Body Narcissism: Tattoos, Gym Rats, Bodybuilders, Fashionistas, Sex Fiends

Uploaded 1/3/2024, approx. 39 minute read

All right, we all know the reasonable old men who died their thinning hair blacker and blacker by the year.

We all know the 63-year-old professors of psychology who clad themselves in leather jackets on camera.

And we all know the women past the prime who tried to emulate adolescent figures.

In short, we all have a conflicted relationship with our bodies to varying degrees.

If you look at various social manifestations and phenomena, you will realize this.

For example, religion, which treats the body as a shrine somehow to be worshipped and nurtured.

Cannibalism, where eating another person's internal organs endows you with the qualities and traits of this person.

So if you eat a warrior's liver, you are bound to become more courageous.

Religious prostitution, the vestal non-vergent virgins.

Simple prostitution, sex work, where the sex workers conform to stereotypes like big boobs.

Human sacrifice, where bodies are immolated or eviscerated in honor of the gods and in order to fend off impending looming wrath and catastrophe of the divine.

So all these clearly exemplify and reify some kind of conflictual relationship with the corporeal, with a bodily.

But this is tenfold amplified in narcissism.

In narcissism, the body is either idealized by somatic narcissist or devalued by cerebral narcissist.

But in both cases, the somatics and the cerebrals, the body is a persecatory object, an enemy.

Aging, disease, disability and death are inexorable, ineluctable.

And so all of life is spent fending off the inevitable.

The body needs to be placated.

Sacrifices need to be made.

Sacrifices of time, of effort, of money need to be made in order to keep the body alive and well for as long as possible.

Or in the cerebral case, the body needs to be maintained or renovated.

It is an unwieldy container of the brain, of the intellect.

So both types of narcissists, cerebral and somatic, regard the body as a persecatory object, an adversary, an enemy, a foe, something to be somehow settled with and negotiated with.

Now to remind you, a somatic narcissist is someone who derives narcissistic supply by using his body in a variety of ways.

I will discuss it a bit later.

And the cerebral narcissist is a narcissist who derives narcissistic supply by displaying and leveraging his intellect in a spectacular, pyrotechnic fashion.

OK, but what people fail to understand, and that includes scholars, is that the body is never, never the narcissist's friend.

It's never a friendly relationship.

The somatic narcissist regards his own body as an imminent and looming threat.

The somatic narcissist ages, is subject to accidents, and diseases finally dies.

This is really bad news in the case of the somatic narcissist because he needs his body to elicit narcissistic supply.

By the way, when I say he, she, gender pronouns are interchangeable, half of all narcissists are women.

This is a new insight, which the literature has missed on.

Both the cerebral narcissist and the somatic narcissist are ambivalent about their bodies.

The somatic narcissist loves his body or is emotionally invested, co-acted in his body because his body is the main instrument of ascertaining and guaranteeing a regular flow of narcissistic supply.

And the cerebral narcissist outright hates his body but realizes his body's indispensability as far as his brain is concerned.

He needs the body to somehow keep the brain alive.

It's the laboratory or the factory within which his brain operates.

So there's ambivalence there, and there is existential angst, dread in Kierkegaard's terms.

There is dread, fear of the deterioration, decay and degeneration of the body.

There's nothing you can do to stop this process.

It's, as I said, inexorable.

And you're just a witness.

The narcissist witnesses his own decomposition, however imperceptible and glacial it is.

And this is quite terrifying.

And so this creates a lot of anxiety.

One could say that in the case of the narcissist, somatic or cerebral, the body is anxiogenic, creates anxiety.

Hence, anxiety reactions such as hypochondriasis.

And so all these complex relationships, conflicted relationships with the body leads to OCD, obsessive compulsive artifacts, behavioral artifacts.

For example, injurious ritualistic exercise regime. Such a regime is essentially a right, a ritual, a ceremony to fend off the ultimate demise of the body or its innocence.

This is an example of obsessive compulsive practices.

Similarly, overconsumption of vitamins or supplements. All these behaviors which are structured, rigid, ritualistic and are the outcomes of catastrophizing about the body.

If I don't do this, I'm going to end badly. All these behaviors are essentially compulsive and they are reactions to anxiety.

They're intended to ameliorate, reduce anxiety.

And the anxiety is the outcome of the dissonance between the narcissist's self-perception as perfect, immortal, immutable, godlike.

And the fact that the narcissist is deeply embedded in a body that is falling apart, however gradually.

Ultimately, all narcissists end up regarding the body as an enemy, dissociating the body away and they become estranged to their own bodies.

There's a hint of depersonalization here.

So dissociation is a major mechanism of coping with a body where narcissism is concerned regardless of the type of narcissist.

Narcissist dissociates his body away as a dissociated body, an estranged body.

