Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 59

Narcissism, Pathological Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), the Narcissist,

And Relationships with Abusive Narcissists and Psychopaths

Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin


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1. Narcissistic Mothers and Biracial Daughters

Responses to Johanna Workman, I am a psychology doctoral student in San Diego, CA

 

Q. Narcissistic mothers view the daughter an an extension of her. A biracial daughter will have a body that probably will vary on some or all of these aspects from the mother: thicker/courser hair, darker hair, darker skin tone than the mother, darker eyes (probably not blue or green), more volume and curves that appear around adolescence around the hips, thighs, and buttocks, bigger nose, thicker lips. Given those differences, how would a narcissistic mother respond/mirror those differences? And how would that affect the daughter? For example, would the mother not "see" those differences and mirror back only what is the same? Or would she see those differences as a narcissistic injury?

 

A. One cannot generalize. The mother's reactions depend, to a large extent on her self-perception, personal myth/narrative, and on her triggers of narcissistic supply.

 

Some narcissistic mothers would take pride (narcissistic supply) in having a biracial daughter: it would make them appear special, unique and burnish their credentials as liberal, progressive, not prejudiced, etc. Such a mother would leverage the daughter's biracialism to obtain narcissistic supply (attention, adulation, admiration, sympathy).

 

Other narcissistic mothers would use the daughter's appearance - if it diverges from their own - to taunt and torment her sadistically. Narcissists are frequently sadistic, but they always rationalize, intellectualize and strive to maintain and be seen to maintain the higher moral ground. Having a biracial daughter is a perfect pretext and excuse to keep all the dysfunctional, abusive,and pathological mother-daughter dynamics going: over-protectiveness, exerting control, emotional blackmail, inflicting hurt and pain, etc. even as the mother extracts from her human milieu sympathy for her predicament and attention to her plight. This is akin to the psychodynamics of Munchhausen by Proxy!

 

Q. A daughter's task is to idealize and identify with her mother. Since that mother probably looks different than she, how would that affect the daughter's self-esteem and body image? Would she idealize the mother, but not identify and thus have problems with her identity?

 

A. Identity problems are inevitable not only owing to the thwarted relationships within the mother-daughter dyad but also because of social pressures and reactions. At different stages of development - as delineated in object relations theories - the daughter is likely to react differently. Yet, idealization is more likely to be disrupted by the overt and cruel "bad object" or "bad breast" conduct of the mother than by any racial tension. See: Narcissistic and Psychopathic Parents and Their Children.

 

2. Interview granted to Randi Kreger, author of “Stop Walking on Eggshells”

 

Review modifications I propose to the diagnostic criteria of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in the DSM IV to remedy some glaring omissions and misconceptions. My suggested amendments are based on 15 years worth of correspondence with well over 30,000 family members and co-workers of narcissists, 1,000 mental health professionals, and close to 2,000 people who claimed to have been diagnosed with the disorder (though, of course, there is no way to support the veracity of such self-imputed information.)

 

Q. Can you focus on each Narcissistic Personality trait (diagnostic criterion) and write me about how it feels INSIDE to you (paragraph 1), and then one example of how you have shown this to another person in a way that they could see (paragraph 2).

 

A. 1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);

 

Exaggeration implies deliberation and intent. I employ neither. I am utterly certain of my uniqueness and superiority, exceptional accomplishments, and unparalleled talent. It is a given, an axiom, a fact, and a law of nature. I constantly marvel at me. I regard everyone as inherently inferior, defective, error-prone, and immature. It is an innate conviction, not a conscious decision. It is more of cognitive deficit than a swaggering resolution.

 

I do not hide this idiosyncratic position from my interlocutors: I make clear to them from the very start of every interaction that I am aware of the intellectual disparity, the unbridgeable abyss that separates them from me. I broadcast my contempt and low opinion of them and their puny endeavours. I am not averse to antagonizing people because I regard them as subhuman, mere instruments and functions, at my disposal to use and discard. They do not matter.

