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Narcissist’s Losses Are His Life

Uploaded 1/9/2024, approx. 24 minute read

Sometimes, the narcissist embarks on an orgy of destruction of self, of others, of everything he possesses, of everything he fain or pretended to love and to care for, of everything he has built and accomplished.

He just crushes his life against the rock of his own petulance, his own defiance, his own consummation, rejection of authority, his own hatred and envy and rage.

He just ruins everything.

And in this bakhanalia of disintegration, he sees an element or aspect or chance of reinvention and renovation and rebirth and renaissance. The narcissist transitions from one shared fantasy to another, from one phase of his life to another, from one place to another, from one person to another, from one environment to another.

All the narcissist transformations and transitions and passages of life, they are all premised and predicated on destruction.

Not creative destruction, the Schumpeter's contribution to economics, not creative destruction.

The narcissist doesn't destroy in order to rebuild or to create better. The narcissist just wipes the slate clean in the process, wiping himself off the map and reappearing magically, mysteriously and of course magisterially elsewhere.

In a very confined physical space, the narcissist would do this time and again.

And so the narcissist doesn't perceive loss the way you do. The narcissist perceives loss as an engine, fuel, stratagem, strategy, instrument, tool, way forward, impetus, ambition, accomplishment.

The narcissist's biography is a sum total of his or her losses.

This raises an interesting question. If the narcissist is unable to recognize the externality and separateness of external objects, if he is unable to other external objects, if he doesn't realize that you exist, why would he need to get rid of you?

Why does he need to destroy his external environment in order to induce an internal change?

And the answer is that narcissists use the external environment as a trigger for the rearrangement, refurbishing, renovating the internal environment.

Their internal environment is a reflection of the external one.

Their internal objects in the narcissist's mind that represent people, external objects out there.

And while the narcissist is incapable of recognizing that people out there are actually out there, they're external and they're separate.

Still, he needs these people.

He needs these environments, the pathological narcissistic space.

He needs these cues and triggers from the environment in order to induce change, transformation and rearrangement of his internal environment and landscape. His internal objects are 100% reactive to the presence, conduct and characteristics of external objects. And while the narcissist's cortex invests his emotional energy in the internal objects, while the narcissist interacts only with internal objects, these internal objects cannot come into being in the absence of external objects. External objects trigger the formation and determine the functioning of internal objects in the narcissist's mind, which is his only reality. That's why the narcissist needs to manipulate external objects, his environment, in order to induce change, any kind of change in the alignment of his internal objects and the relationships between his internal objects.

So this is why when narcissists want to somehow transform their lives, when they, for example, reach a conclusion that a shared fantasy should expire and they should move on to another shared fantasy and so on, they need to re-engineer the external environment and realign it with a new internal environment.

This is why narcissists are self-destructive and self-defeating.

And that's why loss is a very crucial component of the economy and management of the narcissist's inner world.

Loss is what makes the narcissist, what drives the narcissist forward.

Loss is the only event that has any meaning as far as the narcissist is concerned.

And now you're beginning to understand devaluation and discard.

Separation and discard are forms of separation and individuation.

Separation, the child, the child perceives separation and individuation as a loss, the loss of mother.

And so the narcissist seeks loss.

He wants loss.

He believes that loss is the main thoroughfare, the main road or path to growth, personal development, evolution, maturation and adulthood.

When the narcissist is at the end of the shared fantasy, pushes you away, devalues you, ultimately discards you if you don't do it first, to him, what he's doing is he is engineering your loss.

He's engineering losing you because that is the essence of separation and individuation.


Today we are going to discuss the crucial importance of loss in the narcissist's economy of mind.

Have fun.

Life is the archaeology of losses layered one atop another until we die, the ultimate loss.

Memories are mere placeholders, placeholders for privations and misfortunes and bad decision making and wrong choices and everything that's gone haywire and awry in our lives and is no more.

So loss is an integral part of human life.

It has its positive aspects.

It is an engine of growth and transformation.

It drives us forward.

It changes us.

