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Narcissist As Employee

Uploaded 8/31/2023, approx. 23 minute read

Today, I am even more cocky than usual, which you must admit is no mean feat, not easy to accomplish.

I have been invited to write an article about my recent work, shared fantasy, snapshotting, coercive snapshotting and the principle of dual mothership.

So I have been invited to write an article about all these advances and developments in my work to the European Society of Medicine.

They have something called the Medical Research Archive and they are publishing an annual special issue on personality disorders and they invited me to write an article about the research advances in my work.

That of course went directly to my head and inflated it even more than typical.

So bear with me, I hope you survive this particular video because I am going to discuss narcissistic employees, aka difficult employees in politically correct speech.

These are narcissists, bullies, psychopaths who work in corporations, firms and businesses all around the world, but not as bosses, as employees.


There is another video on my channel, naturally, dedicated to narcissistic bosses and how they manage the workforce.

But now I want to focus on the bottom ranks of the corporate ladder, the narcissistic employee.

And who the heck am I?

My name is Sam Vaknin, I am the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. I am also a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of SIAS.

Okay, self-congratulations over. Let's get to business.

And the business is the narcissistic employee.

Now, if you go online, there are like a bazillion videos on narcissistic employees, narcissistic bosses, narcissists in the workforce, narcissistic suppliers, narcissistic customers, narcissistic stakeholders, narcissistic copier machines and narcissistic espresso machines.

Yeah, you've got it all covered.

So the phenomenology is covered, but what is missing is the psychodynamics, the psychological background, psychological processes, motivations, emotions and cognitions that underlie the narcissistic employees misbehavior.

And I'm going to discuss today the inner landscape of the mind of the narcissistic employee.


Let's start with a basic fact.

Employment, being employed, having a job requires hierarchy.

You have a boss, you have someone above you and he has someone above him and she has someone above her.

Hierarchy, very few workplaces are organized as networks. The vast majority are still hierarchies.

So the minute you get a job, the minute you become an employee, you succumb, you accept authority. It's a command economy. You are by definition inferior and you have superiors.

Indeed, in many workplaces, that's what it's called. You're superior.

Can I talk to you? You're superior.

Now, there's nothing the narcissist hates more than to be considered inferior to someone who is superior.

He is anathema to the narcissist. He hates it.

He hates it because he is not on top of the pyramid. He is not the pyramid.

Narcissists don't regard anyone else as entities, as separate, as people. Narcissists regard others as objects, things, instruments, internal objects.

Remember, the narcissist snapshots other people and then he internalizes the snapshot. He introjects it and he continues to interact with the snapshot, not with the external real person who gave rise to the snapshot.

Narcissists have difficulty to distinguish external objects from internal objects.

And so the hierarchy, the discipline, the chain of command, the structure, the order are exceedingly difficult and taxing, taxing and demanding as far as the narcissist is concerned because these challenges, the very foundations and pillars of his inflated self-perception and self-image, in short, it undermines his grandiose, fantastic view of the world and of himself in the world.

He has someone above him, superior to him.

Employment having a job also requires in the vast majority of cases, teamwork.

Now we do have schizoid vocations, schizoid jobs like coding.

But still the overwhelming vast majority of jobs require teamwork.

Teamwork is egalitarian. You're equal to all the other members of the team. You're supposed to listen to what they have to say. You're supposed to consider the feedback and input. You're supposed to respect them.

No, no, as far as the narcissist is concerned. These are horrible counterintuitive demands.

He's not going to play the game. He's not going to succumb to conformism. He's not going to play ball with people who are manifestly more inferior to him.

Teamwork is not for the narcissist.

So hierarchy is not for the narcissist.

Teamwork is not for the narcissist.

When the narcissist finds himself as an employee in a structured order, ordered corporate leather type company with colleagues, co-leagues, co-same, co-equal, co-eval. When he finds himself in these situations, he experiences repeated narcissistic injuries.

And there is even a very high elevated risk of narcissistic mortification.

Remember what is mortification? Mortification is public humiliation and shaming, which is unpredictable, unexpected, and in front of significant others or peers.

And this happens very frequently in the workplace, especially if you're a jerk or an a-hole.

The workplace presents an arena where mortification is a lot more likely than outside the workplace.

It's a dangerous, dangerous space as far as the narcissist is concerned.

