Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 49

Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin


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1. Narcissistic Stare

Narcissists, indeed, stare intently when they intend to captivate their interlocutor or secure a new Source of Narcissistic Supply. It is as though they are trying to both gauge their impact on others and hypnotize them into submission.

2. Narcissists and Flattery

The False Self is so unrealistic - that the narcissist is willing to believe just about anything he is being told about himself. He has no yardstick, no reality test. And thus he can be easily manipulated with flattery, even of the grossest and most obvious kind!

3. The Spouse's Illness

The spouse's illness is an effrontery to the narcissist's delusions of omnipotence, invulnerability, and perfection. She is rendered imperfect, a drag on his resources, a weakling. Narcissists hate the weak, the old, the young, the sick, the emotional - because they remind them of their own suppressed emotions.

The narcissist - always above commonality and the law - resents society's expectations of him. He does not understand why he has to waste his precious time on damaged goods. The sick spouse becomes a Source of negative Narcissistic Supply, a silent condemnation of the narcissist, a pointed (and sore) finger, an embarrassment, and a stark reminder of the Grandiosity Gap - the abyss between reality and the narcissist's fantasies.

4. Abusing His Own Children

P/Ns do not share the same language with other people. What to you is abuse - to him is normal reactions to provocations. What to you is a child - to him is a Source of Narcissistic Supply, benefits, or utility. He does not feel that the rules of the game - for instance, that children should be shielded from the vagaries of life in general and adult abusive behavior in particular - apply to him.

(continued below)

This article appears in my book, "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"

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5. Lying

Lying comes to the N/P (Narcissistic Psychopath) naturally. But that does not mean that it is compulsive, or unintentional. It involves cold analysis of costs and benefits and a decision-making process. There are two reasons the N/P lies: 1) To support his grandiose fantasies and convince others of their veracity (more typical of the narcissist), or 2) To obtain benefits and maximize utility (more typical of the psychopath).

6. The Mother

The bond between the narcissistic mother and her child is unusually strong because she teaches the child to regard itself as an extension of the mother and an instrument of gratification. The child fails to develop healthy boundaries and remains enmeshed with the mother.

7. Is the Therapy Working?

There is no universal "checklist". Whether a treatment modality is successful or not depends on what were its original goals (the treatment contract). If you wanted to develop personal boundaries and are in the process of doing so, it definitely is a success. If you both sought to minimize his abusive conduct and this is happening - the therapy is working. There are many such targets: to develop communication skills, to lower narcissistic or other defenses, to minimize emotional lability, to change social settings (for instance, by relocating), to find meaning, to cope with stresses, to agree on common strategies regarding your children, to enhance the stability of the relationship - and this is a very partial list!

So, the answer to your question is: if the therapy is meeting your expectations - the therapist is doing a good job!

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