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Narcissist's Immunity

Uploaded 10/15/2010, approx. 6 minute read

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

Narcissists are like children in many senses. For instance, they possess magical thinking. They believe that they are omnipotent or powerful, omniscient or knowing, and omnipresent, everywhere.

Narcissistic immunity is the narcissist's erroneous feeling that he is immune to the consequences of his actions, that he will never be affected by the outcomes of his own decisions, opinions, beliefs, deeds and misdeeds, that his acts in action or membership of a certain group have no meaning, no consequences, that he is above reproach, above punishment, though not above being feared and being notorious, and that magically he is protected and will miraculously be saved at the last moment.


What are the sources of this fantastic misappraisal of situations and chains of events?

Well, the first and foremost source is of course the false self. The false self is constructed as a childish response to abuse and trauma.

The false self is possessed of everything that the child wishes he had in order to retaliate – power, wisdom, magic, all of them unlimited and instantaneously available to the child.

The false self, this Superman, is indifferent to abuse and punishment. It shields the vulnerable true self of the narcissist from the harsh realities experienced by the child.

This artificial, maladaptive separation between a vulnerable but not punishable true self and a punishable but invulnerable false self is a very effective mechanism. It isolates the child from an unjust, capricious, emotionally dangerous world, but at the same time it fosters a false sense of nothing can happen to me because I am not here, I cannot be punished because I am immune.


The second source of this sensation of immunity has to do with a sense of entitlement possessed by every narcissist.

In his grandiose delusions, the narcissist is sui generis, unique, a gift to humanity, a precious, fragile object.

Moreover, the narcissist is convinced both that his uniqueness is immediately discernible and that it gives him special rights in society.

The narcissist feels that he is shunted by some cosmological law pertaining to endangered species. He is convinced that his future contribution to humanity should and does exempt him from the mundane. He should be exempt from daily chores, boring jobs, recurrent tasks, personal exertion, orderly investment of resources and efforts, and even aging and death.

The narcissist feels entitled to special treatment, high living standards, constant and immediate catering to his ever shifting needs, the avoidance of the mundane and the routine, an absolution of his sins, fast track privileges to higher education or in his encounters with bureaucracy.

Punishment is for ordinary people where no great loss to humanity is involved.

Narcissists feel that they are above the law.


The third source of this feeling of immunity has to do with the narcissist's ability to manipulate his human environment.

Narcissists develop their manipulative skills to the level of an art form because that is the only way they could have survived their poisoned and dangerous childhood by manipulating their environment.

Yet they use this gift long after its expiry date, long after it's no longer needed.

Narcissists are possessed of inordinate abilities to charm, to convince, to seduce, to persuade. They are gifted orators and great thespians.

In many cases, they are intellectually endowed. They put all these endowments to the limited use of obtaining narcissistic supply with startling results.

They become pillars of society and members of the upper class, the foundation of the community. They mostly do get exempted many times by virtue of their standing in society, by virtue of their charisma, their ability to find willing scapegoats.

Having got away with it so many times, they develop a theory of personal immunity which rests on some kind of societal or even cosmic order of things. Some people are just above punishment. They are the chosen, the special ones, the endowed, the gifted ones.

And this is the narcissistic hierarchy. The narcissist above everyone, everyone under the narcissist, the narcissist immune, everyone else punishable and should be held responsible.

But there is a fourth, simpler explanation. The narcissist just does not know what he is doing.

Divorced from his true self, unable to empathize, to understand what it is like to be someone else, unwilling to act empathically, to constrain his actions in accordance with the feelings and needs of others, the narcissist is in a constant dreamlike state.

The narcissist experiences his life like a movie, autonomously unfolding, guided by a sublime or even divine director. The narcissist is a mere spectator, mildly interested, greatly entertained at times, but nothing else. He does not feel that he owns his actions. He therefore emotionally cannot understand why he should be punished and when he is punished, he feels grossly wrong.

To be a narcissist is to be convinced of a great, inevitable personal destiny. The narcissist is preoccupied with ideal love, construction of brilliant revolutionary scientific theories, the compositional authoring or painting of the greatest work of art ever, the founding of a new school of thought, attainment of fabulous wealth, the reshaping of the fate of the nation, becoming immortalized and so on, so nothing less than these.

The narcissist never sets realistic goals to himself. He is forever floating amid fantasies of uniqueness, record-breaking or breathtaking achievements. His speech is verbose and florid and reflects this grandiosity.

So convinced is a narcissist that he is destined to break things that he refuses to acknowledge setbacks, failures or punishments. He regards them as temporary, as someone else's errors, as part of the future mythology of his rise to power, brilliance, wealth, ideal love, etc.

To accept punishment is to divert scarce energy and resources from the all-important and all-consuming task of fulfilling his mission in life. That the narcissist is destined to breakness is a divine certainty. A higher order or power has preordained him to achieve something of lusting, of substance, of import in this world, in this life.

How could mere mortals interfere with this cosmic divine scheme of things?

Therefore, punishment is impossible and will not happen, and that is the narcissist's firm conclusion.

The narcissist is pathologically envious of people and projects his aggression unto people. He is always vigilant, ready to fend off an imminent attack. When inevitable punishment does come, the narcissist is shocked and irritated by the nuisance.

Also, he does not feel responsible for what he did because he does not feel that he did it.

There is a break in personal continuity.

It's like someone else did the things that the narcissist is being punished for.

Being punished also proves to him and validates what he suspected all along that he is being persecuted. It supports and enhances his underlying paranoia.

Strong forces are poised against him. People are envious of his achievements. They are angry at him. They are out to get him. He constitutes a threat to the accepted order, and that's why they are attacking him.

When required to account for his misdeeds, for his bad conduct, the narcissist is always distainful, always bitter and resentful. He feels like Galiver, a giant, shamed to the ground by teeming lily cushions, dwarves, midgets, while his soul soars to a future in which people recognize his greatness and applaud it the ultimate in narcissistic supply.

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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.


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.


Predator Narcissist: YOU are the Prey!

Narcissists have the ability to see through other people's emotional shields and know when they are deviating from the truth. They can intuitively grasp other people's self-interested goals and accurately predict their strategies and tactics. Narcissists can't stand self-important, self-inflated, pompous, vigorous, self-righteous, sanctimonious, and hypocritical people because they recognize themselves in them. They expose people's vulnerabilities and force them to confront their true selves, their dead-end careers, their mundane lives, the death of their hopes and dreams and wishes, their shattered illusions.


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 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.


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 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.


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.

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