Narcissist: Legally Insane?

Uploaded 9/12/2010, approx. 4 minute read

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

Is the narcissist legally insane?

Well, narcissists are not prone to irresistible impulses. They are also not prone to dissociation. They don't blank out stressful events and actions.

Narcissists more or less fully control their behavior and acts at all times.

But exerting control over one's conduct requires the investment of resources, both mental and physical.

And narcissists regard such an investment as a waste of their precious time, or even a humiliating chore.

Lacking empathy, narcissists don't care about other people's feelings, needs, priorities, wishes, preferences and boundaries.

As a result, narcissists are awkward, tactless, painful, taciturn, abrasive and insensitive.

True, narcissists often have rage attacks and grandiose fantasies. Most narcissists are also obsessive compulsive.

Yet all narcissists should be held accountable to the vast and overwhelming majority of their actions. At all times, even during the worst explosive episode, the narcissist can tell right from wrong and can rein in his impulses.

The narcissist's impulse control, contrary to prevailing myths, is unimpaired. The narcissist pretends that he is not in control of his rage or his impulses, and he does that in order to terrorize, to manipulate and coerce his human environment into compliance.

The only things the narcissist cannot control are his grandiose fantasies.

All the same, the narcissist knows that lying and confabulating are morally wrong and sometimes legally wrong, and he can choose to refrain from doing so.

The narcissist is perfectly capable of anticipating the consequences of his actions and their influence on others.

Similarly, narcissists are x-ray machines. They are very perceptive and very sensitive to the subtlest nuances of human behavior and body language.

But the narcissist does not care. For him, humans are dispensable, rechargeable, reusable and interchangeable. Humans are there to fulfill a function, to supply the narcissist with narcissistic supply. They should give him adoration, admiration, adulation, approval, affirmation, attention.

As far as the narcissist is concerned, people don't have an existence apart from carrying out their duties to him.

So it sounds like a clear-cut case. The narcissist knows and can tell right from wrong, he can control his actions, an explosive character, and rage. He simply doesn't care to do so.

But it is not as clear-cut as it sounds.

Some scholars note correctly that many narcissists have no criminal intent, mens rea, even when they commit criminal acts, ectos. The narcissist may victimize, plunder, intimidate and abuse others, but not in the cold, calculating manner of the psychopath.

The narcissist hurts people, but he does it off-handedly, carelessly and absent-mindedly.

Narcissist is more like a force of nature or a beast of prey. Dangerous, but not purposeful, not evil.

Psychopaths, on the other hand, are evil. They are sadistic. They usually enjoy what they are doing.

Moreover, many narcissists don't feel responsible for their actions. They believe that they are victims of injustice, bias, prejudice and discrimination.

This is because they are shapeshifters. They are actors.

The narcissist is not one person, but two. The true self is as good as dead and buried. The false self changes so often in reaction to life circumstances that the narcissist has no sense of personal continuity.

Therefore, a misdeed, a misconduct, a felony, an aggressive act committed by the narcissist, in one instance, are disowned and disavowed by the narcissist in the next instance, because he doesn't feel that he is the same person who has committed the act in the first place.

I have written in my book Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited.

The narcissist's perception of his life and his existence is discontinuous. The narcissist is a walking compilation of personalities, each with its own personal history.

The narcissist does not feel that he is, in any way, related to his former selves.

He therefore does not understand why he has to be punished for someone else's actions or inactions.

This injustice surprises, hurts and enrages him.

Pathological narcissism is on the border of dissociation. It resembles very much the old notion of multiple personality disorder.

Only in this case, there are two personalities.

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Narcissist's Victims' Many Faces

Everyone around the narcissist is bound to become a victim, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. There are three categories of victims: those who suffer from the narcissist's instability, those who are misled by the narcissist's deceiving messages, and those who are intentionally targeted by the narcissist. The narcissist is both sadistic and masochistic, and in hurting others, he always seeks to also hurt himself. The narcissist is ruinous and destructive, and no amount of punishment can restore the balance or provide closure and vindication.

