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Narcissist Grooms Sources of Narcissistic Supply: Exploits Tragedy, Crisis, and Misfortune

Uploaded 5/1/2012, approx. 4 minute read

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

Is the narcissist callous enough to exploit the tragedy of others? Is he ruthless enough to insinuate himself into your life after you have experienced a life crisis, the death of a loved one, a divorce?

Well, the answer is of course he is.

I compare narcissistic supply to drugs because of the almost involuntary and always unrestrained nature of the pursuit involved in securing narcissistic supply.

The narcissist is no better or worse, morally speaking, than other people, but he lacks the ability to empathize precisely because he is obsessed with the maintenance of his delicate inner balance through the ever increasing consumption of narcissistic supply.

Simply put, the narcissist is a junkie. Like every junkie, he will cheat you, deceive you, steal from you, betray you, just to secure his next dose, his next push.

The narcissist raids people around him according to whether they can provide him with narcissistic supply or not. As far as the narcissist is concerned, those who fail this simple test do not exist.

People who cannot supply him with narcissistic supply are two-dimensional cartoon cardboard figures. They are not real. Their feelings, needs, fears, priorities, wishes, all these are of no interest or importance to the narcissist.

But those identified as potential sources of narcissistic supply are subjected to a meticulous examination and probing of the volume and quality of the narcissistic supply that they are likely to provide.

The narcissist nurtures and cultivates such people. He caters to their needs, desires and wishes. He considers their emotions. He encourages those aspects of their personality that are likely to enhance their ability to provide him with his much needed supply.

And in this very restricted sense, the narcissist regards and treats his sources of narcissistic supply as full-fledged human beings.

I call it cold empathy.

This is his way of maintaining and servicing his sources of supply.

Needless to say that the narcissist loses any and all interest in these people and in their needs, once he decides that they are no longer able to supply him with what he needs, an audience, attention and witnessing his accomplishments and moments of glory.

Once they no longer serve his external memory, they no longer inhabit his internal memory.

The same reaction is provoked by any behavior judged by the narcissist to be narcissistically injurious.

If a source of supply cultivated, nurtured, loved, adored and encompassed by a narcissist, if this source of supply suddenly criticizes a narcissist, disagrees with the narcissist, he is dead in the water.

The narcissist switches on and off on a dime and ignores this source of supply forever and ever. Amen.

And so the narcissist coldly evaluates tragic circumstances. Will these circumstances allow him to extract narcissistic supply from people affected by the tragedy? Can he befriend a widow? Can he have sex on the rebound with a divorcee? Can he extract money from a gullible old couple?

A narcissist, for instance, will give a helping hand, console, guide and encourage another person only if that person is important, powerful, has access to other important or powerful people or to the media as a following.

In other words, only if the bereaved once recovered can provide the narcissist with benefits or narcissistic supply.

The same applies if by helping, consoling, guiding or encouraging that person, the narcissist is likely to win narcissistic applause, approval, adoration, a following or some other kind of narcissistic supply from onlookers and witnesses to his magnanimity, to his altruism and to his empathy and love of humankind.

So the act of helping another person in need, in trouble, in distress and enmeshed in a tragedy, the act of helping such people must be documented and thus transformed into a spectacle which will bring on narcissistic nourishment in the form of narcissistic supply.

So the narcissist always evaluates the victims of tragedies. Can they become sources of supply or can they be used as props in the theater of his life? Otherwise the narcissist is not concerned or interested in the problems and sufferings of others.

The narcissist has no time or energy for anything except for obtaining his next narcissistic fix, no matter what the price and who is trampled upon.

The narcissist is the tragedy waiting to happen.

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Narcissist Re-idealizes Discarded Sources of Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists keep discarded sources of supply in reserve and seek them out when they have no other supply source. They frantically try to recycle their old sources and re-idealize them without admitting to having been mistaken in the first place. To preserve their grandiosity, they come up with a narrative that accommodates both the devaluing content and the re-idealized image of the source. If you are an old source of narcissistic supply, simply ignore the narcissist as indifference is what they cannot stand.


Narcissist Never Sorry

Narcissists sometimes feel bad and experience depressive episodes and dysphoric moods, but they have a diminished capacity to empathize and rarely feel sorry for what they have done or for their victims. They often project their own emotions and actions onto others and attribute to others what they hate in themselves. When confronted with major crises, the narcissist experiences real excruciating pain, but this is only a fleeting moment, and they recover their former self and embark on a new hunt for narcissistic supply. They are hunters, predators, and their victims are prey.


Negative, Fake, Low-grade Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists crave attention, both positive and negative, and use it to regulate their sense of self-worth. They construct a false self and project it onto others to elicit admiration, adulation, and fear. Negative supply can become narcissistic supply when positive supply is scarce. Narcissists also crave punishment, which confirms their view of themselves as worthless and relieves them of the inner conflict they endure when they are successful.


Issues in Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists devalue their sources of supply for the very qualities that make them sources of supply in the first place. The narcissist resents his dependency on narcissistic supply and perceives intimacy and sex as a threat to his uniqueness. Narcissistic supply includes all forms of attention, both positive and negative, fame, notoriety, adulation, fear, applause, approval. Narcissists frantically try to recycle their old and wasted sources when they have absolutely no other sources of supply at their disposal.


Sadistic Narcissist

Narcissists are sadistic in their pursuit of narcissistic supply, and they enjoy inflicting pain on others who they perceive as intentionally frustrating and withholding. They are not full-fledged sadists in the psychosexual sense, but they are adept at finding the vulnerabilities and frailties of their victims. The narcissist's sadistic acts are often disguised as an enlightened interest in the welfare of their victim, and they are so subtle and poisonous that they might be regarded as the most dangerous of all variants of sadism. However, the narcissist's attention span is short, and they usually let their victims go before they suffer irreversible damage.


Predator Narcissist: YOU are the Prey!

Narcissists have the ability to see through other people's emotional shields and know when they are deviating from the truth. They can intuitively grasp other people's self-interested goals and accurately predict their strategies and tactics. Narcissists can't stand self-important, self-inflated, pompous, vigorous, self-righteous, sanctimonious, and hypocritical people because they recognize themselves in them. They expose people's vulnerabilities and force them to confront their true selves, their dead-end careers, their mundane lives, the death of their hopes and dreams and wishes, their shattered illusions.


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.


Recluse Narcissist

Narcissists do not have friends in the usual sense of the word, as they are only interested in securing the provision of narcissistic supply from others. They overvalue people when they are judged to be potential sources of supply, but discard them nonchalantly when they are no longer able or willing to supply them. The narcissist's behavior, choices, acts, attitudes, beliefs, interests, and life are curtailed by their sensitivity to outside opinion, and they avoid situations where they are likely to encounter opposition, criticism, or competition. The fear of flying is at the heart of narcissism.


Narcissists Rule: Narcissist in Positions of Authority

Narcissists are incapable of empathizing and view humans as only a means to supply them with narcissistic supply. They are prone to emotional extortion, blackmail, abuse, and misuse of authority to secure their supply. Narcissists lack a moral dimension and are atavistically responsive to fear, resembling an alien on drugs.


Narcissist's Pain: Narcissism, Sadism, and Masochism

Narcissists experience a sense of relief after suffering emotionally, enduring a narcissistic injury, or sustaining a loss. This elation is so addictive that the narcissist often seeks pain, humiliation, punishment, scorn, and contempt. The narcissist is also a sadist, albeit a bit of an unusual sadist. The narcissist pendulum swings between the extremes of torturing others and then empathically soothing the resulting pain.

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