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.