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.