People-pleasers and Pathological Charmers

Uploaded 2/3/2013, approx. 5 minute read

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.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissist Hates Happy People and Holidays

Holidays and birthdays are a difficult time for narcissists, as they provoke a stream of pathological envy. The narcissist is jealous of others for having a family, being able to celebrate lavishly, or being in the right mood. They hate humans because they are unable to be one and want to spoil it for those who can enjoy. Holidays remind the narcissist of their childhood, the supportive and loving family they never had, and what could have been.

Old-age Narcissist

Narcissists age without grace, unable to accept their fallibility and mortality. They suffer from mental progeria, aging prematurely and finding themselves in a time warp. The longer they live, the more average they become, and the wider the gulf between their pretensions and accomplishments. Few narcissists save for rainy days, and those who succeed in their vocation end up bitterly alone, having squandered the love of family, offspring, and mates.

Narcissist: Irresistible Charmer

Narcissists use charm to manipulate and control others, seeking attention and admiration. They use their charisma to exert power over people and view those they charm as objects for their gratification. Pathological charm can involve sadism and is used to maintain object constancy and fend off abandonment. Narcissists react with rage and aggression when their charm fails to elicit narcissistic supply, revealing their true predatory nature.

Communal, Prosocial Narcissist as Compulsive Giver

Compulsive givers are a type of narcissist who feel superior to those they give to, and feel exploited when they have to pay for the needs of others. They are people pleasers and co-dependents who force themselves on others and have unrealistic expectations of gratitude. They have alloplastic defenses with an external locus of control, meaning they rely on others to regulate their self-worth and blame the world for their failures. They keep a mental ledger of what they give and receive and use false asceticism and fake modesty to prove their nearest and dearest are ingrates.

Narcissist: Bumbling Fool, Incapable of Learning?

Narcissists can appear to be stupid for several reasons. They have no impulse control, act out, and engage in self-defeating actions. They also use pseudo-stupidity to avoid the consequences of their misdeeds. Narcissists are gullible, have an impaired reality test, and cannot read social cues or the intentions of others. They also use false modesty to fish for compliments, but their attempts are so transparent that people react with repulsion. Finally, the narcissist regards learning something new or getting advice as narcissistic injuries, which renders them appear profoundly stupid.

Narcissists: Homosexual and Transsexual

Research has found no significant difference between the psychological makeup of a narcissist with homosexual preferences and a heterosexual narcissist. However, the self-definition of homosexuals is often based on their sexual identity, which can lead to somatic narcissism. Homosexual relations are highly narcissistic and autoerotic affairs, with the somatic narcissist directing their libido at their own body. Transsexuals may also exhibit narcissistic tendencies, with some seeking sex reassignment due to an idealized overvaluation of themselves and a sense of entitlement.

Narcissist Has No Friends

Narcissists treat their friends like Watson and Hastings, who are obsequious and unthreatening, and provide them with an adulating gallery. Narcissists cannot empathize or love, and therefore have no real friends. They are interested in securing narcissistic supply from narcissistic supply sources. The narcissist overvalues people when they are judged to be potential sources of supply, and devalues them when no longer able to supply him, ultimately leading to the alienation and distancing of people.

Narcissist Hates His Fans, Followers, and Admirers

Narcissists depend on their followers for narcissistic supply but resent their addictive dependence and hold their followers in contempt. They see themselves as beyond human comprehension and refuse to grant anyone special privileges. The narcissist demands complete obedience from their followers and punishes those who stray. Cult leaders are often narcissists who failed to become famous and impress the world with their uniqueness, and they resent their followers for witnessing their fraudulence and failure.

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.

Your Empathy as Narcissistic Injury: Narcissist Never Learns, No Insight

Narcissists reject empathy and intimacy because it challenges their grandiosity, and they become paranoid and aggressive when someone tries to be intimate with them. Narcissists lack empathy and access to positive emotions, leading to a truncated version of empathy called "cold empathy." Narcissists are self-aware but lack the incentive to get rid of their narcissism, and therapy is more focused on accommodating the needs of the narcissist's nearest and dearest. Cold Therapy is experimental and limited, as it removes the false self but does not develop empathy or improve the narcissist's interpersonal relationships.

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