Malignant Self Love
5 Revised Impression
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.
The Author is NOT a Mental Health Professional. The Author is certified in Counselling Techniques.
Editing and Design:
A Narcissus Publications Imprint Prague & Skopje 2003
© 1999, 2001, 2003 Copyright Lidija Rangelovska All rights reserved. This book, or any part thereof, may not be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from: Lidija Rangelovska – write to: email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org All rights for this book are for sale. Literary agents and publishers, please contact Lidija Rangelovska. To get FREE updates of this book JOIN the Narcissism Study List. To JOIN, visit our Web sites: http://www.geocities.com/vaksam/narclist.html or http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/narclist.html or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse Visit the Author's Web site: http://samvak.tripod.com Buy other books about pathological narcissism and relationships with abusive narcissists here: http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/thebook.html
ISBN: 9989-929-06-8 Print ISBN: 80-238-3384-7 Created by: Lidija Rangelovska, Skopje REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
Foreword Introduction – The Habitual Identity The Narcissistic Personality Disorder A Primer on Narcissism Bibliography Overview Chapter I: Chapter II: Chapter III: Chapter IV: Chapter V: Chapter VI: The Soul of a Narcissist – The State of the Art Being Special Uniqueness and Intimacy The Workings of a Narcissist – A Phenomenology The Tortured Self (The Inner World of the Narcissist) The Emotional Involvement Preventive Measures
Frequently Asked Questions Narcissism – The Disorder FAQ # 1: FAQ # 2: FAQ # 3: FAQ # 4: FAQ # 5: FAQ # 6: FAQ # 7: FAQ # 8: FAQ # 9: FAQ # 10: FAQ # 11: FAQ # 12: FAQ # 13: FAQ # 14: An Overview of the Narcissist Pathological Narcissism – A Dysfunction or a Blessing? The Energy of Self Self-Love and Narcissism Self-Defeating and Self-Destructive Behaviours Ideas of Reference Grandiose Fantasies Grandiosity Hangover and Narcissist Baiting Depression and the Narcissist Narcissistic Rage (Anger as a Source of Personality Disorder) Gender and the Narcissist Homosexual Narcissist Addiction to Fame and Celebrity Conspicuous Existence
FAQ # 15: The Narcissist's Reaction to Deficient Narcissistic Supply FAQ # 16: The Delusional Way Out FAQ # 17: The Compulsive Acts of the Narcissist FAQ # 18: Narcissistic Routines FAQ # 19: The Unstable Narcissist FAQ # 20: Do Narcissists Have Emotions? FAQ # 21: The Inappropriate Affect FAQ # 22: The Cynical Narcissist FAQ # 23: The Narcissist as a Sadist FAQ # 24: Other People's Pain FAQ # 25: The Psychology of Torture FAQ # 26: Multiple Grandiosity FAQ # 27: False Modesty FAQ # 28: Warped Reality and Retroactive Emotional Content FAQ # 29: Narcissistic Signal, Stimulus and Hibernation MiniCycles FAQ # 30: The Narcissistic Pendulum and the Pathological Narcissistic Space FAQ # 31: The Inanimate as a Source of Narcissistic Supply (Narcissistic Branding and Narcissistic Contagion) FAQ # 32: The Dual Role of the False Self FAQ # 33: The Stripped Ego FAQ # 34: The Split-off Ego FAQ # 35: The Serious Narcissist FAQ # 36: Narcissists, Disagreements and Criticism FAQ # 37: Transformations of Aggression FAQ # 38: Narcissistic Humiliation FAQ # 39: The Midlife Narcissist FAQ # 40: To Age with Grace FAQ # 41: The Narcissist and Introspection FAQ # 42: The Losses of the Narcissist FAQ # 43: Getting Better FAQ # 44: Can a Narcissist Help Himself? FAQ # 45: Reconditioning the Narcissist FAQ # 46: Treatment Modalities and Therapies FAQ # 47: Narcissistic Mirroring FAQ # 48: The Development of the Narcissist FAQ # 49: The Narcissist's Mother FAQ # 50: The Inverted Narcissist FAQ # 51: Narcissists, Inverted Narcissists and Schizoids FAQ # 52: Narcissists and Chemical Imbalances FAQ # 53: Myths about Narcissism FAQ # 54: The Selfish Gene
