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Narcissists: Somatic vs. Cerebral

Uploaded 7/25/2010, approx. 3 minute read

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.

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Two Narcissists in a Couple

Two narcissists of the same type cannot maintain a stable, long-term, full-fledged and functional relationship. Two narcissists of different types or opposing types can, often do, maintain long-term, stable and rather happy relationships. There are two main types of narcissists, somatic and cerebral. The somatic type of narcissist relies on his body and sexuality to generate attention, adulation and admiration, while the cerebral narcissist leverages his intellect, his intelligence and his professional achievements to obtain the same. Stable and enduring relationships can and often do develop between dissimilar narcissists.


Why Narcissist Devalues YOU (Hint: Wants YOU "Dead")

Narcissists devalue their partners as a form of self-defense and control. There are two types of devaluation: preemptive and reactive. Preemptive devaluation occurs when a narcissist is in a transitional state between overt and covert narcissism, and they devalue potential sources of supply to prevent the overt side from using them against the covert side. Reactive devaluation is a response to a perceived threat to the narcissist's grandiosity or control. Both types of devaluation are harmful to the victim and serve to maintain the narcissist's sense of power and control.


Somatic Narcissist: Not Sex, But Pursuit and Conquest

Somatic narcissists derive their narcissistic supply from the process of securing sex, rather than the act itself. They are often health freaks, bodybuilders, or hypochondriacs, and regard their bodies as objects to be sculpted and honed. The cerebral narcissist, on the other hand, is haughty and uses their intellect or knowledge to secure admiration. Both types are auto-erotic and prefer masturbation to interactive sex. It is a mistake to assume type constancy, as the narcissist swings between their dominant and recessive types.


When the Narcissist's Parents Die

The death of a narcissist's parents can be a complicated experience. The narcissist has a mixed reaction to their passing, feeling both elation and grief. The parents are often the source of the narcissist's trauma and continue to haunt them long after they die. The death of the parents also represents a loss of a reliable source of narcissistic supply, which can lead to severe depression. Additionally, the narcissist's unfinished business with their parents can lead to unresolved conflicts and pressure that deforms their personality.


Narcissist's Victims' Many Faces

Everyone around the narcissist is bound to become a victim, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. There are three categories of victims: those who suffer from the narcissist's instability, those who are misled by the narcissist's deceiving messages, and those who are intentionally targeted by the narcissist. The narcissist is both sadistic and masochistic, and in hurting others, he always seeks to also hurt himself. The narcissist is ruinous and destructive, and no amount of punishment can restore the balance or provide closure and vindication.


Narcissism Myths: Suicide, Types, Crises

Narcissists come in different types, with cerebral and somatic being the most common. All narcissists share certain traits, such as pathological lying and lack of empathy. Narcissists are not interested in people as such, but they love to have an audience as long as they provide them with narcissistic supply. Narcissists rarely commit suicide, but they react with suicidal ideation and reactive psychosis to severe stress. Narcissists prefer to find alternative sources of supply, and they are creative in doing so.


Narcissist's Sexual Identities (ENGLISH responses)

Narcissists lack an ego and have no reality test, so they rely on other people to provide them with narcissistic supply. The cerebral narcissist uses their intellect to obtain supply, while the somatic narcissist uses their body and sex. However, all narcissists are both cerebral and somatic, with a dominant and recessive side. The dominant side is usually 70-80% of their life, but there is fluctuation between the two types. Narcissists are frozen at a young age and have no sexual or gender identity, leading to infantilization and reaction formation to their own sexuality.


Narcissists Hate Women, Misogynists

Narcissists view women as objects and use them for both primary and secondary narcissistic supply. They fear emotional intimacy and treat women as property, similar to the mindset of European males in the 18th century. Narcissists frustrate women by teasing them and then leaving them, and they hold women in contempt, choosing submissive partners whom they disdain for being below their intellectual level. The narcissist projects his own behavior and traits onto women.


Narcissist Frustrates Women with Ostentatious Fidelity

Narcissists, particularly cerebral narcissists, often frustrate women who are attracted to them by withholding sex or teasing them. This is because they are misogynists who hold women in contempt and fear them. They divide women into saints and whores, and view sex and intimacy as mutually exclusive. The narcissist's frustrating behavior serves to secure a narcissistic supply and reenact unresolved conflicts with their mother. They pathologize women to control them and project their own parasitic behavior onto them.


How Narcissist's Victims Deceive Themselves

Narcissists cannot be cured and are a threat to those around them. Victims of narcissists often confuse shame with guilt and attribute remorsefulness to the narcissist when they are actually feeling shame for failing. Narcissists are attracted to vulnerable people who offer them a secure source of narcissistic supply. Healing is dependent on a sense of security in a relationship, but the narcissist is not interested in healing and would rather invest their energy in obtaining narcissistic supply. Narcissists lack empathy and cannot understand others, making them a danger to those around them.

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