Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 24
Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin
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1. The Restrained Narcissist
The reason narcissists are restrained is because they are terrified of their own suppressed violence. Narcissists are aggressive, rageful, uncontrollable. They fear the consequences. Their restraint is simultaneously an act of cowardice and self-denial.
2. About Myself (What Else?)
I am looking to believe that narcissism can be unlearned.
I am sure that unlearning it is hardly the whole story. There is learning and growing to do. My narcissism is functional, adaptive, useful. It must be replaced with something if its breeding grounds (my needs) do not change.
I am tired, exhausted, depleted (the last word comes to mind more and more often). Today I am full of energy (by no means manic, just feeling good). But there is a another storm coming.
It sounds like a formula. As though I was writing it for publication, with an eye on posterity.
Then I said: It rings hollow and untrue.
Then I said: The fact the I wrote it must be of some import, the nature of which I do not know.
Today, I had the first good day after a month of impotent rage and raging envy. It often happens to me: inappropriate affect, incongruence, incoherence, lack of cohesion, no correlation. I feel one thing (let's say: I feel good) and I write another or people are convinced that it is my most horrible day.
I just read this "right now I am enraged". But I am not. I was not enraged all day.
Was I lying? No, I was not. It is simply that I occupy an inner world with very little relation to the outside. I WAS VERY ENRAGED yesterday. When writing it, I relived this rage in a semi-detached, semi-involved manner, as a baseball fan would when watching a game of his favourite group. Or like watching an especially engrossing movie, there and not there, without before or after. Movies are rather timeless ("it happened in the movie").
3. Myself as a Source of Narcissistic Supply to Others, or: The Existence of Others
I never thought of myself as a Source of Supply, though I, in all probability, am very much so to many people. For instance: I hold a high ranking official position in the government and people name drop. Others regard me as "brilliant" and my affirmation and approval means a lot to them.
By stating that I am not a source to you - in some way you belittle me. But I am not reacting as I always do when belittled (or when I paranoidally think I am being belittled). I do not react to the THREAT. I react in a detached, amused and bemused way. I must get to the bottom of this. Perhaps you reflected me to myself and I find (that part of) myself pompous and unworthy of serious consideration.
By casting me in the role of a Source of Supply, you reminded me that others do exist.
The existence of others strikes me. It doesn't permeate the background, there constantly, a fixture, as I GUESS is the case with most people.
I am suddenly and intermittently struck by the lightning bolt of other people's existence (usually when they express their unmet needs).
It gives me pause. I slow down. I ponder this miraculous event, this curious fact, that others seem to have dimensions, to exist.
Then I shrug my shoulders and continue with whatever it was I was doing before. The other - whose existence I just became aware of - fades into the sort of two dimensional shadow which often inhabits my world.
It is the most peculiar thing this startling realization, but it is experienced by me exactly the way I just described it.
Imagine a movie character leaping out of the screen and you will grasp the effect.
4. Right Now I am Enraged
Right now I am enraged. I hate and detest myself for my self-hatred and the resulting self-destructiveness. It's an old and worn out tale.
The unpleasant truth is that there is very little one can do about one's passions and that people like me have but one, over-riding, all-encompassing, all-pervasive, overpowering, irresistible passion: to annul themselves, to unravel through acts of death. Not suicide but slow disintegration. Time and again I judge myself and find me wanting and punish myself and find the punishment excessive and then punish myself for punishing myself so.
5. Is There an Ideal Source of Supply?
Of course there is (from the narcissist's point of view). The ideal Source of Supply is sufficiently intelligent to qualify as such, sufficiently gullible, submissive, reasonably (but not overly) inferior to the narcissist, has a good memory (with which to regulate the flow of Narcissistic Supply), available but not imposing, not explicitly or overtly manipulative, interchangeable (not indispensable), not demanding (a fatalist to a degree), attractive (if the narcissist is somatic). In short: a Galathea-Pygmallion type.
6. Destruction and Construction
Destruction SHOULD precede construction.
But the narcissist dies of old age while still in the destruction phase, never getting anywhere near the reconstruction phase.
This is because construction can come ONLY with self-awareness and self-love. One does not re-build what one is unaware of and what one hates.
Few narcissists make it to self-awareness and none of them makes it to self-love.
7. Punishing Others
Some people are tormented by the very punishment they (however justly) inflict upon others.
Some people rush to the job with glee and jubilation (I LOVE punishing - it makes me feel so important, so potent, so GODLIKE !!!!).
