Is narcissism the consequence of the egodystonic interpretation of the fight, flight or freeze responses?

Jason Brien.

     In the aftermath of having experienced a traumatic event, it is possible that the cognitive dissonance between the instinctual fight, fawn, flee or freeze response and societies perception of what behaviours constitute strong and weak behaviours leads to the creation of insecurity and the subsequent creation of narcissistic defences. That is, the internalisation of the ‘shame’ of not having defended oneself, either singularly or repeatedly (with the shame being the result of the internalisation of the common social perception that not defending oneself is perceived as one being inadequate, inferior, weak or pathetic) leads to the development of insecurity. This newly developed insecurity leads to cognitive dissonance between one’s true self and one’s desired and ideal self-image (ego dystonic) and further creates a chronic and underlying rage in addition to the development of a cognitive defence mechanism designed to protect an increasingly fragile ego from further humiliation and destruction - narcissism.

     The introduction of narcissism into the psyche subsequently over excites future fight responses by eliminating the potential for flight, fawn or flee responses. That is, in order to protect the increasing fragile ego, which would become even more fragile should the flight, fawn or freeze responses continue to be triggered - thus leading to further feelings of inadequacy and ego dystonic thoughts - the now overly excited fight response is activated when faced with both real AND imagined dangers/traumas/ slights or injustices. Additionally, the chronic and underlying rage which has been created forms the basis of the narcissistic injury and narcissistic rage components of narcissism. Narcissistic injury and narcissistic rage provide the individual with the ‘excuse’ necessary to ‘explode’ and draw upon their chronic underlying, reactive and emotionally charged anger. Drawing upon this reactive and emotionally charged anger ultimately serves to reinforce the fight response OVER the flee, fawn or freeze responses. The consequence of narcissism is that the repeated activation of the fight response ultimately serves to hide the ‘true self’ -the true self whose natural instinct it was to flee, fawn or freeze rather than fight - whilst unintentionally validating the ‘false self’ (I.e., I am strong and powerful and I will hurt you if you try and hurt me).