In the case of the somatic, the dissociation and the estrangement lead to the objectification of the body.

The body becomes a kind of external object.

The narcissist is a mere observer of his own body in action.

We'll come to it a bit later.

In the case of the cerebral narcissist, the body is relegated to a kind of abode or residence of the really important or the only important thing, which is the narcissist's intelligence and intellect.

And so the body is an unfortunate necessity or side effect.

You can't do without the body regrettably.

A cerebral narcissist would gladly dispense with his body because his body brings him no pleasure whatsoever.

Only requires things, only consumes resources.

So in both cases, the body is dissociated.

It is therefore not surprising that the body is the seat of trauma.

As Pander Kolk said, the body keeps the score.

Trauma is embodied.

It is in the body.

And consequently, many people believe, many scholars believe that the only way to heal from trauma or to reverse trauma is to work through the body rather than through the mind.

Starting from EMDR, treatment modalities such as EMDR and ending with real somatic techniques.

So this is the sequence.

The sequence is the narcissist's body challenges, the narcissist's grandiosity, cognitive distortion.

The narcissist's self-perception is perfect and divine. Immortal in effect is challenged by his body.

So his body becomes a persecatory object, an enemy.

And he develops a variety of strategies to cope with the body.

He objectifies the body or he devalues the body.

He regards the body as a necessary evil and so on and so forth.

He reacts with compulsive rituals and he dissociates the body.

He becomes estranged to the body.

Now, we said that the body is the seat of trauma because dissociation is a major reaction to trauma.

And all narcissists have been traumatized and abused in early childhood.

Remember, there's a variety, there's a wide diversity of abuse.

Abuse is not a monolithic construct or concept.

You can abuse a child by idolizing and pedestalizing the child.

You can abuse a child by being overprotective.

You can abuse the child by instrumentalizing and parentifying the child.

And you can, of course, abuse the child physically, sexually and so on and so forth.

There's a variety of ways to abuse the child.

But all narcissists, without a single exception, have been abused and traumatized in early childhood.

So they have learned to embody the trauma.

They gradually come to identify their bodies as traumatic or traumatizing, as seats of trauma.

And this relationship of the body as a reification of trauma, bad experiences, abuse, stays with the narcissist for life.

The narcissist has this conflicted attitude towards his body because very early on, as a child, long before he has had the chance to develop a self or an ego or a personality, the child had to somehow process trauma and abuse and used his body to do so.

The linkage between body, trauma, abuse, pain, hurt is established in very early childhood and remains with the narcissist for life.

And so the narcissist tries to overcome this linkage, to sever the link between trauma and body.

Because who can survive in a body that is constantly reminiscent of trauma?

How can you prevail? How can you sustain yourself in an environment which you inhabit, in which you reside, your body?

An environment that reifies, that constitutes trauma.

So you need the narcissist seeks throughout his life, the narcissist seeks to decouple the body from the early childhood trauma in a variety of ways, techniques and strategies.

First of all, the narcissist somatizes a lot.

His somatoform disorders, conversion symptoms to use a much older phrase.

So he somatizes, he uses his body to express the trauma, the abuse, recurrent repetition, compulsion patterns, later, later, modification or narcissistic injuries, they're all expressed through the body.

In the case of the somatic narcissist, the body is instrumentalized.

We'll talk about it a bit later.

And by instrumentalizing and objectifying the body, the narcissist distances himself from the body and at the same time converts the body into a tool of pleasure, to a pleasure bringing tool.

So he kind of erases the trauma by flooding it with pleasures of the flesh.

That's a somatic.

The cerebral has a much tougher time in this sense because his relationship with the body is bad and it grows bad by the year as the body weakens, as the body that generates and decays and decomposes and the body experiences illnesses and diseases and accidents and aging and disabilities and so on.

The cerebellus rage at the body, anger at his own, at this unwieldy instrumental, unwieldy container of the brain just mounts all the time.

The bad blood between the cerebral narcissist and the body increases all the time.

Whereas the somatic has found a solution by converting the body into a pleasure center, the cerebral has failed to do so.

So the cerebral needs to adopt a different solution and the cerebral solution is to deny his body, to pretend that his body does not exist or is an afterthought or is a fantasy or an illusion or that he can somehow overcome his body with a sheer force of his intellect and incisive and penetrating intelligence or that he has to invest in the body only extremely minimally so a cerebral would never exercise for example, would never have sex and so on so forth.

So he denies his body. Whereas the somatic embraces the body and then converts it into a pleasurable artifice, pleasurable instrument, the cerebral denies and rejects his body, divorces his body if you wish.

But in both cases, of course, the body is objectified.

When you reject the body, when you deny the body, it's as if you were saying, I am not my body. There is me and there is my body.

So you treat your body as an external object.

