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Narcissist: Star of Own Theater of Conspicuous Existence

Uploaded 3/22/2014, approx. 3 minute read

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.

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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.


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.


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 Reacts to Criticism, Disagreement, Disapproval

Narcissists are hypervigilant and perceive every disagreement as criticism and every critical comment as complete and humiliating rejection. They react defensively, becoming indignant, aggressive, and cold. The narcissist minimizes the impact of the disagreement and criticism on himself by holding the critic in contempt, by diminishing the stature of the discordant conversant. When the disagreement or criticism or disapproval or approbation become public, the narcissist tends to regard them as narcissistic supply.


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.


Narcissist Has No Friends

Narcissists treat their friends like Watson and Hastings, who are obsequious and unthreatening, and provide them with an adulating gallery. Narcissists cannot empathize or love, and therefore have no real friends. They are interested in securing narcissistic supply from narcissistic supply sources. The narcissist overvalues people when they are judged to be potential sources of supply, and devalues them when no longer able to supply him, ultimately leading to the alienation and distancing of people.


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 Objects and Possessions

Narcissists have a complex relationship with objects and possessions, with some being accumulators who jealously guard their belongings and others being discarders who give away their possessions to sustain their sense of control. Objects provide emotional decor and elicit narcissistic supply, and the narcissist often compares people to the inanimate. Narcissists collect proofs and trophies of their sexual prowess, dramatic talent, past wealth, or intellectual achievements, and these objects operate through the mechanism of narcissistic branding. The narcissist is a pathogen who transforms his human and non-human environment alike, objectifying people and anthropomorphizing objects to optimize or maximize narcissistic supply.


Narcissist: Loser and Failure

Narcissists have three traits that make them fail and become losers: a sense of entitlement, arrogance, and aversion to routine. Their sense of entitlement makes them lazy and believe that they should be spoon-fed. They are under-qualified and lack skills because they believe they are above mundane chores. Their arrogance and belief that they are superior to others hampers their ability to function in society. They become outcasts and are shunned by colleagues, employers, and family members.


Why Narcissist Devalues YOU (Hint: Wants YOU "Dead")

Narcissists devalue their partners as a form of self-defense and control. There are two types of devaluation: preemptive and reactive. Preemptive devaluation occurs when a narcissist is in a transitional state between overt and covert narcissism, and they devalue potential sources of supply to prevent the overt side from using them against the covert side. Reactive devaluation is a response to a perceived threat to the narcissist's grandiosity or control. Both types of devaluation are harmful to the victim and serve to maintain the narcissist's sense of power and control.

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