Narcissist as the Center of the World: Referential Delusions and Ideas of Reference

Uploaded 6/7/2013, approx. 4 minute read

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

The narcissist is the center of the world. He is not merely the center of his world, as far as he can tell, he is the center of the world.

This Archimedean delusion is one of the narcissist's most predominant and all-pervasive cognitive distortions and deficits.

The narcissist feels certain that he is the source of all the events around him, the origin of all the emotions of his nearest and dearest and closest, the found of all knowledge, both the first and the final cause and the beginning as well as the end.

And this is understandable.

The narcissist derives his sense of being, his experience of his own existence and his self-worth from the outside.

He mines other people for narcissistic supply, adulation, attention, reflection, fear. Other people's reactions stoke his fairness.

Absent narcissistic supply, narcissist disintegrates and self-anilates. When he goes unnoticed, the narcissist feels empty, worthless.

The narcissist must delude himself into believing that he is persistently the focus and object of the attentions, intentions, plans, feelings and stratagems of everyone around him.

The narcissist faces a stark choice, either be or become the permanent center of people or cease to be altogether.

This constant obsession with one's locus, with one's centrality, with one's position as a hub, leads to referential ideation, ideas of reference.

Ideas of reference is a conviction that one is at the receiving end of other people's behaviors, speech, gossip, and thoughts. The person suffering from delusional ideas of reference is at the center and the focus of the constant and confabulated attentions of an imaginary and counterfactual audience.

When people talk, the narcissist is convinced that he is the topic of conversation. When they quarrel, he is most probably the cause. When they smirk, he is the victim of their ridicule and mockery. If they are unhappy, he must have made them so. If they are happy, they are egoists and egotists for ignoring him.

He is convinced that his behavior is continuously monitored, criticized, compared, dissected, approved of or imitated by others.

He deems himself so indispensable, so important, such a critical component of other people's lives, that his every act, his every word, his every omission is bound to upset, hurt, uplift or satisfy his audience.

And to the narcissist, everyone is part of the audience. It all emanates from him and it all reverts to him.

The narcissist is a circular and closed universe.

His ideas of reference are a natural extension of his primitive defense mechanisms. His belief that he is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.

Being omnipresent explains why everyone, everywhere, is concerned with the narcissist. Being omnipotent and omniscient excludes other, lesser beings from enjoying the admiration, adulation and attention of people.

Yet the attrition afforded by years of tormenting ideas of reference inevitably yields paranoiac thinking.

To preserve his egocentric cosmology, the narcissist is compelled to attribute fitting motives and psychological dynamics to others.

Such motives and dynamics have little to do with reality, of course. They are projected by the narcissist onto others so as to maintain his own personal mythology.

In other words, the narcissist attributes to others his own motives and psychological dynamics.

And since narcissists are mostly besieged by transformations of aggression, in other words, they experience rage, hatred and fear, these they often attribute to other people as well.

Thus, the narcissist tends to interpret other people's behavior as motivated by fear, anger, hatred or envy and as directed at him or revolving around him.

The narcissist often erroneously believes that people discuss him, gossip about him, hate him, defame him, mock him, berate him, underestimate him, envy him or fear him.

He is, often rightly, convinced that he is to others the source of hurt, humiliation, impropriety and indignation.

The narcissist notes that he is a wonderful, powerful, talented and entertaining person.

But this only explains why people are jealous and why they seek to undermine and destroy him as the object of their envy.

And so, since the narcissist is unable to secure the long-term positive love, admiration or even attention of his sources of supply, he resorts to a mirror strategy.

In other words, the narcissist becomes paranoid.

Better to be the object of often imaginary and always self-inflicted derision, scorn and vile than to be ignored. That being envied is preferable to being treated with indifference.

If he cannot be loved, the narcissist would rather be feared or hated than forgotten altogether.

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