The Pathology of Love

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin

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The unpalatable truth is that falling in love is, in some ways, indistinguishable from a severe pathology. Behavior changes are reminiscent of psychosis and, biochemically speaking, passionate love closely imitates substance abuse. Appearing in the BBC series Body Hits on December 4, 2002 Dr. John Marsden, the head of the British National Addiction Center, said that love is addictive, akin to cocaine and speed. Sex is a "booby trap", intended to bind the partners long enough to bond.

In experiments on voles, conducted by a German scientist, Dr. Oliver Bosch, males separated from females after 5 days spent together evinced marked signs of the animal equivalent of depression in humans (known as “passive stress coping”). These males had extreme levels of the stress biochemical corticosterone. Their HPA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal) axis was so hard at work that their glands hypertrophied.

But when Bosch blocked in their tiny brains receptors for CFR (Corticotropine-releasing Factor), he struck gold: the males remembered their mates and bonded with them, but did not care where they were at the time. Both the voles which remained with their females and the ones who got separated had elevated levels of CRF in the BNST (Bed Nucleus of Stria Terminalis).

Bonding generates CRF but prevents it from acting on the HPA as long as the couple is together. Compulsion or addiction to the mate replaces infatuation (dopamine release). It feels bad to be apart and people seek to ameliorate the misery by restoring their togetherness – or by denying or reframing the separateness. According to Dr. George Koob, Chairman of the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders at the Scripps Research Institute, CRF signals that a loss has to be addressed. The same mechanism is at play is drug addiction and alcoholism.

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki of University College in London showed that the same areas of the brain are active when abusing drugs and when in love. The prefrontal cortex - hyperactive in depressed patients - is inactive when besotted. How can this be reconciled with the low levels of serotonin that are the telltale sign of both depression and infatuation - is not known.

Other MRI studies, conducted in 2006-7 by Dr. Lucy Brown, a professor in the department of neurology and neuroscience at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and her colleagues, revealed that the caudate and the ventral tegmental, brain areas involved in cravings (e.g., for food) and the secretion of dopamine, are lit up in subjects who view photos of their loved ones. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects pleasure and motivation. It causes a sensation akin to a substance-induced high.

On August 14, 2007, the New Scientist News Service gave the details of a study originally published in the Journal of Adolescent Health earlier that year. Serge Brand of the Psychiatric University Clinics in Basel, Switzerland, and his colleagues interviewed 113 teenagers (17-year old), 65 of whom reported having fallen in love recently.

The conclusion? The love-struck adolescents slept less, acted more compulsively more often, had "lots of ideas and creative energy", and were more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as reckless driving.

"'We were able to demonstrate that adolescents in early-stage intense romantic love did not differ from patients during a hypomanic stage,' say the researchers. This leads them to conclude that intense romantic love in teenagers is a 'psychopathologically prominent stage'".

But is it erotic lust or is it love that brings about these cerebral upheavals?

As distinct from love, lust is brought on by surges of sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. These induce an indiscriminate scramble for physical gratification. In the brain, the hypothalamus (controls hunger, thirst, and other primordial drives) and the amygdala (the locus of arousal) become active. Attraction transpires once a more-or-less appropriate object is found (with the right body language and speed and tone of voice) and results in a panoply of sleep and eating disorders.

A recent study in the University of Chicago demonstrated that testosterone levels shoot up by one third even during a casual chat with a female stranger. The stronger the hormonal reaction, the more marked the changes in behavior, concluded the authors. This loop may be part of a larger "mating response". In animals, testosterone provokes aggression and recklessness. The hormone's readings in married men and fathers are markedly lower than in single males still "playing the field".

Still, the long-term outcomes of being in love are lustful. Dopamine, heavily secreted while falling in love, triggers the production of testosterone and sexual attraction then kicks in.

Helen Fisher of Rutger University suggests a three-phased model of falling in love. Each stage involves a distinct set of chemicals. The BBC summed it up succinctly and sensationally: "Events occurring in the brain when we are in love have similarities with mental illness".

Moreover, we are attracted to people with the same genetic makeup and smell (pheromones) of our parents. Dr Martha McClintock of the University of Chicago studied feminine attraction to sweaty T-shirts formerly worn by males. The closer the smell resembled her father's, the more attracted and aroused the woman became. Falling in love is, therefore, an exercise in proxy incest and a vindication of Freud's much-maligned Oedipus and Electra complexes.

