Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Narcissistic Emptiness
A Phenomenological Nothingness with an Accompanying Sense of No Identity
The alienation from the Essential Identity results in narcissistic emptiness. This feels like a deficient emptiness, the specific deficiency being the feeling of absence of the sense of self. It is the loss of identity. Instead of clear and definite self-recognition, the person feels an emptiness, a phenomenological nothingness, with an accompanying sense of no identity. She feels that her self is missing. This deficient emptiness makes her feel lost, with no center, no orientation, no purpose, no meaning. A typical reaction to this deficient emptiness comes in the form of superego attacks. One feels one is worthless, not important, not good enough, or perhaps fake. The deficient emptiness is the feeling of having no self, which can feel like a lack of center or orientation. When this emptiness is arising, superego reactions—self-attacks, such as feeling one is worthless, not important, or not good enough—might arise as resistances to directly experiencing the deficiency. These reactions are partly due to disconnection from the value of Being. A healthy reaction at this point might be the sense of remorse of conscience, for failing to be authentic.
The Point of Existence, pg. 217
Disconnection from Being
Narcissistic emptiness involves disconnection not only from the Essential Identity, but from Being as a whole. It is the absence of self-realization. It is the gap between our essential nature and who we take ourselves to be. It is the great chasm separating our experience in the conventional dimension of experience from the fundamental ground of the soul. It is the emptiness of narcissistic alienation itself.
The Point of Existence, pg. 334
Disconnection from Being as a Whole
We have discussed how the development of the self-representation creates the shell, and also disconnects the self from its essential core. Now the dissolution of the shell reveals this disconnection. The emptiness reflects specifically the alienation from the essential core. The shell can be seen as covering up this emptiness, but in fact, the emptiness has always been there in the shell. The normal identity is the shell, empty of essential nature. This is the true meaning of narcissistic emptiness. Feelings of pointlessness, meaninglessness, purposelessness, absence of center, orientation, significance, and identity arise directly from the absence of identity with the Essential Identity. In fact, the properties of center, identity, significance, purpose, meaning, and so on, are some of the experiential characteristics of the Essential Identity, the precious point of existence. Furthermore, since the Essential Identity is the identity of Being, the narcissistic emptiness has another, greater significance. Since the identity of Being is what gives the self the capacity to identify with Being in any of its aspects and dimensions, the realization of the Essential Identity is tantamount to the capacity to simply be. So narcissistic emptiness involves disconnection not only from the Essential Identity, but from Being as a whole. It is the absence of self-realization. It is the gap between our essential nature and who we take ourselves to be. It is the great chasm separating our experience in the conventional dimension of experience from the fundamental ground of the soul. It is the emptiness of narcissistic alienation itself.
The Point of Existence, pg. 333
Factors That Elicit Narcissistic Emptiness
Three factors elicit narcissistic emptiness and meaninglessness: first, the normal process of maturation in which one outgrows defensive aspects of the identity; second, the pressure of doing spiritual work and experiencing essential Presence, which tends to expose the relative unreality of the level of personality identifications; and third, working with the narcissistic transferences, that is, bringing to consciousness the object relations that have been supporting the more superficial sense of self and helping one to avoid the sense of emptiness.
The Point of Existence, pg. 230
Loss of the Structure of Self-identity
Our observation is that this emptiness indicates the loss of the shell, the structure of self-identity, and its attendant feeling of identity. The emptiness is specifically the absence of the familiar identity. This also implies the loss of the internalized object relations that are part of the identity structure, but it is specifically and essentially the loss of the identity itself.