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How I Became a Narcissist
Monday, 17 March 2003
How to Read this BLOG
Dear Reader,

The URL (Web address) of my BLOG is:



The Blog entries are arranged by dates.

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Currently there are additional entries only in the month of February.

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I hope you find the blog useful.

Be well.

Sam
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.

E-mail : palma@unet.com.mk OR (as backup)  vaknin@link.com.mk

http://malignantselflove.tripod.com/
(Narcissistic Personality Disorder)

http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/npd
http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/verbal_emotional_abuse
http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/spousal_domestic_abuse
(Relationships with Abusive Narcissists)

http://ceeandbalkan.tripod.com/
(The Politics and Economies of Countries in Transition)

http://busiweb.cjb.net
(Internet Matters and Business on the Web)

http://philosophos.tripod.com/
(Philosophical Musings)

http://malignantselflove.tripod.com/thebook.html
(Buy "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited")
 

 

Posted by samvak at 12:47 PM CET
Updated: Saturday, 21 June 2003 9:12 AM MEST
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The Embarrassing Narcissist
I was convinced that I possess an unerring sense of rhythm until my wife told me I had none. I thought that my comments, observations, and insights are original and pithy - until I discovered that I am numbingly verbose, repetitive, and coarse. I attributed to myself a great sense of humor until I re-read some of my writings and found how convoluted and dull my pitiful efforts at being witty were. To my mind, my prose was arabesque but lucid and incisive. I have since learned that it is no such thing.

This utter lack of self-awareness is typical of the narcissist. He is intimate only with his False Self, constructed meticulously from years of lying and deceit. The narcissist's True Self is stashed, dilapidated and dysfunctional, in the furthest recesses of his mind. The False Self is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, creative, ingenious, irresistible, and glowing. The narcissist often isn't.

Add combustible paranoia to the narcissist's divorce from himself - and his constant and recurrent failure to assess reality fairly is more understandable. The narcissist overpowering sense of entitlement is rarely commensurate with his accomplishments in his real life or with his traits.

When the world fails to comply with his demands and to support his grandiose fantasies, the narcissist suspects a plot against him by his inferiors.

The narcissist rarely admits to a weakness, ignorance, or deficiency. He filters out information to the contrary - a cognitive impairment with serious consequences. Narcissistic are likely to unflinchingly make inflated and inane claims about their sexual prowess, wealth, connections, history, or achievements.

All this is mighty embarrassing to the narcissist's nearest, dearest, colleagues, friends, neighbours, even on-lookers. The narcissist's tales are so patently absurd that he often catches people off-guard. Unbeknownst to him, the narcissist is derided and mockingly imitated. He fast makes a nuisance and an imposition of himself in every company.

But the narcissist's failure of the reality test can have more serious and irreversible consequences. Narcissists, academically unqualified to make life-and-death decisions often insist on rendering them. I "treated" my father for muscular pain for five days at home. All that time, he was enduring a massive heart attack. My vanity wouldn't let me admit my diagnostic error. He survived. Many others don't. Narcissists pretend to be economists, engineers, or medical doctors - when they are not. But they are not con-artists in the classic, premeditated sense. They firmly believe that, though self-taught at best, they are more qualified than even the properly accredited sort. Narcissists believe in magic and in fantasy. They are no longer with us.




Posted by samvak at 12:27 PM CET
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The Labors of the Narcissist
I can't hold a job or even run my own business for very long. People - co-workers, clients, suppliers - complain that I create a "bad atmosphere", that I am a "difficult person", that they have to walk on brittle eggshells lest I explode, humiliate them, expose their errors and their weaknesses, or simply walk away.

At the workplace, I connive and collude and spread malicious gossip and complain and grumble and insult profusely and make everyone utterly miserable. I project my fears and foibles unto others. I impose my paranoid set of mind. I am full with ideas of reference - convinced that people are talking about me, conspiring against me, berating me behind my back, out to get me.

I have caused the disintegration of teams and dreams and firms too many to enumerate. Like a ghost, like a poison, I permeated everything, destabilizing, provoking, sowing fear and doubt and mutual suspicion, leading inexorably to recriminations and internecine fighting.