Just remember that narcissistic mortification is the disintegration of the narcissist defenses, a process known as decompensation.

The fourth self is deactivated.

And the narcissist remains skinless.

It's like he has been flayed and he remains defenseless.

He's firewall, he's disabled, and essentially he begins to disregulate and resembles clinically very much someone with borderline personality disorder.

The workplace from the very beginning, ab initio, is a threat. Everyone is in the workplace.

He's narcissistically injurious. The boss and colleagues are potentials for mortification, not a very pleasant proposition, one must admit.

So immediately the narcissist does what?

He tries to restore his damaged, challenged, undermined sense of grandiosity.

He needs to regulate his sense of self-worth.

And the way he does this is by divorcing reality, engaging in a fantasy defense, becoming delusional.

This is known as grandiosity.

How does the narcissist restore his sense of superiority, his belief in his own transcendence?

How does he do that in the workplace?

Well, through a variety of techniques, bullying.

Bullying empowers the narcissist, makes him feel omnipotent, all powerful.

The ability to inflict pain, to induce terror, fear in other people is very intoxicating as far as the narcissist is concerned.

And he continues to engage in bullying throughout his career.

Next thing, conspiracies, collusions.

Now all employees, everyone in a corporate structure is busy building coalitions.

Coalition building is a very common practice and very beneficial as far as the corporation is concerned, is encouraged and commended.

Coalition building is the prerequisite and the precursor of teamwork.

But the narcissist abuses coalition building processes and techniques. He renders them malignant.

And instead of building coalitions for the good, he creates and genders, participates in and initiates conspiracies, collusions, intended to target specific individuals who have narcissistically injured the narcissist or potentially have the potential to do so.

He tries to take down his boss. He tries to sideline his colleague. He tries to get someone fired and tries to get someone hired.

This is all collusive. These are collusive practices which go hand in hand with coercion and frequently coercive control with his underlings.

The narcissist displaces his rage, his anger, his frustration and his aggression, takes it out on his underlings, on his employees, on the people, his subordinates.

So there is a two-way flux here, a two-way flow.

Collusion flows from up down to the narcissist and the narcissist then redirects it at his own subordinates, people in who he is the boss of.

So collusion, it's another way to resuscitate and revive and restore damaged grandiosity because the narcissist is at the heart of the conspiracy.

The instigator of the collusion, the mastermind behind everything.

So he is in charge of the plot.

It's a bit paranoid because collusions and conspiracies involve a lot of suspicion, a lot of surveillance, a need to watch your back and look behind your shoulder and that fits the narcissist perfectly because paranoia is a form of narcissism. It places the narcissist at the center of attention, the mover, the shaker, the god-like figure, the puppet master.


Next thing is disruption and destruction of the workplace.

The narcissist is chaotic, is challenging, is ordinary, is constantly contumacious, hates authority and undermines it, defiant.

The narcissist disrupts orderly procedures of labor and productivity. The narcissist is destructive, his aim is destruction because he thrives, he thrives on disorder.

Now in economy, in economics, we have a concept of creative destruction. It's the outcome of innovation.

Innovation renders older technologies obsolete, destroys them, but this is good destruction. It's creative destruction.

The narcissist's way is non-creative destruction, non-creative disruption. There's nothing in the aftermath of the devastation that the narcissist wreaks upon the workplace.

It's not as if the narcissist is trying to clear the undergrowth and underbrush in order to grow new trees or new vegetation. That's not the case.

The narcissist is not making place for innovation, creativity, a spirit of togetherness, teamwork. No, that's not the narcissist's goal.

The narcissist's goal is to demonstrate first and foremost to himself that he has the capacity to punish, penalize everyone for the narcissistic injuries and mortifications that he has suffered. It's a form of vindictiveness, revenge, taking it out on the workplace, on his boss, on his colleagues.

And so it's a kind of Old Testament God.

He destroys the workplace, sabotages it in order to restore his sense of cosmic justice.

He engages in one-upmanship, passive aggression or outright rage, which could escalate and become violent.

And we have mass shootings in workplaces, which are traceable to frustrated narcissism, of course.

This is a narcissist's way of feeling that he is again in charge, again on top, once again the God of the workplace, the be-all, the person, the go-to person.

The hierarchy is structured and ordered, but the narcissist acts informally outside the formal structure of the corporation in order to generate parallel structure through which his power, his potency will flow.

