Narcissistic supply is the name for the driving force behind the behaviours of a narcissist. This driving force is their shaky, unstable self-esteem of which they are largely consciously unaware. This is because it is well defended against by their ego/consciousness and suppressed into their subconscious.
The narcissist has an inflated false self. This can be compared to a leaky balloon which needs to be constantly inflated with ‘narcissistic supply’. This supply consists of others admiring the narcissist or mirroring back to them the false self which they present.
Narcissists like to feel powerful over others, have control over others, get attention, praise and admiration, and elicit negative or positive emotional energy.
Supplies are activities and relationships which fuel and reinforce the grandiosity of the narcissist.
It is all based on a fantasy and the purpose is to reinforce grandiosity in order not to feel depressed. The false self of the narcissist views itself as perfect and therefore is entitled to whatever it wants without having to work or struggle on a personal level (they will often be workaholics in their job or career).
If mirroring from the environment is inadequate the false grandiose self will feel frustrated and then the underlying anger and depression will start to emerge.
The successful narcissist is one whose defences remain intact and they never need to question their importance. They must be creative and imaginative to create a lifestyle which supports their grandiose view of themselves and fuels their narcissistic needs. They deny weakness in themselves. Other people exist in a narcissist’s life to reinforce their image of themselves.
Narcissists can be said to be addicted to narcissistic supply.