In the past, shall we say, 30 years or so, we have gained a more nuanced view of narcissism.
When narcissism was first described by Sigmund Freud, later by Jung, even to the age of Kovut, it was intertwined with internal processes, especially in early childhood, the formation and constellation of the self, relationships with others, object relations, relationships with mother and father, primary objects, etc.
But narcissism as a construct was premised on grandiosity one way or another. The outcome was a uniform description of the narcissist. It was called at the time the phallic narcissist, very tellingly.
The narcissist throughout the first 70 years was essentially a prick. So, and then in the 1980s, there was a new generation of scholars, Cooper, Akhtar, they were like a bridge between the British object relations school and experimental modern scientific psychology or aspiring to be scientific psychology. And so they came up with another variant of narcissism, the vulnerable covert, fragile and shy narcissist. And then the subtypes proliferated and I've given my share to this proliferation. I've contributed to this proliferation.
And today we have several important variants ofvariants of concern of narcissists among them, of course, the covert narcissist, but also what I would call the Dormack narcissist, which is essentially a schizoid narcissist.
Schizoid narcissist was first described in the sixties by the likes of Fairburn, country, Sutherland, Winnicott and others. And so now it's, it's rising again to prominence.
And this whole introduction is because today we are going to deal with a very, very counterintuitive topic. Some narcissists are like Dormats. They're like spineless, they're worms. They're not the braggadaccio macho overt defiant, almost psychopathic types that had been described in literature for decades. On the very contrary, they are obsequious. They're submissive. They are Dormats, as I said, they are so, and I have dealt with, with this subtype repeatedly in several of my videos, connecting it to the covert narcissist, to the schizoid narcissist and so on and so forth.
And today I want to dive deeper to take a deep dive into the psychodynamic foundations and roots of such behavior, which is not typically associated with narcissism.
And no, it has nothing to do with humility, with modesty, with a sense of proportion, with personal boundaries, none of this nonsense.
This group of scholars who keep glamorizing narcissism, keep trying to find high functioning narcissists, beneficial narcissists, benevolent narcissists, altruistic narcissists. I myself had described the communal and pro-social narcissists in the mid 1990s or late 1990s.
So, but this is not what it's all about.
Okay. My name is Sam Wagner. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, and a professor of psychology.
So the narcissist intimate partners cheat on him openly, with his best friends, with his colleagues, in his presence, ostentatiously. The narcissist's ideas, his inventions are plagiarized, idealized, and stolen brazenly and contemptuously, disdainfully by people around him. His property is seized. His children, if he has any, are made hateful and alienated. He's besieged by adverse outcomes. Things go badly. Things go wrong in every field and area of his life. All these negative outcomes. Why isn't he fighting back? Why isn't he, why doesn't he protest? Why doesn't he rise vengefully and demolish his adversaries and enemies and foes? Why does he counter this malevolence? Why doesn't he reinstate himself and restore himself? Doesn't he have any self-respect, any sense of dignity? What about his grandiosity? Doesn't his grandiosity drive him and motivate him to kind of punish and counter humiliate those who had shamed him and disgraced him in public, those who had absconded with his gains and hard fought for ideas and theories and texts? Why is he passive in the face of mass molestation and repeatedly metered abuse? Is he perhaps gullible? Is he perchance the thought cowardly and craven? Is he afraid? Are these the reasons?
Well, I can tell you no, these are not the reasons. Is he a doormat? Well, some narcissists are doormats. I have dealt with them at length in a series of videos. These are mostly the schizoid narcissists.
But the majority of narcissists who behave this way, and they are a minority among narcissists, let it be clear, but the majority of this minority, they behave this way for six reasons. And none of these reasons has to do with spinelessness, with cowardice, with doormatness, with obsequiousness, with submissiveness, none of these reasons.
So we have two groups of narcissists who react identically. Yet one group is essentially schizoid, cowardly, pain averse, conflict averse, etc. These I had already described, many of them are covert narcissists.