We know, of course, that narcissists are incapable of perceiving external objects as external and separate. We'll discuss it a bit later.

They're incapable of othering.

So because they're incapable of perceiving objects, any objects as external and separate, the cerebral narcissist keeps failing.

He wants to externalize his body. He wants to treat his body as if it were an external object. Yet he doesn't have the tools or the capacities to externalize his body and regard it as separate.

He doesn't do othering.

So the cerebral is caught in a conundrum. He tries to get rid of his body, at least mentally, and yet he keeps failing all the time.

This brings on episodes of collapse and somatic phases in the cerebral's existence where he becomes somatic.

One could therefore say that the somatic narcissist's solution, when it comes to the body, is much more self efficacious than the cerebral.

The cerebral's solution is less real. There's a denial of reality there. The reality testing is much more impaired with the cerebral because the cerebral lives inside his mind. It's all fantasy.

The cerebral refuses to introduce into the fantasy any physical object and his body is a physical object.

While the somatic is partly accommodated to reality, partly compromises with it, is more transient and flexible, the somatic accepts the inevitability.

The immanence of his body. I have a body. That's it. I have to live with it.

Now, how can I make the best of it?

And this is what the somatic does.

And so the somatic is much closer to reality and much healthier mentally than the cerebral, actually.

It's a form of attenuated narcissism when it comes to the body, but the body is a very important part of life, perhaps the most important part of life.

Both of them objectify the body. The cerebral fails in the process of objectification because he cannot perceive external objects.

So he keeps finding himself stuck with his own body, which is always an internal object.

And the somatic succeeds to objectify the body by wielding it as a tool and an instrument for gratification.

The body is objectified. And in the case of the somatic narcissist, it is also perceived as fluid.

In other words, the somatic narcissist says that my body is like, I don't know, a smartphone.

And so I can install apps in my smartphone. I can change my smartphone. I can drift away from the factory settings by installing all kinds of things and changing and maybe rooting the phone or whatever.

So the somatic keeps experimenting with his body. He treats his body as a fluid body, this body fluidity.

Anything from makeup to plastic surgery to tattoos, which we'll discuss a bit later, bodybuilding, martial arts, exercise, extreme sports, you name it.

We'll discuss all these a bit later. All these are attempts to shape shift the body, to render the body mutable and malleable.

And so exert control over the body. The somatic regains an internal locus of control when it comes to his own body.

Whereas all narcissists have an external locus of control. They blame other people, the environment, the government, history. They blame the outside for their own failures and mistakes and defeats and bad decisions and wrong choices.

This is called alloplastic defenses. So narcissists have alloplastic defenses, all narcissists.

The difference between cerebral and somatic is that when it comes to the body, the cerebral has alloplastic defenses as well.

The cerebral blames his body for anything that goes wrong in his life. The cerebral doesn't get along with his body. He keeps fighting with his body. He keeps repressing his body. He keeps punishing his body in a variety of ways. He doesn't exercise, he doesn't eat well and so on and so forth. Whereas the somatic develops an autoplastic defense.

In other words, the somatic takes responsibility for his body to the point that the somatic believes that he can mold his body, sculpt his body, that his body is like a work of art and the total discretion of the somatic narcissist.

Somatic narcissist can do to his body whatever he wishes.

So when it comes to the body, the somatic has an internal locus of control with autoplastic defenses.

This cerebral has an external locus of control with alloplastic defenses.

And in this sense, again, the somatic is much healthier than this cerebral, mentally speaking.

In the case of the somatic, the body is objectified and presented as a bait.

It is a strategy to elicit supply.

The somatic's internal monologue is, if I just shape my body, take care of it, remold it, paint it, I don't know, if I use it in a variety of ways, I can bait people, I can lure them, can attract them to me, they will provide me with narcissistic supply by complimenting my body, by interacting with my body, by gratifying my body, by providing for my body, generally by worshipping my body.

So the somatic narcissist is very close to some pagan religions and some elements in monotheistic religions, which regard the body as a temple, a shrine, the body is a religious essence or element, where you have to somehow service the body, pray to the body and sacrifice to the body.

And exactly as the Romans said, that a healthy mind is in a healthy body.

Taking care of the body will also automatically translate to a superior mind somehow.

That's why somatic narcissists transition to cerebral narcissists and they believe that their physical endowments are equivalent to intellectual endowments. They have heft and they mistake it for intellectual heft.

And so this is a common fallacy in the mind of the somatic.

He says to himself, my commitment to my body, my investment in my body, my affect is in my body, my resources I keep piling into my body, putting in my body, the regime, my discipline, all these demonstrate and show who I am. This is my essence. I'm disciplined, I am resourceful, I am serious, I'm committed, I'm a good person, I'm this and that.

So the body serves as a form of virtue signaling.

The somatic uses his body to signal virtue.