It allows us to evolve, to meet new challenges, to adapt to new environments.

So loss is critical.

But whereas healthy people regard losses as side effects of life, the ineluctable outcomes of our limitations as human beings, the fact that we are not omnipotent and not omniscient, not all knowing and not all powerful and not godlike, loss is the price we pay for being mere mortals.

When a narcissist is concerned, loss is much more than that.

Loss is a feature of pathological narcissism, but it is also an organizing principle, an explanatory principle.

Loss makes sense of the narcissist's life, as we will see.

It also organizes it into comprehensible and comprehensive sequences.

Loss is the narcissist's secret sauce.


My name is Sam Vaknin.

I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

I'm a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of CEAPs.

Before we proceed, a nod towards German speakers.

Yes, I've received all your gleeful comments and messages.

And as usual, you're wrong.

In many of my videos, I use the word "Wieder gut machung".

Wieder gut machung is a word that every Israeli knows because this is the name that the Germans have given the reparations to the Jewish state after the Holocaust.

So Wieder gut machung is a word I know well.

Actually, I use it in many of my videos.

In one of my recent videos, I use the phrase "Gut Wieder machung".

Gut wieder machung is okay in German.

Let me teach you some hochdeutsch, my dear German viewers.

Gut wieder machung is literary.

And I used it in that video for emphasis.

Colloquially, of course, in daily speech, the common expression is "Wieder gut machung".

Now, for your edification, I'm including two links in a pinned comment.

The first comment includes two links and you can learn German at your leisure.

Similarly, Kant, no, not that Kant, Kant, the philosopher, Kant used the word "Er schiung".

Not "Er schiungung" but "Er schiung".

I swear.

Go and have a look at his original, the original editions of his books.

So do your homework, native German speakers.

Is there anything more humiliating than learning German from a Jew?

Hochdeutsch Everforward and Uber Alles.

Okay, and from German to losses, the inevitable connection.

Even hard-boiled psychopathic narcissists sometimes sit back and wonder what could have been.

This happens commonly after in the wake of modification.

One is a loss. It is a loss of defenses against debilitating, life-threatening shame.

And so the experience of this loss, which is all pervasive and utterly disintegrative, this experience causes the narcissists to introspect to soul search and to ask questions such as, "What could I have been had, for example, if I had good parents?" What is it?

What is it like to experience love and sex and friendship?

The narcissist wonders, and this generates in him and genders in him a prolonged grief response.

Narcissists never experience love.

Many narcissists are asexual.

None of them are capable of friendship and loyalty.

And so they miss out on what?

90% of life.

And they know it.

Many of them are intelligent enough to realize this, even insightful enough, to grasp that they are missing out on the big train of life, that their lives are constricted.

And this creates enormous self-mourning, self-grieving.

Indeed, in one of my videos, I characterize narcissism as a prolonged grief disorder.

So there's prolonged grief over what the narcissist could have been and what he has never experienced and over what he has always had to endure. Infidelity, betrayal, loss, devastation, incarceration, punishment.

Narcissists go through life losing much more than the vast majority of healthy people.

And these losses, as I said at the very beginning, before our German interlude, these losses are partly deliberate, intentional, brought on and evoked by the narcissist.

Narcissists relate to losses in three ways.

They avoid them, which is a healthy reaction, common to most people.

They try to avoid them, especially when the losses involve more mortification, which is, as I said, life-threatening because it causes the narcissist to emotionally dysregulate, to become a borderline.

So they try to avoid these kind of losses, for example, public humiliation.

They try to manage loss, especially by reframing it.

Losses cause cognitive dissonance.

If you believe that you're godlike, that you're all powerful, that you're all knowing, how could you account for losses?

This implies that you are less than perfect, less than omniscient, less than omnipotent and definitely not godlike.

God does not experience loss.

So the narcissist needs to reframe losses as gains, for example.

He says, "It's not a loss.

I've learned a lot from it.

I brought it on myself." Or he reasserts control and divinity by adopting a different point of view regarding the loss.