So he's using parallel informal structures to channel his influence, the fear that he induces, the terror that he induces, the seduction he seduces people to collaborate with him. All this flows, all this is stealth, all this is unobtrusive, all this is very invisible.

Narcissist operates in a way that is essentially non-detectable.

And that's why narcissists bring down massive entities, massive corporations and even countries because they never operate within the power structures. They create parallel structures which are at their beck and call.


The next issue the narcissist is concerned with, having restored in his own mind at least, is God-like divine grandiosity, is abandonment, injuries, mortification. These are intolerable and he needs to preemptively prevent them.

So the narcissist would defect, he would abscond with the corporation's secrets, intellectual property and products and designs and so on and so forth and he would move to another, to the competitor. That's his way of reasserting his importance, his eminence, the control that he has over everything, including his erstwhile tormentor's future.

He is kind of denying the people who injured him and mortified him and humiliated him and shamed him and abandoned him. He denies them the pleasure of preemption.

He does it first and he takes away their power.

So defection, betrayal, treason, whistleblowing.

Yeah, I know.

Whisselblowing is good, whistleblowing is wonderful, whistleblowing helps keep people straight, whistleblowing prevents corruption and punishes, corrupt people and it's all very true.

However, whistleblowing involves a highly narcissistic personality structure.

Whisselblowers are narcissists, sorry to say.

They're grandiose.

Their main wish is revenge, vindictiveness.

They're snitches.

Not a nice word, not politically correct, but here you go, they're snitches, they're non-loyalty.

And I'm not criticizing whistleblowing as a practice.

I think it's essential, but it takes a specific type of person.

The motivation behind whistleblowing is not pure in the vast majority of cases.

It's a narcissistic power play and it's intended to restore the equilibrium, the sacred equilibrium of the narcissist's precarious what passes for personality.

And so to avoid abandonment, injuries and mortification, the narcissist's abundance injures and mortifies first, preemptively.

Subversion, the narcissist subverts traditions, rules, regulations, expectations, dreams, hopes, plans, programs, you name it, narcissist undermines, sabotages, subverts, destroys from the bottom up.

This is a form of control from the bottom.

He knows the foundation.

He is like a termite.

He eats away at the pillars, the axis, the pivots and the core of the environment in which he finds himself embedded.

And so this is subversion.

Nastasist is engaged in virtue signaling and competitive victimhood.

They create conditions and situations where they can claim to be victims and then they leverage their newfound status as victims coupled with their sense of entitlement and they punish, punish their alleged ostensible abusers, usually laughing all the way to the bank with massive reparations and compensation.

So this is another strategy which involves litigiousness.

Nastasists are notoriously litigious.

Nastasism, of course, is about appearances, not about substance.

Remember that the narcissist relates to other people exclusively via the shared fantasy model.

The narcissist forces everyone around him to mother him, to cater to his needs, to be alert to his special requirements, to kind of over him.

So the narcissist creates a shared fantasy in the workplace.

The shared fantasy, of course, is a fantasy.

It's not reality.

It's divorce from reality.

And it impairs everyone's reality testing.

Nastasism is contagious.

The entire workplace becomes delusional and infected in a way.

Everyone begins to behave narcissistically.

Everyone develops narcissistic defenses.

Everyone experiences complex trauma.

And so narcissists emphasize appearances, not substance.

Their entitlement, their entitlement is founded on appearances.

The narcissist sells you a narrative, counterfactual storyline or script, and then you have to comply with the fantasy. Otherwise you are punished.

So you have to comply with the fantasy. You're coerced into conforming to your snapshot in the narcissist's mind.

And this is part of the narcissist's entitlement.

Because the narcissist is preoccupied with appearances, the narcissist prefers shortcuts.

Narcissist has no patience, he's lazy, he has no work ethic, no discipline, and so he prefers shortcuts.

Even if these shortcuts are somehow, how shall we put it gently, unethical, immoral, and in many cases even criminal.

So many of these shortcuts involve intellectual property crimes, white collar crimes, financial crimes, and so on and so forth.

This is where the narcissist's antisocial dimension comes into play.

Narcissists don't have depth.

They are upon masquerading as a notion.

They have only headline knowledge and headline intelligence.

You push them a bit and you realize they have no idea what they're talking about. They mispronounce words, they use them wrongly, they are buffoons, they're clowns. They pretend to be deep, they pretend to be knowledgeable, but actually they're ignorant. They glean a word here, a word there. They copy people, they imitate, they mimic, and so on and so forth.

