Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisitedby Sam Vaknin
Are YOU Abused? Stalked? Harassed? Victimized? Confused and Frightened? Were you brought up by a Narcissistic or Psychopathic Parent? Married to a Narcissist or a Psychopath - or Divorcing One? Afraid your children will turn out to be narcissists or psychopaths? Want to cope with this pernicious, baffling condition?
OR: Are You a Narcissist
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You are not alone!
Are YOU Abused? Stalked? Harassed? Victimized? Confused and Frightened? Were you brought up by a Narcissistic or Psychopathic Parent? Married to a Narcissist or a Psychopath - or Divorcing One? Afraid your children will turn out to be narcissists or psychopaths? Want to cope with this pernicious, baffling condition?
OR: Are You a Narcissist or a Psychopath - or suspect that You may be one ...
This book will teach you how to Cope, Survive, and Protect Your Loved Ones!
"Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited" is based on correspondence since 1996 with hundreds of people diagnosed with Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorders (narcissists and psychopaths) and with thousands of their suffering family members, friends, therapists, and colleagues.
The first ever book about narcissistic abuse, Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Re-Visited offers a detailed, first hand account of what it is like to have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It contains new insights and an organized methodological framework. The first part of the book comprises more than 100 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding relationships with abusive narcissists and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
What is a personality disorder? When the personality is rigid to the point of being unable to change in reaction to changing circumstances - we say that it is disordered. Such a person takes behavioral, emotional, and cognitive cues exclusively from others. His inner world is, so to speak, vacated. His True Self is dilapidated and dysfunctional. Instead he has a tyrannical and delusional False Self. Such a person is incapable of loving and of living. He cannot love others because he cannot love himself. He loves his reflection, his surrogate self. And 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 cannot live.
The narcissist is an actor in a monodrama, yet forced to remain behind the scenes. The scenes take center 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 the 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, the narcissist feels, they have no right to tax his time, energy, or emotions.
The posting of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Re-Visited on the Web has elicited a flood of excited, sad and heart rending responses, mostly from victims of Narcissists but also from people suffering from the NPD. This is a true picture of the resulting correspondence with them.
This book is not intended to please or to entertain. NPD is a pernicious, vile and tortuous disease, which affects not only the Narcissist. It infects and forever changes people who are in daily contact with the Narcissist. In other words: it is contagious. It is my contention that Narcissism is the mental epidemic of the twentieth century, a plague to be fought by all means.
This tome is my contribution to minimizing the damages of this disorder.
Sc.D., M.D. ,Mount Sinai Hospital, New York Author of "Towards Self and Sanity - On the Genetic Origins of the Human Character"
With his life in shambles, Vaknin attempted to understand the disorder that had come to define his existence. The result of this painful self-scrutiny and research was Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited (Narcissus Publications), an essential text on the subject of narcissism and a consistent top-seller at the Barnes & Noble website.
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Question: What kind of a spouse/mate/partner is likely to be attracted to a narcissist?
On the face of it, there is no (emotional) partner or mate, who typically "binds" with a narcissist. They come in all shapes and sizes. The initial phases of attraction, infatuation and falling in love are pretty normal. The narcissist puts on his best face the other party is blinded by budding love. A natural selection process occurs only much later, as the relationship develops and is put to the test.
Living with a narcissist can be exhilarating, is always onerous, often harrowing. Surviving a relationship with a narcissist indicates, therefore, the parameters of the personality of the survivor. She (or, more rarely, he) is moulded by the relationship into The Typical Narcissistic Mate/Partner/Spouse.
First and foremost, the narcissist's partner must have a deficient or a distorted grasp of her self and of reality. Otherwise, she (or he) is bound to abandon the narcissist's ship early on. The cognitive distortion is likely to consist of belittling and demeaning herself while aggrandising and adoring the narcissist. The partner is, thus, placing himself in the position of the eternal victim: undeserving, punishable, a scapegoat. Sometimes, it is very important to the partner to appear moral, sacrificial and victimised. At other times, she is not even aware of this predicament. The narcissist is perceived by the partner to be a person in the position to demand these sacrifices from her partner, being superior in many ways (intellectually, emotionally, morally, financially).
The status of professional victim sits well with the partner's tendency to punish herself, namely: with her masochistic streak. The tormented life with the narcissist is, as far as the partner is aware, a just punitive measure.
In this respect, the partner is the mirror image of the narcissist. By maintaining a symbiotic relationship with him, by being totally dependent upon the source of masochistic supply (which the narcissist most reliably constitutes and most amply provides) the partner enhances certain traits and encourages certain behaviours, which are at the very core of narcissism.
The narcissist is never whole without an adoring, submissive, available, self-denigrating partner. His very sense of superiority, indeed his False Self, depends on it. His sadistic Superego switches its attentions from the narcissist (in whom it often provokes suicidal ideation) to the partner, thus finally obtaining an alternative source of sadistic satisfaction.
It is through self-denial that the partner survives. She denies her wishes, hopes, dreams, aspirations, sexual, psychological and material needs, and much else besides. She perceives her needs as threatening because they might engender the wrath of the narcissist's God-like supreme figure. The narcissist is rendered in her eyes even more superior through and because of this self-denial. Self-denial undertaken to facilitate and ease the life of a "great man" is more palatable. The "greater" the man (=the narcissist), the easier it is for the partner to ignore her own self, to dwindle, to degenerate, to turn into an appendix of the narcissist and, finally, to become nothing but an extension, to merge with the narcissist to the point of oblivion and of dim memories of one's self.