Yet, I have done none of this intentionally or with deliberation. These are the unwanted and inadvertent outcomes of my disorder. My grandiose fantasies make me undertake tasks far beyond my capabilities - and then flunk them spectacularly. My sense of entitlement - never commensurate with my achievements - breeds in me a deep-seated conviction of deprivation and discrimination and a wrathful attitude towards those who will not kowtow and instantaneously cater to my inflated needs. My paranoia paints the world in the penumbral hues of suspicion and intrigue.

There is no way to appease me or to stop me. I am the terminator - ever in flux, ever evasive, omnipresent, and all- pervasive. I am the shadow on the wall, the whisper behind the water cooler, the muffled smirking in the corner. I am the traitorous employee, the snitch, the industrial spy, the venomous co-worker, the malicious on-looker. I desert the sinking ship first.

Despite my grandiose self-image, I constantly feel like a cheat. I know that the self people perceive is my FALSE self. I know that I am false and vain and prone to modulation by the vicissitudes of my narcissistic supply. I realize how frivolous, how ephemeral, how unreal I am. In an effort to cover up for these shortcomings I lie and I exaggerate. I dent my credibility and risk my reputation daily in my struggle to sustain a figment of my own pathology. I crush and violently demean any doubter of my skills, any questioner of my qualifications, any threat - perceived or real - to my facade.

I wrote this about the Narcissist in the Workplace:

"The narcissist always seeks new thrills and stimuli.

The narcissist is notorious for his low threshold of and lack of resistance to boredom. His behavior is impulsive and his biography tumultuous precisely because of his need to introduce uncertainty and risk to what he regards as "stagnation" or "slow death" (i.e., routine). Most interactions in the workplace are part of the rut - and thus constitute a reminder of this routine - deflating the narcissist's grandiose fantasies.

Narcissists do many unnecessary, wrong and even dangerous things in pursuit of the stabilization of their inflated self-image.

Narcissists forever shift the blame, pass the buck, and engage in cognitive dissonance. They "pathologize" the other, foster feelings of guilt and shame in her, demean, debase and humiliate in order to preserve their sense of grandiosity and their compulsive control.

Narcissists are pathological liars. They think nothing of it because their very self is FALSE, an invention.

Here are a few useful guidelines:

Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him;

Never offer him any intimacy;

Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on);

Never remind him of life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity. If the narcissist bought new office equipment - a mundane, drab, and dreary job - so unworthy of the narcissist's time - aggrandize the purchase thus: "This is the BEST equipment I have ever seen in ANY workplace", "We got this fax EXCLUSIVELY - it is the FIRST ever sold here", etc.;

Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on the narcissist's self-image, omnipotence, judgment, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence.

Bad sentences start with: "I think you overlooked ... made a mistake here ... you don't know ... do you know ... you were not here yesterday so ... you cannot ... you should ...

"Should" and "ought to" are perceived as rude impositions. Narcissists react very badly to instructions, however helpful and given with the best intentions. They interpret them as restrictions on their freedom.

Sentences starting with "I" are equally disastrous. Never mention the fact that you are a separate, autonomous entity. Narcissists regard others as extensions of their selves.

Posted by samvak at 12:26 PM CET
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Chronos and Narcissus
Chronos cannibalized his own sons. He devoured them and cast away their remains. This is often what I feel like doing to my more successful proteges. Young people - and not so young - tend to look up to me, stick to me, emulate me, admire me - in short: they are perfect sources of narcissistic supply. I reciprocate. I give them letters of introduction and recommendations suffused with unmitigated enthusiasm. I acquaint them with my business and academic contacts. I help them with their homework. I listen to their dilemmas and give direction to their life. I play the older brother, the friend, the confidant, and the sagacious teacher.

And it often works. They all succeed. They become ministers or bankers or authors or scholars. I then feel left behind, stuck in the proverbial mud that is my life, drowning in a grimy wave of envy and self-pity. I think to myself: I am better than they are - more intelligent and more experienced, more knowledgeable and more creative. Yet, they are there progressing inexorably - and I am here, regressing and decaying.

I consider the numerous chances I was given and how I blew them. The sponsors I eroded with my infantile indecisiveness and amateurish attitude. The businesses I drove to bankruptcy with my narcissistic temper tantrums and superiority contests. The clients and investors I lost to my procrastination, abuse, or treason. The friends who turned to enemies. The enemies who abandoned me in sheer revulsion. The fortunes I squandered, the disgrace of drunken speeches, my barren life - no love, no intimacy, no sex, no family, no children, no country, and no language. I disappointed my benefactors and lovers and well-wishers with glee. I cherished and reveled in my self-annihilation.