(The Genetic Underpinnings of Narcissism) FAQ # 55: Narcissism – The Psychopathological Default FAQ # 56: Narcissism, Other Mental Health Disorders, Substance Abuse, and Reckless Behaviours (Co-Morbidity and Dual Diagnosis) FAQ # 57: Eating Disorders and the Narcissist FAQ # 58: Can the Narcissist Have a Meaningful Life? FAQ # 59: A Case Study FAQ # 60: The Narcissist's Reactions to This Text Narcissism and Society FAQ # 61: FAQ # 62: FAQ # 63: FAQ # 64: FAQ # 65: FAQ # 66: FAQ # 67: FAQ # 68: FAQ # 69: FAQ # 70: FAQ # 71: FAQ # 72: FAQ # 73: FAQ # 74: FAQ # 75: FAQ # 76: FAQ # 77: FAQ # 78: FAQ # 79: FAQ # 80: FAQ # 81: FAQ # 82: FAQ # 83: FAQ # 84: FAQ # 85: FAQ # 86: FAQ # 87: FAQ # 88: FAQ # 89: A Dream Interpreted How to Recognise a Narcissist? Interacting with a Narcissist The Weapon of Language Exploitation by a Narcissist The Narcissist's Victims Narcissism by Proxy Facilitating Narcissism Narcissists in Positions of Authority For the Love of God The Narcissist and Social Institutions Collective Narcissism (Narcissism, Culture and Society) The Narcissist in Court The Narcissist in a Workplace Responsibility and Other Matters The Accountable Narcissist Crime and Punishment: The Never Repenting Narcissist Narcissists, Group Behaviour and Terrorism Is the Narcissist Ever Sorry? A Letter about Trust Traumas as Social Interactions The Guilt of Others Narcissistic Confinement Narcissistic Allocation Narcissistic Immunity Narcissists, Love and Healing Vindictive Narcissists Narcissists as Mass and Serial Killers Narcissists, Narcissistic Supply and Sources of Supply
Narcissists and Family FAQ # 90: How to Cope with a Narcissist? FAQ # 91: Narcissists and Women
FAQ # 92: The Spouse/Mate/Partner of the Narcissist FAQ # 93: Investing in a Narcissist FAQ # 94: The Double Reflection (Narcissistic Couples and Narcissistic Types) FAQ # 95: Narcissistic Parents FAQ # 96: Narcissists and Children FAQ # 97: The Narcissist and His Family FAQ # 98: Narcissists, Sex and Fidelity FAQ # 99: The Extra-Marital Narcissist FAQ # 100: Mourning the Narcissist FAQ # 101: Surviving the Narcissist FAQ # 102: The Dead Parents Guide to Coping with Your Abuser The Author
Online index Go here: http://samvak.tripod.com/siteindex.html
Hello. Recognise me? No? Well, you see me all the time. You read my books, watch me on the big screen, feast on my art, cheer at my games, use my inventions, vote me into office, follow me into battle, take notes at my lectures, laugh at my jokes, marvel at my successes, admire my appearance, listen to my stories, discuss my politics, enjoy my music, excuse my faults, envy me my blessings. No? Still doesn't ring a bell? Well, you have seen me. Of that I am positive. In fact, if there is one thing I am absolutely sure of, it is that. You have seen me. Perhaps our paths crossed more privately. Perhaps I am the one who came along and built you up when you were down, employed you when you were out of a job, showed the way when you were lost, offered confidence when you were doubting, made you laugh when you were blue, sparked your interest when you were bored, listened to you and understood, saw you for what you really are, felt your pain and found the answers, made you want to be alive. Of course you recognise me. I am your inspiration, your role model, your saviour, your leader, your best friend, the one you aspire to emulate, the one whose favour makes you glow. But I can also be your worst nightmare. First I build you up because that's what you need. Your skies are blue. Then, out of the blue, I start tearing you down. You let me do it because that's what you are used to and you are dumfounded. I was wrong to take pity on you. You really are incompetent, disrespectful, untrustworthy, immoral, ignorant, inept, egotistical, constrained, disgusting. You are a social embarrassment, an unappreciative partner, an inadequate parent, a disappointment, a sexual flop, a financial liability. I tell you this to your face. I must. It is my right, because it is. I behave, at home and away, any way I want to, with total disregard for conventions, mores, or the feelings of others. It is my right, because it is.