You see, his body is a message. You see how well taken care of is my body. You see how I'm not neglecting myself. You see how healthy I am.

And this means that I'm intellectually somehow superior because I realize the importance of my body.

And unlike you, inferior to me, I really put the effort into maintaining it superior.

So the body becomes a bait and a strategy to elicit supply.

The somatic leverages his body to obtain narcissistic supply in a variety of ways, some of which are very surprising.

Consider, for example, flagellation or religious mortification.

Dan Brown, the Dan Brown novels.

Christian saints flagellating themselves, you know, Diogenes in his barrel, Gandhi, the emaciated Gandhi, and endurance sports, extreme sports and so on.

These are all forms of punishing the body, mortifying it, flagellating it in order to demonstrate virtue, to signal and broadcast virtue.

Even political prisoners, you know, they brag about the horrible conditions and the penal colonies and prisons in which they find themselves because the suffering of the body is proof positive of virtue and guarantees God's grace and blessing.

So Christian martyrology and Islamic martyrology, shihada and so on.

So they are all centered around the idea that the body can somehow be converted into a ticket to heaven.

Somehow, if you were to sacrifice your well-being, your comfort, creature comforts, your desires, your passions, and that's why Catholic priests never get married and are not allowed to have sex.

It's a form of self-denial disguised as a commitment to a larger cause, or in the case of nuns, they're married to Jesus.

But it's really about mortifying the flesh.

So punishing the flesh somehow is proof of a virtuous, moral, ethical personality.

And this is an integral part of the repertory of the somatic narcissist.

Even going to the gym four hours a day, lifting weights, sweating, and so on and so forth, these are all visible, ostentatious signs of self-denial, self-punishment, self-flagellation, self-motification.


Pain is a currency that says a lot about you. If you're willing to endure pain, if you're willing to experience pain, it means you're strong, you're resilient, you're trustworthy, you're reliable, you're disciplined, all the good qualities.

So this is a surprising way that the body is used by the somatic narcissist to attract attention, positive attention, adulation, affirmation, adoration, applause, follow sheep, followers, disciples, and so on and so forth.

And this is very easy for the somatic to accomplish because the somatic is interested only in his or her, of course. Remember, he, she, gender pronouns? Somatic is interested only in his body. No one else's body.

Only his.

Now, this would come as a major surprise to you, to some of you, because most of you assume that somatic narcissists are interested in other people's bodies, sexually or otherwise.

That is absolutely not true. The only body in which the somatic narcissist finds an interest is his own.

The only relationship he has, corporeal relationship, is with his own carcass or body.

And because the somatic narcissist is, after all, a narcissist. And narcissists are capable, because they are stuck at an early stage of development, their children, narcissist are children, pre-pubescent, pre-adolescent children.

So because they're like that, narcissists are capable only of auto-erotic gratification. They derive sexual arousal and sexual gratification only from their own bodies and by interacting with their own bodies, not with anyone else's body.

So the interest of the somatic narcissist is in his own body.

And when I mentioned flagellation or the modification of the flesh or extreme denial of bodily needs, fasting, endurance sports, extreme athletics, spending four hours at the gym each day.

And so all these have to do with auto-erotic gratification. The somatic narcissist is testing his body to the limits because it's arousing.

To discover one's omnipotence, one's divinity, by pushing your body to the limits is an endorphin gratification. It's a dopamine high. It's something that is addictive. And it's very auto-erotic. You're developing a sweaty relationship with your own perspiration. You are making love to your own body in effect.

Even the somatic narcissist sex, remember that cerebrals are by and large asexual. They abstain from having sex completely. But the somatic is hypersex. The somatic pursues sexual adventures and acts with a vengeance, with a zeal, with a compulsive about it.

So why the sex? If I've just said that narcissists are auto-erotic, that they derive sexual arousal and gratification from their own bodies.

So why do they need other bodies? They need other people in order to confirm to them how attractive their bodies are.

Like all narcissists, somatic narcissists require external regulation. So in order for the somatic narcissist to regard his own body as a sex object, in order for the somatic narcissist to be attracted to his own body, in order for the somatic narcissist to be aroused by his own body and then gratified by his own body, he needs other people to tell him that his body is attractive, that his body is arousing, that his body is sexy. He needs this external regulation exactly the same way that a cerebral narcissist needs other people to tell him that he's a genius.

So that's why somatic narcissists have sex with other people, compulsive sex. It's not sex. It's narcissistic supply.

The sex is confirmatory. It confirms to the somatic narcissist that his body is irresistible, that it's okay to be aroused by his own body.

Indeed, sex with the somatic narcissist is very masturbatory. The somatic narcissist masturbates with a partner's body, objectifies the partner's body, often degrades, sometimes statistically, the partner's body.

