How to Avoid the Trap of the Collapsed Narcissist
A collapsing or decompensating narcissist is a narcissist that is unable, for whatever reason, to get or have something they want and becomes unhinged because of it. People who are familiar with the horrors of every day living with narcissists understand this phenomenon very well; the terminology may be rather new, but the behavior is old hat.
This happens because the fiction the narcissist has constructed about themselves and their life is very fragile. It is not really a very good defense against the unrelenting self-hatred and self-abuse the narcissist piles on themselves nonstop. When this defensive shield becomes fractured in any way, all of that self-hatred, all of the pathological shame, all of the narcissist's true feelings for themselves come pouring in and they can't take it. They crack. Their facade is gone, the shield comes down and we see the disorder as it really is: terrified, hysterical, needy, psychotic, paranoid, delusional and consumed with need. A burn victim with no protective skin. And it's ugly. It's pitiful. It's sad. It's scary. This is where people get trapped back in to trying again with the narcissist. They feel sorry for this poor, pathetic creature. And who wouldn't? It's a very dramatic situation.
However manipulative narcissists are, the collapsed narcissist is feeling very real feelings. They are not faking it. They have a brutal and abusive superego that spits hate and insults at them 24 hours a day.
"Nobody likes you. You're worthless. You're stupid. You're ugly. You're nothing."
All day long. They get no rest from this.
Because of the abuse and self-hatred narcissists feel from this, they have created a fictional image of themselves that they project onto the world. Their sadistic, abusive superego says to them, "You deserve nothing" so the narcissist defends against this by saying, "I deserve everything!" Their very lives depend on keeping up this fiction, so when it does not play out that way, it validates the self-hatred and the abusive things the superego says. They really do deserve nothing and that's why they can't get what they want. This causes their facade to crack and let all those negative feelings in. This causes a downward spiral where they lash out at and abuse the people around them to get some relief from their poisonous self-hatred. These people then decide they've had enough of being treated badly and abandon the narcissist. This creates a situation where the narcissist has no one to carry the load for them and no one to prop them up. They are forced to bear the weight of their self-hatred and smothering negative feelings along. And they collapse beneath it.
Collapsed narcissists may become suicidal, they may engage in self-mutiliation, such as cutting behaviors or other violence toward themselves. They may refuse to get out of bed or be unable to stop crying. They may become violent. They can even have a psychotic break or hallucinations. This is how great the stress is for the narcissist when their imaginary world does not remain intact. This is how devastating and poisonous their reality is. Collapsed narcissists can be very dangerous, as well. These are people with no empathy who are angry, upset and feel they have nothing to lose. That's a dangerous combination. They are also dangerous in another way.
As stated earlier, this is the stage where many people are convinced to try again with the narcissist. They believe in the narcissist's hysteria and neediness. And why shouldn't they? It's real. People's internal lie detectors don't go off in these situations because there is no lie to detect. The problem is that even though it's true, this is still another manipulation. The narcissist is still a narcissist. There has been no change, and this behavior should never be taken as an indication that there has been. Yes, it looks dramatic and yes, it seems sincere. It is, in fact, both of these things. But it's temporary.
As soon as the narcissist has what they want again, the collapsed facade will be back in place and you will eventually be face to face with the same old thing again: an ungrateful, disrespectful, abusive, childish tyrant. These are the two faces of the narcissist, and that's all there is. They are as flat, predictable and one dimensional as the characters projected onto a movie screen, which is basically all they are anyway. The narcissist doesn't want the relationship back because they love you. They want the relationship back because they need you to carry their emotions for them, to prop them up when they are low and to be their punching bag when they can't take their internal struggles anymore. There is nothing for you here, there is certainly no love here. They may think that's love, and they may say call it love but it isn't. It's narcissism.