Narcissists and Personal Attraction: That Thing between a Man and a Woman...

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin

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... I lack.

That moist energy, the hungry eyes, the imperceptible tilt of bodies lusting, that magnetism. I do not have it. I do not know the frequency of the silent broadcasts of sexuality. My face is handsome in a man-child way. My features broad but quite agreeable. Sometimes I am rich and powerful, or famous. I can turn on at will a fount of irresistible, immersing, spuriously empathic charm.

Women are curious, even inexorably drawn. But as they inch closer, they sense the void that I am; the howling abyss where a person should have been; the abode of death cloaked in the deceptive hallmarks of an ebullient, exuberant, ostensibly productive life. I am the quintessentially deceptive package, an awry being, a mental alien in an uncanny carnal outfit.

Until a few years back I was able to disguise my illness. I mimicked the behaviours, the intricate messages, the subtle bodily perfumes, the long and longing looks. But now I can't. I am exhausted. These rites of procreation drain me of the energy I need so abundantly in my pursuit of my supply. Freud called it sublimation. I am a prolific author. My seeds are verbal. My passion is abstract. I rarely copulate, once every decade or two, when I am drunk. Last time I had sex was long before September 11. Yes, 2001.

In women I induce confusion. They are attracted and then repelled by some essence that they cannot explain, nor name. "He is so unpleasant" - they say, hesitantly - "He is so... violent... and so... disagreeable". My own girlfriends, paramours, and wives struggled with this fetid, repellent emanation. They called me “sick” and “creepy” or “damaged goods.” They meant to say that I am not a healthy person altogether, not all there. They invariably ended up with other men, cheating, swinging, desperately trying to recoup their molested self-esteem, feeling rejected and dejected.

The animals we are, women sense my infirmity. I read somewhere that female birds avoid the sickly males in mating season. I am one sickly bird and they skirt me with the hurt perplexity of the frustrated. In this modern world of "what you see is what you get", the narcissist is an exception: false advertising, a diversion, an android of virtual reality with bug-infested programming.

The few women who do possess the audacity and temerity to pursue me with zeal and despite my ominous quiddity thereby unequivocally demonstrate their innate and manifest inferiority and pathology. These odd deviants provoke in me the most aggressive impulses. I am violently repelled by their presbyopic presumptuousness: what makes them think that they have anything that I might need, let alone desire? Whence springs their self-delusion that they automatically hold sway over me by virtue of their genitalia and gender-specific wiles? Can’t they tell that I am immune to – nay, revolted by – their ostensible charms and age-old stratagems?

Not long ago, I was still able to control myself, to hide my vile thoughts, to play the social game, to mimetically engage in human intercourse. I can no longer. I am the denuded narcissist - bereft of old defences. This transparency is the ultimate - and psychopathic - act of sheer contempt. People are not even worth maintaining my defences anymore. This frightens women. They sense the danger. Psychic annihilation is often irresistible, the brinkmanship of self-destruction luring. That evil is aesthetic we all know. But it is also so alien, like waking from a nightmare into its continuation in reality.

(continued below)

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But I am not an evil man, I am simply indifferent and wish not to be bothered. This schizoid streak conflicts with my narcissism and with my virility. The narcissist devours people, consumes their output, and casts the empty, writhing shells aside. The schizoid avoids them at all costs. As a man, I am very much attracted to the opposite sex. I am imaginative in my fantasies and prone to sexual abandon. But to a schizoid, women are nuisance and annoyance. Obtaining voluntary sex requires too much effort and waste of scarce resources.

Most narcissists go through schizoid phases in their inexorable orbits of gloom and mania. Sometimes the schizoid prevails. A narcissist that is also a schizoid is an unnatural hybrid, a chimera, a shattered personality. The push and pull, the approach and the avoidance, the compulsive search for the drugs that only humans can provide and the no less compulsive urge to avoid them altogether... it is a sorry sight. The narcissist shrivels and withers as the battle is prolonged. He becomes almost psychotic at the tug of war inside him. Alienated even from his False Self by his schizoid disorder, such a narcissist is turned into a gaping black hole, out to suck the vitality of those around him.

So, you see, that thing between a woman and a man - I lack it.

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