The two collaborate in this macabre dance. The narcissist is formed by his partner inasmuch as he forms her. Submission breeds superiority and masochism breeds sadism. The relationships are characterised by rampant emergentism: roles are allocated almost from the start and any deviation meets with an aggressive, even violent reaction.
The predominant state of the partner's mind is utter confusion. Even the most basic relationships with husband, children, or parents remain bafflingly obscured by the giant shadow cast by the intensive interaction with the narcissist. A suspension of judgement is part and parcel of a suspension of individuality, which is both a prerequisite to and the result of living with a narcissist. The partner no longer knows what is true and right and what is wrong and forbidden.
The narcissist recreates for the partner the sort of emotional ambience that led to his own formation in the first place: capriciousness, fickleness, arbitrariness, emotional (and physical or sexual) abandonment. The world becomes uncertain and frightening and the partner has only one thing to cling to: the narcissist.
And cling she does. If there is anything which can safely be said about those who emotionally team up with narcissists, it is that they are overtly and overly dependent.
The partner doesn't know what to do and this is only too natural in the mayhem that is the relationship with the narcissist. But the typical partner also does not know what she wants and, to a large extent, who she is and what she wants to become.
These unanswered questions hamper the partner's ability to gauge reality, evaluate and appraise it for what it is. Her primordial sin is that she fell in love with an image, not with a real person. It is the voiding of the image that is mourned when the relationship ends.
The break-up of a relationship with a narcissist is, therefore, very emotionally charged. It is the culmination of a long chain of humiliations and of subjugation. It is the rebellion of the functioning and healthy parts of the partner's personality against the tyranny of the narcissist.
The partner is liable to have totally misread and misinterpreted the whole interaction (I hesitate to call it a relationship). This lack of proper interface with reality might be (erroneously) labelled "pathological".
Why is it that the partner seeks to prolong her pain? What is the source and purpose of this masochistic streak? Upon the break-up of the relationship, the partner (and the narcissist) engage in a tortuous and drawn out post mortem. But the question who really did what to whom (and even why) is irrelevant. What is relevant is to stop mourning oneself (this is what the parties are really mourning), start smiling again and love in a less subservient, hopeless, and pain-inflicting manner.
Abuse is an integral, inseparable part of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
The narcissist idealises and then DEVALUES and discards the object of his initial idealisation. This abrupt, heartless devaluation IS abuse. ALL narcissists idealise and then devalue. This is THE core of narcissistic behaviour. The narcissist exploits, lies, insults, demeans, ignores (the "silent treatment"), manipulates, controls. All these are forms of abuse.
There are a million ways to abuse. To love too much is to abuse. It is tantamount to treating someone as one's extension, an object, or an instrument of gratification. To be over-protective, not to respect privacy, to be brutally honest, with a morbid sense of humour, or consistently tactless is to abuse. To expect too much, to denigrate, to ignore are all modes of abuse. There is physical abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse. The list is long.
Narcissists are masters of abusing surreptitiously. They are "stealth abusers". You have to actually live with one in order to witness the abuse.
There are three important categories of abuse:
1. Overt Abuse The open and explicit abuse of another person. Threatening, coercing, beating, lying, berating, demeaning, chastising, insulting, humiliating, exploiting, ignoring ("silent treatment"), devaluing, unceremoniously discarding, verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse are all forms of overt abuse.
2. Covert or Controlling Abuse Narcissism is almost entirely about control. It is a primitive and immature reaction to the circumstances of a llife in which the narcissist (usually in his childhood) was rendered helpless. It is about re-asserting one's identity, re-establishing predictability, mastering the environment human and physical.
3. The bulk of narcissistic behaviours can be traced to this panicky reaction to the remote potential for loss of control. Narcissists are hypochondriacs (and difficult patients) because they are afraid to lose control over their body, its looks and its proper functioning. They are obsessive-compulsive in their efforts to subdue their physical habitat and render it foreseeable. They stalk people and harass them as a means of "being in touch" another form of narcissistic control.
But why the panic?
The narcissist is a solipsist. To him, nothing exists except himself. Meaningful others are his extensions, assimilated by him, internal objects not external ones. Thus, losing control of a significant other is equivalent losing the use of a limb, or of one's brain. It is terrifying.
Independent or disobedient people evoke in the narcissist the realisation that something is wrong with his worldview, that he is not the centre of the world or its cause and that he cannot control what, to him, are internal representations.
To the narcissist, losing control means going insane. Because other people are mere elements in the narcissist's mind being unable to manipulate them literally means losing it (his mind). Imagine, if you suddenly were to find out that you cannot manipulate your memories or control your thoughts... Nightmarish!
Moreover, it is often only through manipulation and extortion that the narcissist can secure his Narcissistic Supply. Controlling his Sources of Narcissistic Supply is a (mental) life or death question for the narcissist. The narcissist is a drug addict (his drug being the NS) and he would go to any length to obtain the next dose.
In his frantic efforts to maintain control or re-assert it, the narcissist resorts to a myriad of fiendishly inventive stratagems and mechanisms. Here is a partial list:
The narcissist acts unpredictably, capriciously, inconsistently and irrationally. This serves to demolish in others their carefully crafted worldview. They become dependent upon the next twist and turn of the narcissist, his inexplicable whims, his outbursts, denial, or smiles. In other words: the narcissist makes sure that HE is the only stable entity in the lives of others by shattering the rest of their world through his seemingly insane behaviour. He guarantees his presence in their lives by destabilising them.
In the absence of a self, there are no likes or dislikes, preferences, predictable behaviour or characteristics. It is not possible to know the narcissist. There is no one there.
