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Prodigy Narcissist

Uploaded 9/14/2010, approx. 3 minute read

I am Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

The prodigy, the precocious genius, feels entitled to special treatment, yet he rarely gets it.

This frustrates him and renders him even more aggressive, driven and overachieving than he is by nature.

As the famous psychoanalyst Karen Hornak pointed out, the child prodigy, the wunderkind, is dehumanized and instrumentalized. His parents love him not for what he really is, but for what they wish and imagine him to be.

They regard him as the fulfillment of their dreams and frustrated wishes.

The child becomes the vessel of his parents' discontent and lives, a tool, the magic brush with which they can transform their failures into successes, their humiliation into victory and their frustrations into happiness.

The child is taught to ignore reality and to occupy the parental fantastic space.

Such an unfortunate, talented child feels omnipotent and omniscient, perfect and brilliant, worthy of adoration and entitled to special treatment and adulation.

The faculties that are honed by constantly brushing against bruising reality are all lacking and missing.

Such a child will not develop empathy, compassion, a realistic assessment of his abilities and limitations, a realistic expectation regarding himself and others, personal boundaries. He won't be able to cope with teamwork. He won't develop social skills. He will have no perseverance in goal orientation and he will be unable to postpone gratification and to work hard to achieve it.

When such a prodigy child, a wunderkind, turns adult, he sees no reason to invest in his skills and education. He is convinced that his inherent genius should suffice if he is entitled to everything for merely existing rather than for actually doing.

In other words, a narcissist is born.

Not all precocious prodigies end up under-achieving and petulant. Many of them go on to attain great stature in their communities, in great standing in their professions.

But even then, the gap between the kind of treatment they believe that they deserve, the kind of treatment that they are getting, is unbridgeable.

This is because narcissistic prodigies often misjudge the extent and importance of their accomplishments.

And as a result, erroneously consider themselves to be indispensable and worthy of special rights, perks and privileges.

When they found out otherwise, they are devastated and furious. People are envious of the prodigy.

The genius serves as a constant reminder to others of their mediocrity, lack of creativity and mundane existence.

Naturally, they try to bring him down to their level, to cut him down to size, to reduce him to proper proportion.

The gifted person's fortiness and high-handedness only exacerbate his strained relationships.

In a way, merely by existing, the prodigy inflicts constant and repeated narcissistic injuries on the less endowed and the pedestrian.

This creates a vicious cycle.

People try to hurt and harm the over-winning and arrogant genius, and he, in turn, becomes defensive, aggressive and aloof.

This renders him even more obnoxious than before, and others resent him even more deeply and more thoroughly.

Hurt and wounded, the genius retreats into fantasies of grandeur and revenge, and the cycle goes on and on, with all breaking.

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