Just punishment is the only proof we have that there is meaning and structure and order in the mayhem we call "our world". It must not be treated easily. It is a divine prerogative relegated and delegated to us mere mortals to make us feel at home.
This article appears in my book, "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"
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8. You are a Source of Supply
You are a Source of Supply. If you cease to be a Source of Supply - as far as I am concerned, you cease to be. I do fight people furiously when they threaten my supply. I never judge (unless it is a show I put for public consumption, like in my articles). I never forget. I never forgive. I simply ignore those parts irrelevant to your function. Your function is to provide me with supply. My computer heats up. My cell phone radiates. My refrigerator hums. You act out. I cannot expect perfection.
Narcissism does has a strong compensatory component and is intended to offer a regulatory regime of the sense of self-worth of the narcissist. It has other components, though (for instance: a reactive component - a reaction to past abuses or maltreatment). In general narcissism is the lack of a functioning Ego. The individual then relies on others to perform his ego-functions for him - the regulation of his sense of self-worth being one of the more important ego-functions.
Psychodynamic therapies aim to assist the narcissist to acquire, to "grow", a functioning Ego and to break his dependence on others for the performance of his ego-functions for him.
I have been willingly addicted to information since the age of 4, when I began reading daily papers.
I LOVE information. It gives me a constant high. Why should I give up such sublime pleasure? (By "Information", I mean all manner of intellectual activity).
Why should I change my behaviour? What for?
I am not ego-dystonic. I am not depressed. Most of the day I am exhilarated as I absorb new data and write articles and listen to news and peruse my CD-ROM encyclopaedias...
It is heaven TEMPERED by humans.
The only thing I regret now and always regretted, ever since I was a kid, is the NECESSITY of dealing with humans and with my physical body.
But I am getting closer than ever to that perfect state of constant learning - manly thanks to the Internet.
This is not Internet addiction. This is knowledge addiction. When I am off-line I read books, magazines, reprints, pre-prints, maps, labels. I am addicted to information, to reading, to writing - and I simply adore it. I am sorry I have to meet low-information-content-vehicles (humans) from time to time or go to pee (as I must do now). It is a waste of valuable time. Time, time, data, data... I am inebriated. It is the greatest time since my childhood and adolescence, since my army service and since prison - periods in which (with no computer in sight) I digested inhuman quantities of information, read, wrote and generally speaking enjoyed my dip in an ocean of knowledge.
To feel alive I must disappear and merge with information. Input, output. It is death but life at the same time. I am alive when I review the amount of data digested, the number of articles written. It has always been that way. This is the only stable feature of my life - the unrelenting, non-stoppable, obsessive, compulsive, hedonistic to the extreme, pursuit of the intellect and its fruits.
Humans are tiresome, exhausting, with low information content, unpredictable. In short: very boring.
11. False Self
The False Self (FS) does not have to be unconscious (mine is conscious, for instance). But it is a mask and, in this sense, a variant of the Jungian persona. FS is much more than a splitting defence mechanism. It incorporates splitting but it is much much more than that.
12. Worth and Grandiosity
One must not confuse WORTH with GRANDIOSITY.
The former exists (my IQ, my ability to convert abuse to learning, etc.).
The latter is a cancerous mutation of self-worth.
That my True Self is worthy of praise - I am sure.
That praise and adulation are not the same thing - I'm equally certain.
That my True Self is possessed of commendable qualities - is true.
That these qualities should not be confused with omnipotence and omniscience - is equally true.
Narcissism starts as a defence against abuse and ends up being a defence against the world (the mundane). It is a drug. Few succeed to trade the magical world of drugs for the routine of daily life, no matter how hard they try.
To me, subjectively, the True/False schism appears real enough. I know that the False Self is a construct because I FEEL it this way: a transplanted, implanted, foreign entity, invoked by me, false (not me) and alien.
What is this ME?
I don't have a clue. I just know that the True Self exists because I experience stirrings and counter-reactions when the False Self is active. At times I am ego-dystonic (something in me feels bad and it is distinct, it is NOT the False Self).
The False Self is a caricatured Jungian Persona. But it is so all-pervasive that the True Self at times appears to be a malfunction of the False Self, a quirk, an idiosyncrasy.
The False Self is both a defence against the past and a break with it. It is a re-birth, the dawn of a new man (or, more rarely, woman) - omnipotent, omniscient, magical. This is why it is so difficult to divorce it. Who would willingly trade the magical for the quotidian?
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