My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
The narcissist is constantly on the lookout for slights and insults. He is hypervigilant. He perceives every disagreement as criticismand every critical comment as complete and humiliating rejection.
The narcissist perceives every disagreement, let alone criticism, as nothing short of a threat. He therefore reacts defensively. He becomes indignant, aggressive and cold. He detaches emotionally for fear of yet another narcissistic injury. He devalues the person who had made the disparaging remark, the critical comment, the unflattering observation, the innocuous joke at the narcissist expense.
By holding the critic in contempt, by diminishing the stature of the discordant conversant, the narcissist minimizes the impact of the disagreement and criticism on himself. This is a defense mechanism known as cognitive dissonance.
Like a trapped animal, the narcissist is forever on the lookout. In his mind, there is this dialogue or monologue, rather. Was this comment meant to demean me? Was this utterance a deliberate attack on me?
And gradually, the narcissist's mind turns into a chaotic battlefield of paranoia and ideas of reference until he loses touch with reality and retreats to his own world of fantasies and unchallenged grandiosity.
But here's the rub and the twist.
When the disagreement or criticism or disapproval or approbation become public, the narcissist tends to regard them as narcissistic supply.
Only when they are expressed in private does the narcissist rage against them. Public commentary, even unfavorable, even if negative, is narcissistic supply.
The cerebral narcissist is as competitive and intolerant of criticism and disagreement as is his somatic counterpart. The subjugation, subordination of others, demands the establishment of the narcissist's undisputed intellectual superiority or professional authority.
Alexander Lohan wrote an excellent exposition of this hidden or tacit competition. The cerebral narcissist aspires to perfection.
Thus, even the slightest and most inconsequential challenge to his authority is inflated by him, hence the disproportionality of his reactions.
When confronting adversity fails, some narcissists resort to denial, which they apply to their extensions, family, business, workplace, colleagues, friends.
Take, for example, the narcissistic or the narcissist's family. Narcissists often instruct, order, or threaten their children into hiding the truth of abuse, malfunction, maladaptation, dysfunction, fear, pervasive sadness, violence, mutual hatred, and mutual repulsion, which are the hallmarks of the narcissistic family.
Other sayings like not to wash the family's dirty linen in public, that's a common exhortation. Whole family conforms to the fantastic grandiose and perfect and superior narrative invented by the narcissist.
To the narcissistic confabulation, the family becomes an extension of the false self.
This is an important function of these sources of secondary narcissistic supply.
To comply, to affirm, to uphold, and to buttress the false self, if necessary, by denying reality and by pathologically and recurrently lying about it.
Criticizing, disagreeing, or exposing these fictions and lies, penetrating the family's facade, they are all considered to be mortal sins by the narcissist.
The sinner is immediately subjected to severe and constant emotional harassment, guilt and blame trips, and to abuse including physical abuse. This state of things is especially difficult for families where sexual abuse is prevalent.
Behavior modification techniques are liberally used by the narcissist to ensure that the skeletons do stay in the family cabinets.
An unexpected by-product of this atmosphere of concealment and falsity is mutiny, rebelliousness. The narcissist's spouse or his adolescent children are likely to expose the narcissist's vulnerabilities.
He is proneness to secrecy. His self-delusion is aversion to the truth, and they are likely to rebel against him sooner or later.
The first thing to crumble in the narcissist's family is this shared psychosis, the mass denial and the secretiveness so diligently cultivated by him.
The criticism and disagreement that he so avoids are bound to haunt him and catch up with him sooner or later.