The Lonely Narcissist

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin

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NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders (such as the Borderline, Histrionic, or Antisocial Personality Disorder). This is called "co-morbidity". It is also often accompanied by substance abuse and other reckless and impulsive behaviours and this is called "dual diagnosis".

But there is one curious match, one logic-defying co-appearance of mental health disorders: narcissism and the Schizoid Personality Disorder.

The basic dynamic of this particular brand of co-morbidity goes like this:

  1. The narcissist feels superior, unique, entitled and better than his fellow men. He thus tends to despise them, to hold them in contempt and to regard them as lowly and subservient beings.
  1. The narcissist feels that his time is invaluable, his mission of cosmic importance, his contributions priceless. He, therefore, demands total obedience and catering to his ever-changing needs. Any demands on his time and resources is deemed to be both humiliating and wasteful.
  1. But the narcissist is DEPENDENT on input from other people for the performance of certain ego functions (such as the regulation of his sense of self-worth). Without Narcissistic Supply (adulation, adoration, attention), the narcissist shrivels and withers and is dysphoric (depressed).
  1. The narcissist resents this dependence (described in point 3). He is furious at himself for his neediness and - in a typical narcissistic manoeuvre (called "alloplastic defence") - he blames OTHERS for his anger. He displaces his rage and its roots.
  1. Many narcissists are paranoids. This means that they are afraid of people and of what people might do to them. Think about it: wouldn't you be scared and paranoid if your very life depended continually on the goodwill of others? The narcissist's very life depends on others providing him with Narcissistic Supply. He becomes suicidal if they stop doing so.
  1. To counter this overwhelming feeling of helplessness (dependence on Narcissistic Supply), the narcissist becomes a control freak. He sadistically manipulates others to his needs. He derives pleasure from the utter subjugation of his human environment.
  1. Finally, the narcissist is a latent masochist. He seeks punishment, castigation and ex-communication. This self-destruction is the only way to validate powerful voices he internalized as a child ("You are a bad, rotten, hopeless child").

(continued below)


This article appears in my book, "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"

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As you can easily see, the narcissistic landscape is fraught with contradictions. The narcissist depends on people - but hates and despises them. He wants to control them unconditionally - but is also looking to punish himself savagely. He is terrified of persecution ("persecutory delusions") - but seeks the company of his own "persecutors" compulsively.

The narcissist is the victim of incompatible inner dynamics, ruled by numerous vicious circles, pushed and pulled simultaneously by irresistible forces.

A minority of narcissist (I am one) choose the SCHIZOID SOLUTION. They choose, in effect, to disengage, both emotionally and socially.


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