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Fanatic Narcissist and Group Affiliation: Church, Community, Team, Collective

Uploaded 1/17/2014, approx. 5 minute read

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

The narcissist is prone to magical thinking. He regards himself in terms of being chosen, or being destined for greatness.

The narcissist believes that he has a direct line to God, even, perversely, that God serves him in certain junctions and conjunctions of his life through divine intervention.

The narcissist believes that his life is of such momentous importance that it is micromanaged by God himself.

The narcissist likes to play God to his human environment.

In short, narcissism and religion go well together, because religion allows the narcissist to feel unique, God-chosen.

But this private relationship between the narcissist and God is a private case of a more general phenomenon.

The narcissist likes to belong to groups or to frameworks of religions.

He derives easy and constantly available narcissistic supply from these affiliations.

Within these groups, and from their members, he is certain to garner attention, to gain adulation, to be castigated or praised.

The narcissist's false self is bound to be reflected by his colleagues, co-members or fellows.

This is no mean feat, and it cannot be guaranteed in other circumstances.

Hence, the narcissist's fanatic and proud emphasis on his membership in a variety of groups.

If the narcissist is a military man, he shows off his impressive array of medals, his impeccably pressed uniform, the status symbols of his rank.

If he is a clergyman, he is overly devout and orthodox and places great emphasis on the proper conduct of rites, rituals and ceremonies.

Rigidity is the name of the game.

The narcissist develops a reverse, benign form of paranoia.

He feels constantly watched over by senior members of his group or frame of reference.

Rigidity is the subject of permanent, avuncular criticism, a center of attention, in his own mind at least.

If he is a religious man, the narcissist calls it divine providence.

And this self-centered perception also caters to the narcissist's streak of grandiosity.

It proves that he is indeed worthy of such incessant and detailed attention, supervision and intervention.

From this mental juncture, the way short to entertaining the delusion that God, or the equivalent institutional authority, is an active participant in the narcissist's life in which constant intervention by him is a key feature.

God is subsumed in a larger picture that of the narcissist's destiny and cosmic mission.

God serves this cosmic plan by making it possible.

Indirectly, therefore, God is perceived by the narcissist to be at his service.


Moreover, in the process of holographic appropriation, the narcissist views himself as a microcosm of his affiliation of his group, of his frame of reference.

The narcissist is likely to say that he is the army, the police, the nation, the judiciary, the people, the struggle, history, or God.

As opposed to healthier people, the narcissist believes that he both represents and embodies, reifies his class, his people, his race, history, his God, his art.

Anything else the narcissist feels a part of is also represented by the narcissist himself.

This is why individual narcissists feel completely comfortable to assume roles usually reserved to groups of people, or to some transcendent divine or otherwise authority.

So this kind of enlargement of the ego, inflation, grandiose inflation, also sits well with the narcissist's or pervasive feelings of omnipotence, munitions, and omnipresence.

In playing God, for instance, the narcissist is completely convinced that he is merely being himself.

The narcissist does not hesitate to put people's lives or fortunes at risk. He is doing it for the greater good, which also happens to be his own good.

He preserves his sense of infallibility in the face of mistakes and misjudgments by distorting the facts, by evoking, mitigating, or attenuating circumstances, by repressing or altering memories, or by simply lying.

In the overall design of things, feels the narcissist, small subjects and defeats matter little.

The narcissist is haunted by the feeling that he is possessed of a mission, of a destiny that is an integral part of fate, of history.

He is convinced that his uniqueness is purposeful, that he is meant to lead, to chart new ways, to innovate, to modernize, to reform, to set precedents, and to create from scratch, to reinvent, and to recreate his narcissist's raison d'être, the reason for existence.

Every act of the narcissist is perceived by him to be significant, every occasional utterance of momentous consequences, every thought of revolutionary caliber.

He feels a part of a grand design, a world plan, and the frame of affiliation, the group of which he is a member, must be commensurately grand.

Its proportions and properties must resonate with his.

The characteristics of the group must justify his characteristics, and its ideology must conform to the narcissist's preconceived opinions, prejudices, and biases.

In short, the group must magnify the narcissist, echo and amplify his life, his views, his knowledge, and his personal history.

And this intertwining and meshing of individual and collective is what makes the narcissist the most devout and loyal of all the members of the group, because without the group, he is nothing.

The narcissist is always the most fanatical, the most extreme, the most dangerous, ardent adherent.

At stake, he is never merely the preservation of his group, but his very own survival.

As with other narcissistic supply sources, once the group is no longer instrumental, the narcissist dumps it, devalues it, loses all interest, and ignores it.

In extreme cases, the narcissist may even wish to destroy the group, as a punishment or revenge for its incompetence in securing his emotional needs.

So narcissists switch groups and ideologies with ease, as they do partners, spouses, and value systems.

In this respect, narcissists know, narcissists first, and members of their groups only in the second race.

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