But narcissists also induce losses.

They use privations and deprivations and misfortune and failure and defeat.

They use all these as Machiavellian instruments.

It allows them to pose as victims.

Losses go hand in hand with victimhood.

And victimhood goes hand in hand very often with narcissism, especially the covert kind.

So narcissists induce losses in order to be able to appear as victims, in order to be able to adopt the victimhood stance in a manner which is credible.

And then as victims, they feel entitled.

They self-impute all kinds of rights which impose commensurate obligations on others.

In short, narcissists use losses to engender victimhood and they use victimhood to manipulate people around them.

Another aspect of this is the bad object.

At the core of every narcissist, there's no identity.

There are no continuous and contiguous memories.

The narcissist is disjointed and dissociated, dissociative and disintegrated.

The only thing at the core of the narcissist that is pretty stable, a miasmic emanation, is the bad object.

The bad object is there, this constellation of voices and introjects that keeps informing the narcissist how unlovable he is, how unworthy, how inadequate, how stupid, how ugly, how hopeless, how irredeemable, etc., etc.

This is the bad object.

To validate the bad object, the narcissist often brings about losses in his life.

He makes self-defeating decisions.

He adopts self-destructive choices.

He acts defiantly, recklessly and consummaciously.

He flies in the face of authority.

He ends badly, whichever way you look at it.

When he does end badly, this reduces his anxiety, ironically.

This self-punitive set of actions and choices and decisions reduce the narcissist's anxiety because they validate the outcomes, the adverse, horrible outcomes, validate the bad object inside the narcissist.

Generally narcissism is about aligning the world, aligning the environment, aligning other people with internal objects.

The narcissist uses coercive snapshotting.

He forces his intimate partners, his friends, his nearest and dearest, he forces them to conform to the internal objects that represent them in his mind.

Similarly, he forces his life, he constricts his life, he molds his life, he shapeshifts within his life and into his life as some kind of envelope in order to validate and to conform to the bad object inside him.

You see, these losses, I deserve them because I'm bad, I'm unworthy.

Now narcissists are accustomed to loss.

Their obnoxious personality and intolerable behaviors make them lose friends and spouses, mates and colleagues, lovers, jobs, family, you name it.

At my age, 62, the narcissist is devoid of a single human presence in his life.

He is as existentially isolated as the little prince but he is no longer little and his days of princehood a long gone.

The narcissist's peripatetic nature, his constant mobility and instability and itinerancy and desultory character causes him to lose everything else.

His place of residence, his property, his business, his country, his reputation, his language, you name it.

By the end of life, the narcissist is the sum total of his losses and his only accomplishments, his only accomplishments, singular, is the utter scorched earth life that he has led.

Of course, when I say he, she, she is a he, half of all narcissists are women.

So why do I keep using he?

Because it's a literary convention.

Go and read some literature.

There is always a locus of loss in the narcissist's life.

The narcissist may be faithful to his wife and a model family man but then he is likely to change jobs frequently and renege on his financial and social obligations.

I call this the island of stability and the roiling ocean around it.

The narcissist may be a brilliant achiever, scientist, doctor, chief financial officer, actor, pastor, politician, journalist, healer, you name it, with a steady long term and successful career but at the same time, a lousy homemaker with broken promises, thrice divorced, unfaithful, unstable, always on the lookout for better narcissistic supply and the next shared fantasy.

The narcissist is aware of his propensity to lose everything.

To lose everything that could have been of value, valuable, anything that could have been meaningful and significant in his life.

The more meaningful, significant and valuable, the more likely the narcissist is to abscond with it, to get rid of it, to destroy it somehow.

If the narcissist is inclined to magical thinking and alloplastic defenses, he would tend to blame others, blame life or fate or country or his boss, his nearest and dearest and the universe, you name it.

He would find guilty parties for the uninterrupted string of losses that his life had become.

If he is not prone to magical thinking, if he is a rational person, he attributes his losses to people's inability to cope with his outstanding talents, towering, brilliant, intellect, rare abilities.