McClintock’s work contradicts other, less conclusive and far more controversial findings regarding the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) or the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA). Studies demonstrated either fewer HLA matches than were expected (Ober et al.) – or no such effect (Chaix, Cao, and Donnelly, 2008). Wedekind conducted body odor studies, again with sweaty t-shirts, that demonstrated a female preference for MHC-dissimilarity, especially during ovulation, but only in women who did not use oral contraceptives. Men also preferred MHC-disassortative mate choices.

Writing in the February 2004 issue of the journal NeuroImage, Andreas Bartels of University College London's Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience described identical reactions in the brains of young mothers looking at their babies and in the brains of people looking at their lovers.

"Both romantic and maternal love are highly rewarding experiences that are linked to the perpetuation of the species, and consequently have a closely linked biological function of crucial evolutionary importance" - he told Reuters.

This incestuous backdrop of love was further demonstrated by psychologist David Perrett of the University of St Andrews in Scotland. The subjects in his experiments preferred their own faces - in other words, the composite of their two parents - when computer-morphed into the opposite sex.

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

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Body secretions play a major role in the onslaught of love. In results published in February 2007 in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley demonstrated convincingly that women who sniffed androstadienone, a signaling chemical found in male sweat, saliva, and semen, experienced higher levels of the hormone cortisol. This results in sexual arousal and improved mood. The effect lasted a whopping one hour.

Still, contrary to prevailing misconceptions, love is mostly about negative emotions. As Professor Arthur Aron from State University of New York at Stonybrook has shown, in the first few meetings, people misinterpret certain physical cues and feelings - notably fear and thrill - as (falling in) love. Thus, counterintuitively, anxious people - especially those with the "serotonin transporter" gene - are more sexually active (i.e., fall in love more often).

Obsessive thoughts regarding the Loved One and compulsive acts are also common. Perception is distorted as is cognition. "Love is blind" and the lover easily fails the reality test. Falling in love involves the enhanced secretion of b-Phenylethylamine (PEA, or the "love chemical") in the first 2 to 4 years of the relationship.

This natural drug creates an euphoric high and helps obscure the failings and shortcomings of the potential mate. Such oblivion - perceiving only the spouse's good sides while discarding her bad ones - is a pathology akin to the primitive psychological defense mechanism known as "splitting". Narcissists - patients suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder - also Idealize romantic or intimate partners. A similar cognitive-emotional impairment is common in many mental health conditions.

The activity of a host of neurotransmitters - such as Dopamine, Adrenaline (Norepinephrine), and Serotonin - is heightened (or in the case of Serotonin, lowered) in both paramours. Yet, such irregularities are also associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and depression.

It is telling that once attachment is formed and infatuation gives way to a more stable and less exuberant relationship, the levels of these substances return to normal. They are replaced by two hormones (endorphins) which usually play a part in social interactions (including bonding and sex): Oxytocin (the "cuddling chemical") and Vasopressin. Oxytocin facilitates bonding. It is released in the mother during breastfeeding, in the members of the couple when they spend time together - and when they sexually climax. Viagra (sildenafil) seems to facilitate its release, at least in rats.

It seems, therefore, that the distinctions we often make between types of love - motherly love vs. romantic love, for instance - are artificial, as far as human biochemistry goes. As neuroscientist Larry Young’s research with prairie voles at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University demonstrates:

"(H)uman love is set off by a “biochemical chain of events” that originally evolved in ancient brain circuits involving mother-child bonding, which is stimulated in mammals by the release of oxytocin during labor, delivery and nursing."

He told the New-York Times ("Anti-Love Drug May Be Ticket to Bliss", January 12, 2009):

“Some of our sexuality has evolved to stimulate that same oxytocin system to create female-male bonds,” Dr. Young said, noting that sexual foreplay and intercourse stimulate the same parts of a woman’s body that are involved in giving birth and nursing. This hormonal hypothesis, which is by no means proven fact, would help explain a couple of differences between humans and less monogamous mammals: females’ desire to have sex even when they are not fertile, and males’ erotic fascination with breasts. More frequent sex and more attention to breasts, Dr. Young said, could help build long-term bonds through a “ cocktail of ancient neuropeptides,” like the oxytocin released during foreplay or orgasm. Researchers have achieved similar results by squirting oxytocin into people’s nostrils..."


