Narcissistic supply is a term used for the recognition, praise and other forms of attention that a narcissist desires and/or needs.
We all like some compliments, reassurances and to have nice things said about us. But narcissists have a huge ego, a grandiose sense of their own importance and a strong belief in their own importance. And they want others to acknowledge this. And frequently.
And they will do whatever they need to so that the people around them keep up the supply of attention so that they, the narcissists, remain the center of attention.
If you are or have been a victim, understanding narcissistic supply may allow you to better understand the motivations and drives of the narcissist personality disorder so that you can better free yourself from their clutches.
Narcissists are said to be dependent on other people. Without others to provide them with their narcissistic supply, they may feel like they are being 'mentally disembowelled'. It is supposedly horrific for them, worse than dying.
Therefore they need a constant supply and will do whatever it takes to maintain it.
Narcissists will often drain someone dry. They have been called emotional vampires for a reason! They will cajole, manipulate, deceive, trick and lie to the source of their narcissistic supply. Physical violence is also used to keep their victim under control and providing what the narcissist wants.
Some narcissists want praise and they will do everything to elicit praise from their victims. Others want to dominate and control and do it through fear, so they will do whatever it takes for people to fear them. Still others want money and will take money whatever way they can from their victims.
Victim is a 'loaded' word nowadays but it is still appropriate for those who have suffered at the hands of narcissists. When a person gets away from the influence of a narcissist and realizes the extent of the damage done (many do not!) they definitely have a sense of being totally taken advantage of and victimized. More about this later.
Remember that someone with narcissistic personality disorder has no empathy for others so it is of no consequence to them how much damage they to the source of their supply. That means they may totally destroy a person's life, leaving a person alone, jobless, without money or even a home where all the persons friends and family blame the victim for what went on! The malignant narcissist literally takes everything, even destroying the person's self-esteem and personality.
If a 'source' of narcissistic supply can give no more, the narcissist moves on. Often they will have started on the next victim before the previous one is totally exhausted.
Or they may find someone else who is better provider of narcissistic supply and suddenly dump their current victim, or even just disappear. This can be devastating for the person left behind, because they have been fooled into thinking they had a marvellous relationship. All of a sudden they are left with a broken heart and an empty wallet, asking themselves what they did wrong!
Narcissists aim to create a great first impression, seeming to be charming, friendly, intelligent and witty. This is designed to make friends because they understand that they can manipulate and control their victims more easily if they believe they are with friends. The narcissist then uses these people as narcissistic supply.
For some narcissists having people willingly giving them stuff (praise, money, time, love, friendship etc) is what it's all about. As long as they can continue to use these people they hang around. When the person realizes what is going on and starts objecting or complaining and it takes much effort on the part of the narcissist to keep it going, the narcissist disappears.
It is amazing how much abuse and suffering the victims tolerate. Even when it is obvious to friends and family, the victim may continue to defend and protect the narcissist. This is the power of mind control. Narcissists are expert manipulators and use a combination of fear and guilt to control their sources of narcissistic supply.
The effects of these techniques persist even after the narcissist has left the relationship. In fact, the influence of the mind control can last for years and it is surprisingly frequent that a narcissist will contact a previous victim and the victim will happily start up the relationship again, thinking that this time will be different, because the narcissist has promised!
The narcissist, of course, is just looking for a quick and easy 'fix' of narcissistic supply and will disappear again just as easily.
It is said that narcissistic supply is as important to a narcissist as food is to a baby, or blood is to a vampire. But it goes beyond that. A narcissist is insatiable with regards to narcissistic supply. No matter how much they get, it's never enough.
Therefore maintaining a constant supply becomes the full time preoccupation of the narcissist. They are all the time considering how to manipulate, control, cheat, swindle and even force their victims to give them what they want. It's not surprising that they often don't work much or change jobs frequently. Their attitude is 'Why should I work when I can get them to provide me with everything I want. And besides, I deserve it all!'
Narcissists are always on the lookout for new victims. Some of the easiest pickings are those who were previous victims of other narcissists.
They have been hurt, their self-esteem has been battered and their confidence is low. But they have also been trained by the previous narcissist how to provide narcissistic supply. And they usually have difficulty making decisions and thinking rationally. They typically will not like confrontation, either.
All these are evident to expert manipulators within moments of meeting someone. The narcissist hides their narcissistic traits, turns on the charm, provides a friendly shoulder to cry on, and they make friends. Then they set to work on their next source of narcissistic supply!
This is one of the reasons why it's vital to undo the damage if you have been a victim of a narcissist. You need to sort these things out if you want to avoid falling into the same trap again. How often have you heard of someone going from one abusive relationship to another?!? The explanation above is one reason why it happens!
People who have been victims of narcissistic abuse also continue to have a variety of difficulties that they don't specifically attribute to the bad relationship, especially if they don't realize the nature of that relationship. Problems include, difficulties concentrating, memory problems, irritability, intolerance of others, difficulty trusting, conflicting beliefs and problems in making decisions as well as problems with authority.
For this reason professional help in undoing mind control and re-evaluating what actually went on is invaluable...
Would you prefer to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
You have the theory but how do you actually apply it? This book spells it out...
Find out more
Do you think you are being taken advantage of emotionally, physically, sexually or financially in your relationship? Do you want to leave but you can't seem to get away?
Learn how to break free, and why you need to!
Do you think you may be in an abusive relationship? Are you realizing that your life is not how you want it to be, despite following your group's ideas faithfully?
This manual will give you a different perspective!
Difficulty deciding with so much information that is often contradictory?
The steps to success - with unmatched proof!