And there's another group of narcissists, which is essentially grandiose narcissists, phallic, classic, overt narcissists. And yet, they react exactly the same by not reacting. Even when they are molested, abused, even when they are humiliated, shamed, disgraced, attacked, criticized, put down, even then, they don't react. They're stoic. See, if I'm a kind of an attitude, you can't get to me. There's nothing you can do to me that matters because you don't matter.
So there are six psychological reasons for this kind of behavior.
Number one, entitlement.
These narcissists feel entitled. I deserve the best. The world owes me everything without any commensurate accomplishments or efforts on my part.
You see, all the negative outcomes in this narcissist's life, in this kind of narcissist's life, they come about because the narcissist staunchly, ideologically, refuses to commit. He refuses to commit himself to any place, any affiliation, any relationship, any language, any group, any course of action, any career, any profession, any job. He simply refuses to commit. He also refuses to invest. He doesn't invest in anything. He improvises. It's all slipshod. It's all ramshackle. It's all falling apart at the seams. It all looks bad and antiquated. It's all clearly impromptu and done offhandedly and absentmindedly. He refuses to invest in everything. If he puts up a website, it looks uninvested in. His relationships, his job, his career, everything, he doesn't invest. He doesn't commit and he never compromises.
And this is a result of the sense of entitlement.
I deserve the best. The world owes me everything without any commensurate accomplishments or efforts on my part.
Number two, magical thinking.
If I just want something strongly enough, it will manifest. It will come to pass. The secret. I am immune to adversity. I am immune to the consequences of my actions.
These are two types of magical thinking.
The first type of magical thinking, common among many self-styled gurus and mystics and so on.
The first type of magical thinking is all I need to do to accomplish something, to obtain something, to secure something is think really, really hard, focus really hard on it. And then the universe will rearrange itself and deliver it to my doorstep. That's a form of magical thinking.
The second type of magical thinking is I am immune. I'm in the hands of God. I'm in the hands of fate. I'm in the hands of destiny. And above all, I'm in my own hands.
So whatever I do, even if it's immoral, even if it's not okay, even if it's neglectful, disdainful, contemptuous, wrong, bad, I will never pay the price. I will never pay the price because I'm immune. I'm immune. I have immunity, cosmic immunity. I have a mission. I have, I'm here for a reason.
Many religious people have this.
And of course, Donald Trump. So I'm immune to adversity. I'm immune to the consequences of my misconduct.
And you know what, in the case of Trump, he's right.
Number four, ego-schizoid.
The narcissist misreads, misinterprets, and misconstrues social and sexual cues and signals. And so he knows this. He knows that he is not reading people properly. He's not getting what it means to be human. He doesn't do human very well. Of course, he reframes it in a grandiose way. He says, I don't read people very well because they are inferior to me. I belong to another rung in the evolutionary ladder and superior to these people. We are like two species. Of course, a human being cannot read a monkey properly. And similarly, I cannot read people properly.
And so he aggrandizes and he reframes his essentially disability, social disability, is autistic in a way, propensity and proclivity to misinterpret other people's body language, intentions, facial microexpressions, microexpressions and everything else, and even expressed speech acts.
So he says, well, that's because they are too inferior for me to interface with them, to interact with them. But he still knows that he's incapable of properly fitting in his schizoid. And he wants to avoid hurt. He wants to avoid pain and he wants to avoid toil. He's hurt, pain and toil averse. He also catastrophizes.
He says, if something goes wrong, it will finish me off. Everything goes wrong, ends calamitously wrong. So I better not start anything. I better withdraw.
The safest course is to shun intimacy or any committed meaningful relationships or investments.
So we're beginning to see that the narcissist's predicament in life, these negative outcomes that I've mentioned before, the constant recurrent losses, loss of family, loss of loved ones, lost of jobs, loss of careers, loss of children, loss of property, loss of ideas, loss of texts, loss of inventions, loss of everything. All these losses are because the narcissist refuses to commit to investing and to compromise. But it's part to the course. He accepts it. It's okay.