"A related hormone, vasopressin, creates urges for bonding and nesting when it is injected in male voles (or naturally activated by sex). After Dr. Young found that male voles with a genetically limited vasopressin response were less likely to find mates, Swedish researchers reported that men with a similar genetic tendency were less likely to get married ... 'If we give an oxytocin blocker to female voles, they become like 95 percent of other mammal species,' Dr. Young said. 'They will not bond no matter how many times they mate with a male or hard how he tries to bond. They mate, it feels really good and they move on if another male comes along. If love is similarly biochemically based, you should in theory be able to suppress it in a similar way.'"

Love, in all its phases and manifestations, is an addiction, probably to the various forms of internally secreted norepinephrine, such as the aforementioned amphetamine-like PEA. Love, in other words, is a form of substance abuse. The withdrawal of romantic love has serious mental health repercussions.

A study conducted by Dr. Kenneth Kendler, professor of psychiatry and director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, and others, and published in the September 2002 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, revealed that breakups often lead to depression and anxiety. Other, fMRI-based studies, demonstrated how the insular cortex, in charge of experiencing pain, became active when subjects viewed photos of former loved ones.

Love and lust depend on context, as well as psychological makeup, or biochemistry: one can fall in and out love with the very same person (whose biochemistry, presumably, hasn’t changed at all); the vast majority of one-night-standers reported that they did not find their partners sexually alluring: it was the opportunity that beckoned, not any specific attraction; similarly, the very same acts – kissing, hugging, even sexually explicit overtures – can be interpreted as innocuous, depending on who does what to whom and in which circumstances.

Indeed, love cannot be reduced to its biochemical and electrical components. Love is not tantamount to our bodily processes - rather, it is the way we experience them. Love is how we interpret these flows and ebbs of compounds using a higher-level language. In other words, love is pure poetry.

We are very rarely in love with a PERSON. Most often we are in love with an IDEA: the idea of being in love (we are in love with love), or the idea of being someone's whore, or someone's child, or someone's healing parent. Or we are in love with what the person stands for (symbolizes): a father figure, our past, a wounded child.

We idealize our loved ones to the point that they vanish as individuals and re-merge as elements in our personal narrative and in our pathologies and wounds. We fall in love with the stories that we construct about ourselves and our environment and we force our loved ones to play scripted and emergent roles in our personal theatre production. In this restricted (and temporary) sense, when we fall in love we are all narcissistic: we fall in love with ourselves via our loved ones.

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

Click HERE to buy the print edition from Amazon (click HERE to buy a copy dedicated by the author)

Click HERE to buy the print edition from Barnes and Noble

Click HERE to buy the print edition from the publisher and receive a BONUS PACK

Click HERE to buy electronic books (e-books) and video lectures (DVDs) about narcissists, psychopaths, and abuse in relationships

Click HERE to buy the ENTIRE SERIES of sixteen electronic books (e-books) about narcissists, psychopaths, and abuse in relationships




Follow me on Twitter, Facebook (my personal page or the book’s), YouTube


Interview granted to Readers' Digest - January 2009

"For what qualities in a man," asked the youth, "does a woman most ardently love him?"
"For those qualities in him," replied the old tutor, "which his mother most ardently hates."

(A Book Without A Title, by George Jean Nathan (1918))

Q. The Top 5 Things Women Look for in a Man, the top five qualities (based on an American survey):

1. Good Judgment
2. Intelligence
3. Faithful
4. Affectionate
5. Financially Responsible

Why is this something women look for in men – why is it important?
How does this quality positively affect a relationship or marriage?
How do women recognize it?

A. There are three possible explanations as to why women look for these qualities in men: the evolutionary-biological one, the historical-cultural one, and the psychological-emotional one.

In evolutionary terms, good judgment and intelligence equal survival and the transmission of one's genes across the generations. Faithfulness and a sense of responsibility (financial and otherwise) guarantee that the woman's partner will persevere in the all-important tasks of homebuilding and childrearing. Finally, being affectionate cements the emotional bond between male and female and militates against potentially life-threatening maltreatment and abuse of the latter by the former.