They don't know how to appreciate him. They don't know how to gauge him. They don't know how to reward him for his contributions.

On the very contrary, they envy him. They want to take him down. They want to steal his work. His losses, the narcissist convinces himself, are the outcomes of pusillanimousness, pettiness, pusillanimity, envy, malice, ignorance.

It would have turned out the same.

Narcissist tells himself, it would have turned out the same way, even if I had behaved different.

And this is a consolation. It's also a form of self-supply.

There's nothing I can do about these systeminocities. I'm so elevated and so superior. I'm beyond the rich and the can and the gloaming and the comprehension of most people around me. They are so inferior to me. And so my losses are ineluctable. They're inevitable because people torture me. I'm a galaver.

And so the narcissist in time develops defense mechanisms against the inevitable pain and hurt that he incurs with every loss and every failure and every defeat.

The narcissist and scones himself, cocoons himself in an ever thicker skin, outer skin.

It's an impenetrable shell, a make-belief environment in which his sense of inbred superiority and entitlement is preserved.

And this is precisely what we call the shared fantasy.

The shared fantasy is an environment in which losses can be experienced vicariously, deferred by proxy, fended off by the firewall of the shared fantasy, like distant echoes.

The narcissist appears indifferent to the most harrowing and agonizing experiences in human, in his unperturbed composure, emotionally detached and called inaccessible, invulnerable.

But deep inside, the narcissist indeed feels nothing.

It's not an act or a pretension.

The narcissist turns himself off, switches himself off when losses loom large, when they're imminent, when they are unavoidable.

At that moment, the narcissist withdraws inwardly the same way a turtle does into this shell, surrounds himself with a fantasy defense, usually the collusion of other people, his intimate partner, for example, and then inhabits this nether zone, this imaginary paracosm that is known as the shared fantasy, within which there are losses never encroach.

You see, within the shared fantasy, loss is impossible because it is the narcissist who initiates devaluation and discard.

If the partner were to shatter, destroy the shared fantasy by abandoning the narcissist, breaking up and walking away first, this would constitute mortification.

Mortification is the only kind of loss that can penetrate the perimeter defenses of the shared fantasy.

The narcissist cruises through his life, as a tourist would through an exotic island.

He observes events and people, his own experiences, loved ones, as a spectator would observe a movie that is at times mildly exciting and at times boring.

The narcissist is never fully there, entirely present, irreversibly committed.

He is never invested, never affects. He is constantly, with one hand on his emotional escape hatch, ready to bail out, ready to absent himself, to reinvent his life in another place with other people.

The narcissist is a coward, terrified of his true self and protective of the deceit that is his new existence.

The narcissist feels no pain, he feels no love because he feels no life.

And he feels no life because he regards losses as instruments, instrumentalizes and weaponizes losses.

And then he turns his weapons against himself.

The narcissist, to some extent, is goal-oriented, like the psychopath, but his goal is narcissistic supply.

Like a sophisticated cruise missile, the narcissist homes in on sources of narcissistic supply.

He acquires or converts them, conditions and molds them and proceeds to extract from these sources attention, adulation, admiration, affirmation, being feared, whatever it takes.

The process demands the persistent investment of inordinate amounts of energy and time.

The narcissist appears to be hellbent, obsessed, compelled, smitten and addicted to the pursuit of his sources of supply.

And yet a curious transformation occurs once he has managed to secure and chain these sources, once he has managed to bond with them through trauma bonding or otherwise.

The narcissist, at that point, when he reaches a conclusion that he can take these sources of supply, his intimate partners, for example, his friends, for granted, often abruptly at that point, he loses all interests.

It is as though having acquired these sources of supply, the narcissist takes his sources for granted and feels that losing them wouldn't be such a big deal.

He treats these sources as he would in animate objects, which are interchangeable, fungible.

Out objects which are devoid of will and unable to free themselves from his mesmerizing mental grip.

That's his grandiosity speaking.

Many sources of narcissistic supply weighed down by the tiring relationship with the narcissist.

