Amnesiac Narcissist's Selective Memory: It's All About Narcissistic Supply!

Uploaded 7/26/2014, approx. 5 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

I do not remember having done or said or written what is attributed to me. I do not recall having met the person who claims to have met me, having felt anything, having been there.

It's not that it looks alien to me as though it has happened to someone else. It's simply that I have no recollection whatsoever.

When I try to remember, I draw a blank.

Hence, my enormous and recurrent and terrifyingly helpless state of surprise.

These cognitive distortions, these constant lapses of memory, are as close as I ever get to losing control.

My all-pervading terror is mixed with voyeuristic fascination through the writings, through the reconstructed utterances, through a careful study of what that other previous person has done, has said, has written.

I come to know, I come to learn myself. I meet myself on numerous occasions, reflections in the shattered mirrors of my dysfunctional selected memory.

These frequent occurrences of dissociative amnesia, when I repress the painful, irrelevant, useless, these are the fabric of the punctuated being that is I.

But what are the rules determining this ruthless and automatic censorship? What governs the selection process? What events, what people, writings, thoughts, emotions and hopes are cast aside into my oblivion?

And why do others etch themselves indelibly in my memory?

Is the repository of my discarded reality, my true self, that dilapidated, immature, scared and atrophy little child?

Is this inside me?

Am I afraid to get in touch with memory itself, spun from the yarn of pains and disappointments past?

In short, is this an emotional involvement prevention mechanism, as I call it?

Am I afraid of the emotions which go with memory?

On second thought, it's not.

On introspection, I simply erase and atomize that which is no longer of use in the pursuit of narcissistic supply.

I read books, I read magazines, web pages, research papers, official memoranda and daily papers.

I then retain an inaccessible note of memory, only the facts, the views, the theories, and the words that can help me to elicit narcissistic supply for others.

Like the proverbial squirrel, I amass intellectual assets that yield the maximum astonishment, adulation and attention in my listeners.

My audience matters, not me. All the rest I discard contemptuously, though by now, after decades of self-training, unconsciously.

I therefore rarely remember anything I read just minutes after having read it.

I cannot recall movie plots, storylines of novels, a recent argument in an article, the history of nations, the things I myself have authored, places I have been to, as a tourist.

No matter how many times I reread my own essays, I find them absolutely new.

None of the sentences is recognizable to meas though I had nothing to do with my own authorship.

I then proceed to forget them instantly.

Similarly, I alter my biography at will to suit the potential sources of narcissistic supply who happen to be listening to me.

I say things not because I believe in them, nor because I know them to be true.

In truth, I know very little and am ignorant of much.

I say things because I am desperately trying to impress, to provoke, some kind of response, to bask in the glow of affirmation, to extract applause, or awe, or even notoriety.

Naturally, I very soon forget what I had said.

Not the result of a coherent structure of deeply assimilated and integrated knowledge, not the outcome of a set of convictions, my utterances, my judgments, my opinions, my beliefs, wishes, plans, analysis, comments, and narratives.

I am near ephemeral improvisations. There is no thread connecting them. There is no me.

Here today, gone tomorrow, unbeknownst to me.

Before I meet someone, I learn everything I can about him.

I then proceed to acquire superficial knowledge that is certain to create the impression of genius bordering on omniscience.

If I am to meet a politician from Turkey who is hobbyist farming and is the author of books about ancient pottery, I will while days and nights away studying Turkish history, ancient pottery, and farming.

Not an hour after the meeting, having inspired awesome admiration in my new acquaintance, all the facts I have so meticulously memorized evaporate, never to return.

The original views I express so confidently vanish from my mind. I am preoccupied with my next brain, my next target, and with his or her predilections and interests.

I have moved on in the Shifting Gallery. My life is not a thread. It is a patchwork of chance encounters, of hazard exams, and the drive of narcissistic supply consumed.

I truly feel like a series of still frames, somehow improperly animated. I know the audience is there somewhere.

I crave their adulation. I try to reach out to break the mold of the album of photographs that I had become, but to no avail.

I am trapped in there forever, two-dimensional, and if none of you chooses to inspect my image at a given moment, I fade in sepia colors like an old photograph, until I am no longer.

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