I'm sure to watch the first part of this series.
In the previous part, I discussed the formation of narcissism and its emergence on the individual level as a clinical diagnostic entity, and how narcissists actually broke out of the individual framework and the family and became a societal or civilizational or cultural organizing principle which imbues our lives with meaning and therefore qualifies to be a new faith.
I proposed in the first part that narcissism is a new, technologically driven, networked religion, and that God in the new faith of narcissism is distributed. Each and every one of the nodes in the network is a God. We are all gods empowered by technology, and as we feel God-like, we act as gods. We worship essentially ourselves. We sacrifice our true selves to the false self. We collaborate in ad-hoc self-assembled networks to achieve goals exactly as the brain does with neural pathways.
There is a similarity or almost identity between the way the brain operates and our civilization operates, and this new distributed religion, this new faith, not only explains the world to us, but provides us with useful tools, prescriptions and prescriptions on behaviors, on conduct, helps us to conduct ourselves, to navigate ourselves in the dangerous hostile waters of this ocean that is called life.
However, this raises a serious host of questions.
The first question that arises is how did narcissism develop? How did it propagate? How did it become a pandemic? How did it so happen that narcissism, which started as an individual clinical diagnostic entity, how did it become a global faith and a global religion?
My name is Sam Vaknin and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited.
Today we're going to discuss the missionary aspects of narcissism.
The narcissistrelies on something called the false self. The false self is a construct, a piece of fiction, a confabulation, which the narcissist creates in early childhood years.
The idea is that the false self will serve as a deity. It will be as strong as God himself, it will be a God, and it will protect the narcissist.
Remember, it's a child, so it will protect the narcissist by deflecting the pain and the hurt and by being all-powerful and all-knowing, brilliant and perfect.
The narcissist then proceeds to invest all his emotional energy and to get attached to and to bond with the false self.
We call this process cathexis.
But here's the problem.
The false self, of course, is false. Even the child realizes that the false self, being so fantastically grandiose, is in conflict with a lot of information that is coming from reality. It's in conflict with reality itself.
In other words, the false self fails the reality test.
What to do? How to reconcile the false self-forceness with the need to preserve it as a working hypothesis, as an organizing principle, as an explanatory dimension in the narcissist's life? How can the narcissist, when he grows up, when he becomes 20 years old, 30 years old, 40 years old, how can the narcissist continue to have the false self when he realizes that the false self is sometimes derisive, that it's false, that it's not very defensible, shall we say?
And what the narcissist does, it coerces people, it cajones people, it begs people, it forces people to provide him with something called narcissistic supply.
Narcissistic supply is attention in all its forms. It could be positive attention, adulation, admiration, affirmation, applause, or it could be negative attention, being feared, for example, or being hated.
As long as the narcissist notices, he doesn't really care.
Now, narcissistic supply has many functions which I'm not going to. One of them is to maintain and regulate the narcissist's sense of self-worth, but to maintain it and regulateit in a pathological way.
Put differently, the main aim or the main goal of narcissistic supply is to convince the narcissist that the false self is not false, that it's actually real.
So the narcissist goes to people and says, am I not brilliant? Am I not a genius? Or he says, am I not handsome? Or he says, don't you think that my accomplishments are outstanding?
These constant solicitations, this constant eliciting of feedback to support the grandiose outlines, contours of the false self, this constant process of begging for narcissistic supply is actually missionary.
What do religions, established religions do with the exception of Judaism? They are missionary. They send people out, they send missionaries, they send priests, they send preachers to convert other people to their point of view.
If you're a Christian evangelist, you would try to convert non-believers, atheists, secularists, you will try to convert them to the true faith. You will try to make them believe in the reality of Jesus. If you're a Muslim, you will do the same.
Establishment religions, churches, try to convert people. The more, the bigger the number of believers, the better off the church, the better off economically, and the better off in terms of power.
It's all, of course, about power and money, ultimately. Establish religions are missionary.
Narcissism is not different. Each and every narcissist is trying to convert you to his point of view. The narcissist believes that he is omnipotent, all-powerful. He truly believes that he is all-knowing, that he can learn nothing from no one. He truly believes that he's brilliant, perfect, and impeccably handsome. And he wants you to tell him, yes, it's all true. He wants you to be converted to the true faith. He wants you to become a believer in his version of himself, in his false self.
The narcissist wants you to suspend your judgment. The narcissist wants you to divorce reality, enjoying his one-man cult. But not as a member, God forbid, because membership is limited to the narcissist only. Not as a member, as a member, he is a worshiper. The narcissist wants you to worship with him the Godhead, the false self.
By cultoring to the false self, by acknowledging the reality of the false self, by telling the narcissist that the false self is actually a pretty realistic rendition of the narcissist, the narcissist gains affirmation, gains validation, gains confirmation that his false self is the truth, the only truth.
