Narcissist's Language as Weapon

Uploaded 5/11/2011, approx. 6 minute read

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

In the narcissist's surrealistic world, even language is pathologized. It mutates into a weapon of self-defense, a verbal fortification, a medium without a message, replacing words with duplicitous and ambiguous vocables.

The narcissist, and often by contagion, is unfortunate victims. He doesn't talk. He does not communicate. He fends off. He hides and evades and avoids and disguises.

In the planet of capricious and arbitrary unpredictability that the narcissist inhabits, there are only shifting semantic and semiotic dunes.

The narcissist perfects the ability to say nothing in lengthy, Fidel Castro-like speeches. The narcissist's speech is impregnated and dense with first-person pronouns. I call it pronoun density.

The ensuing convoluted sentences are arabesques or meaninglessness, acrobatics of evasion, lack of commitment, elevated to an ideology.

The narcissist prefers to wait and see what waiting brings. It is the postponement of the inevitable that leads to the inevitability of postponement as a strategy of survival.

It is often impossible to really understand the narcissist. The evasive syntax fast deteriorates into ever more labyrinthine structures.

The grammar is tortured to produce the verbal doppler shifts essential to disguise the source of the information, its distance from reality, the speed of its degeneration into rigid official versions.

The narcissist is completely incomprehensible most of the time. Buried under the lush flora and fauna of idioms without an end, the language erupts like some exotic skin rash, an autoimmune reaction to its infection and contamination by the narcissist.

Like vile weeds, the narcissist's language sprints throughout, strangling with absent-minded persistence the ability to understand, to feel, to agree, to emote, to disagree, to debate, to present arguments, to compare notes, to learn, to teach.

The narcissist makes all these completely impossible because of his abuse of language.

Narcissists therefore never talk to others, rather they talk at others or they lecture them.

They exchange subtexts, camouflage-wrapped by elaborate, florid texts. They read between the lines, spawning a multitude of private languages, prejudices, superstitions, conspiracy theories, rumors, phobias, and hysterias.

This is the world of the narcissist, paranoid, solipsistic, where communication is permitted only with oneself and the aim of language is to throw others off the scent or to obtain narcissistic supply, of course.

This maltreatment of language has profound implications.

Communication through unequivocal, unambiguous, information-rich, simple systems is such an integral and crucial part of our world that its absence is not postulated even in the remotest galaxies which grace the skies of science fiction.

In this sense, narcissists are nothing short of aliens, extraterrestrials.

It is not that they employ a different language, a code to be deciphered by a new Freud or a supercomputer. It is also not the outcome of upbringing or social-cultural background.

It is the fact that language is put by narcissists to a different use, not to communicate, but to obscure, not to share, but to abstain, not to learn, but to defend and resist, not to reach out, but to persevere over less thanable monopolies, to disagree without incurring wrath, to criticize without commitment, to agree without appearing to do so.

Thus, an agreement with a narcissist is a vague expression of intent at a given moment, rather than a clear listing of long-term, iron-caste, iron-caste, iron-caste, and mutual commitments.

The rules that govern the narcissist universe are loopholeed, incomprehensible, open to interpretation so wide and so self-contradictory that it renders them meaningless.

The narcissist often hangs himself by his own verbose, Gordic knots, having stumbled through a minefield of logical fallacies and having endured self-inflicted inconsistencies.

Unfinished sentences hover in the air like vapor above a semantic swamp.

In the case of the inverted narcissist, who was suppressed and abused by overbearing caregivers, there is the strong urge not to offend.

Intimacy and interdependence are great, parental or peer pressure are irresistible and result in conformity and self-deprecation. Aggressive tendencies, strongly repressed in the social pressure cooker, teem under the veneer of forced civility and violent politeness.

Constructive ambiguity and non-committal, everyone is good and right.

An atavistic variant of moral relativism and tolerance bred of fear and contempt. They are all at the service of this eternal vigilance against aggressive drives at the disposal of a never-ending, in inner peacekeeping mission.

This is the inverted narcissist, a suppressed narcissist.

But with a classic narcissist, language is used cruelly and ruthlessly to ensnare one's enemies, to soar confusion and panic, to move others to emulate the narcissist.

This is called projective identification.

To leave the listeners in doubt, in hesitation, in paralysis, to gain control, to punish, these are the uses of the language.

Language is enslaved and forced to lie. The language is appropriate and expropriate.

It is considered to be a weapon, an asset, a piece of lethal property, a traitorous mistress, to be gangraped into submission.

With cerebral narcissist, language is a lover. The infatuation with its very sound leads to a pyrotechnic type of speech, sacrifices its meaning to its music.