From the historical-cultural point of view, most societies and cultures, well into the previous century, have been male-dominated and patriarchal. The male's judgment prevailed and his decisions dictated the course of the couple's life. An intelligent and financially responsible male provided a secure environment in which to raise children. The woman lived through her man, vicariously: his successes and failures reflected on her and determined her standing in society and her ability to develop and thrive on the personal level. His faithfulness and affections served to prevent competitors from usurping the female's place and thus threatening her male-dependent cosmos.

Granted, evolutionary constraints are anachronistic and social-cultural mores have changed: women, at least in Western societies, are now independent, both emotionally and economically. Yet, millennia of conditioned behavior cannot be eradicated in a few decades. Women continue to look in men for the qualities that used to matter in entirely different circumstances.

Finally, women are more level-headed when it comes to bonding. They tend to emphasize long-term relationships, based on reciprocity and the adhesive qualities of strong emotions. Good judgment, intelligence, and a developed sense of responsibility are crucial to the maintenance and preservation of functional, lasting, and durable couples - and so are faithfulness and being affectionate.

Soaring divorce rates and the rise of single parenthood prove that women are not good at recognizing the qualities they seek in men. It is not easy to tell apart the genuine article from the unctuous pretender. While intelligence (or lack thereof) can be discerned on a first date, it is difficult to predict traits such as faithfulness, good judgment, and reliability. Affections can really be mere affectations and women are sometimes so desperate for a mate that they delude themselves and treat their date as a blank screen onto which they project their wishes and needs.

Q. What are the top 5 Things Men Look for in a Woman, the top five qualities?

Why is this something men look for in women – why is it important?

How does this quality positively affect a relationship or marriage?

How do men recognize it?


A. From my experience and correspondence with thousands of couples, men seem to place a premium on these qualities in a woman:


1.    Physical Attraction and Sexual Availability
2.    Good-naturedness
3.    Faithfulness
4.    Protective Affectionateness
5.    Dependability

There are three possible explanations as to why men look for these qualities in women: the evolutionary-biological one, the historical-cultural one, and the psychological-emotional one.

In evolutionary terms, physical attractiveness denotes good underlying health and genetic-immunological compatibility. These guarantee the efficacious transmission of one's genes to future generations. Of course, having sex is a precondition for bearing children and, so, sexual availability is important, but only when it is coupled with faithfulness: men are loth to raise and invest scarce resource in someone else's progeny. Dependable women are more likely to propagate the species, so they are desirable. Finally, men and women are likely to do a better job of raising a family if the woman is good-natured, easy-going, adaptable, affectionate, and mothering. These qualities cement the emotional bond between male and female and prevent potentially life-threatening maltreatment and abuse of the latter by the former.

From the historical-cultural point of view, most societies and cultures, well into the previous century, have been male-dominated and patriarchal. Women were treated as chattels or possessions, an extension of the male. The "ownership" of an attractive female advertised to the world the male's prowess and desirability. Her good nature, affectionateness, and protectiveness proved that her man was a worthwhile "catch" and elevated his social status. Her dependability and faithfulness allowed him to embark on long trips or complex, long-term undertakings without the distractions of emotional uncertainty and the anxieties of  letdown and betrayal.

Finally, men are more cavalier when it comes to bonding. They tend to maintain both long-term and short-term relationships and are, therefore, far less exclusive and monogamous than women. They are more concerned with what they are getting out of a relationship than with reciprocity and, though they often feel as strongly as women and can be equally romantic, their emotional landscape and expression are more constrained and they sometimes confuse love with possessiveness or even codependence. Thus, men tend to emphasize the external (physical attraction) and the functional (good-naturedness, faithfulness, reliability) over the internal and the purely emotional.

Soaring divorce rates and the rise of single parenthood prove that men are not good at recognizing the qualities they seek in women. It is not easy to tell apart the genuine article from the unctuous pretender. While physical attractiveness (or lack thereof) can be discerned on a first date, it is difficult to predict traits such as faithfulness, good-naturedness, and reliability. Affections can really be mere affectations and men are sometimes such narcissistic navel-gazers that they delude themselves and treat their date as a blank screen onto which they project their wishes and needs.

The Male Gaze and the Princess Complex: Sundry Observations on Love and Sex

Even the most militant feminist emancipated career woman is, at heart, a medieval princess, awaiting for the knight in shining armor (or the modern equivalent) to awaken her from her solitary slumber.