The partner's body is there in order to allow the somatic narcissist to derive arousal and gratification from his own body. It's the equivalent of a dildo, animated dildo, or animated sex-dome. It's not a human being. The somatic narcissist partner is not a human being.

That's why somatic narcissists are very invested and hellbent on statistics. How many times did you come? Did I make you come? Was I the best? Did you ever have sex like this?

Etc, etc. Because they need these performance statistics in order to buttress, to support their conviction that their bodies are irresistible.

The reaction of the sex partner is just an affirmation or confirmation that it is okay, it's rational for the somatic narcissist to make love with himself through the partner or not through the partner.

But it's all about the somatic narcissist and his relationship with his body. Other bodies are incidental.

That's why the phrase "sexual narcissist" is very misleading and very wrong and I never use it. It's not sexual narcissist. It's somatic narcissist.

The somatic narcissist somatizes his body, somatizes his narcissism, using his body not only via sex.

The somatic narcissist derives narcissistic supply by leveraging his body, by displaying and exhibiting his body.

It's often done not in sex but in other settings, in a gym, in bodybuilding, tourneers, in wrestling.

So it's wrong to say sexual narcissist. The narcissist who is invested in sex is a narcissist who is invested in his body in sex.

So he's going to use his body in any way possible to obtain narcissistic supply, sexual or not.

Let's consider a few of these ways.

Signaling. The somatic narcissist uses his body as a signal, a message, a broadcast.

His body is a palimpsest of hidden and overt texts piled on top of each other. Tattoos, for example. Tattoos externalize the somatic narcissist's essence. They record the somatic narcissist's personal history, milestones, mnemonics and so on. They're like a book.

Somatic narcissist tattoos are like a book. And they're definitely intended to elicit curiosity, questions, reactions from bystanders and observers. They're a tool of obtaining a tool, an instrument for obtaining narcissistic supply.

The somatic narcissist makes use of his skin, his skin deep anyhow, but he makes use of his skin to obtain supply.

This has nothing to do with sex. And yet it is very common in somatic narcissism.

Now tattoos have a strong history, a long history. In many places in the world tattoos designates a rank hierarchy, social hierarchy. Or, for example, in the Pacific Islands, Maori's and so on and so forth.

In other places tattoos serve as badges of in-group affiliation, for example, in gangs, various criminal gangs and so on.

But in the case of the somatic narcissist tattoos are not part of a cultural phenomenon. They are a message, the equivalent of texting, texting with your skin.

And they're intended definitely to lure and attract and entrap and convert possible sources of narcissistic supply.

And again, it has nothing to do with sex. So sexual narcissism is wrong. It's partial. It's reductionist. It's counterfactual.

Somatic narcissist use their body in any way imaginable, including in sex, which is actually not sex. It is autoerotic. They're using the partner's body, but the partner is not there as far as they're concerned. They are unable to perceive external objects.

Bodybuilding, for example, is compensatory. The somatic narcissist uses bodybuilding to rewrite his body.

If you consider the body as a text, he rewrites the text by a bodybuilding. He rewires his musculature by changing the emphasis, emphasizing certain muscles over others because they're more visible.

So it's all about visibility and ostentatiousness and communication. These are all forms of communication, tattooing, bodybuilding.

Somatic narcissism doesn't have to be done. Doesn't have to be done.

For example, martial arts, which definitely attract their share of somatic narcissist, especially covert somatic narcissism.

Martial arts are deeply immersed in and emanate from philosophies and worldviews, which are pretty complex.

So you don't have to be done to be somatic.

It's just that your emphasis is on the body.

You have a truly attractive body.

Your body is more amenable to manipulation or to reshaping than the cerebro.

Or because your intellect or intelligence are not outstanding, as are the intellect and intelligence of the cerebro.

The narcissist uses his natural endowments, whatever they may be, to obtain supply.

Somatic narcissism happens to have a nice body and the cerebral narcissist happens to have an amazing mind.

So they use them to obtain supply.

But somatic narcissism is not about sex.

So it's not sexual narcissism.

It's also about sex.

And even then, it's a strange kind of sex, as I made clear.

Extreme sports.

It's also a form of somatic narcissism.

You know what? Sartorial attire.

How you dress.

Norm core, maybe?


Clothing is a form of signaling.

It signals your social ingroup, your belonging or affiliation with a specific socio-economic stratum, worldview, philosophy, and so on and so forth.

The somatic narcissist dresses ostentatiously, conspicuously.

His attire, his fashion statements are statements. They're intended to attract attention.

He is always overclad.

And even when he is dressed ostensibly simply, it's with very expensive items, which he makes sure everyone knows are expensive.

And he fits the clothing to his specific musculature, dimensions and proportions and so on, in order to aggrandize himself and emphasize.

