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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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.

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: 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.

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.

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.

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.

Narcissist Hates Happy People and Holidays

Holidays and birthdays are a difficult time for narcissists, as they provoke a stream of pathological envy. The narcissist is jealous of others for having a family, being able to celebrate lavishly, or being in the right mood. They hate humans because they are unable to be one and want to spoil it for those who can enjoy. Holidays remind the narcissist of their childhood, the supportive and loving family they never had, and what could have been.

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 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.

Narcissist: Stable Life or Roller Coaster?

Narcissists are dependent on and addicted to fluctuating narcissistic supply, leading to volatility in their lives and moods. Classic narcissists maintain an island of stability in their lives, while the other dimensions of their existence wallow in chaos and unpredictability. Borderline narcissists react to instability in one area of their life by introducing chaos into all other dimensions of their existence. Narcissists of all kinds hate routine and avoid it as part of their emotional involvement prevention mechanisms, which prevent them from getting emotionally involved, bonding, attaching, and subsequently being hurt.

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