Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 22

Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin


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1. Narcissists and Sexual Perversions

Graphic descriptions aside, Narcissism has long been thought to be a form of paraphilia (sexual deviation or perversion). It has been closely associated with incest (research supports this) and paedophilia (which research does not, as yet, support).

I raised the possibility that incest was AUTO-EROTIC and, therefore, narcissistic in: http://samvak.tripod.com/incest.html.

In other words:

When a father makes love to his daughter - he is making love to himself because she IS 50% himself. It is a form of masturbation and reassertion of control over oneself.

Homosexuality is NOT a sexual perversion. I analyzed the relationship between narcissism and homosexuality in: http://samvak.tripod.com/faq18.html.

2. I Hate Birthdays

I hate holidays and birthdays, including my birthday. It is because I hate it when other people are happy if I am not the cause of it. I have to be the prime mover and shaker of EVERYONE's moods. And no one will tell me HOW I should feel. I am my own master.

I feel that their happiness is false, fake, forced. I feel that they are hypocrites, dissimulating joy where there is none. I feel envious, humiliated by my envy, and enraged by my humiliation. I feel that they are the recipients of a gift I will never have: the ability to enjoy life and to feel joy.

And then I do my best to destroy their mood:

I bring bad news.
Provoke a fight.
Make a disparaging remark.
Project a dire future.
Sow uncertainty in the relationship.

And when the other person is sour and sad, I feel relieved.

It's back to normal.

My mood improves dramatically and I try to cheer her up.

Now if she does cheer up - it is REAL. It is my doing. I controlled it.

And I controlled HER.

3. Hysteroid Disphoria

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq28.html

XXX: Sam, you're describing here what the empirical-descriptive folks have called "hysteroid dysphoria" (among other things).

Sam: No, I am not.
I am describing the narcissist's pattern of reaction to deficient Narcissistic Supply.
A personality disorder is a COMPLEX of hundreds of separate behaviours.
Surely, each behaviour pattern taken separately can be labeled out of context.
Moreover, the same behaviour pattern can (and often does) occur in a few mental health disorders.
For instance, "hysteroid dysphoria" (I am not a fan of this "definition") is also a part of the cyclothimic disorder.
But, in the CONTEXT of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder what I describe in FAQ28 is one of a group of recurrent dysphorias identified as early as 1960.
Additionally, do not forget that the Narcissistic PD has finally crystallized as a mental health diagnostic category only in 1980. "Discoveries" from 1969 - preceding Kohut, Kernberg and even early Millon - are absolutely irrelevant in view of today's understanding of narcissism.
Below, I outlines the differences based on the text you chose:

XXX: It's atypical depression (a specific subtype of non-melancholic depression) with narcissistic/histrionic/borderline "personality" features. A characterization (from "Atypical Depression" (Quitkin et al) in "Clinical Advances in Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor Therapies", Kennedy ed.):
"In 1969, Klein and Davis described a group of patients referred to as `hysteroid dysphorics.' These patients were characterized by strong desire for attention and applause, positive response to amphetamines, and a marked rejection sensitivity (especially in romantic contexts)."

Sam: Narcissists do not react only to rejection.
They react to any input - verbal, nonverbal, social, implied, real or imagined - which is deemed by them to be incommensurate with their inflated self-image.
Often, narcissists react badly to ACCEPTANCE and LOVE rather than to rejection because they have a self-image as being mean, vicious, frightening, etc.

XXX (still quoting): "leading to frequent depressive episodes."

Sam: The narcissist is highly ego-syntonic (this is why treatment fails in most cases).
His dysphorias are so rare and "reactive" (I don't find this term particularly instructive either) that they have been classified and characterized with great ease.
The narcissist is more likely to react with narcissistic rage to rejection of the type described above.

XXX: "Features of these depressive episodes frequently included loss of ability to anticipate but not experience pleasure."

