My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
The narcissist is nothing but a shell encasing a void. Uncertain of his own reality, the narcissist engages in what I call conspicuous existence, a kind of theater of narcissistic absurd.
Conspicuous existence is a form of conspicuous consumption, in which the consumed commodity is narcissistic supply.
The narcissist elaborately stage-manages his very being, his every movement, his tone of voice, his posture, his inflection, his poise, his text, his subtext, his context. They are all carefully orchestrated, choreographed to yield the maximum effect and to garner the most attention.
Consequently, narcissists appear to be unpleasantly deliberate. They are somehow wrong, like automata, gone awry, or a robot of kilter.
Narcissists are either too human or too inhuman, too modest, too haughty, too loving, too cold, too empathic, too stony, too industrious, too casual, too enthusiastic, too indifferent, too courches, too abrasive, but it's always too much of something.
Narcissists are excess embodied. They act their part, and their acting shows. Their thespian skills notwithstanding, the effort emanates and exudes through the seams of their existence. Their show invariably unravels the seams under the slightest trace. Their enthusiasm is always manic. Their emotional expression unnatural. Their body language defies their own statements. Their statements belie their intentions. Their intentions are focused on only one thing, a drug, securing narcissistic supply from other people.
The narcissist's authors composes his life. He scripts his life. To him, time is the medium upon which he, the narcissist, records the narrative of his Recherche biography.
The narcissist is therefore always calculated as though listening to an inner voice, to a kind of movie director or choreographer of his unfolding, cosmically significant history.
The narcissist's speech is timid, his motion stunted, his emotional palette a mockery of true countenances.
But the narcissist's constant invention of his self is not limited to outward appearances. The narcissist does nothing and says nothing. He doesn't even think anything. He thinks nothing without first having computed the quantity of narcissistic supply that his actions, utterances or thoughts may yield.
The visible narcissist is the tip of a gigantic, submerged iceberg of seething reckoning, endless number of calculations.
The narcissist is like these famous supercomputers. He is incessantly engaged in energy draining, gorging of other people and their possible reactions to him.
The narcissist constantly estimates, evaluates, counts, weighs, measures, determines, enumerates, compares, despairs, reawakens, restarts, reboots and extracts.
Extracts what? Narcissistic supply.
His fatigued brain is bathed in a drowning noise of stratagems and fears, rage and envy, anxiety and relief, addiction, rebellion, mediation, meditation and premeditation.
The narcissist is a machine which never rests, not even in his dreams and it has one purpose only, securing and maximizing narcissistic supply.
Small wonder that the narcissist is fired, exhausted. His exhaustion is all pervasive and all consuming. His mental energy depleted.
The narcissist can hardly empathize with others. He cannot fluff, he cannot experience emotions, he is too zombified, too tired.
Conspicuous existence malignantly replaces real existence. A myriad and vicilliary forms of life are supplanted by the single obsession compulsion of I must be seen, I must be observed, I must be reflected by proxy through the gaze of others.
The narcissist ceases to exist when he is not in company. His being fades when he is not discerned, when he is not noticed, when he is ignored, he is dead, yet he is unable to return the favor.
He is a captive, oblivious to everything but his preoccupation.
Emptied from within, devoured by his urge, the narcissist blindly stumbles from one relationship to another, from one warm body to the next, forever in search of that elusive creature himself.