And of course, attract, attract potential sources of narcissistic supply, which in the case of the somatic narcissist could become sex partners.

So as to allow the somatic narcissist to make love to himself with the body via the body of another partner.

It is therefore not surprising that among somatic narcissist, homosexuality is more common than in the general population.

Because the sex is auto-erotic, the somatic narcissist is attracted to the same sex, to himself.

He's attracted to himself and so he's attracted to the same sex.

And so this allows for homosexuality to be much more gratifying in somatic narcissism than heterosexuality.

All this has to do with a mechanism that I am working on nowadays and that I've nicknamed "othering".

Othering is recognizing and accepting the externality and separateness of other people.

The child "others" himself via his mother's gaze.

The child suddenly perceives himself through mommy's gaze, through mommy's eyes.

Prior to that, the child is merged, infused with mother in a symbiotic state.

But then one day, the child wakes up and realizes, "Mommy sees me, so there must be a me and a mommy." And a mommy, and we are not the same.

So, "othering" starts very early in life.

It starts at a point where the child realizes his own separateness and externality to his mother.

This is a major traumatic event.

The world breaks into "me" and "mommy world".

For example, at that point, the child "others" himself through his mother's gaze.

But when this happens, which is usually around the age of 18 months, when the first incident of "othering" happens, when the child "others" himself through his mother's eyes, the child doesn't have a fully-constellated and integrated self.

He doesn't have an ego. He doesn't have much of a mind to talk of.

His brain is still developing. There's nobody there, almost.

I mean, there are a few rudimentary apparatuses. There's some templates and infrastructure, which later will blossom into a full-fledged human being with a personality.

But at the age of 18 months, there's very little there. And yet, the child is able to internalize the new insight that he is separate from "mommy".

He is not the same as mother. He is external to mother.

And therefore, there is the child and the rest of the world, including mother.

This is the first instance of "othering".

Because the child doesn't have much of a mind and no personality at all, no self, no ego.

The child "others" himself from "mommy" through his body.

The child perceives his separateness from "mommy", his externality to mother, the fact that he is not mother.

He perceives this through the only instrument at his disposal, his body.

And this is what Freud called the "psycho-sexual stages of development".

You know, oral stage, anal stage and so on.

They all have to do with the body.

Only much, much later in life does the child begin to "other" himself through his mind.

And this is a very early form of splitting.

But it is neutral splitting.

Whereas the splitting defense mechanism is black and white, good and bad, all or nothing.

It is dichotomous thinking. It divides the world.

"I'm all bad, my mother is all good", that's a form of splitting.

The earliest form of splitting, proto-splitting, is neutral.

It just says, "There's me and there's mother".

The world is split. The world is broken.

And this is done through the body. And much, much later, through the mind.

So the child, others, his mother, he realizes that there is him or her and there is the other.

And the first other is the child.

The child perceives himself or herself as an other.

And then once the child has integrated and consolidated, once the child has developed an identity, however rudimentary, however basic, the child then "others" mother.

And having "othered" mother, having come to the conclusion or to the realization that mother is an "other", another person, the child is incapable of othering other people, realizing that they are separate from him, that they are external to him.

He develops boundaries and he is ready for object relations.

In clinical terms or psychoanalytic terms, we say that the child transitions from autoerotic narcissistic libido to other directed object libido.

So, to summarize these stages, the child is born.

At first, he is merged and fused with mother. The child doesn't see the difference or the distinction between himself and mother. It's a single unitary entity. The whole world is one. The child, mother, others, the old one.

Then, through the mother's gaze, through the mother's eyes, the child realizes that he is separate from mother and he "others" himself.

He begins to realize that he is "other" in mother's eyes. He still sees the world through mother's eyes. Mother is still the intermediary and the agent through which he perceives the world.

So, he "others" himself because in his mother's eyes or through his mother's gaze, he is the other.

So, the first thing, first instance of "othering" is self-othering.

Gradually, the child develops an identity, an ego, a self, personality and so on.

And so, the child is integrated and consolidated and becomes one with himself.

So, he doesn't regard himself as the other. He begins to regard mother as the other.

And then, he regards other people as others, separate to him and external to him.

Narcissism is a failure of "othering", disrupted "othering".

The child remains stuck in his own avid body. He becomes somatic, solipsistically somatic.

So, if the interruption, if the disruption in development is at an extremely early stage, when the child processes "othering" through his body because he doesn't have a mind, and if he gets stuck there, then he would "other" his own body.

The "othering" of the body would be fixated at that stage.

So, his body would become an object, an "other", and he would treat his body as an "other".

His relationship with his body throughout his life will remain as if his body were not him, estranged, something else, an object, an instrument, a container, a laboratory, but not him.

There will not be a feeling of co-extant, co-terminus existence between himself and his body.

