Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 30

Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin


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1. Narcissists are Never Happy

Narcissists are never happy.

They are euphoric, elated, or manic - but never happy.

Happiness is an amalgam of positive emotions.

Narcissists have very few positive emotions.

2. The Off-Handed Narcissist

Narcissists damage and hurt but they do so off-handedly, absent-mindedly, and naturally.

They are aware of what they do to others - but they do not care.

Sometimes, they sadistically taunt and torment people - but they do not perceive this to be evil - merely amusing.

They feel that they are entitled to their pleasure and gratification (Narcissistic Supply is often obtained by subjugating and subsuming others).

They feel that others are less than human, mere extensions of the narcissist, or instruments to fulfil the narcissist's wishes and obey his often capricious commends.

After all, no evil can be done to machines, instruments, or extensions.

3. Being Embarrassed

One can embarrass only those who collaborate in their own embarrassment.

I am not embarrassed by anything I am - and everything I did is what I became.

I am what I did. How can I be embarrassed by my very being? Isn't this what narcissism is all about - a sense of shame, worthlessness, and embarrassment so overpowering that one stops being just in order not to feel ashamed?

4. Narcissists ARE Appearances

Narcissists ARE appearances. They derive their sense of self from the acceptance of their appearances and pretensions by others. Thus, first they settle on an appearance which best sustains their grandiosity and inflated sense of (False) Self. Then they insist that others collaborate with them by pretending that the appearance were real. They react with rage and indignation in the face of "lack of collaboration" and "resistance". This is because their very cohesion and sense of self is threatened if there is no agreement regarding the appearance they choose. The appearance can be: "I am a great father and husband. Even my estranged ex-wife, her parents and my son think so. They continue to think so even following a painful divorce. Nothing - not even my awful behaviour - seems to change their minds about my perfection as a father and a mate. This proves that I do exist and that I AM a wonderful, unprecedented father and partner." Puncture this pretension of his in a determined way - and he will vanish forever from your life.

5. Personal Incompatibility

Personal incompatibility is a stand-alone fact. It entails no apportioning of guilt or evocation of shame. It is the outcome of life itself. Taking into consideration the number of variables, it is a great miracle that any two people fit together, however loosely. Yes, marriages are miracles and, in this sense, they are really "made in heaven". Add to this the growing intolerance of others, the narcissism, the hedonism and the consumerism which characterize Western civilization. Mix in the wide field of alternatives that modern technologies bring us. And the end result is the demise of long term commitment and relationships. This is the soundbite age, the era of virtual sex, the shortest term attention span ever. Individualism has gone cancerous and was replaced by Malignant Self Love. The result? Narcissism Revisited by everyone involved.

You are victim to forces which re-shape whole societies. It is not your fault that you are living here and now. Half of all marriages dissolve in the first few years. One third of all children are born to single mothers. People are withdrawing, drawing their bridges, folding their communal tents. They interact via screens and handsets. They go wireless. They watch flickering images instead of watching each other. They don't think or read or listen - they consume and gulp. And sex is just one other commodity to be traded for thrills and frills. Your wife belongs to this new zombie generation. You, young as you are, belong to another. There is and always was an abyss between you. You were misled by appearances (parents, church, social conservatism) into believing the wrong things about your wife. You were using the right nomenclature but with the wrong map. Suddenly you found yourself stranded on a terra incognita, a Crusoe without a Friday, scouring the horizon for the one ship that will never visit your lonely island.

(continued below)


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You rebel against this nightmare. You refuse to accept it, thinking that there MUST be SOMETHING you can do to resurrect your dead. You know there isn't. There is nothing you can do because you married a dead woman to begin with - a dead woman in quest of life, or, rather, in quest of the imitation of life. A woman who preferred pixel sex to real one, fantasy to reality, the future to the present, screen names to your name. You had nothing to offer to her. She was disinterested in your wares because they required her to taste life itself: work, children, a partnership forged in daily minutiae.

All this is not to say that you are an easy person to live with or that you are devoid of grandiosity, mildly sadistic vengefulness, and so on.

BUT, what I am trying to tell you is that your bad traits are more than balanced by very many good ones and that a woman/mate/partner with the right frame of mind would have sought to make use of the latter while ignoring or modifying the former. This is the kind of compromise that is called "being together".

6. People are Tired

People are tired. They carry their lives like trash bags to be disposed in a city without bins.

Communicating with people is sharing trash - rarely an uplifting experience and always a boring one.

Sex is a mode of communication.

People insist that THEIRS is no trash. That it is fragrant. That it is rich and varied. That it represents an investment in a bin-less future.

But it is a charade. A willing self-abnegation. A zombish suicide.

And then there are those whose eyes are peeled, cursed by their inability to pretend.

The olfactorily-challenged.

A damnation of truth-seeking and alienation. Hated by everyone, we wander, our hands empty, our minds ad astra.

We are no longer here.

We never have been.

7. The Rational Narcissist

The narcissist employs numerous defence mechanisms, including rationalization and intellectualization. Ratiocination is a reflexive activity of the narcissist. He tends to generalize on the basis of very flimsy evidence and jumps to exceedingly far fetched conclusions based on a chance behaviour. It leads, at times, to paranoid ideation or to being possessed to some degree by ideas of reference. Often, the narcissist - out of touch with both his own emotions (emotional defect) and the outside world (cognitive defect) - causally attributes unrelated events to one another. The narcissist is plagued by surreptitious magical thinking (see my FAQs). Unlike the schizotypal, his magical thinking is not expressed or manifest but rather is camouflaged as a kind of hyper-rationalism or "logic gone amok".

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