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Narcissism: Not Self-love!

Uploaded 9/10/2010, approx. 4 minute read

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

There are two crucial differences between healthy self-love and malignant or pathological narcissism.

The first difference is in the ability to tell apart reality from fantasy, and the second one lies in the ability to empathize and indeed to maturely and fully love another person.

The narcissist does not love himself. This is because he has very little true self to love.

Instead, a monstrous, malignant construct, the false self, encroaches upon the narcissist's true self and devours it.

The false self is a piece of fiction, a figment, an invention, and yet, its body snatches and soul snatches the narcissist until there is nothing left to love.

The narcissist loves instead this image that he projects unto others, the false self.

He expects other people to reflect this image, and this process of inventing and then projecting and then recovering the false self through the gaze of other people, this process reassures the narcissist of both the objective existence of the false self and of the boundaries of his own ego.

It blurs all distinctions between reality and fantasy. The false self leads to false assumptions and to a contorted, personal narrative. It leads to a false worldview and to a grandiose-inflated sense of being.

These grandiose fantasies are rarely grounded in real achievements or merit. The narcissist's feeling of entitlement is all-pervasive, demanding and aggressive. It easily deteriorates into open, verbal, psychological and physical abuse of others. Contitlement breeds aggression.

But this entitlement is not grounded in reality.

It is fantastic. It is only in the narcissist's head and in the personal mythology that he constructs.

Maintaining a distinction between what we are really and what we dream of becoming, knowing our limits, our advantages and faults, having a sense of true, realistic accomplishments in our life, all these are of paramount importance in the establishment and maintenance of our self-esteem, our sense of self-worth and self-confidence.

The narcissist lacks all these.

Hence his addiction to narcissistic supply. Reliant as the narcissist is on outside judgment and on the provision of narcissistic supply, the narcissist feels miserably inferior and dependent.

He rebels against this degrading state of things by escaping into a world of make-believe, daydreaming, pretensions and delusions of grandeur.

The narcissist knows little about himself and finds what he knows to be abhorrent, unacceptable and repulsive.

Our experience of what it is like to be human, of our very humanity or humanness, depends largely on our self-knowledge and on our experience of our selves.

In other words, only through being himself and through experiencing his self can a human being fully appreciate the humanity or humanness of others.

The narcissist has precious little experience of his self.

Instead, he lives in an invented world of his own design where he is a fictitious figure in a grandeur script.

The narcissist, therefore, possesses no tools to enable him to cope with other human beings, to share their emotions, to put himself in their place, to empathize and, of course, to love them.

He has no instruments. He doesn't have the apparatus required for the emotion of love. Love is a demanding task of inter-relating, interpersonal space, and the narcissist is not equipped to traverse this space and connect with another human being.

The narcissist just does not know what it means and what it is to be human.

He is a predator, rapaciously praying on others for the satisfaction of his narcissistic cravings and appetites. He seeks relentlessly admiration, adoration, applause, affirmation and attention, like a heat-seeking missile.

Humans are merely narcissistic sources of supply, and he overvalues, idealizes or devalues and discards them according to their contributions to this end, of provision of narcissistic supply.

Self-love is a precondition for the experience and expression of mature love.

One cannot truly love someone else if one does not first love one's true self.

If we had never loved ourselves, we had never experienced unconditional love and if we had never experienced unconditional love, we do not know how to love.

We are incapable of loving others.

If we keep living like the narcissist does in a world of fantasy, how can we notice the very real people around us who ask for our love and who deserve it?

The narcissist wants to love.

In his rare moments of self-awareness, the narcissist feels egodystonic, he is unhappy with this situation and with his relationships with others. This is his predicament.

The narcissist is sentenced to isolation precisely because his need for other people is so great and all engulfing and all consuming.

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

Narcissist in Court and Litigation

Narcissists are skilled at distorting reality and presenting plausible alternative scenarios, making it difficult to expose their lies in court. However, it is possible to break a narcissist by finding their weak spots and using them to inflict pain. The narcissist is likely to react with rage to any statement that contradicts their inflated perception of themselves or suggests they are not special. They feel entitled to be treated differently from others and cannot tolerate criticism or being told they are not as intelligent or successful as they think they are.


Do Narcissists Truly Hate?

Narcissists are often adult versions of abused children who fear intimacy and seek to provoke hatred in parents, caregivers, and authority figures. They act out antisocially and seek to destroy the source of frustration. The narcissist's hatred is not a stable experiential state, but rather a transformation of resentment and an aggressive reaction to frustration. The narcissist is heavily dependent on other people for the regulation of their sense of self-worth, and they resent this dependence.


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

Narcissists are victims of post-traumatic conditions caused by their parents, leading to ontological insecurity, dissociation, and confabulation. They have no core identity and construct their sense of self by reflecting themselves from other people. Narcissists have empathy, but it is cold empathy, which is goal-oriented and used to find vulnerabilities to obtain goals. Narcissism becomes a religion when a child is abused by their parents, particularly their mother, and not allowed to develop their own boundaries. The false self demands human sacrifice, and the narcissist must sacrifice others to the false self to gratify and satisfy it.


Narcissist Has No Friends

Narcissists treat their friends like Watson and Hastings, who are obsequious and unthreatening, and provide them with an adulating gallery. Narcissists cannot empathize or love, and therefore have no real friends. They are interested in securing narcissistic supply from narcissistic supply sources. The narcissist overvalues people when they are judged to be potential sources of supply, and devalues them when no longer able to supply him, ultimately leading to the alienation and distancing of people.


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.


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.


Narcissist Between Shared Fantasy and Pathological Narcissistic Space

Narcissists appear unpredictable and complex, but they are actually simple, with the emotional age of a two-year-old. They are trapped between their need for a maternal figure in a shared fantasy and their desire to explore the world through a pathological narcissistic space. When they become disillusioned with either space, they transition between them using four strategies: termination, deception, undermining intimacy, and persecretory object fantasies. This constant movement between the two spaces creates the impression of unpredictability and capriciousness in the narcissist's behavior.


Narcissist's Cognitive Deficits

Narcissists lack empathy and are unable to relate to others, instead withdrawing into a universe populated by avatars. They are incapable of holding an external dialogue and all their dialogues are completely internal. The narcissist attributes their failures and mistakes to circumstances and external causes, while regarding their successes and achievements as proofs of their own omnipotence and omniscience. The narcissist pays a dear price for these distortions of perception, developing paranoid ideation and fading the reality test.


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'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.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
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