Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 46

Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin


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1. Long Relationships

The longer the relationship with a Secondary Source of Narcissistic Supply and the bigger the number of common "possessions" (children included) - the more vigorously the narcissist's attempts to reinstate the relationship and the more firmly the former source is included in the narcissist's stable of default sources (to whom he turns in dry spells).

This is because the longer the relationship, the more data is stored by the Secondary Source of Supply regarding the narcissist's past moments of "glory" and the more she is able to help the narcissist regulate his labile sense of self-worth.

2. Nature or Nurture?

No one - not even the most avowed genetic determinist - says that genes shape 100% of the personality. It is the interplay between genes and environment that molds the person. Genes are like a blueprint, the layout, a series of POTENTIALS.

What is done with these potentials is up to us. How a person is brought up is AT LEAST as important as his or her heredity. It is the interaction that matters. Upbringing and life's experiences forge the brain (the "plastic brain") more than any gene or combination of genes do.

3. The Kaleidoscopic Narcissist

Why can't two or more "sides" co-exist in the same person? We all - normal and abnormal - have aspects of personality that are contradictory and that manifest or are expressed only in particular circumstances: the timid mother fighting for her children, the assertive business tycoon who is shy with women, etc.

We all present a facade when we meet new people - it is called a "persona", our public face. We all - normal and deranged - appear different in intimate circumstances. Most of us alternate between moods, aspects of personality, behavior patterns. There is nothing unusual in that.

On the contrary:

Narcissists are distinct because theirs is a RIGID (False) Self that is eerily fixed, regardless of events, circumstances, and new experiences. Actually, this is the clinical definition of a personality disorder.

4. Periodic Generosity

The narcissist's bouts of periodic generosity have nothing whatsoever to do with you. Whenever he needs to fine tune his wavering sense of self-worth and to buttress his self-image as a giving, caring, and kind person - he is out to buy you something new or fix the house. You are Sources of Secondary Narcissistic Supply - mute witnesses to his largesse and big-heartedness. You are nothing more than that - the human equivalents of tape recorders. The sole justification for your existence is to attest to his magnanimity. Hence also his disappearances (when supply is plentiful).

5. The Mystery Man

The narcissist likes to have a double (or triple) life. Being a man of mystery enhances his grandiose sense of self-importance, omnipotence, and omnipresence. It also caters to his paranoia and to his insatiable need to control others. By withholding information about himself, the narcissist feels secure, immune, and protected. He maintains the initiative and can impose his agenda simply by being unpredictable. It is a form of covert abuse.

(continued below)

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6. Sex as a Source of Supply

To the narcissist, sex is just another Source of Supply. It has no "extra dimensions" which set it apart from non-sexual Narcissistic Supply. It has no emotional complement or correlate. It is just a thing one has to do either to maintain a Secondary Source of Supply (in the case of cerebral narcissists) - or to obtain Primary Supply (in the case of a somatic narcissist).

7. Predicting and Retrodicting the Worst

Narcissists are paranoid and paranoids assume the worst as a matter of course. Hence their persecutory delusions, ideas of reference, constant sense of foreboding, superstitions, magical thinking and so on. They firmly believe that the world is a hostile place, out to get them, to humiliate and mock them and to deny them what they are entitled to by right of mere existence.

This negativity permeates every interaction in the narcissist's life and colors both his cognition and his affect (emotional makeup). Narcissist tend to exaggerate, retrodict and predict the direst things, complain and whine incessantly, and expect the most terrible outcomes, events, and reactions. Ironically, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their obnoxious personality and intolerable conduct bring about the very calamitous results they so dread.

8. Pedophilia and Sexual Abuse

Many pedophiles are turned on by tales of child sexual abuse. The more gruesome the details - the bigger the turn-on. Pedophilia - and most forms of sexual deviance (paraphilias) - are about control, not about sex. Afraid to face a mature love object, the infantile pervert opts to direct his attentions to the pliable, the young, the gullible, the vulnerable, the wounded, and the mentally ill. This, of course, inevitably involves sadism disguised as "love".

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