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 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.

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.

Narcissist: Drama Queen in Pathological Narcissistic Space

Narcissists have a deep-seated need for excitement and drama to alleviate their boredom and melancholy. They create an imaginary environment called the pathological narcissistic space, where they seek admiration, adoration, approval, applause, or attention. Narcissistic supply substitutes for having a real vocation or avocation and actual achievements. The narcissist's two mechanisms of establishing a morphological narcissistic space and the urge to move continuously are completely incompatible, leading to the narcissistic condition.

Narcissists Hate Women, Misogynists

Narcissists view women as objects and use them for both primary and secondary narcissistic supply. They fear emotional intimacy and treat women as property, similar to the mindset of European males in the 18th century. Narcissists frustrate women by teasing them and then leaving them, and they hold women in contempt, choosing submissive partners whom they disdain for being below their intellectual level. The narcissist projects his own behavior and traits onto women.

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.

Witnessing the Narcissist's Glory: Secondary Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists exist by reflection, living through the memories of others. The essence of secondary narcissistic supply is witnessing the narcissist's glory days, and the narcissist needs to be actively reminded of his achievements and moments of glory. Memories of past grandeur substitute for narcissistic supply, and the main function of people in the narcissist's life is to tell the narcissist how great he is because of how great he was. The disappearance of witnesses causes the narcissist to fade, and the narcissist is incapable of ever knowing himself except via and through other people.

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's Romantic Jealousy and Possessiveness

Narcissists experience anxiety when they become aware of their possessive and jealous tendencies. Anxiety characterizes all their interactions with the opposite sex, especially in situations where there is a possibility of rejection or abandonment. The narcissist's envy of their female mate is a result of an unconscious conflict, and they exercise their imagination to justify their negative emotions. Narcissists often strike an unhealthy balance by being emotionally and physically absent, which drives their partner to find emotional and physical gratification outside the relationship.

Can Narcissist Truly Love?

Narcissists are incapable of true love, but they do experience some emotion which they insist is love. Narcissists love their significant others as long as they continue to provide them with attention, or narcissistic supply. There are two types of narcissistic love: one type loves others as one would get attached to objects, while the other type abhors monotony and constancy, seeking instability, chaos, upheaval, drama, and change. In the narcissist's world, mature love is nowhere to be seen, and their so-called love is fear of losing control and hatred of the very people on whom their personality depends.

Narcissist Imagines Himself Through YOUR Gaze (Attributional Delusions)

Narcissists idealize themselves through the gaze of other people, known as narcissistic supply, and make assumptions about how others perceive them. They react strongly to their assumptions about the gaze of others, attributing thoughts and beliefs to them without checking if they are correct. This idealization is two-faced, as they idealize others to gain their power to idealize them. Narcissists transition between states, but their desperate need for the gaze of others and their self-love and sexual attraction to themselves remain constant. This self-love is not genuine, but rather a form of limerence, infatuation, or lust.

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