The narcissist was conditioned from an early age of abuse and trauma to expect the unexpected. His was a world in which (sometimes sadistic) capricious caretakers and peers often behaved arbitrarily. He was trained to deny his True Self and nurture a False one.
Having invented himself, the narcissist sees no problem in re-inventing that which he designed in the first place. The narcissist is his own creator.
Hence his grandiosity.
Moreover, the narcissist is a man for all seasons, forever adaptable, constantly imitating and emulating, a human sponge, a perfect mirror, a chameleon, a non-entity that is, at the same time, all entities combined. The narcissist is best described by Heidegger's phrase: "Being and Nothingness". Into this reflective vacuum, this sucking black hole, the narcissist attracts the Sources of his Narcissistic Supply.
To an observer, the narcissist appears to be fractured or discontinuous.
Pathological narcissism has been compared to the Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly the Multiple Personality Disorder). By definition, the narcissist has at least two selves, the True and False ones. His personality is very primitive and disorganised. Living with a narcissist is a nauseating experience not only because of what he is but because of what he is NOT. He is not a fully formed human but a dizzyingly kaleidoscopic gallery of ephemeral images, which melt into each other seamlessly. It is incredibly disorienting.
It is also exceedingly problematic. Promises made by the narcissist are easily disowned by him. His plans are transient. His emotional ties a simulacrum. Most narcissists have one island of stability in their life (spouse, family, their career, a hobby, their religion, country, or idol) pounded by the turbulent currents of a dishevelled existence.
The narcissist does not keep agreements, does not adhere to laws, regards consistency and predictability as demeaning traits.
Thus, to invest in a narcissist is a purposeless, futile and meaningless activity. To the narcissist, every day is a new beginning, a hunt, a new cycle of idealisation or devaluation, a newly invented self. There is no accumulation of credits or goodwill because the narcissist has no past and no future. He occupies an eternal and timeless present. He is a fossil caught in the frozen ashes of a volcanic childhood.
What to do?
Refuse to accept such behaviour. Demand reasonably predictable and rational actions and reactions. Insist on respect for your boundaries, predilections, preferences, and priorities.
One of the favourite tools of manipulation in the narcissist's arsenal is the disproportionality of his reactions. He reacts with supreme rage to the slightest slight. He punishes severely for what he perceives to be an offence against him, no matter how minor. He throws a temper tantrum over any discord or disagreement, however gently and considerately expressed. Or he may act attentive, charming and tempting (even over-sexed, if need be). This ever-shifting code of conduct coupled with an inordinately harsh and arbitrarily applied "penal code" are both promulgated by the narcissist. Neediness and dependence on the source of all justice meted on the narcissist are thus guaranteed.
What to do?
Demand a just and proportional treatment. Reject or ignore unjust and capricious behaviour.
If you are up to the inevitable confrontation, react in kind. Let him taste some of his own medicine.
Dehumanisation and Objectification
People have a need to believe in the empathic skills and basic good-heartedness of others. By dehumanising and objectifying people the narcissist attacks the very foundations of the social treaty. This is the "alien" aspect of narcissists they may be excellent imitations of fully formed adults but they are emotionally non-existent, or, at best, immature.
This is so horrid, so repulsive, so phantasmagoric that people recoil in terror. It is then, with their defences absolutely down, that they are the most susceptible and vulnerable to the narcissist's control. Physical, psychological, verbal and sexual abuse are all forms of dehumanisation and objectification.
What to do?
Never show your abuser that you are afraid of him. Do not negotiate with bullies. They are insatiable. Do not succumb to blackmail.
If things get rough- disengage, involve law enforcement officers, friends and colleagues, or threaten him (legally).
Do not keep your abuse a secret. Secrecy is the abuser's weapon.
Never give him a second chance. React with your full arsenal to the first transgression.
Abuse of Information
From the first moments of an encounter with another person, the narcissist is on the prowl. He collects information with the intention of applying it later to extract Narcissistic Supply. The more he knows about his potential Source of Supply the better able he is to coerce, manipulate, charm, extort or convert it "to the cause". The narcissist does not hesitate to abuse the information he gleaned, regardless of its intimate nature or the circumstances in which he obtained it. This is a powerful tool in his armoury.
What to do?
Be guarded. Don't be too forthcoming in a first or casual meeting. Gather intelligence.
Be yourself. Don't misrepresent your wishes, boundaries, preferences, priorities, and red lines.
Do not behave inconsistently. Do not go back on your word. Be firm and resolute.
The narcissist engineers impossible, dangerous, unpredictable, unprecedented, or highly specific situations in which he is sorely and indispensably needed. The narcissist, his knowledge, his skills or his traits become the only ones applicable, or the most useful to coping with these artificial predicaments. It is a form of control by proxy.
What to do?
Stay away from such quagmires. Scrutinise every offer and suggestion, no matter how innocuous.
Prepare backup plans. Keep others informed of your whereabouts and appraised of your situation.
Be vigilant and doubting. Do not be gullible and suggestible. Better safe than sorry.
Control by Proxy
If all else fails, the narcissist recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, or the media in short, third parties to do his bidding. He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.
Another form of control by proxy is to engineer situations in which abuse is inflicted upon another person. Such carefully crafted scenarios involve embarrassment and humiliation as well as social sanctions (condemnation, opprobrium, or even physical punishment). Society, or a social group become the instruments of the narcissist.
What to do?
Often the abuser's proxies re unaware of their role. Expose him. Inform them. Demonstrate to them how they are being abused, misused, and plain used by the abuser.