 

 2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love;

 

Everything I do is imbued with these grandiose fantasies. I fully expect my writings to elicit overwhelming attention (either negative or positive), to impact events and personalities, and to render me immortal. I fancy myself an eminence grise, the power behind the throne, and a mover and shaker. I look everywhere for evidence to support these confabulated narratives.

 

I communicate my fantasies to co-workers and family. I create a shared psychosis and mobilize them to participate in my grand schemes and thus to buttress my inflated (false) self. I reject, deny, belittle, and re-interpret all information to the contrary.

 

3. Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) + 5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations;

 

I demand to be served, attended and catered to by the main honcho: the most senior doctor, the head waiter, the government Minister, leaders and senior executives and editors-in-chief. With my illustrious career and superior traits, skills, and talents I deserve my match and only the best and am entitled to the grandest. I am a precious object, engaged in a cosmically-significant mission, out to transform and revolutionize the world. I, therefore, cannot be bothered with daily chores, underlings, and subordinates. Not for me are the rote, the routine, the pedestrian, and the mundane. I do it my way and in the company of other shapers of worlds and definers of epochs.

 

I firmly feel that my uniqueness is visible, a kind of halo that is discernible. This emanation, I believe, engenders immediate respect and deference and I capitalize on these reactions and present my list of requirements, accepting and expecting instant, unmitigated, and full obeisance. I rage if I am ignored or disobeyed. I can instil fear and trepidation even in the most formidable opponent. Their minds are like putty in my capable hands and I am bound to prevail. I am also immune to the consequences of my actions because I am above man-made laws, red tape, and procedures. I know that this kind of magical thinking is irrational, but it still holds sway over me.

 

4. Requires excessive admiration;

 

Everything I do is intended to elicit attention, either positive (adulation) or negative (fear, loathing) from people around me. The DSM is wrong to limit the subject of the narcissist’s quest to “admiration.” In general, I labour furiously to elicit and solicit “narcissistic supply” either by applying my thespian skills to my life and treating it as one continuous theatre production – or by feigning “false modesty” and garnering reactions to my blatant efforts at “fishing for compliments”.

 

I dazzle with displays of erudition, brilliance, or verbal dexterity. Failing that I revert to naked aggression disguised as hectoring and moralizing, or “tough love”. Either way, I aim to shock. When necessary, I can fake emotions, or use verbal triggers to provoke them in my listeners. I would do anything not to be ignored, to constitute the center of attention, and to memorably “shine.” I am very aware of my “legacy”: the afterglow of my presence, the awe that I aspire to inspire, the hushed tones with which people discuss me and my work. I thrive on these susurrations, they are my fuel.

 

6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends;

 

This is the one trait I completely lack. On the contrary: I am a compulsive giver and an avowed altruist. But my giving is sadistic: I aim to humiliate the recipients and beneficiaries of my largesse and to irrevocably and unambiguously establish my ascendance over them. They are mere foil, a grateful and humbled audience, to be trample on with my conspicuous generosity.

 

7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others;

 

I am aware of the fact that others have emotions, needs, preferences, and priorities – but I simply can’t seem to “get it into my mind.” There is an invisible partition behind which I watch the rest of Mankind and through which nothing that is human can permeate. I empathize more with my goldfish than with my “nearest and dearest.” To me, all people are cardboard cut-outs, sophisticated motor contraptions, ersatz and robotic. I know how I should feel because I am well-read – but I cannot seem to bring myself to emote and to sympathize. I care more about my material possessions and belongings than about any man or woman alive (with the exception of my wife.)

 

Over the years, I have deciphered the code. I have constructed “emotional resonance tables” and have learned to imitate and emulate expertly the more common affect and expressions of one’s inner landscape. But this veneer is easily breached when I am frustrated or humiliated (“narcissistic injury”): the mask slips and the real Me is out: a predator on the prowl.

 

8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her;

 

Envy is at the core of my being: seething, foaming-at-the-mouth, destructive, morbid, and potent. I envy other people’s happiness, possessions, accomplishments, status, spot in the limelight, contacts, you name it. I disguise my envy. I rationalize and intellectualize it. I do my utmost to ruin the source of my frustration while pretending to be his or her friend, an objective critic, or a disinterested observer. I lie sleepless at night, rebelling impotently against the injustice of it all, that any one should surpass me, perfect as I am.

