Narcissist's Pathological Space: His Kingdom

Uploaded 11/10/2011, approx. 9 minute read

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

The processes of obtaining, preserving, accumulating, and recalling narcissistic supply take place in the pathological narcissistic space. This is largely an imaginary environment, a comfort zone invented by the narcissist.

But it has clear geographical and physical boundaries. The narcissist's home, his workplace, a neighborhood, a city, a political party, the narcissist's church, or even his country.

The narcissist strives to maximize the amount of narcissistic supply that he derives from people within the pathological narcissistic space.

There, in this space, he seeks admiration, approval, applause, or as a minimum, attention. If not fame, then notoriety. If he cannot be loved, he'd rather be feared. If he doesn't have real achievements, then contrived or imagined ones. If not real distinction, then concocted and forced uniqueness.

The narcissist's pathological narcissistic space incorporates people whose role is to applaud, admire, adore, approve, and attend to the narcissist.

Extracting narcissistic supply from these people calls for emotional and cognitive investments, stability, perseverance, long-term presence, attachment, collaboration, emotional agility, people skills, and so on.

So very few narcissists succeed to maintain long-term pathological narcissistic spaces, as we will see in the continuation of this video.

Let me elaborate.

The narcissist tries to modify his environment to make it conducive to his narcissistic needs.

The narcissist creates a pathological narcissistic space. As I said, this may be a geographical area, but it can also be a group of people, or even an abstract field of knowledge in which the narcissistic pathology attains its maximum expression and value.

The false self's boundaries overlap the boundaries of the pathological narcissistic space. This space becomes the hunting grounds and the domain of the false self.

And this domain is typically confined to the workplace, the family residence, and to a few other select locations, school, university, the homes of some friends, a political party headquarters, a club, the neighborhood bar.

This is typical of most narcissists, but some narcissists use fame and celebrity to enlarge their pathological narcissistic space.

The various defense mechanisms, an integral part of the false self, expand together with the false self to operate in the entire territory of the pathological narcissistic space.

Still, pay attention.

The existence of the pathological narcissistic space is independent of the existence of sources of narcissistic supply.

Put differently, the very existence of the pathological narcissistic space and its characteristics are not altered or affected by the fluctuations in narcissistic supply, which are a function of the availability of various types of narcissistic supply sources.

A narcissist, for instance, can cease to be famous and still feel a narcissistic pathology throughout the pathological narcissistic space, though not outside its borders. He can still feel famous within the pathological narcissistic space, despite the fact that reality is different.

The pathological narcissistic space constantly consumes and drains narcissistic supply. It has the function of a negative accumulator or a sink of narcissistic supply.

Pathological primary and secondary supply sources balance this negative accumulation by constantly providing the narcissist with narcissistic supply and positive accumulation.

In other words, sources of supply pump narcissistic supply to the narcissist. The narcissist uses this supply, consumes it like a drug within the pathological narcissistic space until it's all gone and then is out hunting for new supply.

The pathological narcissistic space is therefore, to summarize, a geographical area, group of people, or an abstract field of knowledge in which the narcissistic pathology reaches its full expression and effectiveness.

Pathological space is really a territorially expanded false self.

The expansion is achieved via sources of narcissistic supply.

What about narcissists who are really famous, really powerful, and really celebrities? What about narcissists in positions of authority?

Their level of fame and notoriety is achieved through the media, in any given territory, or by projecting power or wisdom or wealth onto a territorially bound or otherwise group of people.

The pathological narcissistic space has a few characteristics.

First of all, it is ubiquitous or pervasive. The space applies throughout the entirety of a homogenous territory, political, social, functional, cultural, or linguistic unit with clear boundaries.

Pathological narcissistic space has a critical mass. It is independent of the quality and identity of supply sources.

Example, the narcissist does not have to be famous among a specific elite group of people. Any publicity and any kind of recognition will do, providing that a certain quantitative critical mass is reached.

The pathological narcissistic space is size indifferent. It does not have to have a minimum size. It is a derivative of primary sources of supply, but it cannot be derived from secondary sources of supply.

Spouses, mates, friends, loved ones, they cannot define and derive and create a pathological narcissistic space for the narcissist. Only primary sources, wealth, fame, possession of objects, celebrity, the power, only these can help create and derive a pathological narcissistic supply.

Remember that secondary sources of supply, mostly you, my listeners, your job is only to regulate the flow of narcissistic supply. You do not generate supply. You regulate it and you accumulate it.

Your main function in the narcissist's life is to prevent a net loss, a negative accumulation of narcissistic supply within the pre-existing narcissistic space.