And what is religion about? If it's not about the truth, the revealed truth.
So this is the missionary aspect and dimension of narcissism.
Every narcissist forms a cult. And in this cult, there is a Godhead, which is the false self.
In the cult, there's one believer, which is the narcissist. The narcissist has a special relationship with the false self, exactly as Christians, some Christians have a special relationship with Jesus. And the narcissist leverages, uses this special relationship to feel good, to learn how to conduct himself in daily life, in his environment, to guarantee achievements and accomplishments, a fulfilled life, to feel morally superior, to fulfill all the functions that classical religion provides.
Narcissists can never be true believers in God. They already have a God, and the God is they.
The new religion of narcissism, as I've explained, is the first network distributed religion, the first network distributed faith. It's a faith where each node in the network, each number of the congregation, each adherent, each believer, each parishioner, is God himself. Each narcissist is God by virtue of having this liaison, having this direct access to the false self.
So each narcissist is God. Put together, all of them are the God.
So narcissism is a concept of God, which renders the narcissist equal to God, identical to God. It's identity politics in a way.
The narcissist is God, and God is the narcissist.
Where do we go from there?
If each and every one of us is a God, and put together in ad hoc self-assembling networks, we become even bigger gods.
Where does it leave non-believers, people who refuse to believe in the narcissist religion? And where does it leave humanity or mankind?
Should narcissism become the prevalent religion? As I believe, I believe that in 50 to 100 years, the number one religion would be narcissism. Islam and Christianity would be considered add-ons, plug-ins, tacked upon the foundation of narcissism. Narcissism would be like the master religion, and other religions will be like coats of painting on the foundation of religion.
So where does this leave humanity?
Well, let's do the first question.
If you refuse to believe in the narcissist and in his false self, you set yourself up for vengeance and retribution.
The narcissist, like every good zealot, like every good militant religious fundamentalist, does not forget and does not forgive.
In this sense, every narcissist is a mini-terrorist. If you do not accept his version of reality, if you do not worship his God, if you do not affirm and confirm the reality of that God, the validity of that God, if you don't tell the narcissist, yes, you are a divinity, you are a deity, you are god-like, you are the manifestation of godly attributes of earth, if you don't tell the narcissist that, if you don't engage in idolatry with the narcissist at its center as an idol, you shall be punished.
The punishment has myriad faces, anything from silent treatment to being killed, literally.
Narcissists will go to any length to force you to become the source of narcissistic supply, to force you to become a believer in the false god, which is the only god in the narcissist world.
And if you refuse to become a believer, then you are heretic, an upper state, and we know what established religions did to heretics and upper states. They burned them at the stake.
Narcissists will either then avoid you and shine you all together, dump you, or they will punish you if they have no other choice but to remain in touch with you.
And what will happen to mankind, will you mind it?
If I'm right in 100 years from now, the main and only religion will be self-worship, narcissism. Each and every person will consider himself god or god-like.
Empowered by technology, people will possess god-like powers. It would be very difficult to convince them that they are not god, because they will have god-like powers.
What will happen to mankind if each and every one of us is a god? If each and every one of us has his or her own way of interpreting existence and life, of conducting his or herself in society, of interacting with other people via interpersonal relationships, prescription and prescriptions, etc.
What happens when we have 10 billion competing religions, all of them claiming to be the only true religion, all of them demanding special treatment, all of them feeling entitled, all of them reacting with rage, fury, passive aggression, and outright aggression to any denial or any countervailing information, all of them involved in a confirmation bias, all of them within bubbles.
What will happen in this atomized, anomic view of the future of mankind?
Well, there will be no mankind, simply.
The very concept of mankind is very new.
Many of the concepts we use habitually and we think hail back to time immemorial are actually very new.
Take for example the concept of childhood, it's very new. Take the concept of romantic love, it's very new. Take the concept of mankind, of humanity, it's very new.
It's actually three or four hundred years old.
Prior to the invention of the concept of mankind and humanity, people belong to religious communities. They define themselves via God and via their relationship to God.
Ritualistic, established relationship through the Church and personal relationship outside the Church. Everything was mediated via the agency of God and God was the only agency and there was no other way to understand the world except through God.
So what will happen is we will revert to very ancient and primitive forms of organization and I'm not talking about construction projects or technology.
This will continue forever. That's not the issue. I'm talking about interpersonal, human, inter-human relationships. I'm talking about relationships between people. I'm talking about communities, the ways we organize ourselves, families and so on. All this will be done and will be done for good.
We will have become self-contained, self-sufficient, God-like, divine entities and we will make human sacrifices to our deity, our selves, our true selves, but also increasingly everyone else.