The Narcissist is Looking for a Family

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin

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I don't have a family of my own. I don't have children and marriage is a remote prospect. Families, to me, are hotbeds of misery, breeding grounds of pain and scenes of violence and hate. I do not wish to create my own.

Even as adolescent I was looking for another family. Social workers offered to find foster families. I spent my vacations begging Kibbutzim to accept me as an underage member. It pained my parents and my mother expressed her agony the only way she knew how - by abusing me physically and psychologically. I threatened to have her committed. It was not a nice place, our family. But in its thwarted way, it was the only place. It had the warmth of a familiar disease.

My father always said to me that their responsibilities end when I am 18. But they couldn't wait that long and signed me to the army a year earlier, though at my behest. I was 17 and terrified witless. After a while my father told me not to visit them again - so the army became my second, nay, my only home. When I was hospitalized for a fortnight with kidney disease, my parents came to see me only once, bearing stale chocolates. A person never forgets such slights - they go to the very core of one's identity and self-worth.

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I dream about them often, my family whom I haven't seen for five years now. My little brothers and one sister, all huddled around me listening cravingly to my stories of fantasy and black humour. We are all so white and luminescent and innocent. In the background is the music of my childhood, the quaintness of the furniture, my life in sepia colour. I remember every detail in stark relief and I know how different it could all have been. I know how happy we could all have been. I dream about my mother and my father. A great vortex of sadness threatens to suck me in. I wake up suffocating.

I spent the first vacation in jail - voluntarily - locked up in a sizzling barrack writing a children's story. I refused to go "home". Everyone did, though - so, I was the only prisoner in jail. I had it all to myself and I was content in the quite manner of the dead. I was to divorce N. in a few weeks. Suddenly, I felt unshackled, ethereal. I guess that, at the bottom of it all, I do not want to live. They took away from me the will to live. If I allow myself to feel - this is what I overwhelmingly experience - my own non-existence. It is an ominous, nightmarish sensation which I am fighting to avoid even at the cost of forgoing my emotions. I deny myself three times for fear of being crucified. There is in me a deeply repressed seething ocean of melancholy, gloom and self-worthlessness awaiting to engulf me, to lull me into oblivion. My shield is my narcissism. I let the medusas of my soul be petrified by their own reflections in it.


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