When Ego Eclipses Personal Health and Safety
Article written by Randi Fine
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
There is an elderly woman whose narcissistic pride is so severe that it has physically destroyed her. This woman has been suffering from a painful auto-immune disease for forty-one years.
Progressively over the years, the steroids she took to relieve the pain caused irreversible damage to her bones, eyes, skin, muscles and organs. Her cervical spine no longer has the cushion of discs between vertebrae; bone sits on bone. When she gets an injury of any sort she does not heal. She has had innumerable surgeries to repair the damages caused by her auto-immune disorder. For the last twenty years she has been literally eroding away.
With all her pain and physical problems, I often wonder how she gets out of bed each morning. I am pretty sure that under the same circumstances I could not. But she does get out of bed each day; always has and still manages to do so. Most days she even goes out. She has to. That is where she engages strangers and interacts with admirers; where she gets narcissistic supply. Her will is ironclad.
Generally when we think of someone with a strong will we imagine someone who has an insatiable zest for life or someone who knows what she wants, lets nothing stop her, and goes after it with gusto. None of those characterizations apply to the will of this woman. Two things motivate her; her desperate need for narcissistic supply and her egotistical determination to appear perfect to the world. She refuses, no matter the condition, to allow anyone to see her (or think of her as) weak, injured or infirm. Did I mention that she is ninety-one years old.
Her ability to balance and walk has all but disappeared. For many years she has been unable to walk more than a few steps without holding on to her husband, the wall, or the nearest piece of furniture. Still she insists that she walks fine. Any mention of her using a device to keep her from falling, such as a walker, cane, wheelchair, or scooter is met with volatile defensiveness. She insists that she does not need help.
Needless to say, she has taken some very hard falls over the years. She once fell backwards from the floor to the bathtub; the back of her head bashing full-force into the ceramic soap dish attached to the wall. Her head split wide open from the blow. Not considering that she may have neck or spinal damage and may need the help of paramedics, she had her husband (who had fallen on top of her) pick her up, walk her to the car, and drive her to the emergency room.
This woman has been told by her doctor, in no uncertain terms, that if she falls again, the probability of her ending up paralyzed or dead is great. Even though her worst fear may be realized (having to sit or even more dreadfully be seen in a wheelchair) her narcissistic pride drives her to insist she needs no assistance to walk.
Her body has eroded but her mind has not. At the age of ninety-one she suffers no dementia; her mind is sharp as a tack. Though she is still covert in her attempt to manipulate others, an expertly honed and mastered skill, she no longer tries to conceal her abusive nature.
This woman has emotionally, psychologically, and physically destroyed her husband. At ninety-six years old he is but a shell of a human being; albeit a bitter, angry, vindictive one.
Though both infirm, she refuses to allow a health-care worker to come into their apartment and help them. She insists that her husband take care of her–and though he is in a more fragile state than she, he dutifully continues to do so.
Several months ago he was hospitalized for sepsis. She insisted he check himself out of the hospital to come home and take care of her. Against all logic and doctors’ orders he complied. When he got home she refused to allow him to rest; to sleep past 7am or take naps. Amazingly he survived and recovered, but his health never fully returned.
In the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic she has been sending him to the grocery store (yes, frighteningly he still drives). And though their grandson, a physician, has strongly advised a health and safety protocol for them, she refuses to abide by it.
This woman perfectly exemplifies the nature of narcissistic personality disorder; the extremes those who have it will go to in order to feed their ego, abuse others, and keep the narcissistic supply coming.
I have provided a glimpse into the minds of those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Their narcissistic pride and needs define every aspect of who they are. They cannot love anyone – especially themselves.
Randi Fine is the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.