To curry sexual favor with women - let alone gain emotional access and leverage - men have to withstand the onerous tests of courtship and mating rituals. Men have to act attentive, courteous, fawning (but not too overtly), desirous (but not too vulgar), always available, and almost singlemindedly obsessed with their quarry at all times.

This ostentatious dedication, the breathless pursuit and relentless chase serve a few evolutionary goals. Mainly, this obstacle course provides the woman with invaluable information about the qualities of the eligible male as a protector and provider, a potential husband and a father: is he persistent, reliable, resilient, a patient hunter, committed, devoted, besotted, sexual, strategizes cleverly, willing to fend off encroaching males, competitive, assertive, supportive, emotive, and so on. It is a form of “virtue signalling”.

These evolutionary imperatives and reflexes are ingrained and are at play even in one night stands or during casual sex. Women often end up bedding men they consider "wrong" or even "repulsive" the morning after precisely because millions of years of nature took over and trumped nurture, environment, and societal mores.




Feminism aside, women are still defined by the male gaze. They leverage it to derive a sense of feminine identity and to regulate their self-esteem. This is a narcissistic-histrionic feature that is common to all women, no matter how vehemently they deny it.

When a woman doesn't get this critical affirmation from one man, when she is thoroughly ignored and rejected, she moves on - sometimes swiftly - to another man who does "see" her.

The most extreme form of abuse by far is to deny a woman this gaze: to look through her, as though she were made of air, transparent, non-existent. To negate, erase, and delete her as an autonomous person and a woman by steadfastly pretending that she does not exist and by not catering to her deepest psychological needs and anxieties.

To fight and to argue - even to actively mistreat a woman - is to acknowledge her existence. It is survivable and human and women adapt to such unfortunate circumstances

But the disdainful, chilling, reptilian x-ray vision of the psychopathic narcissist evaporates his partner, layer by layer. She starts to doubt not only her sanity, but her very existence

Subjected to such vitiation, most women seek to reaffirm and reassert their autonomy and being via another man - any man

To restore their shattered sense of wellbeing, they act out, desperate to regain a foothold in a reality rendered surreal and shifting by the psychopathic narcissist's devastating combination of soul-destroying contempt and all-pervasive non-acknowledgment: the absence of his gaze.




Some women have a predominant metaphor of their lives, very resounding and powerful:

I am hurt, tortured, and broken. I am looking for a man, a knight in shining armor, a savior to support me, comfort me, and heal me.

These women broadcast, implicitly and explicitly, to everyone, but especially to men:

I am the sleeping beauty, the damsel in distress, the princess in the tower, held hostage and mistreated by callous, cruel, evil, or insane men. I need help and rescue!

Men - protectors and competitors by nature - react very powerfully to this message and chivalrously rush to their aid.

When a man refuses to play this game, insists that the woman acts as an adult, assumes full responsibilities and makes timely decisions - it is often perceived as cold-hearted abuse by such women. "Princesses" get cold feet and are overwhelmed to the point of acting out when they are treated as equals and are expected to perform with no allowances for their rescue fantasies.

They reject, abuse, and punish men who decline to participate in their dramas, the theatre productions of their lives. They have no idea how to cope with men who do not respond to their distress cues.

More generally, women actually hate being treated as MEN who happen to have vaginas and when they are expected to behave as men do and to perform to the same standards and with the same alacrity.

Women perceive this as abuse because, feminism aside, they still need to feel small and protected.




Love never travels alone. Its constant companions are fear, resentment, and hate.

Love demands the partial surrender of personal autonomy, limitations on freedoms and on the repertory of one's choices, and constant compromising. These provoke both resentment and fear of handing so much power to another person.

Pain aversion and abandonment and separation anxieties as well as object impermanence (inconstancy) and fear of intimacy (dysfunctional attachment styles) all play crucial roles in amplifying the dread of becoming dependent on someone else for critical psychological functions, the regulation of emotions, moods, and affect, and the maintenance of one's overall wellbeing.

If the partner is narcissistic or psychopathic, lacks empathy and acts with callous and selfish disregard, these mixed feelings coalesce over time into hatred.