And he accepts it for the reasons that I'm mentioning right now. And that's why he's not exercised about it. He's not excited by it. He's not aggravated and irritated and triggered by these losses because he had come to anticipate them. And he had come to anticipate them as part and parcel of his grandiose self-perception. It's grandiosity. I'm unique. I'm superior. I'm above the fray. I don't belong in the rat race because I'm not a rat. I don't need to prove or justify myself in any way to anyone. I don't owe anything to anyone.
So it's like if my wife cheats on me with my best friend, I'm not going to show that it has any effect on me because I'm above this. I'm not an inferior person, not a common average Joe who is likely to react with jealousy and I'm above it.
He converts his disability into an ideology. An ideology that supports and supports and buttresses his sense of almost divine and sublime superiority. It's like by suspending himself, he is also obliterating any option and possibility of getting hurt, of caring, of minding, of being offended. So he never protests. He's never offended. He never stands up for his rights. He never fights back.
Because to do so would be to admit that he's like everyone else, that he's vulnerable, that he's weak, that he's not omnipotent, that he can suffer humiliation and punishment and aggravation and irritation and disgrace and shame.
And he can't countenance this. It runs against his self-image and self-perception.
So he pretends that whatever happens to him, all these so-called losses, they may be losses to other people, other inferior people. They may be losses to run-of-the-mill pedestrian people. But all these losses are meaningless to him. He's God.
What does God care if his ideas are stolen? What does God care if his wife is screwing around half the city? What does God care, etc.?
God doesn't care. God is above care. And the narcissist is above caring. He is immune, impregnable, impermeable, immutable. He is a sphinx. He's a rock. He is the core. He is like nothing can touch him.
And he needs to project this image at all times. And one of the ways to do that is to actually generate and encourage and foster an agenda and provoke losses so that the world can see how these losses have zero effect on him.
Look how strong I am. Look how resilient. Look how above everything I am. Look how divine I am. Look how untouchable.
And so he needs losses, actually. Losses are the litmus tests. They're the proofs and the evidence of his super humanity. He is superhuman. He is ubermensch in Nietzschean terms. He is the next stage. He is the next human.
And ubermensch doesn't care for losses because ubermensch is not emotionally invested in anything and anyone and any place and any period and any group and any affiliation or allegiance. Ubermensch is a role unto himself. The Superman is his only yardstick and benchmark.
The Superman constitutes his own standard. He measures himself against himself. The Superman can never lose anything because the only thing he has is himself. And the only thing he needs is himself. And the only thing in the whole universe that has any value and worth is himself.
All the rest come and go. Flitting, flotsam and jetsam. They enter. They exit. Who cares? Who notices?
And so this is the image.
This kind of analysis is trying to project. He's trying to project. See if I care. It's nothing to me. I'm indifferent. I'm apathetic. There's no way you can touch me. There's no way you can hurt me. There's no way you can change me. There's no way you can coerce me into a course of action. There's no way you can prevent me from acting if I decide to act. Who are you to me? You're an ant. You're an insect. You insects can interbreed. You can steal from me. I don't care. You steal my ideas. I can come up with 10 ideas a second. You steal my ideas because you are incapable of generating your own.
I don't care because these ideas are yesterday's ideas. I've already come up with new ones. I'll come up with new ones tomorrow so you can steal today's ideas. No problem with me.
See if I care. You have taken my property. I'll make new one. My children don't want to talk to me. All for the better. More time for myself.
It's all reframed in terms of grandiosity.
Finally, there's the issue of the imposter syndrome. The narcissist deep inside, all narcissists, by the way, in this sense, I disagree with Millon and others. I think all narcissists are actually compensatory. I even think psychopaths are compensatory. They're compensating for what Adler called an inferiority complex.
