My name is Sam Vaknin and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
Here is the narcissist's monologue, inner and sometimes outer.
The narcissist says, I cannot understand so-called normal people. I don't know what makes them think.
To me, the narcissist, they're an enigma wrapped in a mystery.
I try hard not to offend them, to act civil, to be helpful and forthcoming. I give so much in my relationships that I often feel exploited. I make it a point not to strain my contacts, not to demand too much, not to impose, says the narcissist.
But it's not working. Forks I consider friends vanish suddenly without as much as a goodbye.
The more I help someone insist the narcissist, the less grateful he or she seems to be and the more repelled by me.
The narcissist continues, I find jobs for people, lend a hand with various chores, make valuable introductions, give advice and charge nothing for my services, which in some cases I have rendered over many years, day in and day out.
Yet it seems that I can do nothing right. They accept my aid and succor grudgingly and then disengage until the next time I'm needed.
I'm not the victim of a group of callous and ruthless people. Some of these ingratiators are otherwise most warm and empathic towards others.
It just seems that they cannot find in them warmth and empathy enough for me, no matter how much I try to make myself both useful and agreeable.
The narcissist wanders to himself, perhaps I try too hard. Maybe my efforts show. Am I transparent?
Well, the narcissist concludes, of course I am. What comes to normal people naturally, social interaction to me is an excruciating effort that involves analysis, pretense and thespian skills.
I misread the ubiquitous language of social cues. I'm awkward and unpleasant, but I rarely ask for anything in return for my favors except to be somewhat tolerated.
Maybe the recipients of my recurrent magnanimity feed humiliated and inferior to me and consequently hate me for it.
I don't know what to think anymore, says the narcissist, exasperated.
Though the narcissist continues, my social milieu resembles bubbles in the stream. People pop up, make my acquaintance, avail themselves of anything I have to offer them and disappear courteously.
Inevitably, I trust no one and avoid hurt by remaining emotionally aloof and absent.
But this tactic only exacerbates the situation.
When I try to press the points, says the narcissist, when I ask, is anything wrong with me or how can I improve, my interlocutors impatiently detach, seldom to reappear.
When I try to balance the equation by very rarely asking for a commendatory service or a favor in return, I am utterly ignored or my request is curtly and monosyllabically declined.
It's like people are saying you are such a loathsome being that merely keeping your company is a sacrifice. You should bribe us to associate with you however coolly. You should buy our icy friendship and unlimited willingness to listen. You deserve no better than these concessions that we are granting you reluctantly.
You should feel grateful that we agree to take that which you have to give us. Expect nothing in return but our truncated attention.
And I, says the narcissist, I am a mental leper. I endorse these terms of dubious endearment. I dole out gifts, my knowledge, my contacts, my services, my political influence, my skills such as they are.
All I ask in return is not to be abandoned easily. A few moments would make believe. A few moments of feign grace, that's all I ask.
I acquiesce in the asymmetry of my relationships for I deserve no better than have known no differently since my early tortured childhood.
This is the narcissist's monologue and this is how he sees himself and the world around him.