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Narcissist's Victims' Many Faces

Uploaded 10/25/2011, approx. 8 minute read

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

Sooner or later, everyone around the narcissist is bound to become his victim.

People are sucked voluntarily or involuntarily into the turbulence that constitutes the narcissist's life, into the black hole that is the narcissist's personality, into the whirlwind which makes up the narcissist's interpersonal relationships.

Different people are adversely affected by different aspects of the narcissist's life and psychological makeup.

Some trust him and rely on him, only to be vitally disappointed. Other people love the narcissist, only to discover that he cannot reciprocate.

Yet others are forced to live vicariously through the narcissist.

There are three categories of victims.

The first one, victims of the narcissist's instability.

The narcissist leads an unpredictable, vicissitudinal, precarious, reckless, and often dangerous life. The narcissist's ground is ever shifting, geographically as well as mentally. The narcissist changes addresses, workplaces, vocations, avocations, interests, friends and enemies with bewildering speed. The narcissist baits authority and challenges it.

In other words, the narcissist is prone to conflict. He is likely to be a criminal, a rebel, a dissident, critic. He gets bored easily, trapped in cycles of idealization and devaluation of people, places, hobbies, jobs, values.

The narcissist is mercurial, unstableand unreliable.

Consequently, the narcissist's family suffers. His spouse and children have to wander with him in his private desert, endure the Via Dolorosa that he incessantly walks.

They live in constant fear and trepidation.

What next? Where next? And who next?

To a lesser extent, this is also the case with the narcissist's friends, bosses, employers, colleagues, church, political party, or even country.

These biographical vacillations and mental oscillations deny people around the narcissist their autonomy, their unperturbed development and self-fulfillment, their path to self-recognition and contentment.

To the narcissist, other people are mere instruments, sources of narcissistic supply. He sees no reason to consider their needs, wishes, wants, desires, and fears. He derails their life with ease and ignorance.

Deep inside, the narcissist knows that he is wrong to do so because they might retaliate.

This is exactly the source of the narcissist's persecutory delusions, paranoia. He knows that he wrongs people. He knows that he spreads evil and he knows that evil tends to boomerang and one rips what one sores.

Then there are the victims of the narcissist misleading signals. These are victims of the narcissist deceiving messages, emotional or otherwise.

The narcissist mimics real emotions artfully. He s a great actor. He exudes the ear of someone really capable of loving or of being hurt. He pretends to be passionate, soft, empathic, and caring.

And most people are misled into believing that he is even more humane than average. They fall in love with a mirage, with this fleeting image, with a fatamorgana of a lush emotional oasis in the midst of their emotional desert.

These victims succumb to the luring proposition that the narcissist is. They give in, they give up, and they give everything.

Only to be discarded ruthlessly, when judged by the narcissist, to no longer be useful.

Riding high on the crest of the narcissist overvaluation, these people crash into the abysmal deaths of his subsequent devaluation. Subsequent and inevitable. They lose control over their emotional life. They hand over power to the narcissist. And the narcissist leverages it and abuses it.

He drains his victims. He exhausts the resources.

Like a vampire, it sucks the blood life of narcissistic supply from the victims dwindling, depleted souls and energies.

This emotional rollercoaster is so harrowing that the experience borders on the truly traumatic.

I believe that victims of narcissistic abuse experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

To remove doubt, this behavior pattern of the narcissist is not confined to matters of the heart.

The narcissist's employer, for instance, is misled by the narcissist's apparent seriousness, industriousness, ambition, willing to sacrifice, honesty, thoroughness, and a host of other utterly fake qualities. They're fake because they are directed at securing narcissistic supply rather than doing a good job.

The narcissist's clients and suppliers may also suffer from the same illusion. The narcissist acts as a good employee, but his only mission in life, his only drive, his only urge, his only compulsion is to secure narcissistic supply. He doesn't care about the quality of his work or what happens to his firm, to his employer, to his clients, to his suppliers, and so on.

As you see, the narcissist's deceiving messages are all over the place in his interpersonal relationships, at work, in church. When he's a member of a political party everywhere, he constantly deceives people, not necessarily by lying outright, but just by being who he is.

The narcissist's false emanations are not restricted to messages with emotional content. These falsities or falsehoods may contain wrong or partial information.

The narcissist does not hesitate to lie, deceive, or reveal misleading half-truths and purvey and prefer erroneous data.

The narcissist appears to be intelligent, charming, and therefore reliable. He is a convincing conjurer of words, signs, behaviors, and body language.

The above two classes of victims are casually exploited and then discarded by the narcissist. There's no malice there. There's no evil or criminal intent. No more maliciousness is involved in this type of behavior than in any other interaction we have with instruments.

You don't treat your refrigerator maliciously and the narcissist doesn't treat the sources of supply maliciously.

As you would discard your refrigerator when it no longer works, the narcissist discards people when they're no longer providing the supply.

There is no more premeditation and contemplation in doing this than in, let's say, breathing.

These are victims of narcissistic reflexes and instincts, not of narcissistic forethought.

Perhaps this is what makes it also repulsively horrific, the off-handed nature of the damage that the narcissist inflicts on his victims.

But there's a third category of victims. These are victims upon whom the narcissist designs maliciously and intentionally to inflict his wrath, to pain, to hurt them, and to make them the targets of that evil intent.

The narcissist is both sadistic and masochistic. In hurting others, he always seeks to also hurt himself. In punishing other people, he wishes to be penalized. Their pains are, in some paradoxical way, his pains as well.

So the narcissist attacks figures of authority and social institutions, for instance, with vicious, uncontrolled, almost insane rage. And he does so, he does this only to accept his due punishment, their reaction to his venomous diatribes or antisocial actions.

And when he's punished, he accepts it with incredible complacency, even relief. The narcissist engages in vitriolic humiliation of his kin and foes, of regime and government, of his firm or the law.

And he does all this in order to suffer pleasurably in the role of the outcast, the excommunicated, the marty, the victim, the exiled, the imprisoned.

But it's just another role in his repertoire, in the huge theater that is his life.

The punishment of the narcissist does little to compensate his, randomly and rather incomprehensibly selected victims.

The narcissist forces individuals and groups of people around him to pay a heavy toll materially in reputation and emotionally.

The narcissist is ruinous and destructive. No amount of punishment can restore the balance, can provide closure and vindication, a sense of justice.

And in behaving so, the narcissist seeks not only to be punished, but also to maintain emotional detachment, what I call the emotional involvement preventive measures.

Of course, if you fight with people, if you fight with institutions, you can't get emotionally involved with them. It puts a distance. It's sort of a partition between you and the world.

So, threatened by intimacy and by routine mediocrity, the narcissist lashes back at what he perceives to be the sources of these threats. He attacks those he thinks take him for granted, those who fail to recognize his superiority, those who render him average and normal with their love, with their intimacy. He detests social institutions, family, workplace.

Unfortunately, everyone around the narcissist is a source of threat. Whenever you get close to a narcissist, one way or another, whenever you give the narcissist an assignment or an instruction, whenever you expect anything from a narcissist, you're the enemy.

And since all human interactions involve a modicum of emotion, some kind of hierarchy, some type of expectation, everyone around the narcissist, ultimately, he comes easily.

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