A central pillar in my thinking unravels as I age. My intellect is not enough. Not only is it not half as rare or as refined as I imagined it to be - it is simply insufficient. It cannot secure my happiness, or safety, or longevity, or health. It cannot buy me love or friendship. I eke out a living - but that is it. I don't have what it takes. And what it takes is a combination of intelligence with many other things: with empathy, with team work, perseverance, honesty, integrity, stamina, a modicum of optimism, true assessment of reality, sense of proportion, the ability to love, selflessness in measure. Intelligence without these is cold and sterile. It gives birth to nothing but recursive exercises.

To be fully human, it takes much more than memory and analytic skills. In the absence of emotions and empathy, there is only artificial intelligence - a lame and pitiable simulation of the real thing. Artificial intelligence can beat chess masters and memorize entire encyclopaedias. It can blaze a trail of written articles. It can add, subtract, and multiply.

But it can never enjoy another person. It can never intertwine, or care, or warm its heart, or hope. It can produce some poems but never poetry. It is even deprived of the ability to feel lonely. And though it may fully grasp its own deficiencies - try as it may, it can never change. For it is artificial and synthetic - a fiction, a two-dimensional creation, a part and not a whole. It is a narcissist.



Posted by samvak at 12:25 PM CET
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The Opaque Mirror
I cannot confront my life - that dreary, aimless, unpromising stream of days and nights and days. I am past my prime - a pitiable figure, a has been who never was, a loser and a failure (and not only by my inflated standards). These facts are hard enough to face when one is not burdened with a grandiose False Self and a sadistic inner voice (superego). I have both.

So, when asked what do I do for a living, I say that I am a columnist and analyst (I am neither - I am a Senior Business Correspondent for United Press International - UPI. In other words, a glorified hack).

I say that I am a successful author (I am far from one). I say that I was the Economic Advisor to the government. True, I was - but at long last I was fired, having pushed my client to the point of nervous breakdown with my endless tantrums and labile fickleness.

But these lies - both outright and borderline - are known to me as such. I can tell the difference between reality and fantasy. I choose fantasy knowingly and consciously - but it doesn't render me oblivious to my true condition.

There is a different sort of self-deception which runs much deeper. It is more pernicious and all-pervasive. It is better at disguising itself as true and veritable. In the absence of outside help and reflection, I can never tell when (and how) I am self- deluded.

On the whole, I am that rarity, the reification of that oxymoron, the self-aware narcissist. I know that my teeth are rotten, my breath is bad, my flesh is flabby. I recognize my preposterous pomposity, my tortured syntax, my often disordered thinking, my compulsions, my obsessions, my regressions, my intellectual mediocrity, my perverted and melancholy sexuality. I know that my cognition is distorted and my emotions thwarted.

What appears to me to be genuine achievements - are often grandiose fantasies. What I take to be admiration - is mockery. I am not loved - I am exploited. And when I am loved - I exploit. I feel entitled - for no good reason. I feel superior - with no commensurate traits or achievements. I know all this. I have written about it extensively. I have expounded about it a thousand times.

And, yet, I keep getting surprised when confronted with reality. My feelings are hurt, my narcissism injured, my self esteem shaken, my rage provoked.

One becomes aware of one's place in various hierarchies - some implicit, some explicit - through social interactions. One learns that one is not alone in this world, one gets rid of the solipsistic and infantile "I am the (center of the) world" point of view. The more one meets people - the more one becomes aware of one's relative skills and accomplishment.

In other words, one develops empathy (see - http://samvak.tripod.com/empathy.html ).

But the narcissist's social range and repertoire are often limited. The narcissist alienates people. Many narcissists are schizoids (see - http://samvak.tripod.com/faq67.html ). They interactions with others are stunted, partial, distorted, and misleading.

They learn the wrong lessons from the dearth of their social encounters. They are unable to realistically evaluate themselves, their skills, their achievements, their rights and privileges, and their expectations. They retreat to fantasy, denial, and self-delusion. They become rigid and their personality becomes disordered.

The other day, I said to one of my fiancee's girlfriends, full of my usual hubris: "do you think I am a spy?" (i.e., mysterious, romantic, dark, clever). She looked at me disdainfully and responded: "Frankly, you remind me more of a shopkeeper than a spy".

