Narcissist's Addiction to Fame and Celebrity

Uploaded 2/9/2011, approx. 4 minute read

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

Narcissists are addicted to being famous. This is by far a predominant drive.

Being famous encompasses a few important functions for the narcissist. It endows him with power, provides him with a constant source of narcissistic supply, admiration, adoration, approval, all attention, and fulfills important ego functions.

The image the narcissist projects is hurled back at him, reflected by those exposed to his celebrity or fame, and of course, by the media.

This way, the narcissist feels alive. His very existence is affirmed, and he acquires the sensation of clear boundaries, where the narcissist ends and the world begins.

There is a set of narcissistic behaviors typical to the pursuit of celebrity and fame. There is almost nothing that the narcissist refrains from doing, almost no borders that he hesitates to cross in order to achieve renown or infamy.

To the narcissist, there is no such thing as bad publicity. What matters is to be in the public eye and in the limelight.

Because the narcissist equally enjoys all types of attention and likes as much to be feared as to be lost, for instance, he doesn't mind if what is published about him is wrong. He says as long as they spell my name correctly, I'm content.

The narcissist's only bad emotional stretches are during periods of lack of attention, publicity, or exposure. The narcissist hates to be ignored. The narcissist then, when ignored, feels empty, hollowed out, negligible, humiliated, wrathful, discriminated against, deprived, neglected, treated unjustly, and so on.

At first, the narcissist tries to obtain attention from an ever-narrowing group of reference. We call it supply scale down.

But the feeling that he is compromising, the feeling that he's not getting the best quality narcissistic supply, knows that he's anyhow fragile, self-esteem. And sooner or later, the spring bursts.

The narcissist plots, contrives, plans, conspires, thinks, analyzes, synthesizes. He does whatever else is necessary to regain the lost exposure and attention in the public eye, to be again in the limelight.

The more the narcissist fails to secure the attention of the target group, always the largest, most prosperous, most qualitative. The more he fails to gain their attention, the more daring, eccentric, and outlandish the narcissist becomes.

Firm decision to become known is transformed into resolute action, and then to a panicky pattern of attention-seeking behaviors. It may end badly. Some narcissists will even murder to be noticed.

The narcissist is not really interested in publicity per se. Narcissists are rather misleading in this sense as well.

The narcissist appears to love himself, and really, he abhors himself. Similarly, he appears to be interested in becoming a celebrity, and in reality is concerned with the reactions to his fame and celebrity.

Not with the celebrity or fame itself, but with the reactions to his fame and celebrity. He wants people to watch him, to notice him, to talk about him, to debate his actions. If they do, he exists.

The narcissist goes around hunting and collecting all the expressions on people's faces and how they change when they notice him. He places himself at the center of attention, or even as a figure of controversy and hatred. He constantly and recurrently pesters those nearest and dearest to him in a way to reassure himself that he is not losing his touch, his fame, his magic touch, the attention of his social billiards.

He keeps saying, am I still famous? Did they notice me? My arrival, my departure.

Truly, the narcissist is not choosy. If he can become famous as a writer, he writes. If he can become notorious as a businessman, he conducts business or shady dealings. He switches from one field to another with ease and without remorse, because in all of them he is present without conviction.

Bar the conviction that he must and deserves to get famous. He doesn't really love what he does. He loves the outcomes of what he does.

The narcissist grades activities, hobbies, and people, not according to the pleasure that they give him, but according to their utility. Can they or can't they make him known? And if so, to what extent?

The narcissist is one-track minded, not to say obsessive or compulsive. The narcissist world is a world of black being unknown and deprived of attention, and white being famous and celebrated.

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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.

Narcissist's Cycles of Ups and Downs

Narcissists go through cycles of mania and depression, which are caused by external events or circumstances known as triggers. The cycles are different from manic depressive cycles in bipolar disorder, which are endogenous. The narcissist is addicted to narcissistic supply and seeks admiration, adoration, approval, attention, and so on. The narcissist goes through ups and downs, including a depressive phase, a hibernation phase, and a manic phase, which are all part of the process of obtaining and securing narcissistic supply.

Zombie Narcissist: Deficient Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists are constantly seeking praise, adoration, admiration, approval, applause, attention, and other forms of narcissistic supply. When they fail to obtain sufficient supply, they react much like a drug addict would. They become dysphoric, depressed, and may resort to alternative addictions. In extreme cases of deprivation, they may even entertain suicidal thoughts. Narcissists also have a sense of magical thinking, believing that they will always prevail and that good things will always happen to them, rendering them fearless and cloaked in divine and cosmic immunity.

Narcissist Never Sorry

Narcissists sometimes feel bad and experience depressive episodes and dysphoric moods, but they have a diminished capacity to empathize and rarely feel sorry for what they have done or for their victims. They often project their own emotions and actions onto others and attribute to others what they hate in themselves. When confronted with major crises, the narcissist experiences real excruciating pain, but this is only a fleeting moment, and they recover their former self and embark on a new hunt for narcissistic supply. They are hunters, predators, and their victims are prey.

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.

Narcissistic Humiliation and Injury

Narcissists react to humiliation in the same way as normal people, only more so. They are regularly and strongly humiliated by things that normally do not constitute a humiliation. The emotional life of the narcissist is tinted by ubiquitous and recurrent insults, humiliations, and slights. The narcissist is constantly on the defensive, constantly being targeted, and is a kind of paranoid.

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 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.

Old-age Narcissist

Narcissists age without grace, unable to accept their fallibility and mortality. They suffer from mental progeria, aging prematurely and finding themselves in a time warp. The longer they live, the more average they become, and the wider the gulf between their pretensions and accomplishments. Few narcissists save for rainy days, and those who succeed in their vocation end up bitterly alone, having squandered the love of family, offspring, and mates.

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.

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