The Magic of the Narcissist's Thinking
By: Dr. Sam Vaknin
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When deprived of Narcissistic Supply - Primary AND Secondary - I feel annulled. It is a strange sensation, I am not sure it can be described.
Words, after all, do exist. But it is very much like being hollowed out, mentally disemboweled or watching oneself die. It is a cosmic evaporation, disintegrating into molecules of terrified anguish, helplessly and inexorably.
I lived through this twice and I would do anything not to go through it again. It is by far the most nightmarish experience I ever had in a rather febrile life.
I want to tell you now what happens to narcissists when deprived of Narcissistic Supply of any kind (Secondary or Primary). Perhaps it will make it easier for you to understand why the narcissist pursues Narcissistic Supply so fervently, so relentlessly and so ruthlessly. Without Narcissistic Supply - the narcissist crumbles, he disintegrates like the zombies or the vampires in horror movies. It is terrifying and the narcissist will do anything to avoid it. Think about the narcissist as a drug addict. His withdrawal symptoms are identical: delusions, physiological effects, irritability, emotional lability.
I want to tell you now about the two times in my life that I faced an utter absence of Narcissistic Supply and what happened to me as a result.
The first time was after Nomi abandoned me as I was in jail, deprived of all means of obtaining Narcissistic Supply and subject to the dehumanizing existence of a brutal penal colony. I reacted by retreating into a life-threatening dysphoria.
The second time was even more frightening.
I found myself in Russia in the throes of its worst economic crisis ever. I was a fugitive, having escaped the displeasure of a nasty regime I dared criticize and attack openly. Gaining access to sources of Narcissistic Supply was a tedious and narcissistically injurious process and my girlfriend was far away, in Macedonia. I lived in a decrepit apartment, with no hot water, with furniture in wooden death and tried to get accustomed to the brutish nastiness of everyday life there. I had no Narcissistic Supply of any kind - and this lasted for months. All my frantic efforts to generate supply - failed.
At the beginning it was a mere thought - following an exceedingly stormy night which I spent reading about Jack the Ripper. I imagined a decomposing body of a young woman emerging from the rusty bathroom (its creaking door half-hidden from where I slept). She leaned casually against the doorframe and said: "So, you finally came". Gradually, this gruesome image obsessed me to the point of terror. I was reduced to scribbling crosses on all doors together with special mantras I invented. At last, I could not stay there any longer and I moved to live for a few days with my client, a jolly, young and entrepreneurial Macedonian. His interpretation was that I was simply too lonely.
He couldn't understand why I was so uninterested in the ravishing girls that worked for him. He could not fathom my behaviour - reading and writing 16 hours a day, day in and day out, without a break.
But I knew better. I knew that my decomposing apparition was a manifestation of a psychotic break, the zombie of my disorder, my self-destructiveness embodied and my virulent self-hatred projected. I knew that "she" was as real an enemy as any I have ever come across. Narcissists often experience brief psychotic episodes when they are disassembled - either in therapy or following a life-crisis accompanied by a major narcissistic injury.
Psychotic episodes may be closely allied to another feature of narcissism: magical thinking. Narcissists are like children in this sense. I, for instance, fully believe in two things: that whatever happens - I will prevail and that good things will happen to me. It is not a belief, really.
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There is no cognitive component in it. I just KNOW it, the same way I know gravity - in a direct and immediate and secure way.
I believe that, no matter what I do, I will always be forgiven, I will always prevail and triumph, I will always land safely on all my fours. I, therefore, am fearless in a manner perceived by others to be both admirable and insane. I attribute to myself divine and cosmic immunity - I cloak myself in it, it renders me invisible to my enemies and to the powers of evil. It is a childish phantasmagoria - but to me it is very real.
The second thing I know with religious certainty is that good things will happen to me. Good things always have, I was never disproved, on the very contrary - my belief only grows stronger as I grow older. With equal certitude, I know that I will squander my good fortune time and again in a bedeviled effort to defeat myself and to vindicate my mother and her transubstantiations, all other authority figures. She - and other role models that substituted for her in later life - insisted with a vengeance that I was corrupt and vain and empty. My life is a continuous effort to prove them right.
So, no matter what serendipity, what lucky circumstance, what blessing I shall receive - I will always strive with blind fury to deflect them, to deform, to ruin. And being the talented person that I am - I will succeed spectacularly.
I have lived in fairy tales come true all my life. I was adopted by a billionaire, an admiring student of mine became Minister of Finance and summoned me to his side, I was given millions to invest and have been the subject of many other miracles - but I was and am intent on bringing myself to biblical destitution and devastation.
Perhaps in this - in the belief that I have the omnipotence to conspire against a universe that constantly smiles upon me - lies the real magic of my thinking. The day I stop resisting my endowments and my good fortune is the day I die.
Interview granted to Precognito Magazine, April 2008
The Law of Attraction encourages "magical thinking".
Magical thinking is one of the hallmarks not only of pathological narcissism, but of a panoply of mental health disorders, including a few personality disorders, most notably the SCHIZOTYPAL personality disorder.
Two examples of narcissistic magical thinking:
Magical thinking postulates that one is able to exert influence over other people, inanimate objects, and events, merely by projecting one's thoughts. Infants get over this worldview at age 3. Narcissists and other mentally disordered people don't:
and Projective Identification - Abuser in Denial
The LOA teaches us that we are responsible for our actions and cognitions and should bear their consequences (which is a good, mature principle of action). But, it also claims that our thoughts translate into real-life events. We are, therefore, to blame for everything that is happening around us, to us, and to others, merely by mutely thinking about it! This is an onerous and terrifying burden to bear. It is the exact opposite of empowerment!
The LOA is also a fallacious organizing principle: we cannot always tell good from bad, because we cannot see into the future. Some events are blessings in disguise; the fortuitous or serendipitous character and the utility of some occurrences and people becomes known only much later in life; too much of a good thing (wealth, fame, even happiness) is frequently counter-productive.
The dichotomous, black and white view of the world, propagated by the LOA ("good" vs. "evil" or "bad") is considered a pathology in its own right: it is a defense mechanism known as "splitting" which characterizes early childhood (ages 6 months to 1 year) and vanishes in healthy adults.
Read more about psychological defense mechanisms (most of them, when they appear in adults, are considered entrenched pathologies):
Finally, classic theories of narcissism postulate exactly the opposite of the LOA: that LIKE REPELS (not attracts!) LIKE.
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