This is especially true with covert narcissists, by the way.


And so there's a lot of faked expertise that the narcissist uses to foster and gender the appearances and then impose them on other people.

He compels other people to accept that appearances are the substance, that you don't need to go beyond appearances, that the whole world is a spectacle, the society of spectacle, and that you can fake it till you make it because no one is deep. Everyone is concerned with appearances. No one has substance.

Even so-called experts and I don't know, people with academic degrees, they have no idea what they're talking about.

You can easily, it's magical thinking, you know, magical thinking. If you just put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

There's a giant within you who is just waiting to awake and all this nonsense. You can compel the universe to conform to your wishes and hopes and dreams and so on and so forth.

Fake, everything is fake.

Narcissist within the organization creates concentric waves of faking and forgery and gradually everyone plays this game. Everyone begins to fake. Everyone engages in shortcuts. Everyone pretends because they see that the narcissist is getting away with it, still getting his salary, still being promoted, still schmoozes with the right people.

You know, so they say, why not? Why do I have to study hard and work hard? All I have to do is imitate, emulate, mimic and fake and get by with this.

And this is the narcissist's contribution to the corporate culture of the workplace. He contaminates it. He corrupts it. It leads to decay and decomposition because all work habits become dissolute. People become indolent and kind of promiscuous and forgiving of lapses and oversights and mistakes and bad practices and so on and so forth.

Narcissist engage frequently in plagiarism. In credit, when it's undue, still other people's work and ideas openly and then brag about it or mock the originator of the idea. They engage in misrepresentation intended to inflate their self-image and self-perception. So they misrepresent their qualifications, their education, their capacity, their knowledge, their experience, their personal history and they exaggerate things or they minimize things or and you can never trust a narcissist's representation. It's bound to be a misrepresentation.

There's a grandiose big picture. There is a disdain for details. Been counting. It's not for the narcissist.

Narcissist has a sweeping, panoramic, synoptic view of what needs to be done and the world at large and the workplaces and the corporations place in an emerging universe that only he can behold on the horizon. His is the view of God and all the others are mere mortals.

Now when you try to get down to brass tacks and discuss details and the narcissist gets infuriated because you're trying to drag him down. You're bringing him down to the level of mere mortals and he's not one. He's immortal.

Narcissist is a perfectionist so they always procrastinate. They never get things done. They always on writing the next big American novel or in the throes of a project that never seems to end or completing their degrees, advanced academic degree, having spent 20 years at a university.

They always on the way somewhere but never reach any destination.

They procrastinate because they're terrified of failure, of being judged, narcissistically injured and mortified in front of everyone.

And there's no problem with that.

If it is limited to one person, you can always weed him out. You can always fire the narcissist and get rid of him.

Sooner or later the mask falls and you see who you're dealing with.


The problem is that the narcissist, as I said, narcissism is contagious.

The narcissist is a vector of infection. He infects the entire workplace, both lower level and upper level.

And the leaders of the corporation succumbed to the narcissist's natural charm, seductive offerings, proposed shortcuts and so on and so forth.

Before you know it, the entire corporation is compromised. The entire workplace is decrepit and corrupt and criminalized and seething with envy and malevolence and conflict and so on.

This is the narcissist's contribution.

And so it's very dangerous to compromise with the narcissistic employee, to countenance him, to make concessions, to somehow accommodate him.

Very dangerous.

As in intimate relationships, the only strategy in the workplace is no contact. Fire his ass. Get rid of him.

Now, not a moment too late, the minute you identify an employee, as someone who engages in any or all of these practices, any or all of these, or some portion of these practices, fire him or her.

No one is indispensable. Don't be afraid. Someone is bullying, colluding, conspiring, disrupting, destroying, engages in one upmanship, is being passive aggressive, rageful. Someone is treasonous. Someone is subversive. Someone is constantly the victim. Someone is litigious. Someone is entitled, prefers or prefers shortcuts, is antisocial and possibly criminal, fakes expertise when there is none, plagiarizes, claims credit for other people's work, misrepresents himself, inflates himself, is grandiose, is disdain for details, procrastinates.

Any of these practices, get rid of the rotten apple known as the narcissistic employee, because if you don't, all the apples in the barrel will end up being rotten.

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