My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
Pathological narcissism is a defense mechanism. It is intended to isolate the narcissist from his environment and to shield the narcissist from hurt and injury, both real and imaginable.
Hence the false self.
The false self is an outpervasive psychological construct, which gradually displaces the narcissist's true self.
The false self is a work of fiction intended to elicit praise and deflect criticism and pain.
The unintended consequence of this fictitious existence is a diminishing ability to grasp reality correctly and to cope with reality effectively.
Narcissistic supply replaces genuine, veritable and tested feedback. Analysis, disagreement and uncomfortable facts are screened out. Layers of bias and prejudice distort the narcissist's experience and his cognition.
Yet, deep inside, the narcissist is aware that his life is a sham, an artifact, a confabulation, a vulnerable cocoon.
The world inexorably and repeatedly intrudes upon these ramshackle battlements, reminding the narcissist of the fantastic and feeble nature of his grandiosity and fantasies.
This is the much dreaded grandiosity gap.
This comparison between drab, pedestrian existence, one's failure in life and one's fantasy's grandiosity is grandiosity gap, grates upon the narcissist continually and erodes him.
To avoid the agonizing realization of his failed defeat-strewn biography, the narcissist resorts to reality substitutes.
The dynamics is simple.
As the narcissist grows older, his sources of supply become scarcer and his grandiosity gap yawns wider. Mortified by the prospect of facing his actuality, the narcissist withdraws ever deeper into a dreamland of concocted accomplishments, vain omnipotence and omniscience, and bratish entitlement.
The narcissist's reality substitutes fulfill two functions.
They help him rationally ignore painful realities with impunity, and they prefer an alternative universe in which the narcissist reigns supreme and emerges triumphant always.
The most common form of denial involves persecutory delusions.
The narcissist perceives slights where none were intended. He becomes subject to ideas of reference. He believes that people are gossiping about him, mocking him, prying into his affairs, cracking his email, hacking into his computer and so on. He is convinced that he is the center of a malign and malintentioned attention. People are conspiring to humiliate him, punish him, abscond with his property, delude him, impoverish him, confine him physically or intellectually, censor him, impose on his time, force him to action or inaction, frighten him, coerce him, surround and besiege him, change his mind, part with his values or even in extreme cases murder and assassinate him.
The narcissist's paranoid narrative serves as an organizing principle. It structures the narcissist here and now and gives meaning to his life.
The paranoid narrative aggrandizes the narcissist as worthy of being persecuted.
The mere battle with his demons is an achievement, not to be sniggered at.
By overcoming his enemies, the narcissist emerges victorious, powerful, in other words, omnipotent.
The narcissist's self-inflicted paranoid projections of threatening internal objects and processes really legitimizes, justifies and explains his abrupt, comprehensive and rude withdrawal from an ominous, hostile and unappreciative world.
The narcissist's pronounced misanthropy fortified by these oppressive thoughts renders him a schizoid, devoid of all social contact, accepts the most necessary.
But even as the narcissist divorces his environment, he remains aggressive or even violent.
The final phase of narcissism involves verbal, psychological, situational and mercifully more rarely physical abuse directed at his foes and his inferiors.
It is the accumulation of a creeping mode of psychosis, the sad and unavoidable outcome of a choice made long ago to forego the real in favor of the surreal.