Background

Narcissist: Socially-anxious, Schizoid

Uploaded 11/29/2010, approx. 7 minute read

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


In the Review of General Psychiatry, 1995, it says, the person with schizoid personality disorder sustains a fragile emotional equilibrium by avoiding intimate personal contact and thereby minimizing conflict that is poorly tolerated.

Schizoids are often described, even by their nearest and dearest, in terms of automata, robots. They are uninterested in social relationships or interactions and have a very limited emotional repertoire.

It is not that they do not have emotions, but they express them poorly and intermittently.

Schizoids appear cold and stunted, flat and zombie-like.

Consequently, patients with schizoid personality disorder are loners. They confide only in first-degree relatives, but maintain no close bonds or associations, not even with their immediate family.

Naturally, they gravitate into solitary activities and find solace and safety in being constantly alone, have sexual experiences as sporadic and limited, and finally, they seize altogether.

Schizoids are unhedonic. They find nothing pleasurable or attractive, but they are not necessarily dysphoric, sad or depressed.

Some schizoids are asexual and resemble the cerebral narcissist. They pretend to be indifferent to praise, to criticism, to disagreement and to corrective advice, but even side, they are not. They are creatures of habit, frequently succumbing to rigid, suitable, narrowly restricted routines.

Intuitively, a connection between schizoid personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder seems plausible. After all, narcissists are people who self-sufficiently withdraw from others. They love themselves in lieu of loving others. Lacking in empathy, they regard others as mere instruments, objectified sources of narcissistic supply.

But a distinction must be made between social interactions and social relationships. The schizoid, the narcissist, and the inverted narcissist, they all interact socially, but they all fail to form human and social relationships.

All three types fail to bond. The schizoid is uninterested in bonding. The narcissist is both uninterested and incapable due to his lack of empathy, pervasive sense of grandiosity and abhorrence of intimacy.

The psychologist Ellen Deutsch first suggested the construct of as-if personality in the context of schizoid patience. A decade later in the 50s, Winnicott named the very same idea as the false self-personality.

The false self has thus been established as a driving engine of both pathological narcissism and pathological schizoid states.

Both Cloninger and MacWilliams observed the faintly contemptuous attitude and isolated superiority of the schizoid.

But these are narcissistic traits, so schizoids are in a way narcissistic.

Theodore Millon and Roger Davis summed it up in their seminal tome, Personality Disorders in Modern Life.

They say, were withdrawn as an arrogant or oppositional quality. Fantasy in a schizoid-like person sometimes betrays the presence of a secret grandiose self that longs for respect and recognition while offsetting fears that the person is really an iconoclastic freak.

These individuals combine aspects of the compensating narcissist with the autistic isolation of the schizoid while lacking the asocial and unhedomic qualities of the pure prototype.

Both the narcissist and the schizoid are examples of development arrested in early childhood and early adolescence due to envy and other transformations of aggression.

Greenberg and Mitchell, in their famous book, Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory, wrote, the term narcissism tends to be employed diagnostically by those proclaiming loyalty to the drive model, Otto Kernberg and Edith Jacobson, for instance. Mixed model theorists such as Kohut, who are interested in preserving a tie to drive theory, also use this term narcissism.

The term schizoid tends to be employed diagnostically by adherents of relational models such as Fairburn and Gantry, who are interested in articulating their break with drive theory.

These two differing diagnoses and accompanying formulations are applied to patients who are essentially similar by theorists who start with very different conceptual premises and ideological affiliations.

What Greenberg and Mitchell are saying is that schizoid is a narcissist by another name.

United States' psychological theories and UK psychological theories simply use different terms to describe the same mental health disorder.

Kernberg regards mature narcissism as espoused by new Freudians such as Gruenberger and Schreier-Gries.

He regards the very term mature narcissism or healthy narcissism as a contradiction in terms of oxymoron.

Kernberg observes that narcissists are already grandiose and schizoid, detached, cold, aloof and asocial at a very early age. He even ventures to say that when they are three years old, their narcissistic traits are discernible.

At Klein, Melanie Klein, Kernberg believes that narcissism is a last-ditch effort, a defense to halt the emergence of the paranoid schizoid position.

In an adult, such an emergence is known as psychosis.

This is why Kernberg classifies narcissism as borderline, almost psychotic.

Even Cobut, who is an opponent of Kernberg's classification, uses Eugene O'Neill's famous sentence in The Great Gatsby, Man is born broken, he lives by mending, the grace of God, is the glue.

Kernberg himself sees a clear connection between schizoid phenomena such as alienation in modern society and subsequently draw from social contact.

Between this phenomenon, a narcissistic phenomenon, for instance the inability to form relationships or to make commitments or to empathize, Fred Orford in his book Narcissism, Sigmund, the Frankfurt School and Psychoanalytic Theory summed it up nicely.

He says, Fairburn and Gantry represent the purest expression of object relations theory, which is characterized by the insight that real relationships with real people build psychic structure.

Although they rarely mention narcissism, they see a schizoid split in the self as characteristic of virtually all emotional disorders.

It is Greenberg and Mitchell in Object Relations and Psychoanalytic Theory who established the relevance of Fairburn and Gantry by pointing out that what American analysts label narcissism, British analysts tend to call schizoid personality disorder.

This insight allows us to connect the symptomatology of narcissism, feelings of the emptiness and reality, alienation and emotional withdrawal with a theory that sees such symptoms as an accurate reflection of the experience of being split off from a part of oneself.

The narcissism is such a confusing category, is in large part because its dry theoretic definition, the libidial cathexes of the self, in a word self-love, seems far removed from the experience of narcissism as characterized by a loss or split in the self.