Exhausted simply, they break loose, they escape the narcissist's venomous influence.

And the delusion that he is in total control then crumbles as the narcissist is abandoned time and again by spouses, lovers, mates, friends, colleagues.

This string of abandonments comes to define the narcissist's life.

When he looks back at his own existence, dissociated as it is with huge memory gaps and confabulations, half of it, if not 90% of it, untrue, a fantasy defense, Rick Lodge and Gunnar E. Larsen.

Even then, when he looks back, he realizes that all this constellation of black holes is where people who loved him used to be.

Places which accommodated him used to be.

Languages he has used to good effect used to be.

Countries he has abandoned or left or were forced to live.

His life is like a volcanic, looks like a volcanic post eruption landscape.

Swiss cheese, if you wish.

More holes than substance.

It is then when loss is rendered tangible that the narcissist regains his former zeal and his erstwhile fervor and he courts a long neglected wife, he invests himself in a heated job.

He threatens, spurns colleagues, he reembraces, hurt friends, friends he hurt, he engulfs with a natural warmth and empathy, offended people he has offended.

And oddly, this works in most cases.

Hoovering is very effective.

It is very common for a narcissist to rediscover the joy of sex with an adulterous intimate partner or spouse, reclaim sex, it's called.

It is as if being cheated on by his wife rekindles in the narcissist a competitive urge, a possessive trick and a perverted carnal pleasure.

Kind of faint echoes of cuckoldry.

Cerebral narcissist, when they are faced with such a situation, often becomes somatic narcissist.

They switch types, there's no type consensus, you know by now.

But they remain somatic only for as long as it takes to reacquire, to hoover the target, the source of supply.

The narcissist professes to being shocked by the untoward behavior of either two faithful spouse, loyal friend or a patient neighbor.

Whatever happened to them, he wonders, what brought this on?

How could they have betrayed me and backstabbed me to this extent?

Why did my wife cheat on me?

Why did my colleagues demand my resignation?

Why did my neighbor turn violent all of a sudden?

Why did my friend bed-mouth me to my first-while lovers?

The narcissist is genuinely puzzled, very much as you would.

If your personal computer were suddenly to refuse to obey your instructions for no good reason.

Aware of impending loss and doom, the narcissist embarks on a charm offensive, parading the most irresistible, brilliant, captivating, titillating, promising and thrilling aspects of his false self.

It's a spectacle.

The aim is to reacquire that which has been forfeited, to neglect an indifference, to rebuild relationships ruined by contempt and abuse, and this way to regain mislead, founts of narcissistic supply.

Needless to add that once these targets are accomplished, the narcissist reverts to old form and goes back to being impatient, negligent, obnoxious, emotionally absent, abusive, indifferent, atrocityous and worse, until another round of losses looms and reanimates the narcissist, a sad, repetitive automaton forever imprisoned in his own repetition compulsions.

And this odd, self-defeating pattern is the outcome of a deep-set abandonment or separation anxiety.

The clinical term is separation insecurity.

The narcissist precipitates his own losses because he fears them.

He seeks to preempt losses by bringing them on.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop is too much for him, so he drops the shoe himself.

He emotionally disengages and detaches in order to minimize the pain and hurt, which are the ineluctable consequences of the said aforementioned unavoidable losses.

So a divorce, the death of a loved one, a breakup, the growing apart brought on by personal transformations of his sources of supply, all these are losses that the narcissist cannot countenance or tolerate.

So he brings them on.

He pushes his partners away.

He provokes a fight with his friends.

He ruins single-handedly everything that he has built, sometimes for decades, often for years by provoking that which he fears most.

The narcissist deludes himself into believing that he is in control, that everything was his doing and that therefore he can reverse a twill that which he has wrought.

Ultimately the narcissist is so invested in his inflated, fantastic, self-imputed, self-image that he sacrifices life itself for the appearance of life, reality for the spectacle.

And then all that's left of him is a wispy apparition, smoke and mirrors and then nothing. ###

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