I am a graphomaniac. I write prolifically about every subject, near and far. I post my work on Web sites and discussion lists, I submit it to the media, I publish it in books (that no one buys), I like to believe that I will be remembered by it. But people mostly find my essays lacking - the verbosity, the triteness, the convolutions of argumentation which often lead to a syllogistic dead-end.

It is when I write about the mundane that I excel. My political and economic columns are reasonable, though by no means spectacular and often in need of thorough editing. My few analytic pieces are good. Some of my poems are excellent. Many of my journal entries are praiseworthy. My work about narcissism is helpful, though badly written. The rest - the bulk of my writing - is trash.

Yet, I respond with outrage and shock when people tell me that. I attribute their well meant words to envy. I reject it fiercely. I counter-attack. I draw my bridges and ensconce myself in a shell of indignation. I know better. I am farsighted, a giant among intellectual dwarves, the tortured genius. The alternative is too painful to contemplate.

I like to think of myself as menacing. I like to think that I impress others with my clout and might. The other day someone said to me: "You know, you want to believe that you are frightening, you want to deter, to instill fear. But when you rage - you are merely being hysterical. It has the opposite effect. It is counter-productive".

I nurture my self-image as a machine: efficient, relentless, industrious, emotionless, reliable, and precise. I am always taken aback when people tell me that I am exceptionally emotional, that I am ruled by my feelings, that I am hyper-sensitive, that I have clear borderline traits.

Once, in response to a contemptuous remark I made about someone (call him "Joe"), his friend retorted: "Joe is cleverer than you because he makes more money than you. If you are so clever and efficient - how come you so poor?"

"I am not as corrupt as he" - I responded - "I wouldn't act as criminally and in collusion with the local venal politicians". I felt self-righteous and triumphant. I really BELIEVED in what I said. I felt indignant and infuriated by Joe's nefarious acts (of which I had no knowledge, nor any proof).

Joe's friend looked at me, not comprehending.

"But, in the last two years, you have served as advisor to these very venal politicians. Joe never worked with them as directly as you did." - she said softly - "And you did spend a year in jail for white collar crimes. Joe never did. What gives you the right to cast the first stone at him?"

There was sad amazement in her voice. And pity. A great pity.


Posted by samvak at 12:24 PM CET
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The Silver Pieces of the Narcissist
When I have money, I can exercise my sadistic urges freely and with little fear of repercussions. Money shields me from life itself, from the outcomes of my actions, it insulates me warmly and safely, like a benevolent blanket, like a mother's good night kiss. Yes, money is undoubtedly a love substitute. And it allows me to be my ugly, corrupt, and dilapidated self. Money buys me absolution and my own friendship, forgiveness, and acceptance. With money in the bank, I feel at ease with myself, free, arrogantly soaring supreme above the contemptible masses.

I can always find people poorer than I, a cause for great disdain and bumptiousness on my part.

I rarely use money to buy, corrupt, and intimidate. I wear 15 year old tattered clothes, I have no car, no house, no property. It is so even when I am wealthy. Money has nothing to do with my physical needs or with my social interactions. I never deploy it to acquire status, or to impress others. I hide it, hoard it, accumulate it and, like the proverbial miser, count it daily and in the dark. It is my licence to sin, my narcissistic permit, a promise and its fulfillment all at once. It unleashes the beast in me and, with abandon, encourages it - nay, seduces it - to be itself.

I am not tight-fisted. I spend money on restaurants and trips abroad and books and health products. I buy gifts (though reluctantly). I speculate and have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in wanton gambling in the stock exchanges. I am insatiable, always want more, always lose the little that I have. But I do all this not for the love of money, for I do not use it to gratify my self or to cater to my needs. No, I do not crave money, nor care for it. I need the power that it bestows on me to dare, to flare, to conquer, to oppose, to resist, to taunt, and to torment.

In all my relationships, I am either the vanquished or the vanquisher, either the haughty master, or his abject slave, either the dominant, or the recessive. I interact along the up-down axis, rather than along the left-right one. My world is rigidly hierarchical and abusively stratified. When submissive, I am contemptibly so. When domineering, I am contemptuously so. My life is a pendulum swinging between oppressed and oppressor.

