I am Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
The personality is not a static structure which immutably permeates our being.
Personality is a dynamic, ongoing process. It is a series of cognitive and emotional interactions compounded by extraneous, external input, and endogenous internal feedback.
The personality is ever-evolving, though following our formative years, all subsequent personality changes are subtle and infinitesimal.
This labyrinthine complex of reactions, behavior patterns, beliefs, and defense mechanisms consumes a lot of psychic energy. We invest a lot of energy in maintaining our personality.
And so, the more primitive the personality is, the less organized, the more disordered, the greater the amount of energy required to maintain it in a semblance of balance and function, however precarious.
The predicament of the narcissist is even more multifarious.
People suffering from this all-pervasive and pernicious condition externalize most of the available energy in an effort to secure a narcissistic supply.
These people have a fluctuating, vicissitudinal sense of self-worth. They never know what they are really worth.
In order to regulate this fluctuating sense of self-worth, they consume narcissistic supply from the outside. They seek attention, admiration, adulation, and generally, feedback.
But to secure this narcissistic supply, the provision of this supply requires investing a lot of energy in constructing and then projecting a false self.
So these people have very little energy left for the functioning of their own personality, for the daily ego functions, for the daily routine of maintaining their personality in some kind of balance.
All their energy goes outside to secure a narcissistic supply.
Normally, one's energy, as I said, is expended on the proper functioning of one's personality.
The personality disordered devote any shred of vitality to the projection and maintenance of a false self, whose sole purpose is to elicit attention, admiration, approval, acknowledgment, fear, or adulation from others.
The narcissistic supply, thus obtained, helps these unfortunates to calibrate a wildly fluctuating self-esteem, and thus, as I said, fulfills critical ego functions.
Yet the constant pursuit of this drug, this narcissistic supply, the need to stay permanently attuned to one's human environment and to manipulate it ceaselessly by projecting a false self, all these activities inevitably deplete the narcissist's vigor, his emotional exoskeleton, his emotional outside skeleton, outside scaffold, is derived and Sisyphically constructed from the outside.
This is far more demanding than the normal endoskeletons, inner scaffolding, inner skeletons that healthy people possess.
The personality of healthy people relies on an internal structure that is well balanced and well constructed, agile, flexible, adaptive, and reacts to the environment.
The personality of narcissists relies on an external scaffolding, an external structure whose maintenance requires enormous amounts of energy in securing narcissistic supply.
The narcissist is an artist with himself as his sole creation. His entire energy is committed to the theater production that is his false self.
Hence, the narcissist's constant fatigue and ennui, his short attention span, his tendency to devalue sources of supply, even his transformed aggression.
The narcissist can afford to dedicate resources only to the most promising founts of narcissistic supply. He doesn't have energy to spare. He can't dedicate energy to people who may not be or are not sources of supply.
The path of least investment or the path of least resistance, if you wish, is very tempting because it conserves energy, scares energy, which the narcissist needs to secure supply.
So, narcissist resort to criminal shortcuts, violence, cheating, con artistry, lies, and confabulations.
This is because these shortcuts ostensibly help the narcissist keep a larger share of his energy available to other ends, the ends of securing narcissistic supply.
The narcissist's elan, force of life, life force, is run down, his vitality is drenched, and his verve is exhausted by the unusual need to secure from the outside what most people effortlessly produce internally and take for granted.