My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
Some narcissists are ostentatiously generous, donate to charity, they lavish gifts of their closest, they abundantly provide for their nearest and dearest, and in general they are open-handed and unstinctingly benevolent.
How can these be reconciled with the pronounced lack of empathy and with the pernicious self-preoccupation that is so typical of narcissists?
Well, the act of giving enhances the narcissist's sense of omnipotence, his fantastic grandiosity, and the contempt he holds for others. It is easy to feel superior to the supplicating recipients of one's largest.
Narcissistic altruism is about exerting control and maintaining it by fostering dependence on the beneficiaries.
But narcissists give for other reasons as well.
The narcissist flaunts his charitable nature as a bait. He impresses others with his selflessness and kindness, and this way he lures them into his lair, entraps them, and manipulates and brainwashes them into subservient compliance and of secret collaboration.
People are attracted to the narcissist's larger-than-life posture, only to discover his true personality traits when it is far too late.
Give a little to take a lot, is the narcissist's creed.
This does not prevent the narcissist from assuming the role of the exploited victim.
Narcissists always complain that people are unfair to them and that they invest far more than their share of the profit.
The narcissist feels that he is the sacrificial lamb, the scapegoat, that his relationships are asymmetrical and imbalanced.
He keeps saying, she gets out of our marriage far more than I do.
Another common refrain, I do all the work around here and they get all the perks and benefits, and so on and so forth.
Faced with such misperceived injustice, with such embedded asymmetry, and once the relationship is clinched and the victim is hooked, the narcissist tries to minimize his contributions.
He regards his input as a contractual maintenance chore, and the unpleasant and inevitable price he has to pay for narcissistic supply.
So he tries to minimize it.
After many years of feeling deprived and wrong, some narcissists lapse into sadistic generosity or sadistic altruism.
They use their giving as a weapon to taunt and torment the needy, to humiliate them.
In the distorted thinking of the narcissist, donating money gives him the right and license to hurt, to chastise, to criticize, and to be raped the recipient.
His generosity, feels the narcissist, elevates him to a higher moral ground, makes him superior.
Most narcissists confine their giving to money and material goods.
Their beneficence is an abusive defense mechanism. It is intended to avoid real intimacy.
Their big-hearted charity renders all their relationships, even with their spouses and children, business-like.
Giving retards intimacy. Their relationships are structured, limited, minimal, non-emotional, unambiguous, and non-ambivalent, using the currency of money.
By doling out bountifully, the narcissist knows where he stands and does not feel threatened or abused or exploited by demands for commitment, emotional investment, empathy, or intimacy.
In the narcissist's wasteland of a life, even his benevolence is spiteful, sadistic, punitive, and distancing.