Fairburn's and Gantry's view of narcissism as an excessive attachment of the ego to internal objects, roughly analogous to Freud's narcissistic as opposed to object love, resulting in various splits in the ego necessary to maintain these attachments.

This view allows us to penetrate this confusion.

In other words, narcissism is not about self-love, it's about a broken ego, a broken self.

Narcissism withdraws from society exactly as schizoids do in order to protect this vulnerable, precariously balanced house of cards that they have constructed.

They, in an attempt to shield themselves from any hurt or pain, they have actually isolated themselves in a glass house and they are afraid of every occasional and random stone thrown at them, hence their aversion to criticism and disagreement.

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

Hermit: Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoids are individuals with a personality disorder who are indifferent to social relationships and have a limited range of emotions and affect. They are incapable of intimacy and rarely express feelings. Schizoids are loners who prefer solitary activities and are inflexible in their reactions to changing life circumstances. They are creatures of habit and frequently succumb to rigid routines and schedules.


Shyness or Narcissism? Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, and a lack of self-confidence. People with this disorder are shy and socially inhibited, and even constructive criticism is perceived as rejection. They avoid situations that require interpersonal contact and find it difficult to establish intimate relationships. The disorder affects 0.5 to 1% of the general population and is often co-diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders, dependent and borderline personality disorders, and cluster A personality disorders.


Lonely, Schizoid Narcissist

Narcissistic personality disorder is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders, such as borderline, histrionic or antisocial psychopathic personality disorder. Narcissism is often also accompanied by substance abuse and other reckless and impulsive behaviors, and this we call dual diagnosis. There is one curious match, one logic-defying appearance or co-appearance of mental health disorders, narcissism, together with schizoid personality disorder. A minority of narcissists, therefore, choose the schizoid solution. They choose to disengage, to detach both emotionally and socially.


Over-sexed: Histrionic Personality Disorder and Narcissism

Histrionic personality disorder is more commonly diagnosed in women, leading to questions about whether it is a real mental health problem or a reflection of a patriarchal society. Histrionics crave attention and are uncomfortable when not at the center of it, similar to narcissists. They are preoccupied with physical appearance and sexual conquests, and often act flirtatious and seductive. Histrionics are enthusiastic and emotional, but their behavior can be exhausting and off-putting to others.


Schizoid Personality and Schizoid Narcissism Bible (Compilation)

The schizoid personality is characterized by a preference for solitude, a lack of interest in social relationships, and a limited range of emotions. Schizoids are often perceived as aloof, indifferent, and uninterested in both sexual and social interactions. They are typically self-contained and may be seen as emotionally cold or flat. While some individuals may choose a schizoid lifestyle as a rational response to modern society's demands, for others, it may be a manifestation of a pathological condition. The schizoid personality should not be confused with narcissism, although both may share certain features, such as disrupted object relations. However, the schizoid recognizes the externality of objects but has difficulty emotionally investing in them, while the narcissist does not perceive objects as external and instead forms relationships with internal objects. Schizoid behavior can be reactive and is sometimes misdiagnosed as narcissism. The schizoid's detachment can be misconstrued as a cry for help or a sign of helplessness, and their self-sufficiency can be misinterpreted as strength. Relationships with schizoids can be challenging due to their asexuality and emotional detachment.


Narcissists and Negativistic (Passive-Aggressive) Personality Disorder

The negativistic, passive-aggressive personality disorder is not yet recognized by the committee that is cobbling together the diagnostic and statistical manual. People diagnosed with a negativistic passive-aggressive personality disorder resemble narcissists in some important respects. Despite the obstructive role they play, passive-aggressives feel unappreciated, underpaid, cheated, discriminated against, and misunderstood. Passive-aggressives may be sullen, irritable, impatient, argumentative, cynical, skeptical, and contrarian.


The “Lone Wolf” Narcissist and His Prey

Narcissists require constant validation and attention, and their sense of entitlement clashes with their dependence on others for self-worth. Lone wolf narcissists who withdraw from society can become dangerous due to their unquenched hunger for narcissistic supply. Schizoids, on the other hand, are indifferent to social relationships and have a limited range of emotions and affect. Psychopaths lack empathy and disregard others as instruments of gratification, and they are often criminals. When narcissism, schizoid disorder, and psychopathy converge, it can result in extremely dangerous individuals.


Lonely World, Schizoid Future (and Sex)

The schizoid core, characterized by a lack of identity and a void, is at the foundation of personality and character pathologies. Society is gravitating towards a schizoid solution, with people preferring solitude and avoiding interactions with others. The schizoid world is becoming more narcissistic, psychopathic, and autoerotic, with sex being the last remaining vestige of human contact. The future will be a society in flux, with ad hoc self-assembling networks and no concept of institutions, intimate relationships, or politics.


So, Is My Narcissist a Covert Narcissist? Nonsense vs. Scholarship

Covert narcissists are individuals who suffer from an in-depth sense of inferiority, have a marked propensity towards feeling ashamed, and are shy and fragile. They are unable to genuinely depend on others or trust them, suffer from chronic envy of others, and have a lack of regard for generational boundaries. Covert narcissists are not goal-orientated, have shallow vocational commitment, and are forgetful of details, especially names. Inverted narcissists are a subspecies of covert narcissism and are self-centered, sensitive, vulnerable, and defensive, sometimes hostile and paranoid.


Solitude is a Rational Choice

Schizoids avoid meaningful relationships and do not derive emotional benefits from associating with people. Narcissists rationalize their schizoid conduct and believe that being alone is the only logical choice in today's hostile world. The breakdown and dysfunction of social structures and institutions are masked by technologies that provide similar truths and confabulations. The idolatry of the individual has resulted in malignant forms of narcissism that are prevalent and all-pervasive.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy