The Music of the Narcissist's Emotions

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin

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I feel sad only when I listen to music. My sadness is tinged with the decomposing sweetness of my childhood. So, sometimes, I sing or think about music and it makes me unbearably maudlin. I know that somewhere inside me there are whole valleys of melancholy, oceans of pain but they remain untapped because I want to live. I cannot listen to music - any music - for more than a few minutes. It is too dangerous, I cannot breathe.

But this is the exception. Otherwise, my emotional life is colourless and eventless, as rigidly blind as my disorder, as dead as me. Oh, I feel rage and hurt and inordinate humiliation and fear. These are very dominant, prevalent and recurrent hues in the canvass of my daily existence. But there is nothing except these atavistic gut reactions. There is nothing else - at least not that I am aware of.

Whatever it is that I experience as emotions - I experience in reaction to slights and injuries, real or imagined. My emotions are all reactive, not active. I feel insulted - I sulk. I feel devalued - I rage. I feel ignored - I pout. I feel humiliated - I lash out. I feel threatened - I fear. I feel adored - I bask in glory. I am virulently envious of one and all.

I can appreciate beauty but in a cerebral, cold and "mathematical" way. Most of the time, I have no sex drive I can think of. My emotional landscape is dim and grey, as though observed through thick mist in a particularly dreary day, through my glass darkly.

I can intelligently discuss other emotions, which I never experienced - like empathy, or love - because I make it a point to read a lot and to correspond with people who claim to experience them. Thus, I gradually formed working hypotheses as to what people feel. It is pointless to try to really understand - but at least I can better predict their behaviour than in the absence of such models.

I am not envious of people who feel. I disdain feelings and emotional people because I think that they are weak and vulnerable and I deride human weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Such derision makes me feel superior and is probably the ossified remains of a defence mechanism gone berserk. But, there it is, this is I and there is nothing I can do about it.

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To all of you who talk about change - there is nothing I can do about myself. And there is nothing you can do about yourself. And there is nothing anyone can do for you, either. Psychotherapy and medications are concerned with behaviour modification - not with healing. They are preoccupied with proper adaptation because maladaptation is socially costly. Society defends itself against misfits by lying to them. The lie is that change and healing are possible. They are not. You are what you are, period. Go live with it.

So, here I am. An emotional hunchback, a fossil, a human caught in amber, observing my environment with dead eyes of calcium. We shall never meet amicably because I am a predator and you are the prey. Because I do not know what it is like to be you and I do not particularly care to know. Because my disorder is as essential to me as your feelings are to you. My normal state is my very illness. I look like you, I walk the walk and talk the talk and I - and my ilk - deceive you magnificently. Not out of the cold viciousness of our hearts - but because that is the way we are.

I have emotions and they are buried in a pit down below. All of my emotions are acidulously negative, they are vitriol, the "not for internal consumption" type. I cannot feel anything, because if I open the floodgates of this cesspool of my psyche, I will drown.

And I will carry you with me.

And all the love in this world, and all the crusading women who think that they can "fix" me by doling out their saccharine compassion and revolting "understanding" and all the support and the holding environments and the textbooks - cannot change one iota in this maddening, self-imposed verdict meted out by the most insanely, obtusely, sadistically harsh judge:

By me.


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