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Narcissist: Destructive Envy and Romantic Jealousy

Uploaded 1/17/2014, approx. 7 minute read

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

It is all luck.

In an earlier version, the shorter of the English dictionary adds, mortification and ill-will occasioned by the contemplation of another person's superior advantages.

The logical envy is the second deadly thing, but it is a compounded emotion, not a simple one. It is brought on by the realization of some lack or deficiency or inadequacy in oneself.

It is a result of unfavorably comparing oneself to other people, to their success, their reputation, their possessions, their luck, their qualities.

Envy is misery, and humiliation, and impotent rage, and a torturous, slippery path to nowhere.

The effort to break the padded walls of this self-visited pocketory often leads to attacks from the perceived source of frustration.

There is actually a spectrum of reactions to this pernicious, cognitively distorting emotion, envy.

One way is to subsume the object of envy via imitation. Some narcissists seek to imitate, or even emulate, their ever-changing role models.

It is as if by imitating the object of his envy, the narcissist becomes that object, subsumes it.

So, narcissists are likely to adopt their bosses' typical gestures, or the vocabulary of a successful politician they admire, or the views of an esteemed tycoon or intellectual, or even the countenance and actions of the fictitious protagonist of a movie or a novel.

And that's the way they cope with their pathological envy, by becoming the source of that envy, the source of the frustration.

In his pursuit of peace of mind, in his frantic effort to alleviate the burden of consuming jealousy, the narcissist often deteriorates through conspicuous and ostentatious consumption, to impulsive, reckless behaviors, even to substance abuse.

Elsewhere, I wrote, in extreme cases, to get rich quick through schemes of crime and corruption, to outwink the system.

In other words, to prevail, is thought by these people to be the epitome of cleverness, providing one does not get caught, of course.

It is a sport of living. It is a winked-at vice. It is a spice of life.

But some narcissists, rather than subsume the source of frustration with the object of envy, choose to destroy it, to destroy the frustrating object.

They choose to destroy the object that gives them so much grief by provoking in them feeling of inadequacy and frustration, the display of sessic, blind animosity, and they engage in compulsive acts of rivalry, often at the cost of self-destruction and self-isolation.


In my essay, The Dance of Jaiyal, I wrote, This Hydra has many heads, from scratching the paint of new cars and flattening their tires, to spreading vicious gossip, to media-hyped arrests of successful and rich businessmen, to wars against advantaged neighbors, these are all manifestations of a pathological envy.

The stifling, condensed vapors of envy cannot be dispersed. They invade their victims, their racial eyes, their calculating souls. They guide their hands in evil doings, and they dip their tongues in vitriol.

The envious narcissist's existence is a constant hiss, tangible malice, the piercing of a thousand eyes. The imminence and imminence of violence is always there, the poison joy of depriving the other of that which you do not or cannot have.

I also deal with the issue of self-deprecation. There are those narcissists who idealize the successful and the rich and the lucky. They attribute to these people superhuman, almost divine qualities.

In an effort to justify the agonizing disparities between themselves and others, these narcissists humble themselves, and they elevate others. They reduce and diminish their own gifts. They disparage their own achievements. They degrade their own possessions and look with disdain and contempt upon their nearest and dearest, who are unable to discern their fundamental shortcomings. They feel worthy only of abasement and punishment. They are besieged by guilt and remorse, voided of self-esteem, perpetually self-hating, self-loathing and self-deprecating.

And this is by far, actually, the most dangerous species of narcissists.

For he who derives contentment from his own humiliation cannot but derive happiness from the downfall of others.

Indeed, most of these narcissists end up driving the objects of their own devotion and accumulation to destruction and decrepititude.


And then there is, of course, a classic defense mechanism, cognitive dissonance.

The most common reaction is the good old cognitive dissonance. It is to believe that the grapes are sour rather than to admit that they are crepe.

These people devalue the source of their frustration and envy. They find faults unattractive features, high costs to pay, immorality, in everything that they really most desire and aspire to, and in everyone who has attained that which they often cannot.

These narcissists walk among us, critical, self-righteous, inflated with the justice of their own making on the high moral ground and secure in the wisdom of being what they are rather than what they couldn't be and really wish to be.

These narcissists make a virtue of the June abstention, of wishful constipation, of judgmental neutrality.

These qualities, these behaviors, these oxymorons are the favorites of the disabled and the narcissist is an employee.

Narcissists recoil from the sources of their envy because envy is painful. They adopt sometimes avoidance, the schismic solution.

To witness the success and joy of others is too painful to agonize and too high a price to pay.

So these narcissists stay at home alone in communicado. They inhabit the artificial bubble that is their world.

In this bubble, they are the king of the country. There, within the bubble, they are the law, they are the yardstick, they are the one and only. There, in the penumbral recesses of their home, their study, their office, their flickering laptop, their only company, their only noises are electronic and they are the residents of their own burgeoning delusions.

And so, in this bubble, they are happy. They are sued. They are what they dream. They dream their own being.

These narcissists are no longer real. They are, they become kind of narrative, an invention of their own feverish minds, a call of a myth, sustaining and engulfing.

But they are content.

Finally, we need to discuss romantic jealousy.


Pathological envy is not the same as romantic jealousy.

These two emotions have little to do with each other.

Romantic jealousy is actually a narcissistic defense. It reflects the narcissistic traits and behaviors of possessiveness, objectification, treating the spouse and regarding her as an object, and of course of extension, treating the spouse and regarding her as an extension of oneself, devoid of autonomy, personality, needs, wishes, emotions and autonomous action.

Thus, the spouse is cheating, as in infidelity, is perceived by the narcissist to be tantamount to a violation of an encroachment on his self.

Exactly like non-narcissists, narcissists are humiliated by having been lied to. They suffer abandonment anxiety. They compare themselves with the spouse's new power of war, and they feel deprived when the services of the unfaithful and faithful spouse are no longer available to them.

It's kind of a denial of service which may encompass sex, emotional intimacy, house chores, companionship or any other function.

Romantic jealousy is the product of a violation of trust, which in the narcissist provokes paranoia.

Narcissists ask himself, where else lurks deceit? It's a breach of exclusivity which threatens the aforementioned narcissistic and persecutory.

If she is an extension of the narcissist and there is a breach of exclusivity, it's akin to objectivity. There is a denial of possession, which in the narcissist translates to fear of loss and abandonment anxiety.

Consequently, narcissists are even romantically jealous of intimate partners that their spouse has had before marriage and after the divorce.

Some narcissists, realizing that they cannot control their spouses forever, become swingers or engage in group sex where they feel that by bringing adultery home, they have tamed and controlled it.

If you can't beat it, join it. It's the narcissistic saying rules.

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Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
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