Narcissist Loves his Disorder and Narcissistic Personality

Uploaded 9/30/2010, approx. 3 minute read

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

Some narcissists get better, they modify their behavior, they become more socially acceptable and less abrasive.

But no narcissist heals, no narcissist gets well.

The reason is the narcissist's enormous, lifelong, irreplaceable and indispensable emotional investment in his own disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder serves two critical functions, which together maintain the precariously balanced house of cards that we call the narcissist's personality.

The narcissist's disorder endows him with a sense of uniqueness, of being special, and it provides him with a rational explanation for his misconduct, with an alibi.

Most narcissists reject the notion or the diagnosis that they are mentally ill or disturbed.

Absent powers of introspection, the total lack of self-awareness are part and parcel of narcissistic personality disorder.

Pathological narcissism is founded upon alloplastic defenses, the firm conviction that the world or others are to blame for one's behavior, defeats, failures and frailties.

The narcissist firmly believes that people around him should be held responsible and accountable for his reactions for having triggered them.

With such a state of mind so firmly entrenched, the narcissist is incapable of transformation or even of admitting that something is wrong with him.

But that is not to say that the narcissist does not experience his disorder.

He does.

But he reinterprets this experience. He regards his dysfunctional behaviors socially, emotionally and mentally as conclusive and irrefutable proof of his superiority, brilliance, distinction, prowess, mind, or success.

Rudeness to others, for instance, is reinterpreted as decisiveness and efficiency, or even brutal honesty.

Abusive behaviors are cast as educational, tough love, sexual absence as proof of preoccupation with higher functions.

The narcissist's rage is always just and it's always a reaction to injustice or to being misunderstood by intellectual widgets.

Thus, paradoxically, the disorder becomes an integral and inseparable part of the narcissist's inflated self-esteem and vacuous grandiose fantasies.

Narcissist's false self, the pivot of his pathological narcissism, is a self-reinforcing mechanism.

The narcissist thinks that he is unique because he has a false self.

His false self is the center of his specialness.

Any therapeutic attack on the integrity and functioning of the false self constitutes a threat to the narcissist's ability to regulate his wildly fluctuating sense of self-worth in an effort to reduce him to other people's mundane, pedestrian, and mediocre existence.

The few narcissists that are willing to admit that something is terribly wrong with them displace their other plastic defenses. Instead of blaming the world, blaming other people or circumstances beyond their control, they now blame their disease.

Their disorder becomes a catch-all, universal explanation for everything that is wrong in their lives and for every derided, indefensible and inexcusable behavior.

Their narcissism becomes a license to kill, a liberating force which sets them outside human rules and codes of conduct.

Such freedom is so intoxicating and so empowering that it is difficult to give up.

The narcissist is emotionally attached to only one thing, his narcissistic personality disorder.

The narcissist loves his disorder, desires his disease passionately, cultivates his illness tenderly, is proud of his achievements, his emotions are misdirected.

When normal people love others and empathize with them, the narcissist loves his false self and identifies with it to the exclusion of all else and all others, including his true self.

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Narcissism is a spectrum of behaviors, from healthy to pathological, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual specifies nine diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A malignant narcissist is someone who has NPD and wreaks havoc on themselves and their surroundings. They feel grandiose and self-important, exaggerate accomplishments, and demand recognition as superior without commensurate achievements. They require excessive admiration, adulation, attention, and affirmation, and are interpersonally exploitative, devoid of empathy, and constantly envious of others.

Signs You are Victim of Narcissistic Abuse, Not Common Abuse (Stress, Depression Management Webinar)

Narcissistic abuse is a subtype of abusive behavior that is pervasive, sophisticated, and can be practiced either covertly or overtly. Victims of narcissistic abuse often experience depression, anxiety, disorientation, and dissociative symptoms. This type of abuse can lead to complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) and even elements of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The way individuals process and react to trauma can lead to either regression into infantile behaviors or personal growth and maturation, depending on their emotional regulation and maturity.

Narcissism is Tiring Energy-depleting

Personality is a dynamic, ongoing process that is ever-evolving. The more primitive the personality, the less organized, the more disordered, the greater the amount of energy required to maintain it in a semblance of balance and function. Narcissists externalize most of the available energy in an effort to secure a narcissistic supply. The narcissist's constant fatigue and ennui, his short attention span, his tendency to devalue sources of supply, even his transformed aggression.

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Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by a lack of empathy, grandiosity, and attention-seeking behavior. Narcissistic abuse is a subtype of abusive behavior that is pervasive, sophisticated, and manipulative, with the intention to negate the victim's personal autonomy and well-being. Victims of narcissistic abuse often experience depression, anxiety, disorientation, and trauma bonding. To cope with narcissists, one can employ various techniques, such as setting boundaries, avoiding confrontation, and seeking support from others.

Self-Aware Narcissist: Still a Narcissist

Narcissism is pervasive and defines the narcissist's waking moments, infiltrating and permeating their dreams. Narcissists only admit to a problem when they are abandoned, destitute, and devastated. Narcissistic behaviors can be modified using talk therapy and pinpointed medication conditioning, but there is a huge difference between behavior modification and a permanent alteration of a psychodynamic landscape. Narcissism may improve with age, but it is rare.

Collapsed Narcissist, Collapsed Histrionic

Pathological narcissism is a post-traumatic condition that is a result of severe abuse by primary caregivers, peers, or authority figures. Narcissists require a form of narcissistic supply, and when the supply is deficient, they resort to several adaptive solutions. These solutions include the delusional narrative solution, the antisocial solution, the paranoid schizoid solution, the paranoid, aggressive or explosive solution, and the masochistic avoidance solution. In extreme cases, the collapsed narcissist or collapsed histrionic falls apart in a process of disintegration known as decompensation, which is accompanied by acting out.

Can Narcissism be Cured?

Pathological narcissism is difficult to cure, and most narcissists resist psychotherapy. However, some progress has been made in effecting small changes in personality disorders through talk therapy and medication. The earlier the therapeutic intervention, the better the prognosis, and aging tends to moderate or even vanquish some antisocial behaviors associated with pathological narcissism. The existence of empathy is a serious predictor of future psychodynamics, and the prognosis for a classical narcissist with grandiosity, lack of empathy, and all is not good as far as long-term, lasting, and complete healing.

Narcissists Hard to Spot

Narcissistic personality disorder is difficult to isolate with certainty, and it is important to distinguish between inherent traits and reactive patterns. Narcissism is considered pathological only when it becomes a rigid personality structure with primitive defense mechanisms and leads to dysfunctions in one or more areas of life. Pathological narcissism is the art of deception, and the narcissist projects a false self to manage social interactions. Victims of narcissists often find themselves involved before discovering the narcissist's true nature, and the narcissist emits subtle signals even on a first or casual encounter.

Narcissist's Impossible Jigsaw Puzzle

Narcissists are fascinating due to their contradictory traits and behaviors. They can be highly intelligent and creative, yet emotionally immature and self-destructive. They can appear self-sufficient but are extremely dependent on others for validation. These disconnects challenge our understanding of psychology, as narcissists seem to defy the typical integration of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of a person. Narcissism remains a perplexing and unchanging phenomenon, providing valuable insights into the human mind.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Clinical Features

Narcissistic traits in childhood may lead to full-fledged narcissistic personality disorder later in life, especially if the child has experienced abuse or trauma. Narcissists use a false self to garner attention, or "narcissistic supply," which helps them cope with pain and feel important. Narcissists are vulnerable to criticism and disagreement, and they struggle to maintain healthy relationships. Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder includes talk therapy and medication, but the prognosis for an adult with the disorder is poor.

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