Its speakers pay more attention to the composition than to the content. They are swept by the language, intoxicated by its perfection, inebriated by the spiraling complexity of its forms.

Here, language is an inflammatory process. It attacks the very tissues of the narcissist's relationships with artistic fierceness. It invades the healthy cells of rhythm and logic and communication of cool-headed argumentation and level-headed debate.

Language is a leading indicator of the psychological and institutional health of social units, such as the family or the workplace.

Social capital can often be measured in cognitive and, hence, verbal-lingual terms.

To monitor the level of comprehensibility and lucidity of texts is to study the degree of sanity of family members, co-workers, friends, spouses, mates, and colleagues.

There can exist no hail society without unambiguous speech, without clear communications, without the traffic of idioms and content that is an inseparable part of every social contract.

Our language determines how we perceive our world. It is our mind and our consciousness.

The narcissist, in this respect, is a great social menace, undermining language itself.

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Narcissist: Bumbling Fool, Incapable of Learning?

Narcissists can appear to be stupid for several reasons. They have no impulse control, act out, and engage in self-defeating actions. They also use pseudo-stupidity to avoid the consequences of their misdeeds. Narcissists are gullible, have an impaired reality test, and cannot read social cues or the intentions of others. They also use false modesty to fish for compliments, but their attempts are so transparent that people react with repulsion. Finally, the narcissist regards learning something new or getting advice as narcissistic injuries, which renders them appear profoundly stupid.

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 Cult

Narcissists are like cult leaders who demand complete obedience and adulation from their followers. They impose a shared psychosis on their members, control every aspect of their lives, and punish severely those who fail to conform to their wishes. Narcissists act in a patronizing and condescending manner, criticize often, and expect constant attention and admiration. They are inflexible, intolerant of criticism, and demand complete trust and control over decision-making. Narcissists are always on the lookout for new recruits and feel entitled to special amenities and benefits not accorded to others.

Narcissist: No Sense of Humor

The narcissist has a sense of humor, but it is rarely self-deprecating. The narcissist's sense of humor is deployed in the pursuit of narcissistic supply, and to obtain this, one must be taken seriously. The narcissist firmly believes that he is unique and has a mission to fulfill, and his biography is part of mankind's legacy. The narcissist is a volatile person, not merely mercurial, but fluctuating, histrionic, unreliable, and disproportional.

Loser Narcissist: Failure as Success

Narcissists are often anxious about their performance and feel like frauds, which leads them to be comfortable in their failures. They become experts at floundering and are adept at the art of blundering. They use projective identification to coerce people around them to help them fail and recreate their spectacular downfalls. Being a loser becomes an identity, and they are proud of their mishaps with fortune and institutions.

Narcissist Hates His Fans, Followers, and Admirers

Narcissists depend on their followers for narcissistic supply but resent their addictive dependence and hold their followers in contempt. They see themselves as beyond human comprehension and refuse to grant anyone special privileges. The narcissist demands complete obedience from their followers and punishes those who stray. Cult leaders are often narcissists who failed to become famous and impress the world with their uniqueness, and they resent their followers for witnessing their fraudulence and failure.

Narcissist: Loser and Failure

Narcissists have three traits that make them fail and become losers: a sense of entitlement, arrogance, and aversion to routine. Their sense of entitlement makes them lazy and believe that they should be spoon-fed. They are under-qualified and lack skills because they believe they are above mundane chores. Their arrogance and belief that they are superior to others hampers their ability to function in society. They become outcasts and are shunned by colleagues, employers, and family members.

Narcissist: Confabulates, Gaslights, Or Lies?

Narcissists often make you doubt your sanity and perception of reality, but this is not gaslighting. Narcissists confabulate, creating false memories to bridge gaps in their memory, but they believe these fabrications are true and are not consciously trying to deceive others. Confabulation is a way for narcissists to maintain their grandiosity and protect themselves from the realization of their imperfections. It also helps them reconcile their internal and external worlds and allocate roles to people in their lives within the shared fantasy. Confabulation is a critical psychodynamic function in the economy of the narcissist's mind.

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: Confabulations, Lies

Confabulation is a common human trait, but the distinction between reality and fantasy is never lost. However, the narcissist's very self is a piece of fiction, concocted to fend off hurt and pain and to nurture the narcissist's grandiosity. The narcissist fails in his reality test and is unable to distinguish the actual from the imagined, the real from the fantasized. The narcissist's countenance, no disagreement, no alternative points of view, no criticism. To him, his confabulation is reality.

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