Love and rage are twin emotions: the one ineluctably evokes the other. True and profound love, being irresistible and intractable, implies a modicum of helplessness and even hopelessness. This background frustration invariably results in aggression.
As a relationship progresses, rage gains the upper hand: betrayals, big and small, as well as narcissistic injuries, conspire against the powers of love to forgive and reframe.

The only antidote to rage is effective and honest communication. Alas, it is so rare, obstructed as it so frequently is by power plays and emotional blackmail.

Love cannot win this race. It succumbs to bitter, disappointed anger and its numerous transformations. Finally, it is alchemically transmuted into hatred.


There are two types of romantic love: consonant and dissonant.

In consonant love, reality aligns well with perceptions, beliefs, cognitions, and emotions related to the loved one

But what to do when the person you love is dimwitted, ignorant, stingy, bigoted, repellent, asexual, obnoxious, ugly, abusive, deceitful, cheater, narcissistic, exploitative, or otherwise as far from perfect as possible?

If you acknowledge these deficiencies and shortcomings, even only to yourself, you are bound to imperil the relationship. This is where cognitive dissonance kicks in and yields five solutions:

1. You can reframe the relationship and relabel it ("This is not love, it is a mere infatuation or physical attraction");

2. You can undermine the relationship passive-aggressively, thereby putting an end to the dissonance;

3. You can develop and take part in a shared psychosis, thereby deceiving yourself into believing anything about your lover, however implausible;

4. You can displace your ego-dystony (discomfort) or sublimate it: devalue critics of your loved one or engage in activities that take your mind off the conundrum;

5. You can project your good or desired qualities into your loved one and idealise him and then proceed to interact with the idealised figure, not with the real person.




Male vibe is not the same as man vibe.

Some men have problems dating women or getting laid because even when women find them irresistible - they find women excruciatingly boring

The only thing they want to do with a woman is to fuck her. A huge turn off for many women (though not all)

Such men are willing to invest some time to pretend that they are interested in the woman, to woo and to court her - but not too much. They want to get to business ASAP.

Women feel that they do not interest these men and that all these men want is to fuck them.

So, they do not get the "MAN vibe" from these men - only the "MALE vibe"

Most men ARE interested in women, love to spend time with them, get to know them, talk to them, have a good time with them, and so on. Most men find women fascinating and love their company. This is the MAN vibe.

The "MALE vibe" men are different. If they cannot fuck the woman or are not sexually attracted - they lose all interest and would never spend even one additional minute with her. They make women feel objectified and dehumanized. They come across as dishonest and painfully rejecting.




Our psychosexuality is founded on personal narratives that in actual romantic interactions and especially in sex, translate into role plays.

As the name implies, role plays involve archetypal roles which conform to one's self-story: the princess in distress, the knight savior, the nurturing mother, the hapless victim in grave danger, the obedient violated daughter, the avuncular father figure, and so on.

We are turned on sexually only with a partner who fits the script in appearance and mentally and who collaborates by acting his role. The greater his thespian skills, verbal agility, imagination, and creativity - the more heightened and addictive the sexual gratification

In rare cases, some people harbor two equipotent and mutually exclusive narratives (for example: whore and mother, victim and in control). This generates extreme dissonance every time the individual falls in love or gets infatuated or sexually attracted.

The aim in therapy is to integrate the two narratives and fuse them seamlessly. This is done by creating, with the patient's active participation, an overarching meta narrative that comprises crucial but non-contradictory elements of both erstwhile opposing tales.




Everyone needs to be loved. But some people convince themselves that they are not lovable, that they can never be truly loved and accepted once they are better known within a growing intimacy. They tell themselves that they are vile, or somehow deformed, or inferior.

To make up for this inherent deficiency, to render themselves desirable and tolerated, if not loved, such people flaunt their accomplishments, colorful history, possessions, wealth, power, sexuality, prospects, or connections. It is a form of displacement: if you cannot love me for who I am - at least adore and admire me for what I have, what I do, what I did, who I know ("namedropping"), and where I am.


Also Read

The Inverted Narcissist

The Myth of Mental Illness

Sex or Gender

The Narcissist's Family

The Roots of Pedophilia

The Natural Roots of Sexuality

Parenting - The Irrational Vocation

Ethical Relativism and Absolute Taboos

The Offspring of Aeolus: On the Incest Taboo

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