Collapsed Narcissism – Ask Our Experts – Rachel Bernstein

By 2017-03-30T05:49:34+00:00on November 24th, 2016
The Human Predator|5 Comments

Q: What is a collapsed narcissist?

A: Thank you for your question. You bring up a subject that not a lot of people know about. Collapsed narcissists are an interesting breed. As many people already know, narcissists are sometimes called “high-functioning social predators”; they acquire power by taking it away from others. They feel predestined for greatness and lack self-reflection, insight, remorse or empathy, and they don’t learn from the past. The finger is always pointed outward when blame is assigned. They behave with grandiosity and are egocentric. That is nothing new.

What is new is the idea that a narcissist can collapse. This happens when their source of ego stroking leaves, and that which feeds them – usually the manipulated people, who have become self-sacrificial and adoring fans – have had enough. The narcissists have no sense that they have caused this to occur. They do not know that they have pushed people away, or that they have used up people’s patience, generosity and forgiveness. They just feel victimized through no fault of their own.

Collapsed narcissism can also happen when a narcissist does not get something he or she wanted to have, and blames the boss who had it in for him, the media that has it in for her, society at large which just doesn’t see why he should be given a pedestal to stand on, and so forth. This causes them to feel defeated, and instead of learning from this moment, and seeing why this happened to them, and that their behavior caused them to not get what they felt they deserved, they instead become aggressive, passive aggressive, hostile and accusatory, infuriated, and unstable. They will brood and plan how to get back at those they feel have wronged them.

Narcissists try to hide the immense shame they feel when they are not on the top tier but instead are down at the bottom. They also do not want the public to see their faults, their weaknesses, their imperfections, and try to hide the fact that they truly have nothing, and no one, by trying to come across like they have it all.

I remember when a cult leader, a true narcissist in his early eighties, was descending the stairs in his mansion looking down upon his dwindling number of followers. When seeing how few people were down at the bottom of the stairs to bow to him, he stumbled and missed a step. When he stood up, he blamed everyone in the room for his having missed the step. He said it was due to the negative energy in the room, and it was the evil left by the people who had abandoned him and abandoned the cause that he had lost his footing. That is a true collapsed narcissist.

It is a sad life, an emotionally empty and disconnected life, and one of self-imposed victimization, but it is hard to feel sorry for someone like this, because they spend whatever energy they have lashing out at everybody else around them, thereby, and unknowingly, maintaining their absolute isolation.

Thank you again for your question.

Rachel Bernstein

Editor's Note: While we at OMF value all free expression of opinion, the views expressed by our contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OMF, its board members, or trustees.

What do you think about this article? Do you agree?  Do you have a story about a collapsed narcissist that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!

Rachel is an experienced counselor, who specializes in high-demand groups and relationships. She has helped hundreds of people to overcome indoctrination. Rachel runs support groups for former cult members. She is the author of Now I Know: kids talking to kids about divorce.


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  2. calligraph August 4, 2018 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    How to start…it is indeed painful to see a loved one break down like this. When a dear one is a child, anger and resentment problems can be attributed to divorce and attendant problems.
    When the child’s gifts become obvious, and far outrun social abilities, people say maybe the child is Aspergian, because look. Child self educates and gets high paying jobs that peers with degrees can’t get.
    But, ten years later, disaster. Social dropout. Lives with friends, then mom.
    Then leaves and suddenly is attacking everyone who loves this person and seems to have hallucinations with regards to its entire life history.
    Family members and friends struggle to sort this out.
    Yep, it’s very painful for all.

  3. Bob Davidson August 5, 2018 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Great post and picture of the “mask of grandiosity.”
    Your post helped me understand better the covert/collapsed narc who abused my very close friend. Mentally disordered or not, this creature is truly despicable. Thank you for your post.

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  5. Deah January 2, 2019 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Your article describes a person on the internet called Harley Johnstone also known as durian Rider. He is a 42 year old Australian who claims association with the vegan movement and has harmed so many individuals and has done it overtly literally in the hundreds and hundreds. A man named Michael hebo, whose girlfriend was raped by durianrider fryer to Michael and she needing, has produced a nearly a tower documentary called the unmasking of a narcissist durianrider which can be found all over the internet uploaded by various websites and social media venues. I believe as an expert in this field you would find it most interesting. I would leave a link however it is extremely easy to find as is a Google search of Johnstone either by his actual name or by his screen name durianrider. Amazing article thank you. I had never heard of a collapsed narcissist but this is exactly the place in which Johnstone now finds himself. And he has no one but himself to blame. It is as if you wrote the article about him without ever mentioning his name. Again thank you this is extremely important information for everyone to know

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