 

My pathological spite drives me to extremes of behavior: I plot and provoke and collude and spread malicious gossip and strive to damage my opponent and reduce him. I imagine his downfall in great detail and revel in his forthcoming misery and humiliation. I salve my agony with the rupture of my ultimate, ineluctable triumph and vindication. I spend inordinate amounts of time, resources, and mental energy on nurturing my envy and mollifying it.

 

9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes.

 

Everything – from my body language to my choice of vocabulary – is intended to disabuse my surroundings of the notion that I am their equal. My posture, my speech, my opinions, and my mode of communication all convey my innate and indisputable advantage. I do not talk – I lecture. I do not agree or comply – I deign. I do not collaborate – I guide. I do not give advice – I preach. I do not walk – I parade. Everything I do is suffused with a significance that defies words and the average intelligence of mere mortals. I am a cerebral Superman, a Gulliver among the Lilliputians, a condescending and patronizing intellectual giant among the midgets and dwarfs that comprise humanity. My arrogance and haughtiness are merely encoded messages bearing the information that I am sui generis, one of a kind. They do not make them like me anymore.

 

SHAME

 

When I recall some past slight, insult, or humiliation (narcissistic injury) I cringe and utter "Hitler" out loud. Hitler the omnipotent is my antidote to the seething feelings of helplessness and rage that accompany disgrace and shame, my constant twin companions. I am driven by shame: everything I do or refrain from doing is geared towards avoiding shame or inflicting it on others. My pathological narcissism is a defensive embankment against shame. My False Self - the persona I project to an attentive world - is everything I am not: omniscient, omnipotent, perfect, and brilliant. My False Self is, therefore, less susceptible to being shamed. On those occasions that it is exposed to ridicule or censure, real or imagined, my (true) self is sheltered: the False Self suffers the indignity, not I.

 

I am hypervigilant and prone to ideas of reference. Dimly aware of the implausibility and ludicrousness of my grandiose fantasies, I watch out for criticism, disagreement, and mockery and tend to find them everywhere, even in the most innocuous and inadvertent utterances, behaviors, and suggestions. I am firmly convinced that everyone regards me as an incompetent crook and an incorrigible jerk and that, behind my back, I am the topic of much derision and contempt.

 

The Grandiosity Gap is the difference between my self-image - the way I perceive myself - and contravening cues from reality. The greater the conflict between grandiosity and reality, the bigger the gap and the greater my feelings of shame and guilt. My shame is, therefore, the way I experience of the Grandiosity Gap: a pervasive sentiment of worthlessness, "invisibleness" and ridiculousness. I constantly feel pathetic and foolish, deserving of mockery and humiliation.

 

I have developed and adopted all kinds of defenses to counter my shame and the anxiety it provokes, mainly addictive, reckless, compulsive, or impulsive behaviors. I deny reality, withdraw from it, or rage at it and at people. I pursue some kind of (unattainable, of course) perfection. I am haughty and exude superiority and nonchalance. All these defenses are primitive and involve splitting, projection, projective identification, and intellectualization.

 

INTIMACY

 

When people try to befriend me or to get close to me I experience growing unease which borders on physical repulsion and, if they don't relent, on panic. To rationalize and intellectualize this pathological response, I resort to persecutory delusions and diffuse paranoid ideation: I tell myself that they have a hidden agenda; an ulterior motive; that they are out to exploit me, or abuse me, or hurt me; that they actually loath me, but are acting the part; that, when they discover my true face, who I really am, they are bound to hate me; that they are taking liberties with me that demonstrate a profound lack of respect; that they merely want to reduce me to size, bring me to their inferior level, and shackle me because they are envious of me; and so on.

 

Over the decades, I have developed hundreds of techniques, methods, and mechanisms to fend off imminent and minacious intimacy. But first I have to make clear that I often confuse intimacy with attachment. I, therefore, seek to avoid ATTACHMENTS as the safest and surest way of avoiding their attendant and resultant and much dreaded outcome: intimacy. I resist bonding not only with people, but also with places, ideas, jobs, and objects.