Trap your abuser. Treat him as he treats you. Involve others. Bring it into the open. Nothing like sunshine to disinfest abuse.
The fostering, propagation and enhancement of an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, instability, unpredictability and irritation. There are no acts of traceable or provable explicit abuse, nor any manipulative settings of control. Yet, the irksome feeling remains, a disagreeable foreboding, a premonition, a bad omen. This is sometimes called "gaslighting". In the long-term, such an environment erodes one's sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Self-confidence is shaken badly. Often, the victims go a paranoid or schizoid and thus are exposed even more to criticism and judgement. The roles are thus reversed: the victim is considered mentally disordered and the narcissist the suffering soul.
What to do?
Run! Get away! Ambient abuse often develops to overt and violent abuse.
You don't owe anyone an explanation but you owe yourself a life. Bail out.
The Malignant Optimism of the Abused
I often come across sad examples of the powers of self-delusion that the narcissist provokes in his victims. It is what I call "malignant optimism". People refuse to believe that some questions are unsolvable, some diseases incurable, some disasters inevitable. They see a sign of hope in every fluctuation. They read meaning and patterns into every random occurrence, utterance, or slip. They are deceived by their own pressing need to believe in the ultimate victory of good over evil, health over sickness, order over disorder. Life appears otherwise so meaningless, so unjust and so arbitrary...
So, they impose upon it a design, progress, aims, and paths. This is magical thinking.
"If only he tried hard enough", "If he only really wanted to heal", "If only we found the right therapy", "If only his defences were down", "There MUST be something good and worthy under the hideous facade", "NO ONE can be that evil and destructive", "He must have meant it differently", "God, or a higher being, or the spirit, or the soul is the solution and the answer to our prayers".
The Pollyanna defences of the abused against the emerging and horrible understanding that humans are specks of dust in a totally indifferent universe, the playthings of evil and sadistic forces, of which the narcissist is one. And that finally their pain means nothing to anyone but themselves. Nothing whatsoever. It has all been in vain.
The narcissist holds such thinking in barely undisguised contempt. To him, it is a sign of weakness, the scent of prey, a gaping vulnerability. He uses and abuses this human need for order, good, and meaning as he uses and abuses all other human needs. Gullibility, selective blindness, malignant optimism these are the weapons of the beast. And the abused are hard at work to provide it with its arsenal.
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Meet the Author
Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited and other books about the Narcissistic Personality Disorder and relationships with abusive narcissists and psychopaths.
His books are based on correspondence since 1996 with hundreds of people suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (narcissists) and with thousands of their family members, friends, therapists, and colleagues.
Sam is not a mental health professional though he is certified in psychological counseling techniques. He served as the editor of Mental Health Disorders categories in the Open Directory Project and on Mentalhelp.net.
Sam was also the editor of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder topic in Suite101, the moderator of the Narcissistic Abuse List and other abusive relationships mailing, support, and discussion groups (with c. 15000 members).
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Malignant Self Love, Narcissism Revisited, 8th Revised Impression, is even better than previous editions, particularly the way the FAQs are grouped together and structured: It makes for easier reading. I also like the way the Mental Maps are now included in the text, an improvement in my opinion. I have read this book very carefully, also earlier versions, and related articles: Every word in this book is true, every explanation of signs and symptoms, and what makes narcissists tick, is correct and brilliantly demonstrated. If it wasn't so, I would have noticed it: I had been trying to work out what makes 'my' narcissist tick (and many others I know), and now there isn't a single gap in my knowledge, not one single thing I cannot explain. In order not to go mad in the face of ever-changing demands and apparent contradictions, (particularly as 'my' narcissist has multiple personalities, and as due to his schizophrenia it is very difficult to work out subject or object in his speech) I had written detailed diaries, and Sam Vaknin's explanations make complete sense for example, he suggests that one should run for cover, if the narcissist appears 'normal', i.e. warm or considerate, because the next interaction is going to be particularly vicious: Without fail! Having realized that 'my' narcissist's presence was becoming ever more dangerous, I followed Sam's advice and beat him at his own game: I pretended to be unavailable, pretended to be unreliable, I ignored his demands, I made him feel insecure, I demonstrated that I knew about his mind games and was anticipating them, I tried to frighten him with suggestions of what could go wrong in his life, that I would dump him if he didn't behave, how much stress that would cause him, and how he would not be able to pretend he was omniscient or omnipotent any longer. My main concern was for him not to take revenge on me, and so I remained calm, friendly, and pretended I was keen on his company, and would be heart broken without him. It worked like a dream, he removed himself out of my life, and as far as I know he never realized that this is what I had planned (for the moment, anyway), and I have closure, because I know exactly why things happened the way they did. I am very grateful that this book has given me the coping techniques to be stronger than wanting to be with my 'narcissist', however painful this is, and I have recommended this book to other people who need to figure out what makes the narcissists in their life tick - 'ordinary' people as well as psychologists, psychiatrists, and healthcare professionals: This book is easy to understand for those who crave answers. I feel great sadness for a narcissist who cannot enjoy life, but I also feel the rollercoaster life with a narcissist has been an invaluable experience, and has enriched my life. I know I only repeat what others have commented before, that this is the book on the subject, a life saver, a compendium (maybe an index would be handy?), and that Sam Vaknin is the world's expert on this subject. In the unlikely event that 'my' narcissist reads this (he doesn't read things, normally, and Sam explains why!), I feel I should be anonymous, so that he does not take revenge on me.
