My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
The irony is that narcissists, who invariably consider themselves worldly, discerning, knowledgeable, shrewd, iridite, astute, and generally street-smart and clever, narcissists are actually more gullible than the average person.
This gullibility is because they are fake. Narcissists are false, their self is false, their life is a confabulation and a sham, their reality test is long gone.
Narcissists live in a fantasy land, all of their own making, in which they are at the center of the universe, admired, feared, held in awe and respected for their omnipotence and omniscience.
None of this, of course, is real. Narcissists are prone to magical thinking. They hold themselves immune to the consequences of their actions or their inaction.
Therefore, they consider themselves to be beyond punishment and the laws of men.
Narcissists are easily persuaded to assume unreasonable risks and expect miracles to happen.
They often find themselves on the receiving end of investments camps, for instance.
Narcissists feel entitled to everything, to money, to power, to honors, incommensurate with their accomplishments or toys, to love, to perfection, to beauty. The world or God or the nation or society or their families, co-workers, employers, even neighbors owe them the trouble-free exalted and luxurious existence.
They are rudely shocked when they are penalized for their misconduct or when their fantasies remain just fantasies.
The narcissist believes that he is destined to greatness or at least that he is entitled to the easy life.
He wakes up every morning fully ready for a fortuitous stroke of luck.
That explains the narcissist's reckless behaviors and his lazed lack of self-discipline. It also explains why the narcissist is so easily duped, cheated and deceived.
By playing on the narcissist's grandiosity and paranoia, it is possible to deceive and manipulate the narcissist effortlessly.
Just offer the narcissist's narcissistic supply, give him admiration, a modicum of affirmation, some dollop of adulation, and he is all yours.
Harp on the narcissist's insecurities and his persecutory delusions and he is likely to trust you and only you and cling for you for their life.
Narcissists therefore attract abuse. They are haughty, exploitive, demanding, sensitive and quarrelsome. They tend to draw hatred and ill-will.
They tend to provoke anger, sorely lacking in interpersonal skills, devoid of empathy and steeped in irksome grandiose fantasies.
Narcissists invariably fail to mitigate the irritation and revolt that they induce in others.
Successful narcissists are frequently targeted by stalkers and persecutors, usually mentally ill people who develop a fixation of a sexual and emotional nature on the narcissist.
When they are rebuffed, these kind of people become vindictive and even violent.
Less prominent narcissists end up sharing life with co-dependence and inverted narcissists, equally clinging and needing.
The narcissist's situation is exacerbated by the fact that often the narcissist himself is an abuser.
Like the boy who cried wolf, people do not believe that the perpetrator of egregious deeds can himself fall prey to maltreatment.
Abusers are not supposed to be victims of abuse, although often they are.
People tend to ignore and discard the narcissist's cries for help and disbelieve his protestations even when he is truly a victim.
The narcissist reacts to abuse as does any other victim.
Traumatized, he goes through the phases of denial, helplessness, rage, depression and finally acceptance.
But the narcissist's reactions are amplified by his shattered sense of omnipotence.
The abuse proves to him that he is not all powerful and not all knowing.
Abuse breeds humiliation and humiliation is difficult for the narcissist more than to other people.
As far as the narcissist is concerned, helplessness is a novel and unwelcome experience.
The narcissistic defense mechanisms and their behavior are manifestations.
If you use rage, idealization, devaluation, exploitation, all these defenses are useless when confronted with a determined, vindictive or delusional stalker or with a con artist or with a scammer, that the narcissist is flattered by the attention he receives from the abuser, renders him even more vulnerable to the abuser's manipulation.
The narcissist can also not come to terms with his need for help or acknowledge that wrongful behavior on his part may have contributed somehow to the situation, may have exacerbated it.
His self-image is as an infallible, mighty, all-knowing person, far superior to others. And this self-image is like chains. He's shackled. It won't let him admit to shortfalls or mistakes.
As the abuse progresses, the narcissist feels increasingly cornered. His conflicting emotional needs to preserve the integrity of his grandiose self, even as he seeks much-needed support, places an unbearable strain on the precarious balance of his immature personality.
I repeat, for the one hand, he feels that he is all-powerful, he is a grandiose false self. On the other hand, he is helpless, he needs help, and finally he asks for help.
This contradiction creates a enormous inner tension, destructive, explosive.
The compensating leads to acting out. The narcissist disintegrates, the defense mechanisms disintegrate. He lashes out, he acts out, and if the abuse is protracted, the narcissist withdraws from any interpersonal and social contact. It can even reach the situation of psychosis or psychotic micro-evicence.
Abusive acts in themselves are rarely dangerous, but not so the reactions to abuse.
Above all, the overwhelming sense of violation and humiliation.
So, narcissist reactions put his personality, his defense mechanism, his integrity as a person, as a self, put all these at risk.
And the gullible narcissist is therefore in the throes of disintegrating, of being transformed.
Few narcissists come out of this tunnel and see the light. The vast majority of them remain buried deep within.