 

Here is a partial list of the strategies and behaviors that I deploy: a constant lack of enthusiasm, anhedonia, and boredom; a wish to "vary", to "be free", to hop from one subject matter or person to another; laziness, all-pervasive fatigue; dysphoria to the point of depression which leads to reclusiveness, detachment, and low energies; self-hatred which disables the capacity to love or to develop emotional involvement; Transformations of aggression: envy, rage, cynicism, vulgar honesty, black humor (all lead to disintimisation and distancing and to pathological emotional and sexual communication).


My narcissistic compensatory and defense mechanisms also serve to block the path to intimacy: grandiosity and grandiose fantasies; feelings of uniqueness; a lack of empathy; persistent demands for adoration and adulation; a sense of entitlement; the exploitation and abuse of others; treating people as objects (objectification), or functions, or characters in my narrative; manipulative behavior using personal charm, the ability to psychologically penetrate the object, ruthlessness, and knowledge and information regarding others gleaned, largely, by interacting with them; intellectualization through generalization, differentiation and categorization of people; feelings of omnipotence and omniscience; perfectionism and performance anxiety (albeit repressed) which lead either to avoidance or to the sadistic treatment of others.

 

These mechanisms lead to emotional substitution (I seek adulation and adoration instead of love). I keep people at a distance as I am repelled by them. I even go to the extent of being disgusted by the human body, its smells, textures, and excretions (another pretext not to have sex.) Having gone through an early phase of group sex and one-night stands (unemotional sex, lacking in intimacy and warmth) in my twenties, I have been avoiding sex ever since (except for the autoerotic-masturbatory type.) Sexual abstinence frustrates my partners, but also tests their allegiance to me. It keeps them as bay and guarantees a profound lack of true, full-fledged, rounded intimacy.

 

I refuse to "grow up". By remaining a Puer Aeternus (eternal adolescent or child) I avoid adult intimacy. I am also a control freak which makes it difficult for me to "let go" and trust. Consequently, I don't have children (or a driving license ...:o)). I am extremely monogamous and faithful because my partner provides me with a perfect defense against the potential encroachment of other women and their would-be demands for intimacy.

 

I lead a reclusive life, avoiding neighbors, family (both nuclear and extended), spouse and friends (which by now I no longer have.) I am a dyed-in-the-wool and rabid misanthrope and probably a schizoid as well. I am a misogynist, a bigoted sadist, and a borderline psychopath (anti-social). These character traits do not endear me to people. They are my firewall against an intrusion of the Great Unwashed.


As far as I am concerned, people are interchangeable: instruments of gratification, mere functions, cardboard cutouts, and representations of ego functions. I detest my dependence on narcissistic supply and am infuriated by it because it implies a dependence on its sources: people.

 

And so, my "social" interactions are limited to material and "cold" transactions. I prefer being feared, adulated, and admired to being loved. I know that people around me who are emotionally invested in me experience emotional absence, repulsion, deterrence and insecurity. I encourage them to not develop emotional involvement with me by refusing to provide them with positive emotional feedback. I render their relationships with me as erratic and demanding as I can. I act imposing, intrusive, compulsive and tyrannical in the hope of driving them away. When I am truly loved I experience it as an energy-depleting burden, punctuated by a series of "eruptions" followed by anxiety relief. I reframe reality and rewrite and reinterpret history so that negative aspects, real and imagined, of my intimate partners, co-workers, or friends are highlighted. This preserves the emotional distance between us, fosters uncertainty, prevents emotional involvement, and buttresses narcissistic mechanisms (such as grandiosity), which, in turn, increase the repulsion and the aversion of my "nearest and dearest." To cement this distancing, I often claim to have "selected" the people around me owing to an error/circumstances/ pathology/loss of control/immaturity/partial or false information, etc. These calculated insults ought to do the trick.

 

But, as I said earlier: I avoid intimacy in all planes of my life. Consider my career, for instance.