If you want to know about dancing, ask a dancer. If you want to know about fire, ask a fireman. If you want to know about Narcissism - ask Sam Vaknin. A self described narcissist, Vaknin takes you behind the false self mask into the dark and befuddling world of the narcissist to help the victim understand how these very disturbed individuals REALLY view life, love and relationships. I bought the book after desperately searching for more information on this disorder and coming across excerpts on the internet when I found myself entangled in what felt like a romantic relationship but was actually an elaborate narcissistic fantasy world in which I was unknowingly playing a lead role. As I have learned from reading Sam's book, like most victims of these deceptive, manipulative individuals I couldn't understand why something kept seeming like it was wrong and I just couldn't place my finger on what it was. I was led to believe I had met a true, honest man who was just a little down on his luck but headed for great things. He made me feel like I was a loved and cherished object only to suddenly discard me when he realized I had caught on to his game, had needs of my own and that the relationship was not going to be "all about him" all the time. What's more embarrassing is that I am a therapist so in addition to struggling with getting over my narcissist, I am also struggling with the shame of "I should have known better" and from reading reviews of this book by others I can see I am not the only therapist who's been through this! People afflicted with this disorder are exceptional actors and can fool even those of us who study human behavior for a living so if you are a nurturing type - WATCH OUT because you're exactly who they are looking for! This book has been a Godsend for me and soothes me to sleep at night by helping me remember that I am not the one with the problem - he is - and sadly will not likely get much better even with treatment. The pain of getting over a narcissist is almost indescribable even after you realize what has happened, so avoid them at all costs. I recommend this book highly to the layperson and clinician alike, it explains this disorder from the inside out and will likely answer every question you will have. You will be glad you bought it!
After half a lifetime of trying in vain to get others to see the 'reality' of what and who I was living with, only this book has given me the validation that I need to move forward. Now that I have for the first time identified my NPD ex-husband in print, I feel relieved somewhat from the desperate need to convince others that he is, yes, evil, and that I am not 'the crazy one' (even though I have a restraining order against 'The Perfect Husband'). Now I have to rescue our daughter from his mental torture--alone amidst a disbelieving community. Heaven help us.
This is one of the most compelling and informational books that I have ever read on the subject of narcissism. I didn't even realize that this was a real disorder until I lived in a 17 year marriage observing the characteristics that matched the disorder. Since it is very difficult to describe the erratic behavior of this disorder to a friend or family member, because they see the person as a perfectly charming, adoring, loving, spouse and wouldn't believe it anyway, I started to write down the behaviors I would see when we were in social settings and started to compile an informational diary that I felt needed to be seen by other people who might be lured into a fantasy world by this charismatic charmer. It's a world of mind games, denial, lying, deviousness, persistence and control. Until this book was referred to me by a friend I was already in a state of not knowing whether I was losing my mind or actually had something factual that the world knew very little about, at least my world. After reading Mr. Vaknin's book I immediately started to feel relief. It felt like a ten-ton weight had been removed from my back and that I wasn't really imagining the things I was seeing, but they they were real. I wasn't really losing my mind because everything I saw and felt was described in the book. When an NPD is confronted with their peculiarities, they become angry and go into self-denial. It then becomes the fault of the one confronting them because 'they just don't know what you are talking about' and 'if that's the way you feel about me, why are you staying with me'? It just goes on and on. . . This is a must read.
I was married for 22 years to a man with both narcisscism and borderline personality disorder. This book gave me the courage to move on with my life. I learned that my husband has a true mental disorder. Not a temporary 'bad mood' but a serious personality disorder that he refuses to acknowledge or seek treatment for. I learned I couldn't control his behavior, which was destroying me psychologically. This book gave me the courage to walk away from my husband's never-ending chaos, rage and insanity...and create a new and wonderful life for myself. Narcisscism and borderline personality disorder have been called the 'core disorders' of our society. When we live with these people, they shatter our spirit and demoralize us. And we initially don't want to believe they are mentally ill because we 'nons' would never want someone we love to be truly capable of such horrendous abuse--despite the fact that we lived with it and endured it. Nor do we want to be seen as weak or spiraling out of control. Through this book, I finally saw my husband's behavior for what it was, along with my co-dependency. I saw his illness in vivid technicolor and it horrified me. That's when I stopped being his enabler and co-dependent. I began to set boundaries for myself. After I told my estranged husband 'I'm not afraid of you anymore'....it was the most liberating moment of my life! We 'enablers' make excuses for their behavior--sometimes out of shame for the many years that we endured their cruel treatment. But we did it out of love...misguided love, but love nonetheless. Sam's book gave me the courage to re-discover myself. Like other spouses, I twisted myself into a knot thousands of times to ensure I didn't 'upset' my husband. Still, he always fabricated accusations against me and others to justify his frightening rages. He constantly bullied, criticized, blamed and insulted me....and I believed his insults for many years. Now I am free....thanks to Sam Vaknin's brilliant book. I read parts of the book everyday for encouragement, wisdom and strength.
Reading over the reviews posted here and at other sites, it is remarkable how many ratings of 'outstanding' there are. It seems to have touched a raw nerve in so many people who have been suffering under the influence of something heretofore unidentified. It is certainly the case for me. It may sound like a cliche to say this - especially since so many others have said the same - but this book changed my life. Not only do I understand my narcissist, more importantly, I understand myself, and why I was drawn into my narcissist's vortex. I'd like to add an interesting bit of trivia: daffodils are also known as Narcissus. They're perennial--and toxic if consumed. Read this book and weep. Then pick up the pieces of your shattered life, and live.
