Narcissist's Family

Uploaded 9/12/2010, approx. 7 minute read

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

How does the narcissist react to a new addition to the family? A new brother or sister? A new born child? Even a new pet?

At first, the narcissist perceives his own offspring or his siblings as a threat to his narcissistic supply. He competes with them for the attention of his mother or later his spouse. They intrude on his turf. They invade the pathological narcissistic space that he so laboriously constructed.

The narcissist does his best to belittle them, to hurt them even physically, to humiliate them. When these reactions of his prove ineffective or even counterproductive, the narcissist retreats into an imaginary world of omnipotence.

There follows a period of emotional absence and detachment. The narcissist's aggression having failed to elicit narcissistic supply, the narcissist proceeds to indulge himself in daydreaming, delusions of grandeur, flanning of future coups, nostalgia and hurt. I call this the lost paradise syndrome.

The narcissist reacts this way to the birth of his own children or to the introduction of any new focus of attention into the family unit.

And this includes, as I said, even new pets.

Whomever the narcissist perceives to be in competition for scarce narcissistic supply is relegated by him to the role of the enemy. He treats these new additions to the family as enemies from their inception.

Where the uninhibited expression of aggression and hostility is illegitimate or impossible or unacceptable, the narcissist simply stays away.

Rather than attack his siblings and later on his children, the narcissist sometimes immediately disconnects, detaches himself emotionally, becomes cold and uninterested or directs transformed aggression and displaced anger at other members of the family, for instance, his parents or his mate or spouse.

But not all narcissists are like this. Some narcissists see an opportunity in the calamity. They seek to manipulate their parents or their mates and spouses by taking over the newcomer.

Such narcissists monopolize their siblings or their newborn children. This way, indirectly, they benefit from the attention they is garnered.

The sibling or offspring become vicarious sources of narcissistic supply, proxies of the narcissist, coned with, conduits through which narcissistic supply flows.

The more attention is given to the new brother or sister, the more attention is given to the newborn baby, the more the narcissist busks in this attention. It becomes his narcissistic supply by virtue of his association with the newborn baby or with the newborn sister or brother.

Consider an example. Imagine a narcissist who has become father by being closely identified with his newborn child. This narcissistic father secures the grateful admiration of the mother. His spouse or his mate says, what an outstanding father my husband is.

The narcissist thus assumes part of the credit or all the credit given to the achievements of his newborn child or his newborn sibling.

This is a process of annexation and assimilation of the other. It is a stratagem that the narcissist uses in most of his relationships.

He swallows, he digests, he assimilates the newborn child, the newborn sibling, and thus becomes one with them.

As siblings or progeny grow older, the narcissist begins to see their potential to be edifying, reliable, and satisfactory sources of narcissistic supply. Suddenly, they are no longer threats. Suddenly, they have become promising potentials. They can be his sources of narcissistic supply.

His attitude then is completely transformed. He cultivates the siblings or the children whom he believes can become reliable, long-term, faithful sources of supply. He encourages them to idolize him, to adore him, to be awed by him, to admire his deeds and capabilities or even his misdeeds, to learn to blindly trust and obey him.

In short, the narcissist encourages them to surrender to his charisma and to become submerged in his shared psychosis. He is fully the grandeur.

It is at this stage when the narcissist has transformed or is seeking to transform his newborn siblings or his newborn children into sources of supply. It is at this phase of the relationship that the risk of child abuse is at its highest.

Narcissists have been known to engage in emotional incest up to and including outright full-fledged physical and sexual incest.

The reason is that the narcissist is auto-erotic. The narcissist is the preferred object of his own sexual attraction. He is attracted mainly and solely and exclusively to himself.

His siblings and his children share genetic material with him. Molesting or having intercourse with his brother, sister or child is as close as a narcissist gets to having sex with himself, which is his fantasy, his wet dream.

Moreover, narcissists perceive sex in terms of annexation. The partner is assimilated. He becomes an extension of the narcissist, a fully controlled and manipulated object.

Sex to the narcissist is the ultimate act of depersonalization and objectification of the other. He actually must abase with other people's bodies. He doesn't have sex in the mature sense of the word.

Narcissists prefer minors and little children. Miners and toddlers and youngsters and infants pose little danger of narcissistically injuring the narcissist. They don't usually criticize the narcissist or confront him. They are perfect. They are malleable. They are abundant sources of narcissistic supply.

And the narcissist derives gratification from having relations with them, even coital relations. They are adulating, physically and mentally inferior to him, inexperienced and dependent bodies. They allow him to feel superior, omnipotent and omniscient.

The narcissist allocates to his siblings and to his newborn children roles. He allocates his roles explicitly and demandingly or implicitly and perniciously.

And these roles are best fulfilled by youngsters whose mind is not fully formed and not yet independent.

The problem is that the older the siblings or the offspring, the more they become critical, even judgmental of the narcissist. They are better able to put into context and perspective his actions, to question his motives, to anticipate his moves.

And the narcissist does not like this.

As they grow up, as they mature, these siblings and children, these erstwhile sources of narcissistic supply, often refuse to continue to play the mindless pawns in the narcissist chess game. They hold grudges against him for what he has done to them in the past. When they were less capable of resistance, they can gorge his true stature, talents and achievements and realize that he lags far behind the claims that he has made.

This brings a narcissist, this insurrection, this insurgency, this resistance, criticism and confrontation. These new behaviors in his erstwhile sources of supply bring the narcissist a full cycle back to the first phase.

Again, he perceives his siblings or sons and daughters as threats. He quickly becomes disillusioned and devaluing. He loses all interest, becomes emotionally remote, absent and cold, rejects any efforts to communicate with him, citing life pressure and the preciousness and sacredness of his time.

The narcissist then feels burdened, cornered, trapped, besieged, shackled, suffocated and claustrophobic. He wants to get away, to abandon his commitments to people who have become totally useless or even narcissistically injurious to him.

He does not understand why he has to support them or to suffer their company and he believes himself to have been deliberately and ruthlessly brought into this situation. He rebels either passively aggressively by refusing to act or by intentionally sabotaging the relationships or actively by being overly critical, aggressive, unpleasant, verbally and psychologically abusive or even physically and sexually abusive.

Slowly to justify his acts to himself, the narcissist gets immersed in conspiracy theories with clear, paranoid and persecutory uses.

To his mind, the members of the family conspire against him, seek to belittle or humiliate or subordinate him, do not understand him or stymie his growth.

The narcissist usually finally gets what he wants. The family that he has created disintegrates.

He is either sorry to see this happening due to the loss of narcissistic space or relieved and positively surprised.

This is the cycle.

The narcissist feels threatened by the arrival of new family members. He tries to assimilate or to annex new siblings and new born children. He obtains narcissistic supply from them.

He overvalues and idealizes these newfound sources.

But as the sources grow older and independent, they adopt anti-narcissistic behaviors.

The narcissist then proceeds to devalue them and discard them.

He feels stifled and trapped. He becomes paranoid. He rebels and the family disintegrates.

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