Narcissist's Routines

Uploaded 4/26/2011, approx. 4 minute read

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

The behavior of the narcissist is regulated by a series of routines developed by rote learning and by repetitive patterns of experience.

The narcissist finds change extremely distasteful, stressful and unsettling. He is a creature of habit.

The function of these routines is to reduce the narcissist's anxiety by transforming a hostile and arbitrary world into a hospitable and manageable and controllable one.

Many narcissists are indeed unstable. They change jobs, apartments, spouses, vocations and locations. But even these changes are pretty predictable.

The narcissistic personality is disorganized and chaotic, but it is also rigid. The narcissist finds solace, uncertainty, in recurrence, in the familiar and the anticipated. These balance his inner precariousness, volatility and chaos.

Narcissists often strike their interlocutors as being machine-like, artificial, fake, forced, insincere or spurious. This is because even the narcissist's ostensibly spontaneous behaviors are either planned or automatic.

The narcissist is continuously preoccupied with his narcissistic supply.

How to secure its sources and how to obtain the next dose is a chore. This preoccupation restricts the narcissist's attention span.

As a result, the narcissist often appears to be aloof, absent-minded, unfocused, de-concentrated and uninterested in other people. He would not pay attention to events surrounding or even to abstract ideas, unless of course these have a bearing on his narcissistic supply.

The narcissist develops some of these routines to compensate for his inability to attend to his environment and its needs.

Automatic reactions require much less investment of mental resources. The narcissist's resources are scarce indeed. It doesn't have the necessary energy to invest in other people.

Consider driving, for instance. When we drive, we do interact with our environment, but we do so completely automatically. Often our mind wanders and is occupied with something completely different.

It's the same with the narcissist. The narcissist interacts with other people and with the world at large, the same way that you drive your car on automatic pilot.

Narcissists make fake warmth and outgoing personality. This is the routine that I call the narcissistic mask.

But as one gets to know the narcissist better, the mask falls and the narcissistic makeup wears off. Narcissist muscles relax and he reverts to what I call the narcissistic tonus.

The narcissistic tonus is a bodacious air of superiority mixed with disdain or contempt for others.

So while routines such as the various masks are extraneous and require an often conscious investment of energy, the tonus is the default position. It's effortless. It's frequent. And it is the true face of default self.

Many narcissists are obsessive compulsive as well. They conduct daily rituals. They are overly punctilious. They do things in a certain order and adhere to numerous laws, principles and rules. They have rigid and off- repeated opinions, uncompromising rules of conduct and alterable views and judgments.

These compulsions and obsessions are ossified routines, fossils of past responses and reactions to the environment.

Other routines involve paranoid, repetitive thoughts. Yet others induce shyness and social phobia. The whole range of narcissistic behaviors can be traced to these routines and to the various phases of their evolutionary cycles.

It is when these routines break down and are violated, when they become no longer defensible, when they are breached or when the narcissist can no longer exercise or defend them, it is then that a narcissistic injury occurs.

The narcissist expects the outside world to conform to his inner universe. When a conflict between these two realms erupts, thus unsettling the ill-poised mental balance so painstakingly achieved by the narcissist, the narcissist unravels. Without his routines, he falls apart. He decomposes.

The narcissist's very defense mechanisms are routines and so he is left defenseless in a hostile, cold world without them.

This, of course, is the true reflection of his inner landscape, hostile, barren, a wasteland.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

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's Addiction to Fame and Celebrity

Narcissists are addicted to being famous as it provides them with power, constant narcissistic supply, and fulfills important ego functions. The narcissist's only bad emotional stretches are during periods of lack of attention, publicity, or exposure. The more the narcissist fails to secure the attention of the target group, the more daring, eccentric, and outlandish the narcissist becomes. The narcissist is not really interested in publicity per se, but with the reactions to his fame and celebrity.

Narcissist: Drama Queen in Pathological Narcissistic Space

Narcissists have a deep-seated need for excitement and drama to alleviate their boredom and melancholy. They create an imaginary environment called the pathological narcissistic space, where they seek admiration, adoration, approval, applause, or attention. Narcissistic supply substitutes for having a real vocation or avocation and actual achievements. The narcissist's two mechanisms of establishing a morphological narcissistic space and the urge to move continuously are completely incompatible, leading to the narcissistic condition.

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 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: The Impulse to Be Perfect (Fear of Failure and Success)

Narcissists fear failure and therefore opt for mediocrity, as success means they have more to lose and more ways to fail. Deliberately not succeeding also supports the narcissist's sense of omnipotence and grandiose conviction that they are perfect. Many narcissistic defenses, traits, and behaviors revolve around this compulsive need to sustain a grandiose self-image of perfection, colloquially known as perfectionism. Deficient impulse control helps achieve this crucial goal, as impulsive actions and addictive behaviors render failure impossible.

Narcissists: Their Professions, Jobs, and Vocations

Narcissists are over-represented in certain professions, including teaching, the clergy, show business, corporate management, medicine, the military, law enforcement, politics, and sports. They gravitate towards these professions to construct self-enclosed spaces where they are divine, god-like figures with a coterie of fans, admirers, followers, and devotees. Narcissists are dangerous in these professions as they lack empathy and ethical standards, and are prone to immorally, cynically, callously, and consistently abuse and misuse their position. Their socialization process is often disturbed, perturbed, and this results in social dysfunctioning.

Narcissist of Substance vs. Narcissist of Appearances

There are two types of narcissists: those who derive ample narcissistic supply from mere appearances and those whose narcissistic supply consists of doing substantial deeds. The former type of narcissist aims for celebrity, defined as being famous for being famous, while the latter type aims for careers in the limelight. The celebrity narcissist has a short attention span, is indolent, and prefers the path of least resistance. The career substantial narcissist is very concerned with leaving his mark and stamp of the world with his legacy, is a natural-born leader, and is willing and able to negotiate, compromise, and network.

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.

Narcissist: Star of Own Theater of Conspicuous Existence

Narcissists engage in conspicuous existence, a form of conspicuous consumption where the consumed commodity is narcissistic supply. They stage-manage their every movement, tone of voice, posture, inflection, poise, text, subtext, and context to garner the most attention. Narcissists are excess embodied, and their constant invention of self is not limited to outward appearances. They are incessantly engaged in energy draining, gorging of other people and their possible reactions to him, and their exhaustion is all-consuming.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy