My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
This is the outcome of deliberative analysis, not even the outcome of maliciousness or evil.
The narcissist holds in on other people's vulnerabilities, as a tiger mauls a strained, weakened gazelle.
The narcissist leverages his target's fears and neediness, the way a virus breaches cellular defenses and then uses the cell's machinery to replicate.
The narcissist thorns, abuses, torments, harasses, and stalks his prey because it's fun and imbues him with a sense of pleasurable omnipotence.
Acting this way is in the narcissist's nature. It's an integral and crucial part of who he is. It is his essence.
The narcissist X-ray vision, which we mentioned in the previous part, is strictly limited to the traits, qualities and behaviors of his would-be and actual victims that are useful in subjugating these victims and converting them into sources of narcissistic supply.
The narcissist arrested personal development, his massive psychological defenses, his poor reality test, his grandiose, his secretary fantasies, and his cognitive deficits render him incapable of true, profound and comprehensive insight into others and into the human condition in general.
So, contrary to widely held views and even to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual's criteria, narcissists and psychopaths may actually possess empathy. They may even be hyper-empathic, attuned to the minutest signals emitted by their victims and endowed with the aforementioned penetrating X-ray vision.
Narcissists and psychopaths tend to abuse their empathic skills by employing their empathy exclusively for personal gain, the extraction of narcissistic supply, or in the pursuit of antisocial and sadistic goals.
Narcissists and psychopaths regard their ability to empathize as yet another weapon in their arsenal.
There are two possible pathological reactions to childhood abuse and trauma.
One can become co-dependent or one can become a narcissist or a psychopath.
Both solutions, both reactions to childhood abuse and trauma involve fantasy as a defense mechanism.
The co-dependent has a pretty realistic assessment of herself, but her view of others is fantastic.
The narcissist's self-image and self-perception are delusional and grandiose, but his penetrating view of others is blood-curlingly accurate.
I suggest to label the narcissistic psychopath's version of empathy cold empathy, akin to cold emotions felt by psychopaths.
The cognitive element of empathy is there with narcissists, but not so its emotional correlate.
In other words, a narcissist empathizes through his mind, through his brain, not through his heart.
It is consequently a barren, detached and cerebral kind of intrusive gaze, devoid of compassion and compunction, and a feeling of affinity with one's fellow humans.
Narcissists and psychopaths also appear to be empathizing with their possessions, objects, pets and other sources of narcissistic supply or material benefits.
They empathize with their nearest and dearest, significant others, friends and associates, only when they can derive some benefit from them.
But this is not real empathy. It is a mere projection of the narcissist or psychopath's own insecurities and fears, needs and wishes, fantasies and priorities onto others.
This kind of displayed empathy usually vanishes the minute its subject ceases to play a role in the narcissist or psychopath's life and in his psychodynamic processes.
Cold empathy evokes the concept of uncanny value, coined in 1970 by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori. Mori suggested that people react positively to Android's human-like robots, for as long as these androids differ from real humans in meaningful and discernible ways.
But the minute these constructions, the minute these robots come to resemble humans too much, come to resemble humans uncannily, though imperfectly, human observers tend to experience repulsion, repulsion and other negative emotions, including overwhelming fear.
So, as long as the robots are easily distinguishable from humans, they are actually liked and loved, but the minute they become too human, they are feared and they revolt.
They provoke revulsion.
The same applies to psychopathic narcissists.
Psychopathic narcissists are near perfect limitations of humans, but lacking empathy and emotions, they are not exactly there, they are not exactly human.
Psychopaths and narcissists strike their interlocutors as being some kind of alien lifeforms or artificial intelligence, in short akin to humanoid robots or androids.
When people come across narcissists or psychopaths, the uncanny value reaction kicks in.
People feel, for some reason, which they cannot put a finger on, they feel revolted, repelled, scared. They can't put a finger on it, as I said.
What is it that provokes these negative reactions? They don't know.
But after a few initial encounters, they tend to keep their distance.
They realize, instinctually and intuitively that something is frightfully wrong and potentially ominous.