How Narcissist's Victims Deceive Themselves

Uploaded 7/28/2011, approx. 6 minute read

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

In another video on this channel, I describe the concept of malignant optimism.

The abused victims of narcissists and psychopaths feel the need to be optimistic. They believe that maintaining hope in the face of adversity is the only way they can preserve their sanity.

I understand the need to be hopeful. It may even have some grounds.

For instance, there are gradations of narcissism.

In my work, I deal only with the extreme and ultimate form of narcissistic personality disorder.

But the prognosis for those merely afflicted with narcissistic traits or in narcissistic style, the prognosis for these people is much better than the healing prospects of a full-fledged narcissist, a patient suffering with narcissistic personality disorder.

Full-fledged narcissists are merely 1% of the general population and probably a small percentage of people who display narcissistic traits, behaviors or style.

So there is some grounds for hope.

But mostly victims self-deceive. They confuse shame with guilt. They attribute to the narcissist remorsefulness. They say that the narcissist is sorry that he feels guilty or actually the only thing the narcissist feels is shame for having failed.

Narcissists feel ashamed when confronted with a failure, a defeat, criticism or disagreement. They feel narcissistically injured. Their omnipotence is threatened. Their omniscience is questioned. Their sense of perfection and uniqueness is in doubt. They become enraged, engulfed by self-reprimand and self-loathing. They internalize their own violent urges.

Extreme cases may develop suicidal ideation. And it's easy to confuse this panoply of phenomena with remorse or guilt.

The narcissist punishes himself for failing to be God, not for having mistreated others. The narcissist makes an effort to communicate his pain and shame only in order to elicit narcissistic supply, the same narcissistic supply he needs in order to restore and regulate his failing sense of self-worth.

In doing so, the narcissist resorts to the human vocabulary of empathy. He emulates, he imitates emotions.

The narcissist will say anything to obtain narcissistic supply.

But remember, whatever he says is a manipulative ploy, not a confession of real emotions or an authentic description of internal dynamics.

No regret, no remorse, no self-attribution of guilt, no acknowledgment that he had wronged others or had been wrong.

Narcissists are infallible.

Some victims tell themselves that the narcissist is a child. Yes, the narcissist is a child, even a very young one, 5, 6 years old as far as personal growth, development and maturity go.

But the narcissist as opposed to most children can tell right from wrong. The narcissist is indifferent to this distinction between what he ought to do and what he should refrain from doing.

He is a law unto himself. There's no right or wrong except as decreed by the narcissist.

Yes, it is true that the process of reparenting or what Kohut called self-object, that such a process is required to foster growth and maturation in the narcissist.

But in the best of cases and when successful, which is absolutely, diminishing minority, negligible minority, even then it takes years or decades, the progress is dismal, incremental and glacial.

Yes, it's true. Some narcissists do make it. They modify their behaviors, their aggression, control their aggression, become less abrasive, more pleasant and their mates or spouses, children, colleagues or lovers rejoice.

But people survive tornadoes. Is this a reason to go out and seek one? People survive all kinds of calamities, all types of predators. This is no reason to remain in close proximity with such dangers.

A narcissist is a threat, an ominous and minacious danger, imminent. You should stay away, get away and stay away, not try to cope with the danger by somehow assimilating it, modulating it, performing it and praying to heal or cure it.

The narcissist is very much attracted to vulnerability, to unstable or disordered personalities or to people he considers to be his inferiors. Such people constitute secure sources of narcissistic supply. The inferior or those perceived by the narcissist to be inferior, offer him adulation, mentally disturbed, traumatized, the codependent, abused, become dependent and addicted to him. The vulnerable can be easily and economically manipulated without fear of repercussions.

Personally, I think that a healed narcissist is a contradiction in terms and an oxymoron. There are exceptions, no misunderstanding, but they are rare and they prove the law.

Narcissists do not heal and cannot be cured. Some behaviors can be modified and even that, not for long.

Healing and not only of narcissists is dependent upon and derived from a sense of security in a relationship. So many spouses or even victims of narcissists tell themselves, I need to provide my narcissist with a secure environment, a holding environment in which he can safely heal.

But the narcissist is not particularly interested in healing. He merely tries to optimize his returns, taking into consideration the scarcity and finiteness of his energy and resources.

Healing to him is simply a bad business proposition. He would rather invest his energy in obtaining narcissistic supply. It's far more gratifying and far more immediate. Narcissists are very weak when it comes to delaying gratification.

In the narcissist world, being accepted or cared for, not to mention loved, is a foreign language. It bears is no meaning as far as the narcissist is concerned.

One might recite the most delicate haiku in Japanese and it would still remain meaningless to someone who doesn't know Japanese.

Narcissists don't know love. You can love them as much as you want. You can prove to them that you love them. You can repeat, repeatedly tell them that you love them. It's Japanese to them and they are the quintessential non-Japanese speakers.

That non-Japanese are not adept at Japanese does not diminish the value of the haiku or of the Japanese language, needless to say.

But there you are. The narcissist is damaged. They hurt others, but they do so off-handedly and naturally as an afterthought and reflexively.

They are aware of what they are doing to others, but they simply don't care. Sometimes they sadistically torment people, but they do not perceive this to be an evil act, merely amusing. They feel that they are entitled to their pleasure and gratification.

Narcissistic supply is often obtained by subjugating and subsuming others. Sadism equals supply.