If you are like me, you probably believed that narcissists would be extremely easy to spot...you would be able to actually hear the ridiculous boasts, laugh at the flamboyant personality, see through the false charm, be repulsed by their sick desparation for admiration and attention,see that their attention in you, was manipulation - to reel you in, etc. You would be able to recognize these things and RUN, like the literature tells you to, right? So i thought... I was only able to see these things for what they really were after my heart had been eaten, by brain had been twisted into some form of a pretzel, my eyes no longer allowed me to cry, my voice had stopped working, I was second guessing my every wish, desire, feeling and goal, and my body felt hollow, as if my bones were empty. Despite my friends, family, HIS friends, HIS family - EVERYONE telling me something was "off" and being able to see it, of course i waited too long,until i too felt just as empty as he REALLY is. The good news is, after reading this book, i have realized that I only FEEL/FELT empty, and it is he who is the truly empty soul, attempting to suck the life out of everyone he encounters in order to fill his own. You may be thinking,"what an idiot, how could someone let something go on that way for that long, how stupid?" the truth is, i am not stupid, i am actually a psychologist. I was never abused in ANY way as a child, never involved in an abusive relationship... How i stayed involved so long, was I ALLOWED myself to be manipulated (i own my part in this pitiful dance, I ALLOWED IT) I have been through the full range of emotions after this relationship, the scariest one, figuring out how to fullly let go of this poison, while he is already feasting on his next source of NS, but this book continues to soothe my mind and heart - knowledge is power. I believe that the knowledge that this book provides, is the way to recover from being manipulated by such a tormented soul. This book has not only helped me see his part in this sick delusion, but mine as well.... Anyone in contact with narcissism in anyway, should read this. Children, friends of, partners of, even family members of those involved with narcissists, because they of course do not understand what its like to be or how one remains involved with such a sad soul. Simply put, this book is brilliant -brilliant, and provides the most invaluable gift - knowledge.
My therapist sent me to Barnes & Noble for a book on Narcissistic Personality Disorder in order to undertand that influence in my life. Fortunately I found Malignant Self Love by Sam Vaknin. Within its contents, written professionally, clearly and extensively, lay the confirmation of what I have put up with for years. My doubt is gone and I feel freed from an insidious, destructive relationship.
When my nine-year marriage fell apart like something on the Jerry Springer show, I saw a psychiatrist who handed me this book and said, "we can spend a year in here with me teaching you what's in this book or you can just read it yourself and we'll pick up from there." Of course I read it, and was floored at how accurately it described & explained my interactions with my ex-husband. It was painful to see the mistakes I had made and how I had been manipulated in my marriage, but the book is very empowering and shows you how to take care of yourself when interacting with a narcissist. If you've had your butt kicked by a narcissist, read this book and get some peace of mind & dignity back.
I have spent over 30 years in therapy off and on so that my kids would turn out normal. They are grown now. Out of fear of rejection by my ex and his family, my two grown children, once sensitive and loving toward the man who raised them, my now husband, and myself, shun us. They are manipulated with money, approval, and the constant fear of rejection. It is sickening. We see our grandchildren, who live in the same town, less than a 15 minute drive, only at school lunches 2-4 times a month. It breaks our heart. I have had friends, attorneys, and therapists simply not believe me. My attorney apologized to me after police documentation of my ex father in laws threat to kill me disappeared from the police department. One therapist I had used for years, off and on, apologized after only one brief phone call with my ex over the kids. He told me, if anything I had understated their attitude. A lot of good that did me then. I do soooo wish I had had Dr. Vaknins' book when my children were younger. If I had, my life might have turned out so much better, my kids happier, in our lives, the sweet people we once knew, and not the selfish, mean, cruel people they have turned into. We might actually be a part not only of their lives, but our grand kids lives as well. If you have kids, buy this book. For one thing, you get validation. But for another, you get to teach your children exactly what the manipulation is as it happens and tell them they don't have to be manipulated, and that this manipulation is only coming from a place of fear. And with that, you then get to teach them courage, strength, faith, forgiveness, empathy, and kindness. Buy the book! Good Luck
Five exhausting years ago I met a wonderful man with whom I fell totally in love. After our second dinner, he jumped up and down with excitement, exclaiming, "I love you!" Half a breath later, he added, "I don't know what's going to become of it but I love you!". That added comment was probably a bright red flag but I didn't see it. He showered me with candles and champagne when I visited and, after the tough time I'd had immediately before we met, I was gladly overwhelmed. He adored me. We had so much in common. We could discuss the same things. He was the MD of a huge company with which my family had associations. I understood his gripes and problems with the organisation. He spoiled me. I listened to his troubles/achievements. Then I received a phone call from him, telling me that our relationship had hit him hard and he needed 'space' to gather his thoughts. He couldn't concentrate in meetings. Since he was the initiator, I was rather taken aback but I cared so much that I told him I understood. Despite being on his own when we met, he decided he should see his estranged wife again to calm things down with her. He couldn't 'live like this'. Red flag two. What followed were five long, gut-churning, heart-breaking years. He came. And went. And came back. And went. Begged me not to leave. Pushed me away. Commanded me. Implored me to meet, then took his wife on holiday. Begged me to come back to him again. Took his whole grown-up family on holiday. And came and went as his wife suffered a host of strange serious illnesses. I decided perhaps he was afraid of commitment and looked this up on the Internet. From there I followed links to other phobias, through to sociopathic behaviour which his cruelty and guile, charm and lack of conscience - whilst insisting he suffered endless feelings of guilt - seemed to suggest. And then I found the link to various chapters and questions taken from Sam Vaknin's book. My jaw dropped. There he was. And there were descriptions from other people who had been victims of one of the worst and most complicated forms of abuse. I never suffered physically and the open verbal slights only appeared in the last while but I know they were subtly there all along. I assume he got