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.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

The Signs of the Narcissist

Narcissists are difficult to spot, but there are subtle signs that can be picked up on, such as entitlement markers, idealization and devaluation, and a lack of empathy. Narcissists are often perceived as anti-social and are unable to secure the sympathy of others. They are also prone to projecting a false self and using primitive defense mechanisms such as splitting, projection, projective identification, and intellectualization.

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.

Narcissist's Fantasy Sex Life

Narcissists and psychopaths often have a fantasy-based sex life that reflects their psychodynamic inner landscape, including fear of intimacy, misogyny, control-freak tendencies, auto-eroticism, latent sadism and masochism, problems of gender identity, and various sexual deviances or failures. Their fantasies often involve the aggressive or violent objectification of a faceless, nameless, and sometimes even sexless person, and they are always in unmitigated control of their environment and the people in it. The narcissist's self-exposure to their intimate partner often elicits reactions of horror, repulsion, and estrangement.

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.

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.

Old-age Narcissist

Narcissists age without grace, unable to accept their fallibility and mortality. They suffer from mental progeria, aging prematurely and finding themselves in a time warp. The longer they live, the more average they become, and the wider the gulf between their pretensions and accomplishments. Few narcissists save for rainy days, and those who succeed in their vocation end up bitterly alone, having squandered the love of family, offspring, and mates.

Narcissist: Accountable for His Actions?

Narcissists can control their behavior and actions, but they don't care to. They feel superior and entitled, and others are inferior and there to cater to their needs. Narcissists lack empathy and are insensitive, but they can tell right from wrong and should be held accountable for their actions. They simply don't care enough about others to refrain from acting abusively.

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.

Narcissist Hates Happy People and Holidays

Holidays and birthdays are a difficult time for narcissists, as they provoke a stream of pathological envy. The narcissist is jealous of others for having a family, being able to celebrate lavishly, or being in the right mood. They hate humans because they are unable to be one and want to spoil it for those who can enjoy. Holidays remind the narcissist of their childhood, the supportive and loving family they never had, and what could have been.

Narcissists: Their Professions, Jobs, and Vocations

Narcissists are over-represented in certain professions, including teaching, the clergy, show business, corporate management, medicine, the military, law enforcement, politics, and sports. They gravitate towards these professions to construct self-enclosed spaces where they are divine, god-like figures with a coterie of fans, admirers, followers, and devotees. Narcissists are dangerous in these professions as they lack empathy and ethical standards, and are prone to immorally, cynically, callously, and consistently abuse and misuse their position. Their socialization process is often disturbed, perturbed, and this results in social dysfunctioning.

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