 

I am self-defeating and self-destructive. I avoid success in order to escape the emotional involvement and investment it entails. I shun true accomplishments because they oblige me to follow through and to identify myself with some goal or group. I, therefore, emphasize areas of activity in which I am unlikely to succeed and to which I am ill-suited for one reason or another.

 

I am itinerant and desultory. I ignore the future and never plan for it. I am 51 years old and have lived in rented flats all my life. This is a manifestation of my emotional lack of commitment. I invest the necessary minimum in a job. I am not thorough and I routinely under-perform, my work is shoddy and defective or partial. I evade responsibility and tend to pass it on to others. I am a perennial and demoralizing pessimist; I know that I will lose my job/business – so, I am always on the lookout for alternatives. This yields a feeling of temporariness, which prevents engagement, involvement, commitment, dedication, identification and emotional hurt in case of change or failure.


And so, I alternate between having a spouse/companion and a solitary life or frequent changes of partners. Serial vocations prevent me from having a clear career path and obviate the need to persevere. To avoid facing performance tests and to maintain grandiosity and uniqueness, I refrain from acquiring skills and training (such as the aforementioned driver's license, technical skills, or any systematic
academic or non-academic knowledge). The "child" in me is reaffirmed this way: because I shun adult activities and attributes, intimacy being chief amongst these.


I am permeated and pervaded by a nagging feeling of not belonging and of detachment. Even my body feels depersonalized, alien and a nuisance, its needs totally ignored, its signals re-routed and re-interpreted, its maintenance neglected. I keep my distance from relevant communities (my neighborhood, coreligionists, my nation and countrymen). I have disavowed my religion, my ethnic background, my family, and my erstwhile friends. Early on, I have adopted the stance of a "scientist-observer". This is narcissistic detachment: the feeling that I am a director or an actor in a movie about my own life.


I avoid "emotional handles": mementos, photographs, music identified with a certain periods in my life, familiar places, familiar faces, and emotion-tinged situations and settings. I live on borrowed time in a borrowed life. Every place and period are transitory and lead to the next, unfamiliar environment. I feel that the end is near and, inevitably, I am a raging hypochondriac. I inhabit rented, impersonal premises, as an illegal alien in foreign countries, and am fully mobile on short notice. I travel light and I like to travel. I am peripatetic. I cultivate and nurture my incompatibility with my surroundings. I consider myself superior to others and I keep criticizing people, institutions and situations. These behavior patterns help me stay aloof, above the fray, and unattached. I have my own rigid, impenetrable, personal territory and I am physically revolted and enraged no end when it is breached.

 

3. Interview granted to Carl-John X Veraja by Sam Vaknin, author of "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"

 

Q. Why would the average person need to know about narcissism?

 

SV: The concept of narcissism has a great explanatory value. It is a potent organizing principle. It helps to explain the behavior patterns of both individuals and collectives. Healthy narcissism is at the core of the Self and malignant, pathological narcissism manifests itself in literally all known abusive, dangerous, and reckless behaviors: family violence, murder, genocide, addictions, corporate malfeasance, sexual abuse and paraphilias, incest, and more.

 

Q. How likely is it the average person has a narcissist in their life?

 

SV: Strictly defined, a "narcissist" is someone who has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Less than 1% of the general population are diagnosed narcissists, so your chances to come across one are 1:100. But, as Theodore Millon observed correctly, there are many more people with narcissistic traits, a narcissistic style, or a narcissistic personality who would not be diagnosed with NPD, but are still as deleterious and detrimental to their human environment as the "full-fledged" variety.

 

Q. How can one manage and improve their own narcissistic tendencies?

 

SV: All of us have narcissistic traits, behaviors, and thoughts (cognitions). But these are tempered by empathy, fear of punishment, our conscience (known in psychoanalysis as "superego"), and social mores and conventions. One cannot manage or improve one's healthy narcissism - nor is it desirable. One only needs to listen to one's inner voice, be self-aware, self-critical, listen to input and feedback, and be guided by one's empathy to be a productive and accepted member of the community. Pronounced antisocial conduct, however. requires professional help and a regime of therapy, sometimes with medication to enhance impulse control.