Sam: One of the major differentiating factors.
Narcissists do not experience serious, prolonged anhedonia.
They immediately distort cognitive input to fit their self image (It was discovered that they enhance positive inputs rather than reject negative ones).

(continued below)


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XXX: "hyperphagia or craving for sweets"

Sam: Never noted in narcissists - but research is rather lacking, I admit.

XXX: "Hypersomnolence, lethargy or inertia, and marked reactivity of mood."

Sam: These are classic depressive signs. They describe well a major depressive episode, cyclothimia, dysthimia and about a dozen other types of depressions.

XXX: Onset frequently occurred in adolescence without a history of adequate premorbid functioning.

Sam: Onset of narcissism AND its dyphorias is at age 2-4. Klein talks about age 6 months and she has a depressive construct (see: http://samvak.tripod.com/faq67.html)
True, the PD itself sets on in early adolescence.

XXX: Another interesting feature is, in addition to the general hyperphagia, specific cravings for chocolate (and amphetamines). There is a link to family history of alcoholism (not necessarily in the family of origin). It's thought to be related to a dysregulation in the systems governing reward.

Sam: No such connections have been discovered in research. Narcissists are often prone to substance abuse, though (dual diagnosis).

XXX: Personally I don't think it's useful to label these folks as personality-disordered ("especially" narcissistic), as it tends to stigmatize them, as well as depriving them of potentially useful medical interventions (response rates to MAOIs, for example, are comparable to those of melancholic depressives). I'm sure that a lot of them do have chaotic childhoods, but then again, a lot of people with chaotic childhoods *don't* grow up to become hysteroid dysphorics, so there has to be more to it than just that, even if it does play some role. The use of the word "hysteroid" emphasizes this - it *looks* like what we assume is a "personality" disorder, but it isn't safe to assume that it "is" a PD.

Sam: No one diagnoses someone as a narcissist just because he is sad.
FAQ28 that you are referring to is one of 82 FAQs. Narcissism is a hypercomplex phenomenon.
I didn't suggest that if one matches FAQ28 one is a narcissist (didn't label and stigmatize them, though I do not regard a mental health diagnosis as a stigma).
I suggested that many narcissists match FAQ28.
FIRST, one is diagnosed as a narcissist and THEN this particular type of dysphoria fits into the diagnosis. By ITSELF - of course it is insufficient to establish the existence of the NPD.

4. Narcissists and Control

Narcissists - above absolutely all else - are control freaks.

This, for instance, is why they precipitate their own abandonment. By bringing abandonment upon themselves - they feel that they control it.

To the narcissist, lack of control results in excruciating pain.

Control means alleviation, amelioration, or even annihilation of pain.

Narcissists cannot face loss of control coupled with loss of a major Source of Supply.

This is why they commit incest - so disproprtionately that it was once thought that narcissism is a sexual paraphilia (disorder). Through sexual union with their off spring they seek to merge with him or her and to transform him or her to be the narcissist's extension, thus never to abandon them.

This is why they sometimes stalk their ex-spouses. This is why they cripple their loved ones (always emotionally, in extreme cases physically). They thrive on the dependence and neediness of their Sources of Supply.

5. Meaningful to Who?

It is impossible to have a relationship with a narcissist that is meaningful to the narcissist.

It is, of course, possible to have a relationship with a narcissist that is meaningful to you (see: http://samvak.tripod.com/faq66.html).

6. Is Narcissism Learned? Can it be Unlearned?

Is narcissism LEARNED?

It is often a reactive formation, a result of unbalanced (overly negative or overly positive) reinforcements. It is some form of conditioning. It is an adaptive strategy and an amalgam of defense mechanisms.

It is all learned. Maybe not consciously - but it IS learned (it is not of genetic origin, or not predominantly so).

So, can it be UNLEARNED?

For instance, by behaving UN-narcissistically?

Some say: No, on the contrary, such an effort will REINFORCE the narcissism.

Others hold the opposite view.

Who knows?

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