To subjugate another, one must be capricious, unscrupulous, ruthless, obsessive, hateful, vindictive, and penetrating. One must spot the cracks of vulnerability, the crumbling foundations of susceptibility, the pains, the trigger mechanisms, the Pavlovian reactions of hate, and fear, and hope, and anger. Money liberates my mind. It endows it with the tranquility, detachment, and incisiveness of a natural scientist. With my mind free of the quotidian, I can concentrate on attaining the desired position - on top, dreaded, derided, avoided - yet obeyed and deferred to. I then proceed with cool disinterest to unscramble the human jigsaw puzzles, to manipulate their parts, to enjoy their writhing as I expose their petty misbehaviors, harp on their failures, compare them to their betters, and mock their incompetence, hypocrisy, and cupidity. Oh, I disguise it in socially acceptable cloak - only to draw the dagger. I cast myself in the role of a brave, incorruptible iconoclast, a fighter for social justice, for a better future, for more efficiency, for good causes. But it is all about my sadistic urges, really. It is all about death, not life.

Still, antagonizing and alienating my potential benefactors is a pleasure that I cannot afford on an empty purse. When impoverished, I am altruism embodied - the best of friends, the most caring of tutors, a benevolent guide, a lover of humanity, and a fierce fighter against narcissism, sadism, and abuse in all their myriad forms. I adhere, I obey, I succumb, I agree wholeheartedly, I praise, condone, idolize, and applaud. I am the perfect audience, an admirer and an adulator, a worm and an amoeba - spineless, adaptable in form, slithery flexibility itself. To behave so is unbearable for a narcissist, hence my addiction to money (really, to freedom) in all its forms. It is my evolutionary ladder from slime to the sublime - to mastery.




Posted by samvak at 12:23 PM CET
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A Holiday Grudge
Holiday blues are a common occurrence even among the mentally sound. In me they provoke a particularly virulent strain of pathological envy. I am jealous at others for having a family, or for being able to celebrate lavishly, or for being in the right, festive mood. My cognitive dissonances crumble. I keep telling myself: "look at those inferior imitations of humans, slaves of their animated corpses, wasting their time, pretending to be happy". Yet, deep inside, I know that I am the defective one. I realize that my inability to rejoice is a protracted and unusual punishment meted out to me by my very self. I am sad and enraged. I want to spoil it for those who can. I want them to share my misery, to reduce them to my level of emotional abstinence and absence.

I hate humans because I am unable to be one.

A long time ago, I wrote (http://samvak.tripod.com/archive22.html ):

"I hate holidays and birthdays, including my birthday. It is because I hate it when other people are happy if I am not the cause of it. I have to be the prime mover and shaker of EVERYONE's moods. And no one will tell me HOW I should feel. I am my own master. I feel that their happiness is false, fake, forced. I feel that they are hypocrites, dissimulating joy where there is none. I feel envious, humiliated by my envy, and enraged by my humiliation. I feel that they are the recipients of a gift I will never have: the ability to enjoy life and to feel joy.

And then I do my best to destroy their mood: I bring bad news, provoke a fight, make a disparaging remark, project a dire future, sow uncertainty in the relationship, and when the other person is sour and sad, I feel relieved.

It's back to normal. My mood improves dramatically and I try to cheer her up. Now if she does cheer up - it is REAL. It is my doing. I controlled it.

And I controlled HER."

Holidays remind me of my childhood, of the supportive and loving family I never had, of what could have been, and never was, and, as I grow older, I know, will never be. I feel deprived and, coupled with my rampant paranoia, I feel cheated and persecuted. I rail against the indifferent injustice of a faceless, cold world. Holidays are a conspiracy of the emotional haves against the emotional haves not.

Birthdays are an injury, an imposition, a reminder of vulnerability, a fake event artificially construed. I destroy in order to equalize the misery. I rage in order to induce rage. Holidays create in me an abandon of negative, nihilistic emotions, the only ones I consciously possess.

On holidays and on my birthday, I make it a point to carry on routinely.

I accept no gifts, I do not celebrate, I work till the wee hours of the night. It is a demonstrative refusal to participate, a rejection of social norms, an "in your face" statement of withdrawal. It makes me feel unique. It makes me feel even more deprived and punished. It feeds the furnace of hatred, the bestial anger, the all engulfing scorn I harbour. I want to be drawn out of my sulk and pouting - yet, I decline any such offer, evade any such attempt, hurt those who try to make me smile and to forget. In times like that, in holidays and birthdays, I am reminded of this fundamental truth: my voluptuous, virulent, spiteful, hissing and spitting grudge is all I have. Those who threaten to take it away from me - with their love, affection, compassion, or care - are my mortal enemies indeed.


