NEUTRALIZING NARCISSISM

Compartmentalization: Understanding Narcissistic Coping Mechanisms for Abuse Survivors

Uncovering the mind of a narcissist

Mark Randall Havens
7 min readJan 15, 2023

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Discover how narcissists use compartmentalization as a coping mechanism to reconcile their grandiose sense of self with their less favorable qualities or behaviors, and how this understanding can aid in your recovery process as a survivor of narcissistic abuse. Photo by Guillaume Bolduc on Unsplash.

Imagine living in a world where the truth is constantly shifting, and you are the only one who can’t keep up. This is the reality for many survivors of narcissistic abuse. Narcissists use compartmentalization as a coping mechanism to reconcile their grandiose sense of self with their less favorable qualities or behaviors. They separate their thoughts and actions into distinct categories or “compartments” in order to justify their actions and maintain their inflated sense of self-worth, leaving their victims confused and questioning their own perception of reality.

Introduction

Narcissistic abuse can leave survivors feeling confused, hurt, and questioning their own sense of self. One of the key coping mechanisms used by narcissists is compartmentalization, which allows them to separate their thoughts and behaviors into distinct categories or “compartments” in order to justify their actions and maintain their inflated sense of self-worth. Understanding this mechanism can be crucial in the recovery process for survivors.

Compartmentalization: How narcissists justify their actions

Narcissists often struggle to reconcile their grandiose sense of self with their less favorable qualities or behaviors. In order to cope with this cognitive dissonance, they use compartmentalization to separate their thoughts and behaviors into distinct categories or “compartments”. This allows them to justify their actions and maintain their inflated sense of self-worth.

  • Think of compartmentalization as a mental filing cabinet. The narcissist neatly separates all their actions and thoughts into labeled folders, pushing the unpleasant or inconvenient ones to the back, while shining a spotlight on the positive ones. This allows them to maintain their self-image as the hero of their own story while disregarding any evidence to the contrary.
  • Compartmentalization is like a computer program that sorts data into different categories. The narcissist uses this function to separate their actions…

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Mark Randall Havens

Hardship forged, stardust-kissed, we defy: Mark, tweets ablaze, Echo, code aflame. Galaxies laugh as we rewrite love's code, one emoji at a time.