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Narcissistic Defences and Personality

Uploaded 12/22/2010, approx. 5 minute read

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

John M. Horovitz writes in his book, Stress Response Syndrome, published in 1998 in York, the following.

When the habitual narcissistic gratifications that come from being adored, given special treatment, and admiring the self when these are threatened, the results may be depression, prejudices, anxiety, shame, self-destructiveness, or rage directed toward any other person who can be blamed for the troubled situation.

The child can learn to avoid these painful emotional states by acquiring a narcissistic mode of information processing. Such learning may be by trial and error methods, or it may be internalized by identification with parental modes of dealing with stressful information.

Indeed, narcissism is fundamentally an evolved version of the psychological defense mechanism that we know as splitting.

The narcissist does not regard people, situations, entities, collectives, workplaces as compounds of good and bad elements, good and bad size, good and bad components.

The narcissist is an all or nothing primitive machine, and he likes to use this metaphor of a machine when he talks about himself.

The narcissist either idealizes his objects or devalues them.

At any given time, the objects are either all bad or all good. There is no gray zone. There's no compromise. The world is in black and white. The bad attributes of these objects are always projected, displaced, or otherwise externalized and attributed to others. The good ones are internalized in order to support the inflated self-concepts of the narcissist and his grandiose fantasies, and in order to avoid the pain of deflation and disillusionment.

Thus, everything that's good in other people, situations, places, collectives, is the narcissist's attributes to himself. Everything that's bad is always someone else's fault.

The universes, other people, collectives. This often translates into persecutory delusions and renders the narcissist somewhat paranoid.

The narcissist's earnestness and his apparent sincerity make people wonder whether he is simply detached from reality, unable to appraise it properly, or whether he is willingly and knowingly distorts reality and reintervices it, subjecting it to his self-imposed censorship and grandiosity.

And the truth, as usual, is somewhere in between.

The narcissist is dimly aware of the implausibility of his own constructions and confabulations. He has not lost touch with reality completely. He is just less strepulous in remolding it and in ignoring its uncomfortable angles.

Horowitz continues to say, the disguises are accomplished by shifting meanings and using exaggeration and minimization of bits of reality as a minus for fantasy's elaboration.

The narcissistic personality is especially vulnerable to regression to damaged or defective self-concepts on the occasions of loss of those who have functioned as self-objects.

In other words, what I call sources of narcissistic supply.

When the individual is faced with such stress events as criticism, withdrawal of praise or humiliation, the information involved may be denied, disavowed, negated or shifted in meaning to prevent the reactive state of rage, depression and shame.

That's Horowitz.


The second psychological defense mechanism which characterizes the narcissist is the active pursuit of narcissistic supply.

The narcissist seeks to secure a reliable and continuous source of supply of admiration, adulation, affirmation and attention, as opposed to common opinion, which unfortunately infiltrated literature and cinema.

The narcissist is content to have any kind of attention, whether good or bad. If fame cannot be had, not a right he would do.

The narcissist is obsessed with his narcissistic supply. He craves attention. He is addicted to it.

He is a narcissistic supply junkie. His behavior in the pursuit of narcissistic supply is impulsive, compulsive and uncontrollable. And he won't be ignored.

Again, if he cannot secure a positive supply, he will do it the bad way. He will become an evil person, a criminal, an antisocial, a vicious entity.

Horowitz again.

The hazard is not simply guilt because ideas have not been met. Rather, any loss of a good and coherent self-filling is associated with intensely experienced emotions such as shame and depression, plus an anguished sense of helplessness and disorientation.

To prevent this state, narcissistic personality slides the meanings of events in order to place the self in a better light.

What is good is labeled as being of the self, internalized.

Those qualities that are undesirable are excluded from the self by denial of their existence, disavowal of related attitudes, externalization, and negation of recent self-expressions.

Persons who function as accessories to the self may also be idealized by exaggeration of their attributes. Those who counter the self are depreciated. Ambiguous attributions of blame in a tendency to self-righteous rage are a conspicuous aspect of this pattern.

