Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 18

Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin


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1. Linear Time, Cyclical Time

That time is linear is a very new, Western concept.

In the philosophies of 80% of humanity there is no such thing as "linear time". To them, time is cyclical (karma is an example f cyclical time).

"Achievements", degrees, possessions, power - are all meaningless.

In linear time you feel that there are PHASES, landmarks, achievements, benchmarks, yardsticks.

You compare your time to other people's time.

You define your life in terms of "progress" or "failure to progress".

You measure (for instance, material possessions, diplomas, number of children).

And if you don't measure up to entirely artificial criteria set by society (and changing ever so often) - you feel disenfranchised, lost, disorientated, mournful, disappointed, and dejected.

And if you don't meet a series of deadlines, comply with some schedules, accumulate some possessions (material or intangible) - you are a loser.

This is wrong.

We are all unique. It is pointless to compare oranges with apples.

We all have exclusive possessions.

Can you compare empathy to money? Lamborghini cars to feeling love? The Presidency to being happy?

We ALL live our unique lives, accumulate unique experiences, acquire unique knowledge, become unique.

The best, most productive, emotionally intense, fruitful, blessed period in my life was in jail - having lost my family, my money, my property, my businesses, my reputation, my friends...everything.

It is not where we are, what we do, and what we own at any given moment that should matter.

It is the fact that we ARE. That we learn, evolve, absorb, develop, become that does it. We learn incessantly, ever curious, ever intellectually vigilant, with a sparkling intelligence - children on the seashores of knowledge, as Einstein put it.

2. Narcissism is an Addiction

I think that narcissism is an addiction.

Some people are addicted to substances (drugs, food, alcohol, nicotine)

Some people are addicted to impulsive behaviours - usually self-destructive ones (gambling, shopping, reckless driving).

Some people are addicted to other people (various types of codependence, including narcissism and inverted narcissism).

The narcissist is addicted to Narcissistic Supply.

The narcissist has all the hallmarks of other types of addicts.

3. You are not to Blame!

The label doesn't really matter. NPD, BPD, AsPD - probably all three in her case (multiple diagnosis or co-morbidity).

What matters is this:

EVEN if you were directly, clearly, irrevocably, undeniably, voluntarily, horribly responsible for ALL her actions and inactions day in and day out - you are no longer to be punished.

A major principle of law is that punishment must be proportional and FINAL.

There is NO act for which punishment is INDEFINITE.

An indefinite punishment is, by definition, DISPROPORTIONAL and onerous.

As people grow, they gradually assume responsibility for more and more of their actions.

This is called "free will" or "choice".

Your daughter is NOT a deterministic automaton, whose every move has been pre-determined in her childhood by your behaviour.

She votes. She had children. She made and makes choices.

But she wants to enjoy the best of both worlds:

To enjoy the fruits of her choices (for instance, to gain custody of her children), AND
To enjoy the lack of responsibility, the freedom from guilt and the ability to shift blame involved in accusing you.

This is incongruent.

She must decide:

Is she an adult? If so, she can blame nothing on you anymore.

Is she not responsible for her actions? If so, she should be committed and her children taken away from her.

Do not be deceived by the genetic accident that binds you together.

By the sound of it, your daughter wants you dead.

Treat her as a mortal enemy.

It is so often that we give birth to our own worst enemies.

"We have seen the enemy and it is us" - is my favourite sentence.

Cut her umbilical cord. Let her float into a space of her own making.

And you, take your spaceship and turn back home.

4. Emotional Investment in Pathology and Healing

You are heavily emotionally invested in your negative emotions (anger, fear).

Your mental condition is your best (only?) friend.

Your recovery process is your spine, your schedule, gives meaning to your life.

You are committed to an ideology.

Completed recovery perhaps threatens you with emptiness and "greyness".

I am not denying your abuse and its harrowing consequences.

I am asking how emotionally honest you are? (notice, not intellectually but emotionally honest).

(continued below)


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For many, the holocaust has proven to be a very profitable business. Some even won Nobel Prizes. It is difficult to let go of winning routines. My narcissism is very profitable and rewarding. I seek to further my pathology, to become enough of a freak to attract even more rewards.

Ask yourself: What is in it for me? Why don't I let go? Why do I keep coming back for more (more of what)?

5. The Emergence of the True Self

The old Greek philosophers maintained that nature tolerates no vacuum.

In a life crisis, as you so accurately put it:

"Through the falling away of the False Self, we experience the abyss (lack of self). Yet miraculously rising from this symbolic death, the true self, with all it's incredibly powerful, yet underdeveloped, feelings, emerges from the ashes of chaos with renewed life."

The True Self hastens to fill in the void created by the self-annulling False Self. Yet it is frozen, degenerated by decades of inactivity, infantile or at least immature, incapable of competently and adequately dealing with adult situations. This results in feelings of hopelessness, frustration and aggression (the off-spring of frustration).

Presumably, in therapy we strive to achieve two goals:

  1. To prevent the resurrection of the False Self aided by the sadistic Superego;
  2. To facilitate the maturation of the True Self by confronting past emotional baggage in a constructive, adult manner.

Sometimes, the life crisis or a life that is a continuous crisis is SO severe, so all-pervasive, so change-inducing - that it is sufficient to foster a spontaneous attainment of these goals. But mostly, professional help - prolonged, sustained, patient, and empathic - is required.