It's as if his mind somehow was observing his body, or residing outside his body, or projected outside his body somehow.

If the disruption happens much later, then the mind is "othered".

This is solipsistically cerebral. The mind is "othered", the mind is perceived as this enormous contraption or machine.

Cerebral narcissists very often talk about their brains as if their brains were alien to them, as if their brains were some kind of computer, a device they are using, not they.

So, the narcissist that regards his own body as "othered" is the narcissist who got stuck developmentally at a very early stage.

And the narcissist who gets stuck at a much later stage becomes cerebral, and the others is mind, not his body.

That is why cerebles have a very conflicted relationship with the body.

They have difficulty to objectify their own bodies, whereas somatics can objectify their bodies with ease.

Because somatic gets stuck at a stage where the body is "othered", whereas the cerebral is transitioned through this stage, completed it successfully, and moved on to where the mind is "othered".

In any case, it's an "othering" thing.

Of course, this raises the question.

I just said earlier in this video that somatics are healthier than cerebral, closer to reality.

How to reconcile that statement with this statement that somatics are stuck at a much earlier developmental stage?

The thing is that reality testing as an ego function is crucially dependent on the relationship with the body.

If you have a good relationship with your body, or if your relationship with the body is such that your body is functional and instrumental for you, allows you to be self-efficacious, more self-efficacious.

Then, even though you are stuck at an earlier developmental stage, you would still be closer to reality.

Self-efficacy is a measure of reality testing and the ability to operate in reality.

If you are close to your body, or if you use your body in a way that instrumentalizes it and allows you to derive or extricate beneficial outcomes from your environment, then you are closer to reality.

The cerebral denies his body, gives up on his body, hates his body, rejects his body.

Consequently, the cerebral is driven much further away from reality than the somatic.

A similar thing happened in Western civilization.

Primitive people in the Amazon, in Africa, in Polynesia, in Pacific Islands, in India, primitive people, primitive tribes are much closer to nature.

They are much more integrated with nature.

They are very self-efficacious as far as survival is concerned.

People in advanced civilization, and they are like somatic narcissists, because they are close to their own bodies and they use their own bodies to secure favorable outcomes from an environment with which they are totally integrated bodily.

It's all about the body.

In more advanced civilizations, and especially Western civilizations, we divorced the body.

And the emphasis shifted, at least until the middle of the 20th century.

The emphasis shifted to the mind.

It was all about the mind.

Science, day is dead, philosophy, it was all about the mind.

And so we divorced our bodies.

We denied our bodies.

In Christianity, for example, we divorced it, sacrificed it.

We mistreated our bodies.

We had a bad relationship with our bodies.

And consequently, we are experiencing a breakdown, a pandemic of loneliness, mental illness, and so on and so forth.

We are not as self-efficaciously as we think we are.

We are confusing technology with survival and survival with self-efficacy.

They are not the same.

The closer you are to your body, the healthier you are psychologically, regardless of your level of development.

And 18 months old can be mentally healthy.

The closeness to the body is the test.

The body does keep the score.

You need your body to be mentally healthy and to interact with reality and to be embedded in it and to make sure that the outcomes of your behaviors and actions are good for you, favorable to you.

And the somatic is much closer to his body than the cerebral is.

The somatic has massive problems.

He's auto-erotic. He instrumentalizes his body.

It's all true, but he's definitely much closer to his body.

The cerebral is bodyless.

It's just the mind.

The mind in the machine, the demon in the machine.

The cerebral is an obstruction, not real in any sense.

That's why ultimately cerebrals end badly, in many ways more badly than somatics.

Somatics gradually begin to resent their bodies because their bodies betray them.

They become diseased or disabled, aging, death, and so on and so forth.

And they try to transition to cerebral, but they usually fail or they're pretty reasonable.

But they end up the way most people do.

Most people have problems with their bodies at a later stage of life.

The cerebral is a different story.

The cerebral's hatred for his own body or her own body is such that his mind even becomes diseased.

The rejection and denial of the body are a pathology in its own unique right.

So cerebral narcissists suffer from the pathology of narcissism, but piled on top of it, there's the pathology of estrangement from the body, dissociated body, rejection and hatred of the body.

That's a pathology in its own right.

The second layer is absent in somatic narcissism.

And that's why, while it's true that somatic narcissists are more primitive as far as personal development is concerned than cerebral narcissists, they are also more mentally healthy and attuned to reality.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissist, His Body, Other Bodies (35th Psychosomatic Medicine Conference 2018 Video Presentation)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the relationship between narcissists and their bodies, focusing on somatic narcissists who derive attention using their body and sexuality. Somatic narcissists often misjudge their bodies and dedicate significant time and effort to reshaping and improving them. The cerebral narcissist, on the other hand, devalues their body and focuses on their intellect. Vaknin also explores how narcissists react to their own illnesses and accidents, as well as the illnesses and disabilities of their children.

