egos. The ego is the psychological “I” within us, an integral part of our identity. Strong egos are important. They tell us that we are valuable, competent, and solid inside. The ego is formed from early childhood. It develops as a result of positive, consistent, loving interactions with the parent(s). If a child feels wanted and is treated with love and respect, he feels positive and secure about himself. He values his uniqueness as a reflection of his parents’ communication of this to him through their consistent words and behaviors.
Some children have damaged egos. They feel diminished, insecure, and ashamed. They have great difficulty asserting themselves. They stay in the background, unable to speak up for themselves or defend themselves when they have been wronged. Inside they feel fragile, small and insignificant.
The narcissist has a highly inflated ego. He experiences himself as vastly superior, more intelligent, talented, creative, and attractive than others. The narcissist’s sense of self importance has no limits. He is unaware and unconcerned about the feelings of others. All that matters is that he gets what he wants.
His sense of self is grandiose to the point of being delusional. He engages in endless self talk: a running torrent of his brilliant ideas and accomplishments.
“The narcissist expects others to mirror him perfectly…he expects you, in your words, gestures, and actions, to feed back to him his flawless vision of himself.” If the narcissist thinks that you have failed to acknowledge his perfection and superiority, he feels emotionally bruised and injured. Even the smallest oversight on the part of a business partner, family member, spouse or friend is felt by the narcissist as a wound. The narcissist has been slighted. Inside he feels diminished. As a result, he is enraged. Although the narcissistic ego is grandiose, it is brittle. It lacks elasticity and flexibility.
Those who have a healthy pliable ego can tolerate the slings and arrows that strike us all the time. Humor is the soothing balm, the respite, the exquisite poke that allows us to laugh at ourselves. The narcissist may appear to make fun of himself but this is disingenuous. He is not capable of experiencing the joy of a fully developed sense of humor. From childhood the narcissist developed a false self as a result of parental expectations that he/she was perfect and superior to everyone else. Beneath the false facade the narcissist unconsciously feels worthless and fraudulent. The narcissist’s perception that others are not treating him with the ultimate respect and obedience that he deserves, activates the tripwire of his narcissistic wounds and slights.