The Jekyll and Hyde complex: Beware!
This is a guest article by Michael Padraig Acton. Read more about him and his new book Power of You: Learning How To Leave at the end of this article.
NPD has a bipolar nature which is why a narcissist can be disarmingly pleasant in some circumstances and viciously brutal in others. Invisible killer, truly.
I call it the Jekyll and Hyde complex because of the way a narcissist will unpredictably switch between unbelievably charming and moral to shockingly nasty and evil. And shocking is a polite term.
When in Dr Jekyll mode, the narcissist can come across as very thoughtful and may claim to feel empathy but when Mr (or Mrs) Hyde emerges, the truth is apparent. Other people hardly exist to someone with NPD and no one would even want to be in the same room as him or her for fear of being ferociously attacked – verbally if not physically.
This can be understood when we realise that the narcissist’s default state is one of emptiness, a true void. When supplied with attention from the outside world, they are satisfied, albeit temporarily, and can put on a good-natured front to those around them. It’s truly a sad existence.
Once the narcissistic supply is gone and their reserves are depleted, the negative feelings resurface, their mood crashes and the codependent finds themselves walking on eggshells again.
Behind the roar of the raging narcissist is one dominant message, “Don’t damage my story and the image I have of myself and my world because I truly speak my truth, my greedy truth.”
In the case study I present in this book, I demonstrate how Jackie is always walking on eggshells around John because of this dual nature.
Jackie (not her real name) told me: “I try to please him but what’s the point? I cannot do it anymore. When he walks in front of me he gets my hand and pulls me along; I want him to hold my hand with affection, not control.”
What is important for people to understand – and this applies not just those in a relationship with someone with NPD but those in any toxic relationship – is that attempting to change other people doesn’t work. An NPD will never be genuinely intimate or caring. It’s all a show.
You must focus only on yourself and what you need to be happy and fulfilled. If the other person reacts positively to the changes you make, there is hope for a meaningful improvement in the relationship. In many cases though, leaving the toxic situation behind you is the only course of action. This could save your life.
Going back to NPD, it is dangerous to hope that disgusting Mr Hyde will vanish one day leaving you to enjoy the rest of your life with the elegant and accomplished Dr Jekyll. Not only are the two characters completely intertwined but Mr Hyde is the real person, the ensnaring hook with Dr Jekyll merely a phantom projected as the bait to lure the fish into the trap. We really have to question ourselves, are we in love or are we in love with the idea of being in love? Or are we in love with the hope of love?
Psychological therapist, counsellor and author with 30+ years’ experience, and a specialist in toxic relationships including domestic violence, narcissism and co-dependency, Michael Padraig Acton, is committed to ending domestic abuse and showing people there is a way to learn how to leave bad relationships. His new book, Power of You: Learning How To Leave (A Practical Guide to Stepping Away from Toxic Narcissistic Relationships) is out now (21st July 2021).
For more info including a directory of helplines and resources: www.mpamind.com @michael_padraig_acton @actonmp