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.

Discontinuous Narcissist's Multiple Personas

Narcissists do not have criminal intent, but they do victimize, plunder, terrorize, and abuse others as a manifestation of their genuine character. The narcissist is a walking compilation of personalities, and each of these personalities has its personal history. The narcissist is unable to link his past acts or inaction with their outcomes in the present. The slicing of the narcissist's life is what stands behind the narcissist's apparent inability to predict the inevitable outcomes of his actions.

The Music of the Narcissist's Emotions

Narcissists have emotions, but they tend to repress them so deeply that they play no conscious role in their life and conduct. They deduce the existence of emotions in others and themselves by gathering data and analyzing their meaning and significance. Narcissists and psychopaths are aware only of their cognitions and do not experience emotions, making them emotionless thinking machines. The author proposes considering narcissists and psychopaths as the first true forms of artificial intelligence.

Your Empathy as Narcissistic Injury: Narcissist Never Learns, No Insight

Narcissists reject empathy and intimacy because it challenges their grandiosity, and they become paranoid and aggressive when someone tries to be intimate with them. Narcissists lack empathy and access to positive emotions, leading to a truncated version of empathy called "cold empathy." Narcissists are self-aware but lack the incentive to get rid of their narcissism, and therapy is more focused on accommodating the needs of the narcissist's nearest and dearest. Cold Therapy is experimental and limited, as it removes the false self but does not develop empathy or improve the narcissist's interpersonal relationships.

Why Narcissist Devalues YOU (Hint: Wants YOU "Dead")

Narcissists devalue their partners as a form of self-defense and control. There are two types of devaluation: preemptive and reactive. Preemptive devaluation occurs when a narcissist is in a transitional state between overt and covert narcissism, and they devalue potential sources of supply to prevent the overt side from using them against the covert side. Reactive devaluation is a response to a perceived threat to the narcissist's grandiosity or control. Both types of devaluation are harmful to the victim and serve to maintain the narcissist's sense of power and control.

N-Magnet: Narcissist's Ideal Victim?

Narcissists are not drawn to empathic, sensitive people, but rather repelled by them. Victims of narcissistic abuse come in all shapes, sizes, professions, genders, and ages, and there is no specific profile. People should not think of themselves as a "narcissist magnet" and instead review their life in detail to see that they have control over their destiny and can learn from their experiences. Bed relationships, no matter how harrowing, are opportunities to learn lessons.

Narcissist Responsible for His Actions

Narcissists are capable of telling right from wrong and are perceptive, but they lack empathy and do not care about others. They treat people as functions, instruments, machines, and tools of gratification. Narcissists have a choice in how they behave, but they do not think anyone is worth making it. They can behave completely differently under identical circumstances depending on who else is involved in the situation. Narcissistic personality disorder should not be used as a mitigating circumstance or insanity defense, and treating narcissists in a unique manner will only exacerbate the condition.

Can You Love the Narcissist and Rescue Him?

Victims of narcissists often resort to fantasies and self-delusions to cope with their pain, believing that they can rescue the narcissist from their misery and misfortune. However, loving a narcissist is difficult, and any attempt to relate to them emotionally is doomed to failure. Narcissists are addicts in pursuit of gratification through the drug known as narcissistic supply, and they hone in on potential suppliers like cruise missiles. Victims of narcissists can become bitter and self-centered, lacking in empathy, and become more like the narcissist over time.

Narcissist or Psychopath? What Are the Differences?

Narcissists and psychopaths share many traits, but there are important differences between the two. Psychopaths are less inhibited and less grandiose than narcissists, and they are unable or unwilling to control their impulses. Psychopaths are deliberately and gleefully evil, while narcissists are absentmindedly and incidentally evil. Narcissists are addicted to narcissistic supply, while psychopaths do not need other people at all.

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