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.
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About the Author
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).
Read an Excerpt
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.
Table of ContentsForeword
Introduction - The Habit of Identity
The Narcissistic Personality Disorder
A Primer on Narcissism and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
Frequently Asked Questions
Narcissism - The Disorder
FAQ # 1 - An Overview of the Narcissist
FAQ # 2 - Pathological Narcissism – A Dysfunction or a Blessing?
FAQ # 3 - The Energy of Self
FAQ # 4 - Self-Love and Narcissism
FAQ # 5 - Self-Defeating and Self-Destructive Behaviours
FAQ # 6 - Ideas of Reference
FAQ # 7 - Grandiose Fantasies
FAQ # 8 - Grandiosity Hangover and Narcissist Baiting
FAQ # 9 - Depression and the Narcissist
FAQ # 10 - Narcissistic Rage - Anger as a Source of Personality Disorder
FAQ # 11 - Gender and the Narcissist
FAQ # 12 - Homosexual and Transsexual Narcissists
FAQ # 13 - Addiction to Fame and Celebrity
FAQ # 14 - 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 Ubiquitous 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 Mini-Cycles
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, Medications 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 of an Adolescent Narcissist
FAQ # 60 - The Narcissist's Reaction to This Text
Narcissism and Society
FAQ # 61 - A Dream Interpreted
FAQ # 62 - How to Recognise a Narcissist?
FAQ # 63 - Interacting with a Narcissist
FAQ # 64 - The Weapon of Language
FAQ # 65 - Exploitation by a Narcissist
FAQ # 66 - The Narcissist's Victims
FAQ # 67 - Narcissism by Proxy
FAQ # 68 - Facilitating Narcissism
FAQ # 69 - Narcissists in Positions of Authority
FAQ # 70 - For the Love of God
FAQ # 71 - The Narcissist and Social Institutions
FAQ # 72 - Collective Narcissism – Narcissism, Culture and Society
FAQ # 73 - The Narcissists in Court
FAQ # 74 - The Narcissist in the Workplace
FAQ # 75 - Responsibility and Other Matters
FAQ # 76 - The Accountable Narcissist
FAQ # 77 - Crime and Punishment: The Never Repenting Narcissist
FAQ # 78 - Narcissists, Group Behaviour and Terrorism
FAQ # 79 - Is the Narcissist Ever Sorry?
FAQ # 80 - A Letter about Trust
FAQ # 81 - Traumas as Social Interactions
FAQ # 82 - The Guilt of Others
FAQ # 83 - Narcissistic Confinement
FAQ # 84 - Narcissistic Allocation
FAQ # 85 - Narcissistic Immunity
FAQ # 86 - Narcissists, Love and Healing
FAQ # 87 - Vindictive Narcissists
FAQ # 88 - Narcissists as Mass and Serial Killers
FAQ # 89 - 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 – The Somatic and the Cerebral Narcissist
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 Mind of the Narcissist
Chapter One - The Soul of a Narcissist – The State of the Art
Chapter Two - Being Special
Chapter Three - Uniqueness and Intimacy
Chapter Four - The Workings of a Narcissist – A Phenomenology
Chapter Five - The Tortured Self – The Inner World of the Narcissist
Chapter Six - The Emotional Involvement Preventive Measures
What People are Saying About This
I highly recommend this book to police agencies and private protection specialists as it deals with an age old problem within our society. "Domestic arguments" are one of the most common calls for police service and inarguably one of the deadliest. Following a career in law enforcement I now operate a company that specializes in protection assignments and private investigations. This book is a must read for all of our protection specialists as it deals with the very basis of many of our protection assignments. I suggest it be studied at entrance level police academies so they may better inform the several hundred victims of domestic abuse they will encounter in their career. (Ron Troutman, Sergeant (Ret.) Maryland State Police)
Reading Group Guide
Hello. Recognize 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 recognize me. I am your inspiration, your role model, your savior, your leader, your best friend, the one you aspire to emulate, the one whose favor 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 behavior 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 recognize me. I don't recognize 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 recognize me any better than you do. I wouldn't dare. I need the magic. For the same reason I also fail to recognize 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 behavior 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 resectable tumor 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
- Is pathological narcissism related to healthy narcissism? Are they part of the same spectrum and only a matter of degree or intensity?
- Do narcissists love themselves? Are they capable of loving anyone at all?
- Why do narcissists abuse the very people from whom they derive sustenance in the form of Narcissistic Supply?
- Can the Narcissistic Personality Disorder be easily distinguished from other mental health disorders (for instance, Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD, or the Histrionic and Borderline Personality Disorders)?
- Can narcissism be cured and, if yes, would psychotherapy be best or would medication?
- Why do narcissists idealize and then devalue their sources of supply?
- Can pathological narcissism be compared to addictions?
- Is society geared to dealing with narcissists and the destructive effect they have on their nearest and dearest?
- Narcissists wreak havoc through subtle and not so subtle means. Why and in which circumstances do they resort to subtlety?
- Can a narcissist be self-aware and still remain a narcissist?
- How can one shield one's children from "narcissistic radiation" or "narcissistic fallout"?
- How to recognize a narcissist before it is too late?
- How should one respond to narcissistic rage, narcissistic injury and narcissistic grandiose fantasies?
- How does one divorce a narcissist and cope with vindictive narcissists?
- Narcissists get "into your head". How does one get rid of their lasting influence, of the "internal voice" the narcissist bequeaths to his victims?
- Why do narcissists hate happiness and emotions? Is it because they are jealous? And what are the roles of envy, shame and control in narcissism?
- There are a myriad forms of abuse from the ambient through the subtle to the overt. Can you give examples of each type?
- Is narcissism reversible? Can it be cured? Contained? Restrained? Is there such thing as transient narcissism or a mere passing narcissistic reaction?
- What is the difference between Inverted ("covert") Narcissism and Co-dependence?
- Should I stay with him?