Indifferent Narcissist

Uploaded 9/14/2010, approx. 4 minute read

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

The narcissist lacks empathy. Consequently, he is not really interested in the lives, emotions, needs, preferences and hopes of people around him.

Even his nearest and dearest are to the narcissist mere instruments of gratification. They require his undivided attention only when they malfunction, when they become disobedient, independent, or critical of him.

The narcissist loses all interest in them if they cannot be fixed, for instance when they are terminally ill, or when they develop the modicum of personal autonomy and independence. When they stop being sources of narcissistic supply, they no longer exist, as far as the narcissist is concerned.

Once he gives up his erstwhile sources of supply, the narcissist proceeds to promptly and peremptorily devalue and discard them. This is often done by simply ignoring them, a facade of indifference that is known as a silent treatment, and is at heart a hostile, aggressive and sadistic reaction.

Indifference is therefore a form of devaluation.

People find the narcissist cold, inhuman, heartless, clueless, robotic or machine-like, precisely because of this inbred, in-depth, inherent apathy.

Early on in life, the narcissist learns to disguise his socially unacceptable indifference, and pretend that it is a form of benevolence, equanimity, cool-headedness, composure or superiority.

He says, it is not that I do not care about the others, I am simply more level-headed, more resilient, less emotional, more composed under pressure.

They mistake my equanimity for a lack of empathy and apathy.

The narcissist tries to convince people that he is compassionate.

His profound lack of interest in his spouse's life, occasion, interest, hobbies and whereabouts, he cloaks as benevolent altruism.

He says, I give my wife all the freedom she can wish for. I don't spy on her, follow her or nag her with endless questions. I don't bother her. I let her lead her life the way she sees and feels, and don't interfere in her affairs.

He makes a virtue of his own emotional truancy and absence. All very commendable, but when taken to extremes, such benign neglect turns malignant, signifies the avoidance of true love and attachment.

The narcissist's emotional and often physical absence from all his relationships is a form of aggression and defense against his own thoroughly repressed feelings.

In rare moments of self-awareness, the narcissist realizes that without his input, even in the form of feigned emotions, people will abandon him.

He then swings from cruel aloofness to maudlin and grandiose gestures intended to demonstrate the larger-than-life nature of his sentiments.

This bizarre pendulum only proves the narcissist's inadequacy at maintaining adult relationships. It convinces no one and it repels many.

The narcissist's guarded detachment is a said reaction to his unfortunate formative years, but the logic of narcissism is thought to be the result of a prolonged period of severe abuse by primary caregivers, parents, peers or authority figures.

In this sense, pathological narcissism is a reaction to trauma.

Narcissism is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that got ossified and fixated and mutated into a personality disorder.

All narcissists are traumatized and all of them suffer from a variety of post-traumatic symptoms, abandonment, anxiety, reckless behaviors, anxiety and mood disorders, somatoform disorders and so on.

But the presenting signs of narcissism rarely indicate post-trauma. This is because pathological narcissism is an efficient coping and defense mechanism.

The narcissist presents to the world a facade of invincibility, equanimity, superiority, skillfulness, coolheadedness, unvulnerability and indifference.

But that's only a facade of course. The frond, this frond is penetrated only in times of great crisis. Crisis that threatens the narcissist's ability to obtain narcissistic supply.

The narcissist then on these occasions falls apart in the process of disintegration known as decompensation. The dynamic forces which render him paralyzed and fake. His vulnerabilities, weaknesses, frailties and fears are starkly exposed as his defenses crumble and become dysfunctional.

The narcissist's extreme dependence on his social milieu for the regulation of his sense of self-worth are painfully and pitifully evident as he is reduced to begging and controlling for narcissistic supply.

At such times the narcissist acts out self-destructively and antisocial. His mask of superior equanimity is pierced by displays of impotent rage. He becomes self-loathing. He displays self-pity and craves manipulation of his friends, family and colleagues. His ostensible benevolence and caring evaporate. He feels caged and threatened and he reacts as any animal does by striking back at his perceived tormentors and his hitherto nearest and dearest who with all narcissistic supply from him. He's a drug addict in cold turkey.

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Your Empathy as Narcissistic Injury: Narcissist Never Learns, No Insight

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How Narcissist Experiences/Reacts to No Contact, Grey Rock, Mirroring, Coping, Survival Techniques

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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.

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The Signs of the Narcissist

Narcissists are difficult to spot, but there are subtle signs that can be picked up on, such as entitlement markers, idealization and devaluation, and a lack of empathy. Narcissists are often perceived as anti-social and are unable to secure the sympathy of others. They are also prone to projecting a false self and using primitive defense mechanisms such as splitting, projection, projective identification, and intellectualization.

Narcissist as Spoiled Brat

Narcissists require attention and narcissistic supply, and when they cannot obtain it, they may experience decompensation, which can lead to acting out in various ways. Narcissists may resort to several adaptive solutions, including delusional narratives, antisocial behavior, passive-aggressive behavior, paranoid narratives, and masochistic avoidance. These behaviors are all self-generated sources of narcissistic supply. Masochistic narcissists may direct their fury inwards, punishing themselves for their failure to elicit supply, and this behavior has the added benefit of forcing those closest to them to pay attention to them.

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How Narcissist's Victims Deceive Themselves

Narcissists cannot be cured and are a threat to those around them. Victims of narcissists often confuse shame with guilt and attribute remorsefulness to the narcissist when they are actually feeling shame for failing. Narcissists are attracted to vulnerable people who offer them a secure source of narcissistic supply. Healing is dependent on a sense of security in a relationship, but the narcissist is not interested in healing and would rather invest their energy in obtaining narcissistic supply. Narcissists lack empathy and cannot understand others, making them a danger to those around them.

Fake Doormat Narcissist Self-implodes

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