Somatic Narcissists as Wannabe Gurus/Intellectuals

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses somatic narcissists who pretend to be cerebral narcissists, a type of covert narcissist. These individuals derive narcissistic supply from their looks and body, and often pose as intellectuals, gurus, or experts. They are envious of the intelligence and intellect of cerebral narcissists and may plagiarize their work. These somatic covert narcissists are dangerous and often pose as saviors or healers, but are actually psychopaths. Vaknin urges for them to be exposed and warns of the danger they pose to society.

Narcissistic Abuse: From Victim to Survivor in 6 Steps

To move on from being a victim of narcissistic abuse, one must abandon the narcissist and move on. Moving on is a process that involves acknowledging and accepting painful reality, learning from the experience, and deciding to act. It is important to grieve and mourn the loss of trust and love, but perpetual grieving is counterproductive. Forgiveness is important, but it should not be a universal behavior. Human relationships are dynamic and require constant assessment. It is not advisable to remain friends with narcissists, as they are only nice and friendly when they want something. Inverted narcissists who remain in relationships with narcissists are victims who deny their own torment and fail to make the transition to survivors.

Dissolve YOUR Snapshot, Amplify Anxiety of Narcissist: Love Slaves No More!

Professor Sam Vaknin teaches two techniques to deal with a narcissist: dissolving the snapshot and amplifying the narcissist's abandonment anxiety. The first technique involves negating positive sentences and amplifying negative ones to create discrepancies between the idealized snapshot of the narcissist and the real person. The second technique involves playing on the narcissist's abandonment anxiety by displaying physical weakness, illness, disability, or dropping hints of abandonment. Vaknin also discusses the development of the self in infants and how it is shaped by the mother's responses, and the impact of unexplained events on our emotions.

Dissociation (Amnesia) & Confabulation in Narcissism (Intl. Conf. Clinical Counseling Psychology)

Sam Vaknin, a visiting professor of psychology, discusses dissociation in narcissistic disturbances of the self at a conference in Tokyo. He explains that the narcissist's sense of self is regulated by feedback from others and that the narcissist's true self is suppressed and replaced by a false self. The false self serves as a decoy and absorbs pain, while the true self becomes dysfunctional and detached. The narcissist experiences life as a detached observer, feeling alienated and controlled by the false self.

Victim of Narcissist: Move On!

The narcissist lives in a world of ideal beauty, achievements, wealth, and success, denying his reality. The partner is perceived as a source of narcissistic supply, and the narcissist pathologizes and devalues them to rid themselves of guilt and shame. Moving on from a narcissistic relationship involves acknowledging and accepting painful reality, educating oneself, and gaining emotional sustenance, knowledge, support, and confidence. Forgiving is important, but it should not be a universal behavior, and no one should stay with a narcissist.

Narcissist's Vulnerability: Grandiosity Hangover

Sam Vaknin discusses the grandiosity gap and hangover in narcissists, and how these vulnerabilities can be exploited to manipulate them. He explains that narcissists react with rage to any criticism or hint that they are not special or unique. He also provides strategies for dealing with narcissists, including using specific sentences to make them go away.

How Narcissist Sees YOU

In this transcript, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the narcissist's point of view and how they perceive their significant other. The narcissist takes a snapshot of their partner and idealizes them, but as reality sets in, they begin to change the way they see their partner. The narcissist sees themselves as a victim and their partner as an abuser, constantly blaming them for things and accusing them of being manipulative. The narcissist also accuses their partner of being self-destructive and lacking self-awareness, and may plot revenge if they feel humiliated or shamed.

How To Love the Narcissist AND Keep Him?

In this video, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses two contradictory solutions to the question of how to love and keep a narcissist. The first solution is to emulate the narcissist's dead mother, which creates a reverse trauma bonding that keeps the narcissist coming back. The second solution is to conform to the snapshot of the narcissist's ideal partner and never deviate from it. However, Vaknin warns that being in a relationship with a narcissist is a form of self-harm and that the narcissist is an absence, chaos, and unadulterated anguish.

Mourning the Narcissist

Victims of narcissistic abuse often struggle to let go of the idealized figure they fell in love with at the beginning of the relationship. When the relationship ends, they experience a cycle of bereavement and grief, including denial, rage, sadness, and acceptance. Denial can take many forms, including pretending the narcissist is still part of their lives or developing persecutory delusions. Rage can be directed at the narcissist, other facilitators of the loss, oneself, or be pervasive. Sadness is a paralyzing sensation that slows one down and enshrouds everything in the grave veil of randomness and chance. Gradual acceptance leads to renewed energy and the narcissist being transformed into a narrative, another life experience, or even a tedious cliché.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy