The Narcissist's Entitlement of Routine

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin


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I hate routine. When I find myself doing the same things over and over again, I get depressed. I oversleep, over-eat, over-drink and, in general, engage in addictive, impulsive and compulsive behaviours. This is my way of re-introducing risk and excitement into what I (emotionally) perceive to be a barren life.

The problem is that even the most exciting and varied existence becomes routine after a while. Living in the same country or apartment, meeting the same people, doing essentially the same things (though with changing content)- all "qualify" as stultifying rote.

I feel entitled to more. I feel it is my right - due to my intellectual superiority - to lead a thrilling, rewarding, kaleidoscopic life. I feel entitled to force life itself, or, at least, people around me - to yield to my wishes and needs, supreme among them the need for stimulating variety.

This rejection of habit is part of a larger pattern of aggressive entitlement. I feel that the very existence of a sublime intellect (such as myself) warrants concessions and allowances. Standing in line is a waste of time best spent pursuing knowledge, inventing and creating. I should avail myself of the best medical treatment proffered by the most prominent medical authorities - lest the asset that is I be lost to Mankind. I should not be bothered with proofreading my articles (or even re-reading them) - these lowly jobs best be assigned to the less gifted. The devil is in paying precious attention to details.

Entitlement is sometimes justified in a Picasso or an Einstein. But I am neither. My achievements are grotesquely incommensurate with my overwhelming sense of entitlement. I am but a mediocre and forgettable scribbler who, at the age of 39, is a colossal under-achiever, if anything.

Of course, the feeling of supremacy often serves to mask a cancerous complex of inferiority. Moreover, I infect others with my projected grandiosity and their feedback constitutes the edifice upon which I construct my self-esteem. I regulate my sense of self-worth by rigidly insisting that I am above the madding crowd while deriving my Narcissistic Supply from this very thus despised source.

But there is a second angle to this abhorrence of the predictable. As a narcissist, I employ a host of Emotional Involvement Prevention Mechanisms (EIPM). Despising routine and avoiding it is one of these mechanisms. Their function is to prevent me from getting emotionally involved and, subsequently, hurt. Their application results in an "approach-avoidance repetition complex". The narcissist, fearing and loathing intimacy, stability and security - yet craving them - approaches and then avoids significant others or important tasks in a rapid succession of apparently inconsistent and disconnected behaviours.

(continued below)


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Here is a partial (and truncated) list of other EIPMs. In this text - "objects" means "others".

From "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited":

Emotional Involvement Preventive Measures

Personality and Conduct

Lack of enthusiasm, anhedonia, and constant boredom.
A wish to "vary", to "be free", to hop from one subject matter or object to another.
Laziness, constantly present fatigue.
Dysphoria to the point of depression - leads to reclusiveness, detachment, low energies.
Repression of the affect and uniform emotional tint.
Self-hatred disables capacity to love or to develop emotional involvement.
Externalised transformations of aggression:
Envy, rage, cynicism, vulgar honesty
(all lead to dis-intimization and distancing and to pathological emotional and sexual communication)...
Narcissistic compensatory and defence mechanisms:
Grandiosity and grandiose fantasies
(Feelings of) uniqueness
Lack of empathy, or the existence of functional empathy, or empathy by proxy
Demand for adoration and adulation
A feeling that he deserves everything ("entitlement")
Exploitation of objects
Objectification/symbolization (abstraction) and
Fictionalisation of objects
Manipulative behaviours
(Using personal charm, ability to psychologically penetrate the object, ruthlessness, and knowledge and information regarding the object obtained, largely, by interacting with the object)
Intellectualisation through generalization, differentiation and categorization of objects.
Feelings of omnipotence and omniscience
Perfectionism and performance anxiety (repressed).
These mechanisms lead to emotional substitution (adulation and adoration instead of love),
to the distancing and repulsion of objects,
to dis-intimization (not possible to interact with the "real" narcissist)
The results:
Narcissistic vulnerability to narcissistic injury
(More bearable than emotional vulnerability and can be more easily recovered from)
"Becoming a child" and infantilism
(The narcissist's inner dialogue: No one will hurt me, I am a child and I am loved without any reservations, judgement, or interests)
Such expectations for unconditional love and acceptance do not exist among adults and they constitute a barrier to mature, adult relationships.
Intensive denial of reality
(perceived by others as innocence, naiveté, or pseudo-stupidity).
Constant lack of confidence concerning matters not under full control leads to hostility towards objects and towards emotions.
Compulsive behaviours intended to neutralize a high level of anxiety and compulsive seeking of love substitutes (money, prestige, power)...

Instincts and Drives

Sexual abstinence, low frequency of sexual activity lead to less emotional involvement.
Frustration of emotional objects through sex avoidance encourages abandonment by the object.
Sexual dis-intimization by preferring autoerotic, anonymous sex  with immature or incompatible objects
(who do not represent an emotional threat or demands).
Sporadic sex with long intervals and drastic alterations of sexual behaviour patterns.
Dissociation of pleasure centres:
Pleasure avoidance (unless "for and on behalf" of the object)
Refraining from child rearing or family formation.
Using the object as an "alibi" - extreme marital and monogamous faithfulness, to the point of ignoring all other objects leads to object inertia.
This mechanism defends the narcissist from the need to make contact with other objects.
Sexual frigidity with significant other and sexual abstinence with others.

