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Narcissistic Supply

Narcissistic Supply is the name given to the constant attention that narcissists. They feed on this attention. It's their drug of choice. And guess who gets to give that attention? Yes, you! (Well, anybody will do really, but you're there and available, and have been trained from birth for the job.)

By giving a Narcissist attention, you're providing their narcissistic supply. It's an ongoing job, and you'll need to do it all the time. It's an endless thankless job, but one that, if you're allocated the role, you'll find hard to avoid. And of course, being a daughter of a narcissistic mother means that providing this narcissistic suppy is your role in life.

This dynamic can often work very well in the early years of a child's life. Children automatically adore their mothers and put them on a pedestal, and that suits narcissistic mothers perfectly, and provides them with copious amounts of their narcissistic supply. This is why some DONMs actually have good memories of their early childhood. "She changed when I was about 7", they'll say.

In fact, what happened was that the daughter herself changed, and since 7 is the age of reason, it often happens then. The daughter gets a mind of her own then, and that threatens the narcissistic mother who starts fighting for her narcissistic supply.

It's even worse, often, when the daughter becomes a teenager and starts wanting to live her own life.

My own mother said to me once, "The best years were when you were all small." I didn't think much of it then, but it chills me now. It was so indicative, if I had but realised it, of her narcissism and her need for narcissistic supply.

And now that I'm a mother myself and my own son is 17, I'm still thinking that every age has been the best yet, that every age has its own gifts. I don't think it was better when he was smaller and more biddable.

But then, I'm happy for my son to be his own person. I'm not looking for narcissistic supply.

The preferred type of narcissistic supply is adoration, admiration or approval.

But failing that, any sort of attention will do. Fear is an acceptable alternative. While you're fearing somebody you definitely paying attention to them. You're watching them and referring to them - lots of narcissistic supply there.

And failing fear, then pity. The narcissistic mother will often play victim to get this. There might even be tears. "Oh you're such a bully," she might sob if you dare stand up for yourself. Or, if you're looking to go out and enjoy yourself she might sob about how she's so lonely without you.

There's much more about the tricks and strategies narcissists use to get their supply in Drew Keys' book Narcissists Exposed, which is available as part of the Narcissistic Parent Survival Kit.

Engulfing mothers often use tactics such as emmeshing to keep their daughters with them, to keep them around as a source of this narcissistic supply. Part of the DONM journey is to extricate yourself from this.

Another trick they use to keep up their level of narcissistic supply is infantalisation.

Return from Narcissistic Supply to Narcissistic Personality Disorder

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