My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
Today we will discuss the complex relationship between the narcissist and his money.
When the narcissist has money, he can exercise his sadistic urges freely and with little fear of repercussions. Money shields the narcissist from life itself, from the inevitable outcomes of his own actions. Money insulates the narcissist warmly and safely like a benevolent blanket, like a mother's goodnight kiss.
Yes, money is undeniably a love substitute. Money allows the narcissist to be his ugly, corrupt and dilapidated self. Money buys him absolution, his own friendship, forgiveness and acceptance. Without money in the bank, the narcissist feels denuded.
But with money in the bank, he feels at ease with himself, free, arrogantly soaring supreme above the unwashed contemptible masses of people. The narcissist can always find people poorer than himself, a cause for great disdain, bumptiousness and inevitable arrogance.
The narcissist rarely uses money to buy, corrupt or intimidate, as opposed to common knowledge or common fiction.
Many narcissists wear tattered 15-year-old clothes. They have no car, no house, no property.
It is so even when they are wealthy. Money has nothing to do with the narcissist's physical needs or with his social interactions.
Narcissists rarely deploy money in order to acquire status or to impress others. Some narcissists even tighten their money. They hoard it. They accumulate it.
And like the proverbial miser, they count it daily and in the dark.
Yes, money can be translated into status. Yes, it can endow and bestow upon the narcissist's power.
All this is true.
But more importantly, money is a license to sin. It is a narcissistic permit, a promise, and its fulfillment all at once. Money unleashes the beast in the narcissist and with abandon encourages it, seduces it and seduces the narcissist as well to be himself, unmitigated self.
Some narcissists are not tight-fisted. Some are more generous, contributing to charitable donations, altruistically. Some narcissists spend money, lavishly. Conspicuous consumption, profligacy even, restaurants, trips abroad, five-star hotels, books, health products. Some narcissists buy gifts. Some narcissists speculate, lose and win hundreds of thousands of dollars, gamble, stock exchanges and in casinos.
But all of them, all narcissists, are insatiable. They always want more. They always lose the little that they have. They always grieve for it. They always seek to replenish it.
But they do all this not for the love of money, not for looker. They don't use money to gratify their selves or to cater to their own needs.
The narcissist does not crave money, nor does he care for money as money. The narcissist craves the power that money bestows on him. As I said, the license to dare, to flare, to conquer, to oppose, to resist, to taunt, to torment.
In all these relationships, the narcissist is either the vanquished or the vanquisher, either the haunting master or his abject slave, either the dominant or the submissive.
The narcissist interacts along the up and down axis rather than along the left and right one.
The narcissist's world is rigidly hierarchical and abusively stratified.
When the narcissist is submissive, he is contemptible. When he's domineering, he is contemptuous.
The narcissist's life is a pendulum swinging between being oppressed and being the oppressor.
To subjugate another person, one must be capricious, unscrupulous, ruthless, obsessive, hateful, vindictive and penetrating. One must spot the cracks of vulnerability, the crumbling foundations of susceptibility, the pains, the trigger mechanisms, the Pavlovian reactions of hate and fear and hope and anger. One must have what I call x-ray vision, called empathy.
Money liberates the mind of the narcissist. It endows the narcissist with the tranquility, detachment and incisiveness of a natural scientist.
With his mind free of the cotidia of the daily needs and worries, the narcissist can concentrate on attaining the desired position on top, dreaded, avoided, feared or adulated enough, yet in every case, deferred, obeyed.
Endowed with money, the narcissist proceeds with all disinterest to unscramble the human jigsaw puzzles around him, to manipulate their paths, to enjoy their arriving as he exposes their petty misbehaviors, harps on their failures, compares them to their betters, and mocks their competence, hypocrisy and cupidity.
The narcissist disguises these sadistic pursuits, in socially acceptable garb.
But once you get close to him, he draws the dagger, and in it goes.
He casts himself in the role of a brave, incorruptible, econoclast, for instance. A fighter for social justice, for a better future, for more efficiency, for good causes, a benevolent benefactor, an altruist, a charitable person, a delator.
But it is all about his sadistic urges, really. It's all about death, not light.
Still, antagonizing and alienating his potential benefactors is a pleasure that a narcissist cannot afford on an empty purse.
He cannot antagonize and alienate his sources of supply, unless he can buy, purchase alternatives.
When he is impoverished, a narcissist is a body, the best of friends, the most caring of tutors, a benevolent guy, a lover of humanity, and a fierce fighter against narcissism, sadism and abuse, in their myriad forms.
A narcissist adheres, he obeys, he succumbs, he agrees wholeheartedly, he praises, he condones, he idolizes and applauds. When he is poor, he is then the perfect audience, an admirer, an adulator, a woman, an amoeba, a zelig-like familiar, the spineless, adaptable form, slithery, flexibility itself.
To behave in this way is unbearable to the narcissist in the long run.
And this is why he is addicted to money, hence his addiction to money.
Money is the freedom, the freedom not to behave this way, the freedom not to be altruistic, not to succumb, not to be submissive, to disagree, to criticize, to humiliate, to taunt, to torment, to torture, to frighten.
The ability to say goodbye with the knowledge that your money will buy you the alternative sources of supply that you always need because you are a junkie.
It is the narcissist's evolutionary ladder, from slime to the sublime, and from there, a small step to mastery.