 

Q. What is the prognosis for a narcissist who undergoes treatment?

 

SV: The prognosis is hopeless for someone diagnosed with NPD. Narcissistic Personality Disorder cannot be cured, but certain antisocial and self-destructive or self-defeating behaviors can be modified using cognitive-behavioral therapies. Narcissists attend therapy only as a last resort and only in order to restore their access to narcissistic supply. Narcissists hold the therapist in contempt and seek to establish their grandiose superiority and entitlement by playing mind games and by undermining the therapeutic alliance.

 

Q. In 1984, the State, in the guise of Big Brother, appears to me to be a sort of collective narcissist. Do you think that a society can have narcissistic traits and do you see any evidence of this in the United States and elsewhere?

 

SV: In their book "Personality Disorders in Modern Life", Theodore Millon and Roger Davis state, as a matter of fact, that pathological narcissism was the preserve of "the royal and the wealthy" and that it "seems to have gained prominence only in the late twentieth century". Narcissism, according to them, may be associated with "higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs ... Individuals in less advantaged nations .. are too busy trying (to survive) ... to be arrogant and grandiose".

 

They - like Lasch before them - attribute pathological narcissism to "a society that stresses individualism and self-gratification at the expense of community, namely the United States." They assert that the disorder is more prevalent among certain professions with "star power" or respect. "In an individualistic culture, the narcissist is 'God's gift to the world'. In a collectivist society, the narcissist is 'God's gift to the collective'".


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Millon quotes Warren and Caponi's "The Role of Culture in the Development of Narcissistic Personality Disorders in America, Japan and Denmark":

 

"Individualistic narcissistic structures of self-regard (in individualistic societies) ... are rather self-contained and independent ... (In collectivist cultures) narcissistic configurations of the we-self ... denote self-esteem derived from strong identification with the reputation and honor of the family, groups, and others in hierarchical relationships."

 

Having lived in the last 20 years 12 countries in 4 continents - from the impoverished to the affluent, with individualistic and collectivist societies - I know that Millon and Davis are wrong. Theirs is, indeed, the quintessential American point of view which lacks an intimate knowledge of other parts of the world. Millon even wrongly claims that the DSM's international equivalent, the ICD, does not include the narcissistic personality disorder (it does).

 

Pathological narcissism is a ubiquitous phenomenon because every human being - regardless of the nature of his society and culture - develops healthy narcissism early in life. Healthy narcissism is rendered pathological by abuse - and abuse, alas, is a universal human behavior. By "abuse" we mean any refusal to acknowledge the emerging boundaries of the individual: smothering, doting, and excessive expectations are as abusive as beating and incest.

 

With 7 billion humans on the planet, the need to assert oneself, to be noticed, to be recognized as unique is ever more pressing. No one likes to feel a cog in a machine, an atom in an organism, or a speck among billions. Consumerism and mass communication that lead to global cultural and societal homogeneity foster the same narcissistic reactions and provoke the same narcissistic defenses in whole collectives as they do in individuals.

 

There are malignant narcissists among subsistence farmers in Africa, nomads in the Sinai desert, day laborers in east Europe, and intellectuals and socialites in Manhattan. Malignant narcissism is all-pervasive and independent of culture and society.

 

It is true, though, that the WAY pathological narcissism manifests and is experienced is dependent on the particulars of societies and cultures. In some cultures, it is encouraged, in others suppressed. In some societies it is channeled against minorities - in others it is tainted with paranoia. In collectivist societies, it may be projected onto the collective, in individualistic societies, it is an individual's trait.

 

Yet, can families, organizations, ethnic groups, churches, and even whole nations be safely described as "narcissistic" or "pathologically self-absorbed"? Wouldn't such generalizations be a trifle racist and more than a trifle wrong? The answer is: it depends.