Narcissistic space is constant. Once created, the space is independent of its sources, primary supply sources and of its stable items, secondary supply sources.

It continues to exist regardless of their existence or non-existence. It continues to exist even in the absence of narcissistic supply sources and even narcissistic supply. It's there independent of all these issues and it generates negative narcissistic accumulation.

The very existence of a pathological space consumes narcissistic supply.

The specialization of the false self drastically increases the quantity of narcissistic supply needed and provided by supply sources.

The larger the pathological narcissistic space, the more narcissistic supply is needed and the numerous the sources of supply the narcissist seeks.

A narcissist whose pathological narcissistic space is nearly the family consumes much less narcissistic supply than a narcissist whose pathological narcissistic space is the whole country or literary works in the English language.

These properties of the pathological narcissistic space are also the attributes of the false self.

The false self is also a product of some critical mass of observers. It is equally fed by primary sources of supply. It is stabilized by secondary sources of supply.

The false self is constant. It is independent of the availability of narcissistic supply. It too requires constant narcissistic supply, which proves that it is a generator of negative accumulation.

And like the pathological narcissistic space, the false self has its boundaries.

So we can say safely that pathological narcissistic space is merely a specialized false self.

Every false self develops a false self field, its own private pathological narcissistic space in which the false self operates optimally or at least strives to operate optimally.

With time, the narcissist abandons the pathological narcissistic space as he abandons all other meaningful things in his life.

The narcissist attaches the pathological narcissistic space to every geographical or functional human unit in which he operates.

There is a space for the family, pathological space for the workplace, pathological space for his friends, his profession etc.

The narcissist then neutralizes his emotional investments in these pathological narcissistic spaces by using what I call emotional involvement preventive measures.

This leads to estrangement, alienation, hard feelings and ultimately abandonment.

In other words, the narcissist generates his own divorce from his pathological narcissistic spaces by behaving in certain alienating ways.

One of the reasons the narcissist forms a pathological narcissistic space is because it makes it easier for him to obtain narcissistic supply.

It is safe for him to assume that every subsystem of the pathological narcissistic space possesses the profile necessary to generate supply and to attract supply sources.

When a pathological narcissistic space does not exist, he first has to recruit sources. Then based on these sources, their geographical distribution, their profile, demographic and otherwise, he creates in his mind the pathological narcissistic space.

Put it simply, in simpler words, it is easier for instance for the narcissist to find a girlfriend or to establish a business in a pathological narcissistic space in which he is already known.

Otherwise, he has to establish himself, to broadcast himself, to inform other people of his existence, his uniqueness, his omnipotence, his omniscience and so on and so forth.

He has to introduce and to promote himself.

A pathological narcissistic space is the equivalent of having a good reputation of being well known or well advertised, which makes it easier for the narcissist to locate sources of narcissistic supply.

The negative accumulation, which characterizes the pathological narcissistic space, creates what we call the grandiosity gap.

This is a gap between reality and the byproducts of the various narcissistic defense mechanisms, such as grandiose fantasies and idealization.

There is always a very discernible and very sizable abyss between what the narcissist imagines himself to be and the much less exhilarating reality.

These gaps are overcome by the constant infusion of narcissistic supply.

When there is a drain of this supply, as happens with the introduction of a new pathological space, the gaps can no longer be bridged and devaluation sets in.

The narcissist berates himself and all the people that he is in touch with.

By doing this, he hopes to narrow the glaring gap between what he says about himself and what he really is.

So, when the narcissist moves from one pathological space to another, he starts by using false modesty.

He berates himself even. He reduces himself, humiliates himself, acts humble, and so on, so as to attract people to become his sources of narcissistic supply and in order to avoid the grandiosity gap.

The fewer the expectations he creates about himself, the easier it is to fulfill these expectations and to garner narcissistic supply in the process.

Another result of this yawning grandiosity gap is the uncontrollable urge to obtain sources of narcissistic supply.

This is how the primary drive to find narcissistic supply develops.

But, as we know, in the absence of secondary sources of supply, grandiosity gaps develop again in the pathological space, and the cycle recommences.

Pathological space, sources of supply, narcissistic supply, the narcissist's mask falls and his real character traits and behaviors emerge.

People cannot stand the narcissist, alienation ensues, conflicts, fights, narcissist feels ill at ease and discomfited in his narcissistic space. And he moves on to another narcissistic space where he misrepresents himself, finds sources of supply, garners narcissistic supply.

Again, his mask falls, his real being is exposed and the cycle starts again and again and again

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