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Narcissists Are Mad Men – Episode 3 September 3, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
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I’m not a diehard Mad Men fan, but when I ran across a copy of Sterling’s Gold – Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Manmy first thought was, “Forget Sterling, this is NPD Gold!” The book is ostensibly written by Roger Sterling, Jr., better known as Don Draper’s boss. If you follow my blog, you know I’ve written about Don Draper in Is Don Draper the Devil or a Narcissist?

I thought some of the quotes in the book would make excellent jumping off points to discuss questions that keep appearing via the Search Engines that churn 24/7. I’ve been addressing some of those questions in my The Mirror Talks – Reflections on Narcissism series, but it’s summer so I’m down for something different. (Since I’m officially back at school, summer is SO over for me, so this will be the final episode.)

What Is Narcissistic Supply? 

A Narcissist would rather get a reaction from a total stranger than receive a genuine compliment from someone near and dear. And the more someone “runs” from them, the more they’ve gotta have IT. What is IT? Well, it’s not love as in “Love is the Drug” by Roxy Music. No, IT is new blood to feast on. Okay, that’s sounding a little vampirish, but let’s face it, a Narcissist without supply would shrivel up and die as sure as a vampire on a sunny California day.

Narcissistic Supply is the attention given to the Narcissist from other people, whether it be from you, the cashier in the checkout line, or total strangers. It doesn’t really matter who these people are (though more important people, more desirable people do yield more of a supply high) as long as they mirror back to the Narcissist the image he’s worked so hard to perfect, project, and to protect. A Narcissist will accept positive or negative attention as long as they’re at the center of it.

Meanwhile, a Narcissist is forever on the lookout for new supply, even when they’re supposedly in a “relationship.” Why?  For a narcissist, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. More is always better. You can be at a party with the N yet feel suddenly invisible as the N hones in on a new person to dazzle. Hey, remember me –  the person you came with? Could you at least introduce me?

And oh how a Narcissist loves the chase. When someone new comes into their orbit, someone who has not “succumbed” to their act, they fire up the charm and it’s full speed ahead. But here’s the rub. The minute that someone stops running and expresses real interest in the Narcissist, their days are numbered. The N has no desire for a genuine relationship as that would require (dare I say it?) emotional intimacy. They just need to know that you’re willing to take their calls. They like knowing that  the door is always open  – even just a crack –  because they can get their foot back in for a quick fix when they’re between chase-worthy people.

You have to understand that like children, Narcissists love novelty. Picture a child at a birthday party opening one gift and exclaiming over it only to toss that toy aside to open the next gift. (This is why in NYC when my boys were small, people no longer allowed the birthday boy/girl to open gifts in front of others. It was just too hard to watch.)

If you insist on hanging around, the Narcissist will devalue you and put you (his once new toy) on the shelf. He may take you down from time to time to play with you, but then back on the shelf you go. Or if he’s not a tidy child, he’ll just toss you onto the heap of other toys he’s grown bored with. Now you’ve been demoted to being Secondary Supply. Those in this category still interact with the Narcissist on a regular basis, but that new car smell is gone. They exist to remind the N that he’s already conquered them. Next!

That’s why the N is always on the lookout for the next best thing. Even though you love them, care about them, and would do virtually anything for them, that’s just SO not what turns them on. They’d rather have a total stranger smile at them because they’re sure it’s because that stranger thinks they’re charming, sexy, clever, fill in the blank.

No matter what you do to try and inject excitement or drama into the relationship to return to that Idealization Phase, it’s not gonna happen. The N will be happy to use you, abuse you, and even lose you as often as you’ll allow them to.  You know there’s lots more where you came from!

So here’s the question. Do you really want to be used by someone who views you as “old business?”


1. Bev - September 3, 2012

great piece

so the saying goes….less is more… but to an N more is more…. every time…

Did you ever read the book Perfume? In the final scene, he’s created the perfect scent that will make everyone in his thrall. It gave me chills. Ultimately, I believe that’s how the N would like to be viewed. Jan


2. Catherine Sherman - September 3, 2012

Another great post on Narcissism!
“A Narcissist would rather get a reaction from a total stranger than receive a genuine compliment from someone near and dear.” I’ve found this to be so true with the Ns I know. One grandmother I know puts the photos of acquaintances and their children who have paid some attention to her over the framed photos of her own grandchildren, whose attention she takes for granted. Newer acquaintances take precedence over older acquaintances. She will count salespeople who have fluttered around her (because she’s a big shopper) among her “closest” friends. I heard her describing her many friends in some city that she frequently visits. One of her sons dismissed them as “salespeople.” The woman looked crushed. The son didn’t downgrade the salespeople, simply explained why they took such an interest in the woman. To her, any attention meant she was fabulous. Her family has learned just how much attention to give her to keep her interest in return.


3. Bev - September 4, 2012

ahhhh havent read that book… maybe need to give it a try :-S ….so so so glad im away from the N… i really feel i have my life back x


4. Donna - September 4, 2012

Jan, this was totally a great post. I will save it to read over and over again to remind me to not even think about getting involved with my exn friend again.

Thank you for your great blog and the caring and encouraging comments you made to me and many others. I will truly miss receiving your insightful blogs. I hope you have a great school year, your students have a wonderful teach them and guide them.

Grateful and Blessed, Donna


5. healingfrombroken - September 8, 2012

You have described my experience with Ns to a T. They really are very much alike, these Narcissists who believe themselves to be superbly unique.

Life without any Ns is so peaceful.

Yes, “my” N complained about the drama, but he was ultimately the architect of it all. Jan


6. arielsantrini - November 28, 2012

Hi Jan,

You have perfectly captured the narcissistic motive. I am ashamed to say I used to be like that myself. I changed when I fell in love with another narcissist who ultimately discarded me.

One of the reasons they do this is because they are very sensitive to criticism, and it is impossible to have closeness with someone, without them ever hurting your feelings. Once hurt, they hold that person in contempt and perceive it as a personal attack rather than allowing that person to have an opinion.

I can’t speak for everyone, but it probably stems from childhood trauma. Though I understand, it is no excuse to treat those that care for you in that manner.

I’m sorry to hear you had to put up with that.



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