What Is Narcissistic Supply?

In almost every article you read on narcissism you will find plenty of references to “Narcissistic Supply”. What is it? Why do narcissists crave it?
 
Narcissistic Supply is “a psychological concept which describes a type of admiration, interpersonal support or sustenance drawn by an individual from his or her environment. The term is typically used in a negative sense, describing a pathological or excessive need for attention or admiration that does not take into account the feelings, opinions or preferences of other people”  (Wikipedia definition).  Narcissistic Supply is a term which refers to the attention that narcissists crave.
 

What is Narcissistic Supply?

Narcissistic Supply is anything that builds the narcissist’s ego up and re-affirms his feelings of superiority, grandiosity, and entitlement.  Examples include:

  • ·       adulation
  • ·       compliments
  • ·       admiration
  • ·       subservience
  • ·       attention
  • ·       being feared
  • ·       approval
  • ·       affirmation
  • ·       respect
  • ·       applause
  • ·       celebrity status
  • ·       money
  • ·       media notice
  • ·       sexual conquest

 

Why Do They Crave It?

We are born social creatures and, at least occasionally, we all need to hear positive things about ourselves or receive positive nonverbal cues from others. As long as we get positive strokes occasionally, we are able to carry on with our work or family in relative contentment. However, this basic human need for positive attention from others becomes distorted and exaggerated in the hands of a narcissist.
 
Typically a person welcomes a mild to moderate amount of attention usually in the form of affirmation, approval, or admiration. Too much attention paid to oneself, though, makes the person feel uncomfortable. Negative attention or criticism is typically avoided and makes the person even more uncomfortable.
 
On the other hand, the narcissist is like an alcoholic or a drug addict when it comes to attention. He is insatiable and seeks out attention as if it were his drug of choice. He does not get uncomfortable with it, no matter how much he gets (it is never enough) or whether it is positive or negative. Narcissists generally have no intrinsic or “built-in” sense of self-worth so they rely on other people, via attention or Narcissistic Supply, to re-affirm their greatness in order to feel good about themselves.
 
To elicit a steady stream of attention or Narcissistic Supply from others, the narcissist projects a False Self. The False Self is an imaginary façade or mask that he shows to the world that includes what the narcissist wants to be seen as:  powerful, charming, intelligent, rich, or well-connected.
 
The narcissist then ‘collects’ reactions to this projected False Self from spouse, family, friends, colleagues, business partners and peers. If the expected Narcissistic Supply is not forthcoming- (adulation, admiration, attention, fear, respect, applause, or affirmation) – the narcissist demands them, or extorts them. Money, compliments, a media appearance, a sexual conquest are all simply various forms of the same thing to a narcissist-Narcissistic Supply.
 

Two Types of Narcissistic Supply and Sources

There are two types of Narcissistic Supply with their own means of being obtained (sources). Authors and researchers typically identify two main types of Narcissistic Supply: Primary, which is obtained through more publicly-oriented forms of attention, and Secondary, which usually comes through attention achieved in the course of interpersonal relationships.
 
Primary Narcissistic Supply is attention gained through public forms (fame, notoriety, infamy, celebrity) and through private or interpersonal forms (adoration, adulation, applause, fear, repulsion). It is important to understand that attention of any kind – positive or negative – constitutes Primary Narcissistic Supply. “Infamy is as sought after as fame, being notorious is as good as being renowned”. The narcissist’s achievements can be imaginary or outward fraud but he will bask in them as long as others believe them to be true. Truth does not matter to the narcissist, only the perception matters. Appearance is more important than substance; in fact, it is the only thing that counts to a narcissist.
 
Triggers of Primary Narcissistic Supply include being famous (celebrity, notoriety, fame, infamy), having an air of mystique, having a sense of masculinity/virility/femininity by having sexual prowess, and being connected to (or exerting) power through politics, finances, military, or spirituality. Narcissists will manipulate and exploit others to keep their Narcissistic Supply coming in. The narcissist may do this subtly through sexual seduction, fear, obligation, guilt, and the silent treatment or forcefully through lies, threats, or simply discarding the person if their Supply source is used-up.
 
Sources of Primary Narcissistic Supply are all the people who provide him or her with Narcissistic Supply on a casual, random basis.
 
Secondary Narcissistic Supply includes ‘leading a normal life’ (which is, surprisingly, a source of great pride for the narcissist), having a secure existence (financially secure, social acceptability, upward mobility), and obtaining companionship. Secondary Narcissistic Supply includes things such as having a spouse or partner, possessing and flaunting obvious wealth, being creative, running a business, being a prominent member of a group, having a professional or other reputation, and generally being successful. The narcissist seeks status symbols and will display them conspicuously.
 
Sources of Secondary Narcissistic Supply are all the people who have an interpersonal relationship with the narcissist on a regular, consistent basis. This includes a spouse, friends, colleagues, business partners, teachers, neighbors, and so on.
 
Many narcissists prefer their Narcissistic Supply to originate from positive attention, such as validation, love, or admiration. However, negative attention is still a form of attention and can serve as Narcissistic Supply. The attention a narcissist manages to garner either publicly (such as fame or infamy) or privately (through interpersonal relationships) is referred to as his Narcissistic Supply.
 
Source: http://thenarcissisticlife.com/narcissistic-supply/
 

What Is Narcissistic Supply?

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29 Comments on "What Is Narcissistic Supply?"