I think all narcissists, well, at least from my studies of narcissism and my database, that's pretty much very accurate. All narcissists have a feeling that they're faking it, that they're not real, that they're pulling the wool over people's eyes, that they're deceiving people, that they're very successful at pretending that they're great actors and people are easily led away. They swallow it hook, line and sinker.
And that's because people are stupid and gullible and naive and brain dead. And the narcissist knows this.
So he says to himself, I'm faking it. And the overwhelming vast majority of people are sufficiently brain dead to fall for it. And they will continue to fall for it. Good for me.
But one day, one day, I'm bound to be exposed. I'm bound to be forced to move on. And if I inevitably, ineluctably will have to move on one day, why bother? Why commit? Why plan ahead? Why compromise? Why have a long-term view? Why plan ahead?
Let me leave the moment. Cough the dim, seize the day.
So the imposter syndrome, the knowing, knowing internal realization that I'm just faking it, I'm just acting, none of it is real. And one of you is going to find me out one day. That knowing feeling demotivates the narcissist, demotivating because ultimately you're going to be exposed for a fraud, for a con artist, for a charlatan, for a dilettante, if everyone will come to learn who you are exactly, then why bother? Why pretend? Why commit? Why invest?
So you see, six reasons why the narcissist never commits, never invests, never compromises, because he never does. He loses everything. He never commits or invests or compromises with his significant others. So they abandon him. They cheat on him. They betray him. They become vindictive sometimes. They rage. They're disappointed. They feel deceived. Some of them, luckily not for him, not a majority, but some of them are going to punish him severely, humiliate him, shame him, disgrace him, hurt him, steal from him, etc. So he takes a huge chance. He's taking a huge chance by alienating people to that extent. He doesn't commit. He doesn't invest. He doesn't compromise at the workplace, in his job, with his business associates, with collaborators and so on. Sooner or later, they're going to abandon him. They're going to walk away. And when they walk away, they're going to take his intellectual property with them. They're going to take his rights. They're going to take his property. They're going to take him to the cleaners. They're going to take everything he owns. They're going to leave him destitute and homeless. And they're going to leverage the efforts and fruits of his work, his toil, his genius, his intellect and so on. They're going to become rich. And he's going to watch them helplessly, because he hadn't protested. He hadn't protected himself. He hadn't invested in a legal process. He hadn't committed to a legal process. And he hadn't compromised with them when he still could.
No investment, no commitment, no compromise. They lead to losses. They lead to abandonment, because a narcissist anticipates loss and abandonment and being cheated and being betrayed. He anticipates all these outcomes. He is not phased by them. He's not surprised. He's not excited. He's not irritated. He's not aggravated. He just says to himself, well, I knew it's coming. And here it is. I knew it's coming. And here it is.
Why make a big deal out of it? I'll just move on. And he moves on.
Itinerant. He's desiratory. He's all over the place and nowhere in particular.
This is a narcissist. An apparition. Here you see me. Here you don't. A ghost enters and exits people's lives, circumstances, places, settings, groups.
And then there's nothing. There's nothing.
He feels entitled. He has magical thinking. He's schizoid. He's grandiose.
And he feels like an impostor. Andof course, all these can be easily described as self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors.
Cleckley, Guttman, Sutherland, Seinfeld, many others have said that the narcissists and psychopath reject life.
Narcissists and psychopaths reject life. It's a rejection of life. It's a rejection of life.
And all the beauties that life has to offer, if you only commit a little, invest somewhat and compromise sometimes.
These are the three requirements.
You do these things which are pretty minimal and you gain access to the bounties of life. To love, to intimacy, to family, to belonging, to acceptance, to warmth, to sex. Commit a little. Invest a little. Compromise when needed. Don't overstep your boundaries, your own personal boundaries, but do compromise within your boundaries.
Narcissist is incapable of any of these. Not only is he not capable of any of these, he elevates his disability into an ideological, into an ideology. He says, I'm not compromising and I'm not investing and I'm not committing because I'm superior, because I'm entitled.
