Some of the most traumatizing aspects of narcissistic abuse are the cruel and inhumane ways that a narcissist will devalue their victim. A narcissist will dedicate an extraordinary amount of time towards learning the vulnerabilities and insecurities of their victim just to be able to devalue them more frequently and effectively. To escape and heal from the narcissistic abuse cycle, victims must understand why the narcissist is devaluing them.  

A narcissist will devalue the existence of others to support and maintain their falsified identity. Devaluing others reassures themselves of their importance, specialness, uniqueness, and greatness and it is one of their favorite techniques to use to help suppress their negative emotions. 

Devaluing others is essential for the well-being of a narcissist. It’s for this reason that victims of narcissistic abuse are far better off learning about the abuse they’re suffering so they can become indifferent to the narcissist’s insecure need to devalue them than trying to force them to stop it all-together.

A victim of narcissistic abuse meditating

Why Do Narcissists Need to Devalue Others?

It’s widely believed that narcissists are created by an unhealthy/abusive upbringing. There are many different theories on this, but they all share the belief that an unhealthy/abusive upbringing is to blame. 

This upbringing consists of unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers, a lot of shame, guilt, humiliation, mockery, invalidation, devaluation, fear, and neglect, and primary caregivers who lack empathy and are incapable of accurately mirroring their child’s emotions. 

The combination of all of those horrifying conditions causes the children to search their external environment for the validation, admiration, and reassurance they can’t get from their primary caregivers, build their identity and self-esteem off of their external achievements because of the unfillable emotional emptiness that they have within, develop a very corrupt perception of relationships and their own thoughts, emotions, feelings, and needs.

Without guidance of a very qualified medical professional, these insecurities, vulnerabilities, and maladaptive behaviors that a child under these conditions develops will create a very grandiose, entitled, superficial, angry, fragile, and narcissistic individual who lacks empathy, fears intimacy, hates themselves, and is terrified of being rejected and/or abandoned by society. 

If narcissists have suffered such horrific pain, why do they become so abusive themselves?

As we mentioned before, the upbringing that narcissists have makes them astonishingly emotionally immature. In fact, they’re so emotionally stunted that they’re incapable of managing the mountain of negative emotions they have swirling around their psyche. 

To avoid essentially imploding on themselves from the sun-like gravitational pull that their negative emotions create, narcissists hide themselves behind a falsified identity that they create off of their own perception of what society values. 

The problem with this is that their emotional immaturity makes them incapable of looking past society’s superficial exterior when building their falsified identity. 

A narcissist using superficial, materialistic, and trivial aspects of life to build their identity.

Meaning that instead of creating a falsified identity out of trust, connection, honesty, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and love, they build it off of very materialistic and trivial aspects of life like money, fantasies of success and power, appearances, and social status. 

What ends up happening is that on the outside they are these charming, charismatic, intelligent, admirable, desirable, and articulate individuals but on the inside they are still the same grandiose, entitled, superficial, angry, fragile, self-loathing, emotionally inadequate, petrified child that grew up in unhealthy/abusive conditions. 

At this point, the most important thing in their life is their falsified identity because it is the only thing keeping their emotional stability from being decimated by the sun-like gravitational pull that their negative emotions create. In fact, as much as their falsified identity is designed to hide their vulnerabilities and insecurities from others, it is also designed to hide them from themselves as well. 

It’s really important to understand that a narcissist’s belief in their falsified identity is an act of survival more than it is a form of manipulation. The reason being that when they experience anything that contradicts their falsified identity, they explode into a narcissistic rage, much like a wild animal would if you backed it into a corner. 

A quote from Heinz Kohut

This is not something that should be taken lightly. We’re talking about an individual who has disturbingly powerful negative emotions eating away at them from the inside and a deeply rooted fragility that causes any form of authenticity in their external world to be just as dangerous as the negative emotions within. 

Where does someone like this turn to? 

The validation, admiration, and reassurance of others, also known as narcissistic supply. 

A narcissist’s negative emotions are constantly trying to ooze through the cracks of their falsified identity and whenever they experience something that contradicts their falsified identity it punches crater sized holes in their falsified identity, allowing all of the negative emotions to flood their psyche.

Narcissistic supply, the validation, admiration, and reassurance of others, is the only thing that can patch their falsified identity up when it is injured. With that being said, let’s take a closer look at the reassurance aspect of narcissistic supply. 

The only function that the reassurance of others has for a narcissist is to validate their delusional belief of their falsified identity. At a quick glance, this reassurance manifests in the forms of validation and admiration for the things they excel at. But it also manifests in their ability to devalue the existence of others.  

How? 

As we mentioned before, authenticity contradicts a narcissist’s falsified identity. The most common type of authenticity that a narcissist will encounter that will trigger their insufferable need to devalue others are the qualities that others have that trigger their suppressed negative emotions. 

It could be a partner who is emotionally free, a co-worker who makes more money, a friend who is more successful, a child who is quick-witted, or even a sibling who has a happy family. 

The list could go on forever but the point is that for a narcissist, the qualities of others serves as a constant reminder that they’re living a lie. This contradiction of their falsified identity triggers them to devalue the existence of others to reassure themselves of their importance, specialness, uniqueness, and greatness.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

For those who’ve experienced narcissistic abuse, having a clear understanding of the reasons that the narcissist in your life devalued you is really valuable because it is proof that you’re not what they say you are.

It may not feel like that but the fact that they are devaluing you is proof that something about you is so authentic that they feel the need to strip you of it to remain in power and control. 

It is really important to understand that while the information in this article about a narcissist’s upbringing is sad, it should not be used to justify, rationalize, or normalize staying in a relationship with a narcissist. It is information that should terrify you because it shows how deeply rooted and unchangeable their abusive behavior is. 


All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

Cain, Nicole M., Aaron L. Pincus, and Emily B. Ansell. “Narcissism at the crossroads: Phenotypic description of pathological narcissism across clinical theory, social/personality psychology, and psychiatric diagnosis.” Clinical psychology review 28.4 (2008): 638-656.