My name is Sam Vaknin and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
Narcissists are drug addicts. The drug they are addicted to is known as narcissistic supply. It consists of adoration, admiration, adulation, and more generally, attention.
Narcissists seek positive attention, but if they fail, they would rather be feared or be notorious than be ignored.
There is nothing the narcissist fears more than being ignored.
But different narcissists are equipped with different assets. Some of them are highly intelligent, others are not.
So in 1999, in my book Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, I suggested a typology of narcissism.
I postulated the existence of a somatic versus a cerebral narcissist.
The somatic narcissist flaunts his sexual compass. He parades his possessions, he exhibits his muscles, he brags about his physical aesthetics and his sexual prowess.
In other words, the somatic narcissist leverages his body and his bodily exploits in order to garner the attention he so craves from his environment.
Not so the cerebral narcissist. The cerebral narcissist posits a facade. He pretends to be annoyed all. He is haunting. He is an intelligent computer. He uses his awesome intellect and high intelligence, all his knowledge, whether real or pretended, to secure this adoration, admiration, and adulation that he so needs.
To the cerebral narcissist, the body and its maintenance are chores. The body is a burden. It's a distraction from the main pursuit, the pursuit of intellect and knowledge and of impressing everyone around him.
Now, both types, the somatic and the cerebral, are psychosexually in love with themselves, either with their bodies, in the case of the somatic narcissist, or with our brains, in the case of the cerebral narcissist. Both types prefer self-satisfaction to adult, mature, interactive, multidimensional, and emotion-laden relationship, either with the other sex or with the same sex.
In this sense, narcissists of both types are self-sufficient.
So we find that the cerebral narcissist and the somatic narcissist are often celibate or single. Even when the cerebral narcissist has a girlfriend or a spouse, he is likely to prefer pornography or sexual auto-stimulation to the main thing.
The cerebral narcissist is sometimes a latent, hidden homosexual.
The somatic narcissist, on the other hand, is besotted with sex. He is absolutely obsessed with sex and his sexual exploits are compulsive. He cannot control his sexuality.
Somatic narcissists are often described as sex addicts if they are male or histrionic if they are female. Sex with the somatic narcissist is kind of an impersonal and emotionally alienating and draining experience.
The somatic narcissist is very good in pyrotechnics and acrobatics, but he is not really there. He is emotionally absent. He is more about mechanics than about love, attachment, affection, or even attraction. The partner of the somatic narcissist is often treated as an object, an extension of the narcissist, a kind of warm and pulsating sex doll.
But it would be a mistake to assume that there is type constancy in narcissism. In other words, narcissists often fluctuate between the two poles.
Cerebral narcissist, especially after a life crisis, very often become somatic narcissists.
They use sex to compensate for the narcissistic injury, for the mishaps and defeats of life, for their failures. They use sex as a kind of potion or paste to soothe their pain.
Somatic narcissists, on the other hand, sometimes become, for brief periods of time, the cerebral types, especially when they fail in their sexual conquests. Or, for instance, when they are disease-ridden, or following an accident, or when they are in prison, or in some other confinement.
So, narcissists are either somatic or cerebral, as a dominant type, but they revert to the other form when the circumstances so dictate.