his wife back in order for her to be his No.1 Victim. And anchor. Perhaps he needed us both as insurance in case one of us got fed up enough to leave for good. He backed away last in late January. (We hadn't had a full relationship for over a year by that time. He'd arrange super lunches/teas and he would ask me to stay with him in London, then cancel every time at the very last minute. Then set up the next!) He had called me from a train on his way home from a meeting, telling me he was 'in trouble' at home. This time I felt angry instead of sad and I thought, "Who does he think I am? Telling me stories from his (empty) marriage? And sounding like a little boy. Almost giggling." I felt like his aunt - and send a goodnight text explaining how I felt. His response? "I think we should take a little break." I could hear the snarl. Drained and hurt yet again, I knew I needed answers. Why do I tell you this? Because it is all in this book. All of it. You will recognise your love, lover, husband, wife, parent, boss. And much more. The subject matter delves deep into psychology. You will answer your 'but whys?' and learn that you have a very long journey ahead of you in order to recover,
This book made me realize that I am not a loser as my husband has been telling me. It did not matter that people around me were saying that I was doing a good job, what mattered was what my husband thought, but for my husband nothing was good enough. According to him I was doing the minimum. He claims that he has to lower his standards and his expectations because of me. My stupidity,is stopping him from doing what he wants. 13 years of marriage and three children later, I still do not know what my husband wants or needs. He says one thing and demands another. I am still married to him. I have waited and hoped for so long that things will change, now I know way; moreover, I learned that nothing will ever change. Living with him I have gone through a lot of emotions and disappointments, but for the firs time I felt sorry for my children and myself. Even though now I know, I still can not get over the fact that I allowed it to happen. Thank you for the insight and the ability to know and understand what I am dealing with.
Malignant Self Love is so real and true that will help everyone interested in the subject in a very effective way. Every detail is there and its causes and consequences. If I had known this book before, maybe I could avoided some painful and disturbing moments in my life. Also the organization by small chapters and Q&As makes it available for more accurate and quick consults. But on the top of it is its usefulness to learn how to cope with a world full of personality diseases.
This book is a stunning explanation of exactly what has been wrong with my husband for all of the 18 years of our marriage. He was charming and fun and turned into a nasty, abusive control freak. I am in the process of a divorce and hope this will be a great help. Most importantly, I see how he abuses our children, particularly the oldest, and I see that I am absolutely correct that he will not change, I need to get divorced, and I need to get him away from my children. This book is a must read, particularly for anyone with innocent children in an NPD household. I have about worn out my highlighter reading this book! It's like the author has lived in our house the past 18 years. Amazing.
Before reading Sam's work, I didn't know much about narcissism. Turns out I was married to one and living in hell. Thanks to this book, I unerstand how they work and am on my way to reclaiming my myself and restoring my identity.
After five days in lockdown in the county jail for something I didn't do and didn't say, I was forced to begin a journey of understanding what it was that provoked my wife to do and say the things she did. The questions raced through my mind. Why? Was I deserving of this? Why was it that her intentional desire to inflict pain and punishment on me was so prevalent and so extremely destructive? In my long, tedious journey to understand her behavior I came across the book Malignant Self Love, by Dr. Sam Vaknin. An epiphany! An epiphany of understanding of the narcissistic personality disorder. This book, after reading and studying, gave to me the complete understanding of why my wife acted in the manner she did to bring such devastation to my life. This book is a must-read! I consider this book to be the "bible" on the narcissistic personality and recommend it to anyone, male or female, who is in search of answers to determine the reasons why our "nearest and dearest" act towards us with such devastating consequences. This book is written in a format that makes it easy to sift through and digest and will bring you to a place of peace in understanding of the complicated disorder of narcissism. I recommend it highly. Again, a must-read! R. Candelaria, Littleton, Colorado
I could not stop reading after I came across this book on the net. It had a hypnotic effect on me (I was infected by all the symptoms and myseries of the author for weeks!!) My favourite parts are the authobiographical ones: as I have limited empathy (because of my dependent/avoidant personality disorders), I love to have insight in other people's minds, especially in writing. (I find very interesting both the "sick" and the "normal" people's inner worlds.) I felt that sometimes the mere NPD spoke to me through the pages of the book (it was a frightening experience)
Sam Vaknin's book, Malignant Self Love, was, by far, the most interesting and informative book I've read about narcissism, especially in regards to malignant narcissists.
I purchased Vaknin's book after encountering someone whose behavior was so bizarre I couldn't figure out what was wrong with them. Is wasn't until I found Vaknin's book that I realized that this person was a malignant narcissist.
Vaknin's book is a great reference tool and helpful in understanding all aspects relating the malignant narcissist.
I highly recommend this book, I regard Malignant Self Love as the "bible" on narcissism.
This is a very important book, even though Vaknin himself a NPD gets supply from it, has been very helpful. I was involved in a part-time relationship for 3.5 years and then moved in with my partner. The .5 showed me who he was though I didn't understand it at the time. I never did anything right. He drank to excess and probably blamed a lot of problems on me. I completely forgot who I was and spent too much money on myself, him and his children (which I do not regret). Those areas have been fixed but I fight depression regularaly on many levels since the family weekend break-up which left me devestated, humiliated, hurt and well, let's just say bad. My therapist team have ruled that I have post traumatic stress syndrome from this whole relationship. You don't know someone until you live with them. He leaves a mess with whomever he gets involved with unless it is his immediate family (sister, brother) and obviously clients and fair weather friends. Being involved with this type of person will leave you no closure and with big trust issues. If you do meet someone new take it slow. I obviously was not as well grounded as I thought (even though I was a successful professional and involved in many community projects. My family adored him, so I had a lot of support going on. Too bad nobody could read him between the lines.
