My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
Vague, hard to pin down, sometimes of secrets, and generally a spineless non-entity. But here's the irony, these very qualities of self-defeating, as they tend to antagonize people rather than please them, at least in the long-term.
But conflict aversion is only one of several psychodynamic backgrounds for the behavior known as people pleasing.
Some people pleasers, for instance, cater to the needs and demands of others as a form of penance, self-sacrifice, redemption.
Many people pleasers are co-dependents. They strive to gratify their nearest and dearest in order to allay their own abandonment anxiety, and they ensuing intense and at times life-threatening dysphoria.
Co-dependent people pleasers say, if I'm nice to him, he won't break up with me, or if I cater to her needs, she won't leave me or won't cheat on me.
A few people pleasers are even narcissistic. Pleasing people enhances their sense of omnipotence, grandiosity. They seek to control and disempower their charges, their beneficiaries. They say, she is so dependent on me, and she so looks up to me, that I can't avoid pleasing her or helping her.
Even the pity of narcissistic people pleasers is a form of self-aggrandizement.
Narcissistic people pleasers are likely to say, only I can make her life so much better. She needs me. Without me, her life would be hell.
Narcissistic people pleasers are actually misanthropic altruists and compulsive givers.
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All people pleasers use a few common coping strategies.
They are all dishonest. Dishonesty lies, white lies, and not-so-white lies, are intended to avoid conflicts and unpleasant situations.
Manipulation people pleasers are manipulative, that is meant to ensure desired outcomes such as an intimate partner's continued presence.
People pleasers seek to foster dependence in their beneficiaries, in their charges, in the recipients of their magistrates or their hell.
Codependent people pleasers leverage their ostentatious helplessness and manifest weaknesses to elicit the kind of behaviors and solicit the benefits that they end up for, while narcissistic people pleasers aim to habituate their targets by bribing people with gifts, monopolizing their time and isolating them socially.
Then there is infantilization, displaying childish behaviors in order to gratify the emotional needs of overprotective, possessive, paranoid, narcissistic and codependent individuals in the people pleasers' milieu.
Finally, there is self-punishment, self-defeat and self-sacrifice. All these signal self-annulment in the pursuit of people pleasing.
I am not here, only my services are here.
People pleasers are a subset of a larger phenomenon, which I call pathological charming.
Pathological charmers are mostly narcissists. The narcissist is confident that people find him irresistible. His unfailing charm is part of his self-imputed omnipotence.
This in any conviction is what makes the narcissist a pathological charmer.
The somatic narcissist and the histrionic, flown to their sex appeal, virility or femininity, sexual prowess, musculature, physique, training or athletic achievements. The cerebral narcissist seeks to enchant intellectual pyrotechnics.
Many narcissists brag about their wealth, health, possessions, collections, spouses, children, personal history, family tree, assets, in short, anything that garners an attention and renders both types of narcissists firmly believe that being unique, they are entitled to special treatment by others.
They deploy their charm offenses in order to manipulate their nearest and dearest or even complete strangers and use them as instruments of gratification.
Exerting personal magnetism and charisma become ways of asserting control and overriding other people's personal boundaries.
The pathological charmer feels superior to the person he is captivating and frustrating. As far as he is concerned, charming someone means having power over her, controlling her or even subjugating her.
It is all a mind game and possibly a power play. The person to be enthralled, to be captivated, is an object, a mere prop and of dehumanized utility.
In some cases, pathological charmers involve more than a grain of Satan.
It provokes in the narcissist a sexual arousal by inflicting the pain of subjugation of the beguile who cannot help but be enchanted.
Counterproductively, the pathological charmer engages in infantile and magical thinking.
He uses charm to help maintain object constancy and fend off abandonment in other words to ensure that the person he bewitched won't disappear on you suddenly.
Some narcissists like to surprise people. They drop in and announce they organize events or parties unbidden.
They make decisions on behalf of unsuspecting parties. They help compulsively and forcefully.
This variety of pathological charmers believe that their mere presence guarantees the gratitude and delight of the intended targets of their generous and spontaneous campaigns.
Pathological charmers react with rage and aggression when their intended targets prove to be impervious and resistant to their lure.
This kind of narcissistic injury, being spurned, being rebuffed, makes narcissists feel threatened, rejected and denuded.
Being ignored amounts to a challenge to the narcissist's uniqueness, entitlement, control and superiority.
Narcissists wither without constant narcissistic supply. They shrivel like a flower without water and sunshine.
When their charm fails to elicit narcissistic supply, they feel unarmed, non-existent, disintegrating and even dead.
Expectably, they go to great lengths to secure a narcissistic supply.
It is only when their efforts are frustrated that the mask of civility and congeniality drops and reveals the true face of the narcissist, a predator on the prowl.