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Tom
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Tom

I have come across several people in my surrounding that fit Primary Narcissistic Supply traits to the tee. I have learned to see right through them and it makes my stomach turn in what I see. Even so, I am glad that at least I’m aware of their psychological tricks and know how to shield myself against them. They can try that bull on someone else!

Uly
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Uly

” However, this basic human need for positive attention from others becomes distorted and exaggerated in the hands of a narcissist.” Well, that is true. Perhaps finding the root of this trait or behavior may be of more help in resolving issues regarding it.

Truman
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Truman

I think everyone likes receiving those things in the bullets to some degree. Honestly, who doesn’t? Why make a fuss out of it if it makes a person happy? As long as nobody is hurt or offended, I say give what you are willing to and tolerate what you can.

Lucy
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Lucy

The meme you put in the beginning of the article is funny hahaha yet can’t say disagree about it. Social media and narcissistic build a causal relationship.

Mico Robin
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Mico Robin

Selfie per hour? If that is the case then we are all vain since Smart phones are selling like pancakes these days.

Miaka Yuuki
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Miaka Yuuki

What i do not get is. HOw do people come up with a math equation for this? Is this real?

Cherryna
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Cherryna

Good article! I found this relates to nowadays habit among young people.

Joan
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Joan

I am learning new things everyday. I never heard of this term before. Social media does make people narcissistic. Sad but true.

Maureen
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Maureen

I judge people according to the number of their selfies on social media. I oughtta come up with my own formula for that!

Katy
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Katy

Facebook and Instagram made us narcissistic! Or maybe some of us already had a latent narcissistic gene then it came out when when selfies became famous. I don’t think this will be over anytime soon So good luck to us!

Jessica
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Jessica

I think my ex husband was a narcissist, he always bout expensive stuff only for himself and made sure to flash it in everybody’s face. The only reason I stayed with him so long is because we had a child together. But with an unhealthy relationship like that it was best that we parted. I am much more confident in myself now and my life is virtually stress free.

Naomi Sutton
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Naomi Sutton

I take selfies too, but I’m definitely not compulsive with it. Too much of anything (even a good thing) can always turn into a problem because it then becomes compulsive behavior.

Tucker
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Tucker

For some, attention is attention. They will accept anything as long as it is about them. Just like here in the internet. A click is a click, a view is a view, a comment is a comment, good or bad, I got a click out of you!

Sully
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Sully

I think all people are basically narcissistic by nature. It is the degree of this trait that varies in each individual. Some are more than others. Seeking a greeting from another person can already be a narcissistic trait for wanting to be acknowledged. Some just need more than a nod to fill their need for attention..

Dark Vader
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Dark Vader

There are some who are actually consumed by themselves they just probably didnt know. It’s also scary.

Tony
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Tony

I think with the evolution of the Internet, this is actually contributing to an advanced level of narcissism across the board. I have never seen so many people in any generation that are so engulfed in themselves that that find the need to take selfies of every little thing and broadcast if for all the world to see. It’s getting ridiculous if you ask me.

Stu
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Stu

Scientist really came up with that formula? If they didn’t, well, it does make sense, so I have no trouble believing if they did. Quite hilarious but there is a grain of truth in it!

Rolf
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Rolf

I can totally see these descriptions in a couple of friends of mine. I don’t think it’s so bad. They don’t seem to have done anyone any harm.

Elenna
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Elenna

Now that we know what a narcissist craves and what feeds his/her undesirable characteristic, how do we deal with them? I find this article very interesting but quite disappointed that it doesn’t provide any tips on handling such psychological illness.

Frank
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Frank

I believe that everyone exhibits a degree of narcissism… I mean, who doesn’t love to get compliments and adulations every once in a while? A chronic narcissist, on the other hand, can’t function without people who adore, fear, or respect them (to an excess even). Public personalities often bound to go down this route.

A truly insightful article, BTW. Thanks!

Danny Luei
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Danny Luei

I’ve heard this before, it’s just never know in detail all of this. And it seems almost all humans have a kind of narcissistic supply that has been described here. Wonder…

Rebi
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Rebi

I’m not sure If I’m like this. Oh no, I started thinking. I love the definition, at least there is quite an explanation as to why they treat that way.

Scott Summers
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Scott Summers

As they say too much of something is a bad omen. It is okay to be vane or look good. THe problem is if it goes overboard.

Alex Summers
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Alex Summers

There is even an equation for this? Come on if one is vane then he is. There is no need for math.

Martha
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Martha

We all need some sort of validation. But sometimes, people can go overboard and have an entire Instagram account of their selfies. Seriously, I don’t get this people. They need to see what’s happening around them because there’s more to life than a filtered selfie.

Hedda
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Hedda

Social media has fueled this narcissistic drive in us even more. I abhor those people who have a lot of selfies on their timeline, but I am also guilty of the 2nd type of narcissism — leading a secure life. Or the drive to make everything seem in order.

Mau
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Mau

This is such an interesting read. So how many selfie per hour should someone have to be able to classify themselves as narcissistic?

Phineas
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Phineas

Love that formula! N = S/h… Serious or not, I’m gonna be discussing this wit friends for a while… Haha! I wonder how this would turn out when I use this on them?

sociopathseverywhere
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sociopathseverywhere

Haven’t met a girl in my life that didn’t fit this criteria. Perhaps it’s time to move abroad!