Narcissist: You are Cardboard Cutouts, Avatars

Uploaded 2/15/2011, approx. 6 minute read

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

Narcissists often carry on talking, or rather hectoring and lecturing, long after their interlocutors, bored, stiff and resentful, have physically departed or mentally switched off.

The narcissist is shocked to discover that he has been conversing with thin air for a while. He is equally astounded when he is abandoned or shunned by spouses, friends, colleagues, the media, their fans or audiences.

The root of this recurrent astonishment is the narcissist-perverse object constancy.

According to the great developmental psychologist Margaret Mahler, between the age of 24, 36 months of life, the infant is finally able to cope with the mother's absence by finding appropriate substitutes to her presence. The infant knows that the mother will return and trust her to do so time and again.

The psychic image of the mother is internalized as a stable, reliable and predictable object. As the infant's sense of time and verbal skills evolve, it becomes more immune to delayed gratification and more tolerant of inevitable separation.

Piaget, the renowned child psychologist, concurred with Mahler and coined the term object constancy to describe the dynamics that she had observed.

As opposed to Mahler, Daniel Stern, another prominent psychoanalyst, proposes that the child is born with a sense of self.

Quote, infants begin to experience a sense of an emergent self from birth. They are pre-designed to be aware of self-organizing processes. They never experience a period of total self or total other undifferentiation.

There is no confusion of self and other in the beginning or at any part during infancy, says Stern. It continues.

Infants are pre-designed to be selectively responsive to external social events and they never experience an autistic-like phase.

During the period of two to six months of life, the infant consolidates the core sense of self as a separate, cohesive, bounded physical unit with a sense of their own agency, effectivity and continuity in time.

There is no symbiotic-like phase. In fact, the subjective experiences of union with another, in this case the mother, can occur only after a core self and a core other exists.

Well, this is Stern's point of view.

But even Stern accepts the existence of a distinct and separate other versus a nascent and emergent self.

Ethological narcissism is a reaction to deficient bonding and dysfunctional attachment, according to Bowlby.

Object relations in narcissists are infantile and chaotic according to Winnicott and Gant.

Many narcissists have no psychological object constancy at all. In other words, many of them do not feel that other people are benign, reliable, helpful, constant, predictable and trustworthy.

They regard the world as hostile, unpredictable and unreliable.

To compensate for this lack in ability or in willingness to relate to real-life people, the narcissist invents and molds substitute objects or surrogate objects.

These are mental representations of meaningful or significant others, what I call sources of narcissistic supply.

These concoctions, these inventions, these substitutes for real people have little or nothing to do with reality, inevitably.

These imagos, images, are confabulations. They are works of fiction. They respond to the narcissist's needs and fears and do not correspond to the persons that they purport to symbolize or stand for.

The narcissist internalizes these pliable representations. He manipulates them, he interacts with them, but not with the originals.

So for every person in the narcissist's life, there is an image or a symbol with which the narcissist interacts instead of interacting with a real person.

The narcissist is entirely immersed in his world. He talks to these figurines. He argues with these substitutes and symbols. He contracts with these surrogates. He is being admired by them and they provide him with narcissistic supply, almost regardless of what the real people do.

Hence, the narcissist's dismay when he is confronted with real people, with their needs, feelings, preferences, boundaries and choices.

The typical narcissist, therefore, refrains from any meaningful discourse with his spouse and children, friends and colleagues. Instead, he spins a narrative, in which these people represented by mental avatars admire him, find him fascinating, feverishly wish to oblige him, love him, or even fear him, if all else fails.

These avatars have little or nothing to do with the way his kin and kith really feel about him.

The protagonists in the narcissist's yarns do not incorporate veritable data about his wife, his offspring or colleagues or friends.

These again, avatar's symbols are mere projections of the narcissist's inner world, not his outer world.

His inner world, the narcissist externalizes his inner world and then interacts with it.

Thus, when the narcissist faces the real thing, he refuses to believe and accept the facts.

And typical sentences are, my wife has always been so cooperative, whatever happened to her lady.

Truth, in reality, the wife has never been cooperative. She was subservient or frightened into submission.

But the narcissist didn't notice these facts because he never actually saw her. He never actually noticed his real spouse, wife.

Another typical sentence is, my son always wanted to follow in my footsteps.

I don't know what possesses him.

Well, the truth is that the narcissist's poor son never wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor. He always dreamed of being an actor or an artist, but the narcissist was not aware of it. He was not aware of the existence of his real son and he never interacted with the real thing, but with the representation of his own making.

A typical sentence, my friend used to listen to my stories enraptured. I have no idea why he no longer does so.

Well, at first the friend politely listened to the narcissist in terminable rents, ramblings and rabies. And finally, he dropped from the narcissist's social circle because he couldn't bear it any longer.

And then the narcissist, a celebrity narcissist, would say, I used to be admired by the media now I'm constantly being ignored.

Well, of course, at first an object of derision and morbid fascination. The media paid attention to the narcissist, but then the novelty wore off and the media moved on to other narcissists.

But the narcissist hasn't noticed because he is detached from the real world. He interacts actually with himself, puzzled, hurt and clueless.

The narcissist withdraws further and further with every narcissistic injury. Finally, he's forced into choosing a delusional way out on this in another video.

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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.

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.

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'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.

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 Between Shared Fantasy and Pathological Narcissistic Space

Narcissists appear unpredictable and complex, but they are actually simple, with the emotional age of a two-year-old. They are trapped between their need for a maternal figure in a shared fantasy and their desire to explore the world through a pathological narcissistic space. When they become disillusioned with either space, they transition between them using four strategies: termination, deception, undermining intimacy, and persecretory object fantasies. This constant movement between the two spaces creates the impression of unpredictability and capriciousness in the narcissist's behavior.

Narcissist's Beloved Paranoia

Narcissists feel victimized by those who fail to appreciate their talents and accomplishments, and project their negative emotions onto others. Their paranoid streak is likeliest to erupt when they lack narcissistic supply. Paranoia is used by the narcissist to ward off intimacy, which they dread because it exposes their weaknesses and shortcomings. The narcissist's paranoia, exacerbated by repeated rejections and aging, pervades their entire life and diminishes their creativity, adaptability, and functioning.

Embarrassing Narcissist

Narcissists lack self-awareness and are only intimate with their false self, which is constructed from years of lying and deceit. Their overpowering sense of entitlement is rarely commensurate with their accomplishments in real life or with their traits. They often make inflated and inane claims about their sexual prowess, wealth, connections, history, or achievements. This failure of the reality test can have serious and irreversible consequences, as narcissists may make life and death decisions in fields they are academically unqualified for.

Narcissist Dreads Change, Uses Sex to Reduce Anxiety

Narcissists are change-averse due to their belief that they already know everything and their lack of curiosity about themselves and others. They also confuse their internal and external environments, leading to a fear that any change in the external environment will result in self-destruction. To reduce anxiety, narcissists engage in unusual psychosexuality and seek intimate partners to legitimize their sexual preferences. As society becomes more narcissistic, these behaviors become more prevalent, especially among women who conform to male stereotypes to gain attention and validation.

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.

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