Human collectives - states, firms, households, institutions, political parties, cliques, bands - acquire a life and a character all their own. The longer the association or affiliation of the members, the more cohesive and conformist the inner dynamics of the group, the more persecutory or numerous its enemies, the more intensive the physical and emotional experiences of the individuals it is comprised of, the stronger the bonds of locale, language, and history - the more rigorous might an assertion of a common pathology be.

Such an all-pervasive and extensive pathology manifests itself in the behavior of each and every member. It is a defining - though often implicit or underlying - mental structure. It has explanatory and predictive powers. It is recurrent and invariable - a pattern of conduct melded with distorted cognition and stunted emotions. And it is often vehemently denied.

 

4. Interview granted to BookChums

 

Noted Israeli author, Sam Vaknin is synonymous with varied portfolios of work from being the editor-in-chief for the online magazine, Global Politician to writing the widely-acclaimed book, Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited, a treatise and discussion on narcissism. He has also worked as an economic advisor for governments in Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern and Central Europe and he served in the Israel Defense Forces.  And the list goes on. Here’s a person, who has been there and done that!

You’re an individual with versatile & varied interests: you work as the editor-in-chief for the Global Politician & you are a writer. In the past, you’ve worked as an economic advisor. What motivates you? What is your inspiration?

1.    I am driven by the need to garner attention (positive, or even negative.) Attention (“narcissistic supply”) is both the fuel on which I run and the drug to which I am thoroughly addicted. I, therefore, gravitate towards professional positions, vocations, and occupations which guarantee my visibility, being the center of attention, and weilding power over people.

A.   What triggered you to write?

2.    As a young boy, I was short, foul-smelling, near-sighted, and obese (nothing much has changed since then …:o)) A reject and an outcast, ostracized by peers and physically and psychologically abused by authority figures, such as parents and teachers, I had to struggle to merely survive. Until I made the miraculous discovery: the omnipotence of the word! By combining and permutating syllables, I was able to motivate others to do my bidding; to induce emotions; to draw attention to myself; to generate shared fantasies;  to make a generous living; and to get out of harm’s way. It was nothing short of magic.

A.   Tell us in your own words, your perception or views on narcissism.

3.    Pathological narcissism is the narcissist’s incurable obsession with people’s reactions to a piece of fiction created by the narcissist at an early age in order to fend off hurt and abuse (“The False Self”.) The False Self is everything the narcissist is not: omnipotent, omniscient, brilliant … in short: perfect. The narcissist is compelled to behave in ways which elicit from onlookers and nearest and dearest alike affirmation and confirmation that the False Self is credible and real, not a mere fallacious narrative. These repeated attempts to square the circle generate contradictory, exploitative, manipulative, and self-defeating behaviors; rage when frustrated; and a pronounced lack of empathy (the narcissist has to be able to instantly devalue and discard those who threaten his precariously balanced house of cards).

A.   Tell us about your hobbies and interests.

4.    I have about 3-4 hours of leisure time per day. I am an eclectic cinephile and watch a minimum of 10 quality movies a week (many of them art house); I read mostly thrillers and mysteries bordering on pulp – to defray the heavy material I consume habitually as a columnist, editor, and amateur psychologist, philosopher, and economist; I write compulsively and incessantly.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

A.   KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Dumb down your prose, use monosyllabic words, avoid reverting to a dictionary or thesaurus. The vast majority of your readers are idiots and will resent you deeply for any display of intellectual superiority.

If you write fiction, concentrate on romance and sex. If you are a non-fiction wannabe dedicate your tomes to conspiracy theories, religion, and the occult. Nothing sells better than drivel.

Finally: self-publish e-books and promote them yourself. In today’s world with barriers to entry and gatekeepers rendered obsolete by technology, traditional print publishers are dinosaurs and vampires. Dinosaurs – because they are doomed to perish and vampires – because they give you nothing in return for sucking your pecuniary blood.

5. Narcphorisms

Narcissism

True love for a False Self

Misogynist

The only thing he hates more than women is his need for them

Psychopath

Knows the cost of nothing and the price of everyone

Codependent

Love as a battle feels

Misanthrope

The only thing he hates more than women are men

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Lasch - The Cultural Narcissist

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