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Narcissist: No Sense of Humor

Uploaded 9/23/2010, approx. 4 minute read

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

The narcissist has a sense of humor, but he rarely engages in self-directed, self-deprecating humor. If he does, he expects to be contradicted, rebuked, and rebuffed by his listeners. He expects to be told, come on, you are actually quite handsome, or brilliant, or perfect. He expects to be commended or admired for his courage, for his wit, and intellectual acerbity.

I envy your ability to laugh at yourself, he expects people to say.

As everything else in the narcissist's life, his sense of humor is deployed in the interminable pursuit of narcissistic supply.

Yet to obtain narcissistic supply, one must be taken seriously, and to be taken seriously, one must be the first one to take oneself seriously.

Hence the gravity with which the narcissist contemplates himself and his life.

This lack of levity and perspective and proportion characterize the narcissist and set him apart. The narcissist firmly believes that he is unique, that he has a mission to fulfill, a destined life.

The narcissist's biography is part of mankind's legacy, spun by a cosmic plot which constantly thickens. Such a life deserves only the most serious consideration. It is not a laughing matter.

Moreover, every particle of the narcissist's existence, every action or inaction, every utterance, creation, composition, indeed every thought, are bathed in this universal significance.

The narcissist treads the ideal paths of glory, achievement, affection and brilliance. It is all part of a design, a pattern, a plot, which inexorably leads the narcissist on to the fulfillment of his task.

The narcissist may subscribe to a religion, to a belief or to an ideology in his effort to understand the source of this ubiquitous conviction of uniqueness. He may attribute his sense of direction to God, to history, to society, to culture, to a calling, to his profession, to a value system, but he always does it with a straight face and with dead earnestness.

And because to the narcissist the part is a reflection of the whole, he tends to generalize, to resort to stereotypes, to induct, to learn about the whole from the detail, to exaggerate, finally, to pathologically lie to himself and to others.

This self-importance, this belief in a grand design, in an all-embracing and all-pervasive pattern in which the narcissist is enmeshed, these make him an easy prey to all manner of logical fallacies and conartistry.

Despite his avowed and proudly expressed rationality, the narcissist is besieged by superstition and prejudice. Above all, he is a captive of the false conviction that his uniqueness destined him to fulfill a mission of cosmic significance.

All these make the narcissist a volatile person, not merely mercurial, but fluctuating, histrionic, unreliable and disproportional.

That which has cosmic implications calls for cosmic reactions. A person with an inflated sense of self-importance reacts with exaggeration to threats, greatly inflated by his imagination and by his personal mythology.

On the narcissist's cosmic scale, the daily vagaries of life, the mundane, the pedestrian, the routine, they are not important, they are even damagingly distracting. This is the source of his feeling of exceptional entitlement.

Surely, engaged as he is in benefiting humanity through the exercise of his unique faculties, he deserves some special treatment, is it not?

This is the source of the narcissist's virulent swings between opposite behavior patterns and between devaluation and idealization of others.

To the narcissist, every minor development is nothing less than a fortuitous omen. Every adversity is a conspiracy to offset his progress. Every setback and apocalyptic calamity, every irritation, the cause for outlandish outbursts of rage.

The narcissist is a man of extremes and only of extremes. He may learn to efficiently suppress or hide his true feelings and reactions, but never for long.

In the most inappropriate and inopportune moments, you can count on the narcissist to explode like a wrongly wound time bomb.

And in between eruptions, the narcissistic volcano, daydreams, indulges in delusions, plans his victories over an increasingly hostile and alienated environment.

Gradually, the narcissist becomes paranoid, aloof, detached, and disociative.

You must admit, in such a state of mind, there is not much room for a sense of humor.

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

Narcissist's Routines

Narcissists have a series of routines that are developed through rote learning and repetitive patterns of experience. These routines are used to reduce anxiety and transform the world into a manageable and controllable one. The narcissist is a creature of habit and finds change unsettling. The narcissist's routines are often broken down when they are breached or can no longer be defended, leading to a narcissistic injury.


Narcissist's Language as Weapon

Narcissists use language as a weapon of self-defense, to obscure, not to communicate, and to obtain narcissistic supply. They talk at others or lecture them, exchange subtexts, and spawn private languages, prejudices, superstitions, conspiracy theories, rumors, phobias, and hysterias. The rules that govern the narcissist universe are loopholeed, incomprehensible, open to interpretation so wide and so self-contradictory that it renders them meaningless. The narcissist, in this respect, is a great social menace, undermining language itself.


When the Narcissist's Parents Die

The death of a narcissist's parents can be a complicated experience. The narcissist has a mixed reaction to their passing, feeling both elation and grief. The parents are often the source of the narcissist's trauma and continue to haunt them long after they die. The death of the parents also represents a loss of a reliable source of narcissistic supply, which can lead to severe depression. Additionally, the narcissist's unfinished business with their parents can lead to unresolved conflicts and pressure that deforms their personality.


Narcissist: Star of Own Theater of Conspicuous Existence

Narcissists engage in conspicuous existence, a form of conspicuous consumption where the consumed commodity is narcissistic supply. They stage-manage their every movement, tone of voice, posture, inflection, poise, text, subtext, and context to garner the most attention. Narcissists are excess embodied, and their constant invention of self is not limited to outward appearances. They are incessantly engaged in energy draining, gorging of other people and their possible reactions to him, and their exhaustion is all-consuming.


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.


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: Your Pain is his Healing, Your Crucifixion - His Resurrection

Narcissists need their victims to suffer to regulate their own emotions and feel a sense of control. They keep a mental ledger of positive and negative behaviors, with negative behaviors weighing more heavily. Narcissists need counterfactual statements to maintain their delusion of being special and superior. The grandiosity gap is the major vulnerability of the narcissist, and they are often in denial about their limitations and failures.


Narcissist’s Losses Are His Life

Loss is a crucial aspect of the narcissist's life, serving as an organizing principle and a means of transformation. The narcissist's self-destructive behavior and manipulation of external objects are driven by the need to induce change in their internal environment. Losses are both intentional and evoked by the narcissist, who uses them to engender victimhood and manipulate others. The narcissist's fear of losses leads them to preemptively bring them on, ultimately sacrificing reality for the appearance of life.


Narcissist of Substance vs. Narcissist of Appearances

There are two types of narcissists: those who derive ample narcissistic supply from mere appearances and those whose narcissistic supply consists of doing substantial deeds. The former type of narcissist aims for celebrity, defined as being famous for being famous, while the latter type aims for careers in the limelight. The celebrity narcissist has a short attention span, is indolent, and prefers the path of least resistance. The career substantial narcissist is very concerned with leaving his mark and stamp of the world with his legacy, is a natural-born leader, and is willing and able to negotiate, compromise, and network.


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.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
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