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!