So he kind of traps himself. It's a self-set trap. He entraps himself in his own ideology, rigid ideology. He can't break out. He's cocooned. And he can't exit. He can't break out of this rigid envelope or shell of self-righteous, self-justifying, sanctimonious ideological underpinnings, which tell him everything you do is right. You're doing it right. You're right not to invest. You're right not to commit. You're right not to compromise because you're superior.
Because anyhow, sooner or later, you will lose everything.
So why bother? It's a rejection of life and everything life has to offer.
And of course, when you do this, you are being victimized.
This is the irony. The narcissist used to be an abuse victim. The narcissist is actually a victim of abuse as a child.
And then he goes through the rest of his life, victimizing himself again and again, re-victimizing himself. And he develops victim mentality. And victimhood becomes his comfort zone.
I'm referring to Guttman's later studies and others.
So the self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors of the narcissist, his ideological rigidity and willingness to commit, to invest, and to compromise, these lead to real victimizing. He is being victimized. He is being abused. He is being molested. Everyone steals from him. Everyone cheats on him. Everyone betrays him. Everyone mistreats him. It's all true. Narcissists are among the most abused groups in the population. They're abused by everyone. They're abused by their spouses. They're abused by other people. They're abused by institutions. They set themselves up for abuse and failure with their intransigence, with their self-imputed grating superiority, with their arrogance and hotiness, with their abuse and misuse and mistreatment of other people. They like trigger people to abuse them. They're like begging, please abuse me. We call this projective identification.
Victimhood is their comfort zone.
And so self-punishment via failures, via recurrent losses, via narcissistic injuries, and finally via modifications.
These self-punishments, they're the exact equivalent of self-mutilation in borderline personality disorder, you know, cutting and so on. They're intended to drown the internal pain and hurt and intended to challenge the narcissist to actually participate in life.
The British School of Object Relations, they came up with the most amazing insight. When the narcissist abuses people, when the narcissist is malevolent and vicious, when the narcissist is hateful and envious, when the narcissist is self-defeating and selfish, all these, they're actually desperate attempts to connect with the world.
The narcissist doesn't know how to connect with the world positively. The only way he can connect with the world and with other people is via conflict, via loss, via hurt, via pain, because this had been the template of his first ever relationship with his mother. That created the empty schizoid core.
Rather than become a zombie and cut off all human interactions and relationships, the narcissist chooses, opts for negative relationships. It's like he's saying, better to have negative relationships than no relationships, better to experience losses, better to be hurt, better to be humiliated and shamed than to experience nothing, than to be like the living dead.
These, all these negative externalities, misbehaviors, and the horrible outcomes to the narcissist himself, his own self-destruction and self-defeat, these are all last ditch attempts to reach out, touch reality, to somehow experience, vicariously at least, via conflict, the world.
The narcissist can't relate to the world in a functional, happy, motion-laden, loving, regulated manner. So he does it the only way he knows, by destroying it and by destroying himself.
This is his only experience with reality, via the shadow of adversity and opposition. The rest is in his mind, solipsistic, schizoid interaction with internal objects. It is a sad non-existence. It is a desperate attempt by absence to become presence. It is the void reaching out and people feel that.
People experience this surrealistic, fantastic, horror show, emptiness about to engulf them and they recoil and they hit back, sometimes instinctively and reflexively, unintentionally, not maliciously, but they hit back because they panic.
An interaction with the narcissist creates a mini panic attack all the time. Some people call it walking on eggshells. Walking on eggshells is the conscious tip of the iceberg of panic.
You can't interact with a non-entity and not feel it and not respond with panic. Narcissists and psychopaths are the walking dead. They are the closest to zombies imaginable.
And so when you come across them, some alert goes in your mind and you're immediately defensive. You're immediately apprehensive. You're immediately anxious. You're anticipating the worst and you know what? You're right. The worst is about to come.