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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.

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

How Narcissist Experiences/Reacts to No Contact, Grey Rock, Mirroring, Coping, Survival Techniques

Narcissists are victims of post-traumatic conditions caused by their parents, leading to ontological insecurity, dissociation, and confabulation. They have no core identity and construct their sense of self by reflecting themselves from other people. Narcissists have empathy, but it is cold empathy, which is goal-oriented and used to find vulnerabilities to obtain goals. Narcissism becomes a religion when a child is abused by their parents, particularly their mother, and not allowed to develop their own boundaries. The false self demands human sacrifice, and the narcissist must sacrifice others to the false self to gratify and satisfy it.


Narcissist's Cognitive Deficits

Narcissists lack empathy and are unable to relate to others, instead withdrawing into a universe populated by avatars. They are incapable of holding an external dialogue and all their dialogues are completely internal. The narcissist attributes their failures and mistakes to circumstances and external causes, while regarding their successes and achievements as proofs of their own omnipotence and omniscience. The narcissist pays a dear price for these distortions of perception, developing paranoid ideation and fading the reality test.


The Signs of the Narcissist

Narcissists are difficult to spot, but there are subtle signs that can be picked up on, such as entitlement markers, idealization and devaluation, and a lack of empathy. Narcissists are often perceived as anti-social and are unable to secure the sympathy of others. They are also prone to projecting a false self and using primitive defense mechanisms such as splitting, projection, projective identification, and intellectualization.


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 in Court and Litigation

Narcissists are skilled at distorting reality and presenting plausible alternative scenarios, making it difficult to expose their lies in court. However, it is possible to break a narcissist by finding their weak spots and using them to inflict pain. The narcissist is likely to react with rage to any statement that contradicts their inflated perception of themselves or suggests they are not special. They feel entitled to be treated differently from others and cannot tolerate criticism or being told they are not as intelligent or successful as they think they are.


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.


Why Narcissists Laugh in Funerals?

Narcissists fake emotions to manipulate their environment and lack true feelings. They have emotional resonance tables but no real emotions, and they defensively distort facts and circumstances to preserve their delusions of grandeur. Narcissists use emotional delegation to defend themselves against past hurts, delegating their emotions to a fictitious self, the false self. This duality is fundamental to the narcissistic personality and is evident in every interaction with them.


Discontinuous Narcissist: Fractured and Broken

The narcissist is a product of early abuse and trauma, leading to a world of unpredictability and arbitrary behavior. They deny their true self and nurture a false one, reinventing themselves as they see fit. The narcissist is adaptable, imitating and emulating others, and is best described as being and nothingness. Living with a narcissist is disorienting and problematic, as they have no past or future and occupy an eternal present. They do not keep agreements or adhere to laws and are inconsistent in their likes and dislikes.


Narcissist's Immunity

Narcissists possess magical thinking and narcissistic immunity, which is the erroneous feeling that they are immune to the consequences of their actions. The sources of this fantastic misappraisal of situations and chains of events are the false self, a sense of entitlement, the narcissist's ability to manipulate their human environment, and the narcissist's inability to empathize. Narcissists are convinced of a great, inevitable personal destiny and are pathologically envious of people, projecting their aggression onto them. When required to account for their misdeeds, the narcissist is always distainful, bitter, and resentful.


Do Narcissists Truly Hate?

Narcissists are often adult versions of abused children who fear intimacy and seek to provoke hatred in parents, caregivers, and authority figures. They act out antisocially and seek to destroy the source of frustration. The narcissist's hatred is not a stable experiential state, but rather a transformation of resentment and an aggressive reaction to frustration. The narcissist is heavily dependent on other people for the regulation of their sense of self-worth, and they resent this dependence.

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