Posted by samvak at 12:22 PM CET
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The Self-Deprecating Narcissist
I have a riotous, subtle, ironic, and sharpened sense of humor. I can be self-deprecating and self-effacing. I do not recoil from making my dilapidated ego the target of my own barbs. Yet, this is true only when I have narcissistic supply aplenty. Narcissistic supply - attention, adulation, admiration, applause, fame, celebrity, notoriety - neuter the sting of my self-directed jokes. In my more humorous moments I can present myself as the opposite of what is widely known to be true. I can unfold a tale of fatuous decisions followed by clumsy misbehavior - yet, no one would take me to be fatuous or clumsy. It is as though my reputation protects me from the brunt of my own jocular modesty. I can afford to be magnanimously forgiving of my own shortcomings because they are so outweighed by my gifts and by my widely known achievements or traits.

Still, the gist of what I once wrote stands:

"A narcissist rarely engages in self-directed, self-deprecating humor. If he does, he expects to be contradicted, rebuked and rebuffed by his listeners ("Come on, you are actually quite handsome!"), or to be commended or admired for his courage or for his wit and intellectual acerbity ("I envy your ability to laugh at yourself!"). As everything else in a narcissist's life, his sense of humor is deployed in the interminable pursuit of Narcissistic Supply."

I am completely different when I lack narcissistic supply or when in search of sources of such supply. Humor is always an integral part of my charm offensive. But, when narcissistic supply is deficient, it is never self-directed. Moreover, when deprived of supply, I react with hurt and rage when I am the butt of jokes and humorous utterances. I counter-attack ferociously and make a complete arse of myself.

Why these extremes?

"The absence of Narcissistic Supply (or the impending threat of such an absence) is, indeed, a serious matter. It is the narcissistic equivalent of mental death. If prolonged and unmitigated, such absence can lead to the real thing: physical death, a result of suicide, or of a psychosomatic deterioration of the narcissist's health. Yet, to obtain Narcissistic Supply, one must be taken seriously and to be taken seriously one must be the first to take oneself seriously. Hence the gravity with which the narcissist contemplates his life. This lack of levity and of perspective and proportion characterise the narcissist and set him apart.

The narcissist firmly believes that he is unique and that he is thus endowed because he has a mission to fulfill, a destiny, a meaning to his life. The narcissist's life is a part of history, of a cosmic plot and it constantly tends to thicken. Such a life deserves only the most serious attention. Moreover, every particle of such an existence, every action or inaction, every utterance, creation, or composition, indeed every thought, are bathed in this cosmic meaningfulness. They all lead down the paths of glory, of achievement, of perfection, of ideals, of brilliance. They are all part of a design, a pattern, a plot, which inexorably and unstoppably lead the narcissist on to the fulfillment of his task. The narcissist may subscribe to a religion, to a belief, or to an ideology in his effort to understand the source of this strong feeling of uniqueness. He may attribute his sense of direction to God, to history, to society, to culture, to a calling, to his profession, to a value system. But he always does so with a straight face, with a firm conviction and with deadly seriousness.

And because, to the narcissist, the part is a holographic reflection of the whole - he tends to generalise, to resort to stereotypes, to induct (to learn about the whole from the detail), to exaggerate, finally to pathologically lie to himself and to others. This tendency of his, this self-importance, this belief in a grand design, in an all embracing and all-pervasive pattern - make him an easy prey to all manner of logical fallacies and con artistry. Despite his avowed and proudly expressed rationality the narcissist is besieged by superstition and prejudice. Above all, he is a captive of the false belief that his uniqueness destines him to carry a mission of cosmic significance.

All these make the narcissist a volatile person. Not merely mercurial - but fluctuating, histrionic, unreliable, and disproportional. That which has cosmic implications calls for cosmic reactions. The person with an inflated sense of self-import, will react in an inflated manner to threats, greatly inflated by his imagination and by the application to them of his personal myth. On a cosmic scale, the daily vagaries of life, the mundane, the routine are not important, even damagingly distracting. This is the source of his feelings of exceptional entitlement. Surely, engaged as he is in securing the well being of humanity by the exercise of his unique faculties - the narcissist deserves special treatment! This is the source of his violent swings between opposite behaviour patterns and between devaluation and idealisation of others. To the narcissist, every minor development is nothing less than a new stage in his life, every adversity, a conspiracy to upset his progress, every setback an apocalyptic calamity, every irritation the cause for outlandish outbursts of rage. He is a man of the extremes and only of the extremes. He may learn to efficiently suppress or hide his feelings or reactions - but never for long. In the most inappropriate and inopportune moment, you can count on the narcissist to explode, like a wrongly wound time bomb. And in between eruptions, the narcissistic volcano daydreams, indulges in delusions, plans his victories over an increasingly hostile and alienated environment. Gradually, the narcissist becomes more paranoid - or more aloof, detached and dissociative.