I lie to your face, without a twitch or a twitter, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. In fact, my lies are not lies at all. They are the truth, my truth. And you believe them, because you do, because they do not sound or feel like lies, because to do otherwise would make you question your own sanity, which you have a tendency to do anyway, because from the very beginning of our relationship you placed your trust and hopes in me, derived your energy from me, gave me power over you. Run to our friends. Go. See what that will get you. Ridicule. I am to them what I originally was to you. They believe what they see and that's what they see, and they also see the very mixed up person that you obviously have become. The more you plead for understanding, the more convinced they will be that you are crazy, the more isolated you will feel, and the harder you will try to make things right again, by accepting my criticisms and by striving to improve yourself. Could it be that you were wrong about me in the beginning? So wrong as that? Not an easy pill to swallow, is it? How do you think our friends will react if you try to cram it down their throats? After all, it really is you who have thwarted my progress, tainted my reputation, thrown me off course. There is an escape from the frustrations you cause me and, fortunately, my reputation provides enough insulation from the outside world so I can indulge in this escape with impunity. What escape? Those eruptions of anger you dread and fear, my rages. Ah, it feels so good to rage. It is the expression of and the confirmation of my power over you. Lying feels good too, for the same reason, but nothing compares to the pleasure of exploding for no material reason and venting my anger like a lunatic, all the time a spectator at my own show and seeing your helplessness, pain, fear, frustration, and dependence. Go ahead. Tell our friends about it. See if they can imagine it, let alone believe it. The more outrageous your account of what happened, the more convinced they will be that the crazy one is you. And don't expect much more from your therapist either. Surely it is easier to live my lie and see where that takes you. You might even acquire some of the behaviour you find so objectionable in me. But you know what? This may come as a surprise, but I can also be my own worst nightmare. I can and I am. You see, at heart my life is nothing more than illusion-clad confusion. I have no idea why I do what I do, nor do I care to find out. In fact, the mere notion of asking the question is so repulsive to me that I employ all of my resources to repel it.
I reconstruct facts, fabricate illusions, act them out, and thus create my own reality. It is a precarious state of existence indeed, so I am careful to include enough demonstrable truth in my illusions to ensure their credibility. And I am forever testing that credibility against the reactions of others. Fortunately my real attributes and accomplishments are in sufficient abundance to fuel my illusions seemingly forever. And modern society, blessed/cursed modern society, values most what I do best and thus serves as my accomplice. Even I get lost in my own illusions, swept away by their magic. So, not to worry if you still do not recognise me. I don't recognise me either. In fact, I regard myself as like everyone else, only perhaps a little better. Put another way, I end up thinking that everyone else is like me, only not quite as good. After all, that's what the universe is telling me. Ah, there's the rub. THE universe or MY universe? As long as the magic of my illusions works on me too, the distinction is immaterial. Hence my need for a fan club. And I am constantly taking fan club inventory, testing the loyalty of present members with challenges of abuse, writing off defectors with total indifference, and scouting the landscape for new recruits. Do you see my dilemma? I use people who are dependent on me to keep my illusions alive. In actuality it is I who am dependent on them. Even the rage, that orgasmic release of pain and anger, doesn't work without an audience. On some level I am aware of my illusions, but to admit that would spoil the magic. And that I couldn't bear. So I proclaim that what I do is of no consequence and no different from what others do, and thus I create an illusion about my creating illusions. So, no, I don't recognise me any better than you do. I wouldn't dare. I need the magic. For the same reason I also fail to recognise others who behave as I do. In fact, they sometimes recruit me into their fan clubs. As long as we feed off of each other, who's the worse for wear? It only confirms my illusion about my illusions: that I am no different from most other people, just a bit better. But I AM different and we both know it. Therein lies the root of my hostility. I tear you down because in reality I am envious of you BECAUSE I am different. At that haunting level where I see my illusions for what they are, the illusion that you too create illusions collapses, leaving me in a state of despair, confusion, panic, isolation, and envy. You, and others, accuse me of all sorts of horrible things.