Narcissists feel that other people are less than human. Mere extensions of the narcissist or instruments intended to fulfill the narcissist's wishes, to obey is often capricious and volatile commands.

The narcissist feels that no evil can be inflicted on such sub-humans, on objects, on machines, instruments or extensions. He feels that his needs justify the means and the actions that he takes.

This is the kind of partner you are living with. This is the type of thing you are trying to modify. There is no one there under the shell. The narcissist is a shell and only a shell. He is alien because he lacks empathy. He cannot understand you. You don't speak the same language and in many respects, at least in the psychological level, you don't belong to the same species.

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

Can You Love the Narcissist and Rescue Him?

Victims of narcissists often resort to fantasies and self-delusions to cope with their pain, believing that they can rescue the narcissist from their misery and misfortune. However, loving a narcissist is difficult, and any attempt to relate to them emotionally is doomed to failure. Narcissists are addicts in pursuit of gratification through the drug known as narcissistic supply, and they hone in on potential suppliers like cruise missiles. Victims of narcissists can become bitter and self-centered, lacking in empathy, and become more like the narcissist over time.

Can Narcissist Truly Love?

Narcissists are incapable of true love, but they do experience some emotion which they insist is love. Narcissists love their significant others as long as they continue to provide them with attention, or narcissistic supply. There are two types of narcissistic love: one type loves others as one would get attached to objects, while the other type abhors monotony and constancy, seeking instability, chaos, upheaval, drama, and change. In the narcissist's world, mature love is nowhere to be seen, and their so-called love is fear of losing control and hatred of the very people on whom their personality depends.

Remain Friends with the Narcissist?

Narcissists are only friendly when they need something from you, such as narcissistic supply, help, support, votes, money, or sex. They also become friendly when they feel threatened and want to smother the threat with pleasantries. Narcissists are also over-friendly when they have just been infused with an overdose of narcissistic supply. Some people prefer to live with narcissists because they have been conditioned to treat narcissistic abuse as background noise and are compensated for the abuse by the thrills provided by living with a narcissist. However, inverted narcissists are typically unhappy and in need of help, which suggests that they are victims who experience the Stockholm Syndrome.

Narcissists Hate Women, Misogynists

Narcissists view women as objects and use them for both primary and secondary narcissistic supply. They fear emotional intimacy and treat women as property, similar to the mindset of European males in the 18th century. Narcissists frustrate women by teasing them and then leaving them, and they hold women in contempt, choosing submissive partners whom they disdain for being below their intellectual level. The narcissist projects his own behavior and traits onto women.

Narcissist's Certain Losses

Narcissists are obsessed with securing sources of supply, but once they have them, they lose interest and take them for granted. Many sources of supply eventually break free from the narcissist's grip, causing the narcissist to feel abandoned and lose control. However, when the loss is tangible, the narcissist regains his former zeal and embarks on a charm offensive to reacquire what was lost. Once the targets are reacquired, the narcissist reverts to his abusive and indifferent behavior until another round of losses and reanimation.

Giving Narcissist Second Chance

Narcissists do not provide closure in relationships and will stalk, cajole, beg, promise, persuade, and ultimately succeed in doing the impossible to get you back. The narcissist will cast all interactions with you in terms of conflicts or competitions to be won. If you have resumed contact because you are manifestly dependent on the narcissist financially or emotionally, the narcissist will pounce on your frailty and exploit your fragility to the maximum. Ultimately, the narcissist will write the inevitable cycle of idealization and devaluation.

Narcissist's Romantic Jealousy and Possessiveness

Narcissists experience anxiety when they become aware of their possessive and jealous tendencies. Anxiety characterizes all their interactions with the opposite sex, especially in situations where there is a possibility of rejection or abandonment. The narcissist's envy of their female mate is a result of an unconscious conflict, and they exercise their imagination to justify their negative emotions. Narcissists often strike an unhealthy balance by being emotionally and physically absent, which drives their partner to find emotional and physical gratification outside the relationship.

Paranoia, Narcissistic Mirroring, and Narcissistic Reflection

Narcissists tend to react with paranoia when they feel threatened, but these attacks tend to fade and the narcissist frequently homes in on new agents of persecution. The narcissist's paranoia is a grandiose fantasy aimed to regulate their sense of self-worth. The narcissist's partner tends to encourage their paranoid or threatening attention, and this is a game of two. Living with a narcissist can tilt one's mind toward abnormal reactions, and even after separation, the narcissist's partners typically still care for the narcissist greatly.

Self-destruction as Narcissistic Supply: Narcissist's Self-denial and Self-defeat

Narcissists frustrate others to satisfy their masochistic tendencies and sadistic urges. By withholding love, sex, and intimacy, they torment those around them while obstructing their own gratification. Self-denial, self-destruction, and self-defeat buttress the narcissist's sense of superiority and uniqueness, as they prove to themselves that they are the strongest and can overcome powerful desires and emotions. These behaviors and choices engender narcissistic supply, as they demonstrate the narcissist's independence from society, nature, and even themselves.

Narcissist's Beloved Paranoia

Narcissists feel victimized by those who fail to appreciate their talents and accomplishments, and project their negative emotions onto others. Their paranoid streak is likeliest to erupt when they lack narcissistic supply. Paranoia is used by the narcissist to ward off intimacy, which they dread because it exposes their weaknesses and shortcomings. The narcissist's paranoia, exacerbated by repeated rejections and aging, pervades their entire life and diminishes their creativity, adaptability, and functioning.

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