In such a setting, you must admit, there is not much room for a sense of humor."

Posted by samvak at 12:18 PM CET
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It is My World
"The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by anxiety. He seeks not to inflict his own certainties on others but to find a meaning in life. Liberated from the superstitions of the past, he doubts even the reality of his own existence. Superficially relaxed and tolerant, he finds little use for dogmas of racial and ethnic purity but at the same time forfeits the security of group loyalties and regards everyone as a rival for the favours conferred by a paternalistic state. His sexual attitudes are permissive rather than puritanical, even though his emancipation from ancient taboos brings him no sexual peace. Fiercely competitive in his demand for approval and acclaim, he distrusts competition because he associates it unconsciously with an unbridled urge to destroy. Hence he repudiates the competitive ideologies that flourished at an earlier stage of capitalist development and distrusts even their limited expression in sports and games. He extols cooperation and teamwork while harbouring deeply antisocial impulses. He praises respect for rules and regulations in the secret belief that they do not apply to himself. Acquisitive in the sense that his cravings have no limits, he does not accumulate goods and provisions against the future, in the manner of the acquisitive individualist of nineteenth-century political economy, but demands immediate gratification and lives in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire."

(Christopher Lasch - The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an age of Diminishing Expectations, 1979)

"A characteristic of our times is the predominance, even in groups traditionally selective, of the mass and the vulgar. Thus, in
intellectual life, which of its essence requires and presupposes qualification, one can note the progressive triumph of the
pseudo-intellectual, unqualified, unqualifiable..."

(Jose Ortega y Gasset - The Revolt of the Masses, 1932)

Look around you. Self absorption. Greed. Frivolity. Social anxiety. Lack of empathy. Exploitation. Abuse. These are not marginal phenomena. These are the defining traits of the West and its denizens. The West's is a narcissistic civilization. It upholds narcissistic values and penalizes the alternative value-systems. From an early age, children are taught to avoid self-criticism, to deceive themselves regarding their capacities and achievements, to feel entitled, to exploit others. Litigiousness is
the flip side of this inane sense of entitlement. The disintegration of the very fabric of society is its outcome. It is a culture of
self-delusion. People adopt grandiose fantasies, often incommensurate with their real, dreary, lives. Consumerism is built on this common and communal lie of "I can do anything I want and possess everything I desire if I only apply myself to it".

There is one incriminating piece of evidence - the incidence of NPD among men and women.

There is no proof that NPD is a genetic disorder or has genetic roots. There is overwhelming evidence that it is the sad outcome of faulty upbringing. Still, if NPD is not related to cultural and social contexts, then it should occur equally among men and women. It doesn't.

It occurs three times more among men than it does among women.

This seems to be because the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (as opposed, for instance, to the Borderline or the Histrionic Personality Disorders, which afflict women more than men) seems to conform to masculine social mores and to the prevailing ethos of capitalism.

Ambition, achievements, hierarchy, ruthlessness, drive - are both social values and narcissistic male traits. Social thinkers like Lasch speculated that modern American culture - a narcissistic, self-centred one - increases the rate of incidence of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

To this Kernberg answered, rightly:

"The most I would be willing to say is that society can make serious psychological abnormalities, which already exist in some percentage of the population, seem to be at least superficially appropriate."

From my "Gender and the Narcissist"
(http://samvak.tripod.com/faq34.html ):

"In the manifestation of their narcissism, female and male narcissists, inevitably, do tend to differ. They emphasise different things. They transform different elements of their personality and of their life into the cornerstones of their disorder. They both conform to cultural stereotypes, gender roles, and social expectations.