I am totally baffled, clueless. I have done nothing wrong. The injustice is too much. It only makes the confusion worse. Or is this too merely another illusion? How many others like me are there? More than you might think, and our numbers are increasing. Take twenty people off the street and you will find one whose mind ticks so much like mine that you could consider us clones. Impossible, you say. It is simply not possible for that many people – highly accomplished, respected, and visible people – to be out there replacing reality with illusions, each in the same way and for reasons they know not why. It is simply not possible for so many robots of havoc and chaos, as I describe them, to function daily midst other educated, intelligent, and experienced individuals, and pass for normal. It is simply not possible for such an aberration of human cognition and behaviour to infiltrate and infect the population in such numbers, virtually undetected by the radar of mental health professionals. It is simply not possible for so much visible positive to contain so much concealed negative. It is simply not possible. But it is. That is the enlightenment of Narcissism Revisited by Sam Vaknin. Sam is himself one such clone. What distinguishes him is his uncharacteristic courage to confront, and his uncanny understanding of, that which makes us tick, himself included. Not only does Sam dare ask and then answer the question we clones avoid like the plague, he does so with relentless, laser-like precision. Read his book. Take your seat at the double-headed microscope and let Sam guide you through the dissection. Like a brain surgeon operating on himself, Sam explores and exposes the alien among us, hoping beyond hope for a respectable tumour but finding instead each and every cell teaming with the same resistant virus. The operation is long and tedious, and at times frightening and hard to believe. Read on. The parts exposed are as they are, despite what may seem hyperbolic or far-fetched. Their validity might not hit home until later, when coupled with memories of past events and experiences.
I am, as I said, my own worst nightmare. True, the world is replete with my contributions, and I am lots of fun to be around. And true, most contributions like mine are not the result of troubled souls. But many more than you might want to believe are. And if by chance you get caught in my Web, I can make your life a living hell. But remember this. I am in that Web too. The difference between you and me is that you can get out. Ken Heilbrunn, M.D. Seattle, Washington, USA Return
The Habitual Identity
Warning and Disclaimer
The contents of this book are not meant to substitute for professional help and counselling. The readers are discouraged from using it for diagnostic or therapeutic ends. The diagnosis and treatment of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder can only be done by professionals specifically trained and qualified to do so – which the author is not. The author is NOT a mental health professional, though he is certified in Mental Health Counselling Techniques.
In a famous experiment, students were asked to take a lemon home and to grow used to it. Three days later, they were able to single out "their" lemon from a pile of rather similar ones. They seemed to have bonded. Is this the true meaning of love, bonding, coupling? Do we simply get used to other human beings, pets, or objects? Habit forming in humans is reflexive. We change ourselves and our environment in order to attain maximum comfort and well-being. It is the effort that goes into these adaptive processes that forms a habit. Habits are intended to prevent us from constant experimentation and risk taking. The greater our well-being, the better we function and the longer we survive. Actually, when we get used to something or to someone – we really get used to ourselves. In our habits we see our history, all the time and effort invested. Habits are encapsulated versions of our acts, intentions, emotions and reactions. They are mirrors reflecting back that part in us that formed the habit.