If you are reading this review about Malignant Self Love, then you finally suspect that you are dealing with a Narcissist. To suspect is common, but to deny can be fatal. You are probably confused, worn out and defeated. You are probably tying to resurrect yourself out of the ashes of deception, despair and distress. You probably feel like you have been lead around the Mulberry Bush in endless loops. If this sounds familiar, then you MUST have capable assistance. You need an individual that can imagine, plot, examine, relate and SOLVE your nightmare. You need an insider... Dr. Sam Vaknin. He is a Narcissist. Sam has examined his reflection and magnified it for his readers in Malignant Self Love. Sam has plugged all the loopholes, exposed all the plots, and introduced a new language to confront the Narcissist. Vaknin has composed OVER 100 Frequently Asked Questions, Essays and more, contained in a volume of 600 pages! Sam has designed Malignant Self Love as a `hands-on' tool that can immediately bring relief. If you want to breathe again, if you are at your wits end, if everything has been tried and failed, if you NEED a change, then Malignant Self Love can give you your life back. This book is a lifesaver! Kathi Stringer, Kathi's Mental Health Review
This book is a must read for anyone who has been in hidden relationship with a charismatic narcissist, or for one who has born this wound from their infancy. It is a call to awaken. If you are in ungodly pain, the wisdom Sam Vaknin shares will help you pick up the pieces and put your life back together again. While you will never be the same person you were before you were injured, there is hope and healing that is possible if you are willing to do the work to reclaim your life. While classified a disorder, narcissism is a wound so horrific in scope and so damaging, that only those who have lived through the storm can know the full extent of the damage that is wrought. Sam speaks the truth first hand, of how a person with this disorder thinks and acts in the world and the untold damage they bring to those around them. Truth is powerful and speaking it has the capacity to set people free, both the wounder and he woundee. Perhaps this is one of Sam's gifts to humanity and a means of working out his own redemption. I hope we would not condemn people who have cancer or HIV, yet we are all too keen to go after the one who injures us, psychologically or physically. Is there a space within us of compassion for the human being who bears this tornadic disorder? Healing is a journey through darkness, anger, and eventually to the rising sun of forgiveness for the one who is asleep in the center of the vortex. My hope is that this illness can somehow, someway, someday be healed through the awakening of the sleeping soul. While Sam may believe it is neigh unto impossible, I believe healing is possible. Sam, I cannot thank you enough. Peace and healing be with you and the lives of all those you touch.
Well, maybe not the price of one. At $40 and even though is 600 pages long, the book is expensive. But it is really made up of three separate books. There is the FAQs section which is wonderful and has become my bible. I don't think that there is any question about malignant pathological narcissism, narcissists, narcissistic abuse, psychopaths, abusive relationships, domestic violence, or divorcing these types that is not answered there is great and practical detail. Then there is the essay which is like a trip into the narcissist's sick and warped mind - indispensable. You won't get it from any other author because this is the only book ever written by a self-aware, self-confessed and unrepentant narcissist. Finally, there are essays about the state-of-the-art, latest thinking and scholarship and knowledge of these personality disorders. This book should become obligatory reading in psychology departments all over the world.
I sought out Dr. Vaknin's website 5 years ago, when trying to find online resources to help me better understand a family member who was struggling with malignant self love.
What I found in Dr. Vaknin's website offerings, as well as in his excellent and brutally honest book, 'Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited' was much more than I ever expected. I found help for family members who need to better understand narcissism and it's many nuances, and how to use this knowledge to build stronger, healthier family dynamics to help the both the narcissist and family members set themselves up for success.
An enlightening, extremely powerful book, which sheds so much light on a subject which is very misunderstood. Vaknin gives terrific advice to help families work with the problems that crop up within the narcissism spectrum, all very workable and sound suggestions.
I cannot praise this book and Dr. Vaknin's website and email list enough. Written in easy, everyday language, 'Malignant Self love; Narcissism Revisited' has the potential to make profound changes in the lives of narcissists and their families and friends.
I only wish I could give it more than 5 stars and two very enthusiastic thumbs up for all the insight it has given me, and the harmony it has helped restore in our own family dynamics.
This book requires that you are introspective enough to analyze yourself as it relates to the topics in the book. And if you do that while reading this book you will come away with insights about yourself that can then be mended. Even if you can't admit that some of the things in this book relate to you, it's still one heck of an interesting read.
My name is Mark Weglarz and for 11 years I have suffered from this condition called 'Pathological Narcissism' without myself knowing it nor family members,or doctor's,friend's,etc. Owning a 'Laser - Light Show' Company has definately got the responses I needed 'Narcissistic Supply' like 'genius','innovater',etc. Yes,my FALSE SELF was projected back to me and now I know why I became so obsessed with 'Lasers'..and anything similar that would make others say those things to me...Dr. Vaknin does describe this illness with 'Laser like precision' as It says in the book's 'Forward'.Reading his book was a hard thing to do as It made me realize who I REALLY was...not a 'Genius' but a Narcissist.That I had fooled everybody including myself.It is still so very painful too realize that more than half of my life I was acting out somebody else and I believed It as well as friends,family,lovers,etc. I hurt everybody around me with this disorder.....now with Dr.Vaknin's book I finally know how not too.....Much thanks,Mark Weglarz (*********.........)