Women, for instance, concentrate on their body (as they do in eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa). They flaunt and exploit their physical charms, their sexuality, their socially and culturally determined "femininity". In its extreme form this is known as HPD or the Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Many female narcissists secure their Narcissistic Supply through their more traditional gender roles: the home, children, suitable careers, their husbands ("the wife of..."), their feminine traits, their role in society, etc. It is no wonder than narcissists - both men and women - are chauvinistically conservative. They depend to such an extent on the opinions of people around them - that, with time, they are transformed into ultra-sensitive seismographs of public opinion, barometers of prevailing winds and guardians of conformity. Narcissists cannot afford to seriously alienate those who reflect to them their False Self. The very proper and on-going functioning of their Ego depends on the goodwill and the collaboration of their human environment.

Even the self destructive and self defeating behaviours of narcissists conform to traditional masculine and feminine roles.

Besieged and consumed by pernicious guilt feelings - many a narcissist seek to be punished. The self-destructive narcissist plays the role of the "bad guy" (or "bad girl"). But even then it is within the traditional socially allocated roles. To ensure social opprobrium (read: attention, i.e., narcissistic supply), the narcissist cartoonishly exaggerates these roles. A woman is likely to label herself a "whore" and a male narcissist to style himself a "vicious, unrepentant criminal". Yet, these again are traditional social roles. Men are likely to emphasise intellect, power, aggression, money, or social status. Women are likely to emphasise body, looks, charm, sexuality, feminine "traits", homemaking, children and childrearing - even as they seek their masochistic punishment.

There are mental disorders, which afflict a specific sex more often.

This has to do with hormonal or other physiological dispositions, with social and cultural conditioning through the socialisation process, and with role assignment through the gender differentiation process. None of these seem to be strongly correlated to the formation of malignant narcissism."

I belong. I am a narcissist. And you? You are deviants. You have mal-adapted to my brave new world. The world of the Narcissist.




Posted by samvak at 12:16 PM CET
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Beware the Children
I see in children feigned innocence, relentless and ruthless manipulation, the cunning of the weak. They are ageless. Their
narcissism is disarming in its directness, in its cruel and absolute lack of empathy. They demand with insistence, punish absent-mindedly, idealize and devalue capriciously. They have no loyalty. They do not love, they cling. Their dependence is a mighty weapon and their neediness - a drug. They have no time, neither before, nor after. To them, existence is a play, they are the actors, and we all - are but the props. They raise and drop the curtain of their mock emotions at will. The bells of their laughter often tintinnabulate. They are the fresh abode of good and evil pure and pure they are.

Children, to me, are both mirrors and competitors. They reflect authentically my constant need for adulation and attention. Their grandiose fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience are crass caricatures of my internal world. The way they abuse others and mistreat them hits close to home. Their innocuous charm, their endless curiosity, their fount of energy, their sulking, nagging, boasting, bragging, lying, and manipulating are mutations of my own behaviour. I recognize my thwarted
self in them. When they make their entrance, all attention is diverted. Their fantasies endear them to their listeners. Their vainglorious swagger often causes smiles. Their trite stupidities are invariably treated as pearls of wisdom. Their nagging is yielded to, their threats provoke to action, their needs accommodated urgently. I stand aside, an abandoned centre of attention, the dormant eye of an intellectual storm, all but ignored and neglected. I watch the child with envy, with rage,
with wrath. I hate its effortless ability to defeat me.

Children are loved by mothers, as I was not. They are bundled emotions, and happiness and hope. I am jealous of them, I am infuriated by my deprivation, I am fearful of the sadness and hopelessness that they provoke in me. Like music, they reify a threat to the precariously balanced emotional black hole that is myself. They are my past, my dilapidated and petrified True Self, my wasted potentials, my self-loathing and my defences. They are my pathology projected. I revel in my Orwellian narcissistic newspeak. Love is weakness, happiness is a psychosis, hope is malignant optimism. Children defy all this. They are proof positive of how different it could all have been.

But what I consciously experience is disbelief. I cannot understand how anyone can love these thuggish brats, their dripping noses, gelatinous fat bodies, whitish sweat, and bad breath. How can anyone stand their cruelty and vanity, their sadistic insistence and blackmail, their prevarication and deceit? In truth, no one except their parents can.

Children are always derided by everyone except their parents. There is something sick and sickening in a mother's affections. There is a maddening blindness involved, an addiction, a psychotic episode, it's sick, this bond, it's nauseous. I hate children. I hate them for being me.


Posted by samvak at 12:15 PM CET
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