Hence, the feeling of comfort: we really feel comfortable with our own selves when we feel comfortable with our habits. Because of this, we tend to confuse habits with identity. When asked WHO they are, most people resort to describing their habits. They relate to us their work, their loved ones, their pets, their hobbies, or their material possessions. Yet, all of these do not constitute an identity. Their removal does not change one's identity. They are habits and they make the respondent comfortable and relaxed. But they are not part of his identity in the truest, deepest sense. Still, it is this simple mechanism of deception that binds people together. A mother feels that her offspring are part of her identity because she is so used to them that her well-being depends on their existence and availability. Thus, any threat to her children is interpreted by a mother as a threat to her person. Her reaction is, therefore, strong and enduring and can be recurrently elicited. The truth, of course, is that children ARE a part of their mother's identity in a superficial manner. Removing them would make her a different person, but only in the shallow, phenomenological sense of the word. Her deep-set, true identity is unlikely to change as a result. But what is this kernel of identity that I am referring to? This immutable entity which is the definition of who we are and what we are and which, ostensibly, is not influenced by the death of our loved ones? What is so strong as to resist the breaking of habits that die-hard? It is our personality. This elusive, loosely interconnected, interacting, pattern of reactions to our changing environment. Like the mind, it is difficult to define or to capture. Like the soul, many believe that it does not exist, that it is a fictitious convention. Yet, we know that we do have a personality. We feel it, we experience it. It sometimes encourages us to do things – or prevents us from doing them. It can be supple or rigid, benign or malignant, open or closed. Its power lies in its looseness. It is able to combine, recombine and permutate in hundreds of unforeseeable ways. It metamorphoses and the constancy of its rate and kind of change is what gives us a sense of identity. Actually, when the personality is rigid to the point of being unable to change in reaction to changing circumstances – we say that it is disordered. A personality disorder is the ultimate misidentification.
The individual mistakes his habits for his identity. He identifies himself with his environment, taking behavioural, emotional, and cognitive cues exclusively from it. His inner world is, so to speak, vacated, inhabited, as it were, by the apparition of his True Self. Such a person is incapable of loving and of living. The personality disordered sees no distinction between his self and his habits. He IS his habits and, therefore, by definition, can only rarely and with an incredible amount of exertion, change them. And, in the longterm, he is incapable of living because life is a struggle TOWARDS, a striving, a drive AT something. In other words: life is change. He who cannot change is not really alive. "Malignant Self-Love – Narcissism Revisited" was written under extreme conditions of duress. It was composed in jail as I was trying to understand what had hit me. My nine years old marriage dissolved, my finances were in a shocking condition, my family estranged, my reputation ruined, my personal freedom severely curtailed. Slowly, the realisation that it was all my fault, that I was sick and needed help penetrated the decades old defences that I erected around me. This book is the documentation of a road of self-discovery. It was a painful process, which led to nowhere. I am no different – and no healthier – today than I was when I wrote this book. My disorder is here to stay, the prognosis is poor and alarming. The narcissist is an actor in a monodrama, yet forced to remain behind the scenes. The scenes take centre stage, instead. The narcissist does not cater at all to his own needs. Contrary to his reputation, the narcissist does not "love" himself in any true sense of this loaded word. He feeds off other people, who hurl back at him an image that he projects to them. This is their sole function in his world: to reflect, to admire, to applaud, to detest – in a word, to assure him that he exists. Otherwise, they have no right to tax his time, energy, or emotions – so he feels. To borrow Freud's trilateral model, the narcissist's Ego is weak, disorganised and lacks clear boundaries. Many of the Ego functions are projected. The Superego is sadistic and punishing. The Id is unrestrained. Primary Objects in the narcissist's childhood were badly idealised and internalised. His object relations are distraught and destroyed.