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the true death of the narcissist

Mortification is the collapse of the narcissist.

What is mortification?

Mortification is a psychological concept that refers to the feeling of shame, embarrassment, or disgrace that results from being exposed or humiliated. In the context of narcissism, mortification can occur when the narcissistic individual’s grandiose and inflated sense of self is challenged or threatened.

The narcissistic individual’s sense of self is often based on an idealized and unrealistic image of themselves, and they may go to great lengths to maintain this image and protect it from being damaged or tarnished. When this image is challenged or threatened, the narcissistic individual may experience a sense of mortification and shame.

For example, if the narcissistic individual is criticized or called out for their behavior, they may feel humiliated and embarrassed. They may also feel mortified if their accomplishments or achievements are not recognized or appreciated, or if they are rejected or abandoned by someone they considered important.

In response to these feelings of mortification, the narcissistic individual may engage in a range of defensive and reactive behaviors, such as lashing out, blaming others, or trying to manipulate the situation to protect their image and restore their sense of self-importance. This can cause further harm and conflict in their relationships, and can make it difficult for the narcissistic individual to acknowledge and address their own flaws and shortcomings.

It is “the surprising reaction when individuals meet the disparity between an accepted or ideal picture of oneself and a dramatically contrasting actuality” that causes narcissistic mortification. Failure to meet ideals and the consequent shame terrifies many people. Dread of rejection, isolation, and losing touch with reality, as well as the loss of admiration, equilibrium, and essential items, are all part of this fear, which extends to closeness in interpersonal interactions, unmet or banned wants and defenses connected to them (Horowitz). To this list, Kernberg added: “fear of reliance and losing one’s connection with the therapist, fear of revenge, dread of one’s own anger and destructiveness, and fear of death.”” To put it another way, it is a sudden and intense feeling of helplessness over one’s own perceptions of one’s own powerlessness over one’s own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Disorientation, panic, and a “damming up of narcissistic (ego-)libido or destrudo (mortido) is formed” as a result of this experience. Impotence and a lack of options overpower the entire psyche (inability to force objects to conform or to rely on their goodwill). Mortification is a manifestation of infantile coping methods (such as grandiosity) and psychological defense mechanisms (such as splitting, denial, or magical thinking) in response to frustration or repression.


Sigmund Freud initially used the “Narcissistic Mortification” phrase in Moses and Monotheism to describe early ego/self traumas. Defined as “the primal fear of self disintegration, precipitated by rapid exposure of a faulty self…embarrassment death”.  The idea has been frequently used in ego psychology and self psychology.