Object Relations

Manipulative attitudes, which in conjunction with feelings of omnipotence and omniscience, create a mystique of immunity.
Partial reality test.
Social friction leads to social sanctions (up to imprisonment).
Refraining from intimacy.
Absence of emotional investment.
Reclusive life, avoiding neighbours, family (both nuclear and extended), spouse and friends.
The narcissist is often a schizoid (see
FAQ67).
Active misogyny with sadistic and anti-social elements.
Narcissistic dependence serves as substitute for emotional involvement.
Immature emotional dependence and habit.
Object interchangeability
(dependence upon AN object - not upon THE object)...
Limitation of contacts with objects to material and "objective" transactions.
The narcissist prefers fear, adulation, admiration and
narcissistic accumulation to love.
To the narcissist, objects have no autonomous existence except as PNSS and
SNSS (Primary and Secondary Sources of Narcissistic Supply).
Knowledge and intelligence serve as control mechanisms and extractors of adulation and attention (Narcissistic Supply).
The Object is used to recreate early life conflicts:
The narcissist is bad and asks to be punished anew and to have confirmation that people are angry at him.
The object is kept emotionally distant through deterrence and is constantly tested by the narcissist who reveals his negative sides to the object.
The aim of negative, off putting behaviours is to check whether the narcissist's uniqueness will override and offset them in the mind of the object.
The object experiences emotional absence, repulsion, deterrence, and insecurity.
It is thus encouraged not to develop emotional involvement with the narcissist
(emotional involvement requires a positive emotional feedback).
The erratic and demanding relationship with the narcissist is experienced as a burden.
It is punctuated by a series of "eruptions" followed by relief.
The narcissist is imposing, intrusive, compulsive, and tyrannical.
Reality is interpreted cognitively so that negative aspects - real and imagined - of the object will be highlighted.
This preserves distance, fosters uncertainty, prevents emotional involvement and activates narcissistic mechanisms (such as grandiosity) which, in turn, increase the repulsion and the aversion of the partner.
Sample sentences of narcissists:
"The object is not as (some trait) as the narcissist is",
"She is boring",
"She is dangerous because she is.",
"A stable relationship cannot be formed because."
Another interpretation offered by the narcissist:
The narcissist chose the object because of an error/circumstances/pathology/loss of control/immaturity/partial or false information, etc.

Functioning and Performance

A grandiosity shift:
A preference to be emotionally invested in grandiose professional fantasies in which the narcissist does not have to face a practical, professionally rigorous and constant path.
The narcissist avoids success in order to avoid emotional involvement and investment.
He shuns a success which obliges him to invest and to identify himself with some goal and emphasizes areas of activity in which he is unlikely to succeed.
The narcissistic ignores the future and does not plan.
Thus he is never emotionally committed.
The narcissist invests the necessary minimum in his job (emotionally).
He is not thorough and under-performs, his work is shoddy and defective or partial.
He evades responsibility and tends to pass it on to others while exercising little control.
His decision making processes are ossified and rigid
(He presents himself as a man of "principles" - usually his whimsical moods).
The narcissist reacts very slowly to a changing environment (change is painful).
He is a pessimist, knows that he will lose his job/business - so, he is constantly engaged in seeking alternatives and constructing plausible alibis.
This yields a feeling of temporariness, which prevents engagement, involvement, commitment, dedication, identification and emotional hurt in case of change or failure.
The alternative to a spouse:
Solitary life (with vigorous emphasis on PNSS) or another partner.
This frequent change of vocations prevents the narcissist from having a clear career path and annuls the need to persevere.
All the initiatives adopted by a narcissist are egocentric, sporadic and discrete.
(They focus on an aspect of the narcissist, are randomly distributed in space and in time, and do not form a thematic or other continuum - they are not goal or objective oriented)
Sometimes, as a substitute, the narcissist engages in performance shifting:
The construction of imaginary, invented goals with no correlation with the real world - and their attainment.
To avoid facing performance tests and to maintain grandiosity and uniqueness the narcissist refrains from acquiring skills and training (driving licence, technical skills, any systematic - academic or non-academic - knowledge).
The "child" in the narcissist is reaffirmed this way - because these are adult activities and attributes that are avoided.
The gap between the image projected by the narcissist (charisma, unusual knowledge, grandiosity, fantasies) and his actual achievements - create in him permanent feelings that he is a crook, a hustler, living an unreal life in a movie-like setting.
This gives rise to ominous sensations of threat and, concurrently, to compensating feelings of immunity.
The narcissist is forced to become a manipulator.

Locations and Environment

A prevailing feeling of not belonging and of detachment.
Bodily discomfiture
(the body feels as depersonalised, alien and a nuisance, its needs are totally ignored, its signals re-routed and re-interpreted, its maintenance neglected).
Distance from the political communities which the narcissist inhabits (neighbourhood, city, state), his religion, his ethnic background, his friends.
He often adopts the stance of the "scientific observer".
This is narcissistic detachment - the feeling the narcissist has that he is a director or an actor in a movie about his life.
The narcissist avoids "emotional handles": photographs, music identified with a certain period in his life, places, people, mementoes and emotional situations.
The narcissist lives on borrowed time in a borrowed life.
Every place and time period are but transitory (sufficient but not necessary) and lead to the next, unfamiliar environment.
The narcissist feels that the end is near.
He lives in rented apartments, is an illegal immigrant in many countries, works without the necessary permits and licenses, is fully mobile on a short notice, does not buy real estate or immovables.
He travels light and he likes to travel. He is peripatetic and itinerant.
The narcissist cultivates feelings of incompatibility with his surroundings.
He considers himself superior to others and keeps criticizing people, institutions and situations.
The above behaviour patterns constitute a denial of reality.
The narcissist defines a rigid, impenetrable, personal territory and is physically revolted when it is breached.


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