If MOST of the behaviours which constitute NPD were to disappear - then, definitely, I will be freed of my NPD. But these behaviours MUST be replaced by something. My True Self, its emotional correlates and cognitive contents are probably 4 years old.

So, I accept a compromise:

Sam, as I know him IS the NPD and ONLY the NPD. There is nothing else. It pervades ALL the dimensions of his life, all his acts, his intentions, volition, cognition, affect, and intellect. Sam and his NPD are inseparable even more than Humpty and Dumpty.

BUT

There is a kernel of something else (let's call it, the True Self). This acorn seed can develop into a full fledged oak IN LIEU of the full fledged oak now known to me as ME (my NPD). This can be achieved through therapy, but, at times, it occurs spontaneously.

You see, what people fail to understand (because it IS so outlandish) is that I LOVE my NPD (and, at the same time I hate it - ambivalence is part of every good love affair). It helps me survive, it gets me through the night, it is engulfing, it is reliably there, it is predictable, it is cosily handy, it is rigid - in short: it is everything my parents never were. In this sense, it IS my parent.

The narcissist has no access to his True Self. Instead he developed a False Self, which he keeps projecting unto others.

Narcissists become self-aware and, in some cases, amenable to change following a major life crisis or a substantial narcissistic injury (divorce, loos of loved one, financial collapse, prison, major illness, etc.)

6. Bonding with "God"

To "bond with God" as you call this highly personal experience - the narcissist must first embark on the path of healing, of discovering his self, his person.

If the narcissist learns to love himself, he can learn to love another.

If he cannot love himself, he can love no one, "God" included.

NPD is a very rigid PD.

NPDs do not search for the truth. Their essence is the DENIAL of truth.

If they begin to search for the truth, it is usually in order to impress others and extract narcissistic supply from them (attention, commiseration, emotions which can then be leveraged and manipulated, etc.).

But, as I said, a life crisis or a life that is in continuous crisis often lead to self awareness in NPDs.

7. Group Sex as Seen by the Narcissist

There are three types of orgies.

There is the "we are so intimate" group sex. People are so drawn to each other intellectually and emotionally that they cannot contain the flow of empathy, compassion - love, really. So, they express their unity through sex. In such group sex, all boundaries are blurred. The participants flow into one another, they feel as extensions of a much larger organism, eruptions of protoplasmic desire to be within each other. It is absolute, unmitigated, uninhibited immersion and enmeshment.

Then there is the "we are such strangers". This is the most promiscuous, wild, ecstatic, insane type of orgy. A kaleidoscope of flesh and semen and pubic hair and sweat and feet and wild eyes and penises and orifices of all measure. Until it is all over in an orgiastic cry. Usually, following the initial frenzy of devouring each other, small groups (twosomes, threesomes) retire and proceed to make love. They get intoxicated by the smells and the fluids and the bizarreness of it all. It slowly peters out in a benign sort of way.

Lastly, there is the "we couldn't help it" thing. Aided by alcohol or drugs, the right music or videos - the participants, mostly unwilling but fascinated - slip into sex. They tumble in fits and starts. They withdraw only to return forced to by a mighty curiosity. They make love hesitantly, shyly, fearfully, almost clandestinely (though in full view of all the others). This is the sweetest kind. It is depraved and perverted, it is painfully arousing, it heightens one's sensation of oneself. It is a trip.

Group sex is NOT an extrapolation of pair sex. It is not normal sex multiplied. It is like living in three dimensions after being confined to a bi-dimensional, flat existence. It is like finally seeing in colour. The number of physical, emotional, and psychosexual permutations is mind boggling and it does boggle the mind. It is addictive. It permeates one's consciousness and consumes one's memory and one's desires. Thereafter one finds it hard to engage in one-on-one sex. It looks so boring, so lacking, so partial, so asymptotically craving for perfection...

Sometimes (not always) there is a "moderator". His/her (usually his) function is to "arrange" the bodies in "compositions" (very much like old quadrille dances).

8. Overt and Covert

OVERT actions can be compared to tips of icebergs. They continue in a COVERT, latent, forms even more vigorously than they do above surface. Earthquakes are preceded by tectonic shifts. Volcanoes erupt after the bulk of the volcanic activity is actually over underground.

9. Oh, God

We are all hostages of a narcissist, a master of manipulation, an embodiment of the principle of evil.
Some of us prefer to embrace our captor and collaborate with Him, Vichy style.
They are the religious.
Others engage in a futile, life-long battle against Him.
They are the atheists.
He exploits the former and destroys the latter.
Narcissists like me - here lies His real and only challenge, the seed of His only and humiliating failure.
We simply ignore Him. Not because He matters to us - but because NO ONE and NOTHING really matters to us.
Sometimes WE use HIM to obtain Narcissistic Supply - and then discard him.
And there is nothing He can do about it.
Except eat His heart out.
Bon apetit.

PS: The third kind, mine, call themselves agnostics and are often called by others "The Devil". Scott Peck identified narcissists as evil incarnate, the People of the Lie. We are not par of any theology. We are simply narcissists ...
(strikes a match off left horn, arranges forked tail comfortably).

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