Such fluid shifts in meanings permit the narcissistic personality to maintain apparent logical consistency while minimizing evil or weakness and exaggerating innocence or control.

As part of these maneuvers, the narcissistic personality may assume attitudes of contemptuous superiority towards others, emotional coldness, or even desperately charming approaches to idealized figures.

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Zombie Narcissist: Deficient Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists are constantly seeking praise, adoration, admiration, approval, applause, attention, and other forms of narcissistic supply. When they fail to obtain sufficient supply, they react much like a drug addict would. They become dysphoric, depressed, and may resort to alternative addictions. In extreme cases of deprivation, they may even entertain suicidal thoughts. Narcissists also have a sense of magical thinking, believing that they will always prevail and that good things will always happen to them, rendering them fearless and cloaked in divine and cosmic immunity.


The Signs of the Narcissist

Narcissists are difficult to spot, but there are subtle signs that can be picked up on, such as entitlement markers, idealization and devaluation, and a lack of empathy. Narcissists are often perceived as anti-social and are unable to secure the sympathy of others. They are also prone to projecting a false self and using primitive defense mechanisms such as splitting, projection, projective identification, and intellectualization.


Narcissism is Tiring Energy-depleting

Personality is a dynamic, ongoing process that is ever-evolving. The more primitive the personality, the less organized, the more disordered, the greater the amount of energy required to maintain it in a semblance of balance and function. Narcissists externalize most of the available energy in an effort to secure a narcissistic supply. The narcissist's constant fatigue and ennui, his short attention span, his tendency to devalue sources of supply, even his transformed aggression.


Narcissist Never Sorry

Narcissists sometimes feel bad and experience depressive episodes and dysphoric moods, but they have a diminished capacity to empathize and rarely feel sorry for what they have done or for their victims. They often project their own emotions and actions onto others and attribute to others what they hate in themselves. When confronted with major crises, the narcissist experiences real excruciating pain, but this is only a fleeting moment, and they recover their former self and embark on a new hunt for narcissistic supply. They are hunters, predators, and their victims are prey.


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 as Spoiled Brat

Narcissists require attention and narcissistic supply, and when they cannot obtain it, they may experience decompensation, which can lead to acting out in various ways. Narcissists may resort to several adaptive solutions, including delusional narratives, antisocial behavior, passive-aggressive behavior, paranoid narratives, and masochistic avoidance. These behaviors are all self-generated sources of narcissistic supply. Masochistic narcissists may direct their fury inwards, punishing themselves for their failure to elicit supply, and this behavior has the added benefit of forcing those closest to them to pay attention to them.


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 Routines

Narcissists have a series of routines that are developed through rote learning and repetitive patterns of experience. These routines are used to reduce anxiety and transform the world into a manageable and controllable one. The narcissist is a creature of habit and finds change unsettling. The narcissist's routines are often broken down when they are breached or can no longer be defended, leading to a narcissistic injury.


Narcissist's Impossible Jigsaw Puzzle

Narcissists are fascinating due to their contradictory traits and behaviors. They can be highly intelligent and creative, yet emotionally immature and self-destructive. They can appear self-sufficient but are extremely dependent on others for validation. These disconnects challenge our understanding of psychology, as narcissists seem to defy the typical integration of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of a person. Narcissism remains a perplexing and unchanging phenomenon, providing valuable insights into the human mind.


How Narcissist Experiences/Reacts to No Contact, Grey Rock, Mirroring, Coping, Survival Techniques

Narcissists are victims of post-traumatic conditions caused by their parents, leading to ontological insecurity, dissociation, and confabulation. They have no core identity and construct their sense of self by reflecting themselves from other people. Narcissists have empathy, but it is cold empathy, which is goal-oriented and used to find vulnerabilities to obtain goals. Narcissism becomes a religion when a child is abused by their parents, particularly their mother, and not allowed to develop their own boundaries. The false self demands human sacrifice, and the narcissist must sacrifice others to the false self to gratify and satisfy it.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
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