I am Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
The narcissist would tend to display the sadistic aspect of sadism in his personality in one of two cases.
One that the very acts of sadism generate narcissistic supply. So then such a narcissist can say, I inflict pain, therefore I am superior or omnipotent.
In the other cases when the victims of the narcissist's sadism are still his only or major sources of narcissistic supply, but they are perceived by him to be intentionally frustrating and withholding.
Sadistic acts are the narcissist's way of punishing them for not being docile, obedient, admiring and adoring as he expects them to be in view of his uniqueness, cosmic significance and special entitlement.
Narcissists are not full-fledged sadists in the psychosexual sense of the word. They rarely inflict physical torture or sexual torture on their victims, but in all other respects they are full-fledged sadists.
Because of the narcissist's lack of empathy and rigid personality, he often inflicts great physical or mental pain on meaningful others in his life and he enjoys their writhing and suffering.
The narcissist is as much an artist of pain as any other type of sadist.
The difference between the narcissist and the classical sadist lies in their motivation.
The narcissist tortures and abuses as a means of punishing and reasserting superiority, re-establishing omnipotence and grandiosity. The sadist does the same thing for pure, usually sexually tinged, pleasure.
But both types, the classic sadist and the classic narcissist, are adept at finding the chinks in people's armors, their vulnerabilities, frailties, fears. Both are ruthless, venomous in the pursuit of their prey. Both are unable to empathize with their victims, self-centered and rigidly.
The narcissist abuses his victims verbally, mentally or physically, very often in all three ways. He infiltrates her defenses. The narcissist shatters the victim's self-confidence, confounds her, demeans and debases her. The narcissist invades her territory, abuses her confidence, exhausts her resources, hurts her loved ones, threatens her stability and security and meshes her in his paranoid state of mind, frightens her out of her wits, withholds love and sex from her, prevents satisfaction, causes frustration, humiliates and insults her privately and in public, points out her shortcomings repeatedly, criticizing her profusely and in a scientific and objective manner.
And this is a very partial list of the sadistic tactics of narcissists.
Very often the narcissist's sadistic acts are disguised as an enlightened interest in the welfare of his victim. He plays the psychiatrist to her psychopathology, which is usually totally dreamt up by him. He acts as a guru, the avuncular father figure, the teacher, the only true friend, the old experience.
These roles, this acting is intended to weaken the victim's defenses and to lay siege to her disintegrating nerves.
The narcissistic variant of sadism is so subtle, so poisonous, so pernicious that it might well be regarded as the most dangerous of all variants of sadism.
It's not overt, it's covert.
Luckily for the victim, the narcissist's attention span is short and his resources and energy are limited.
In constant effort consuming and attention diverting pursuit of narcissistic supply, the narcissist lets his victims go. And usually he does it before the victim has suffered irreversible damage.
The victim is then free to rebuild their life from ruins. It's not an easy undertaking this, but it's far better than the total obliteration which awaits the victims of the true classic sadist.
Narcissists are a touch and go.
A sadistic narcissist once wrote, quote, I find it difficult to accept that I am irredeemably evil, that I ecstatically, almost orgiastically enjoy hurting people and that I actively seek to inflict pain on others. It runs so contrary to my long cultivated and tenderly nurtured self-image as a benefactor, sensitive intellectual and harmless hermit.
In truth, my sadism meshes well and synergetically with two other behavior patterns, my relentless pursuit of narcissistic supply and my self-destructive self-defeating and therefore masochistic streak.
The process of torturing, says the narcissist, humiliating and offending people, provides proof of my omnipotence, nourishes my grandiose fantasies and buttresses my false self.
The sadistic narcissist continues to write.
The victims' distress and dismay constitute narcissistic supply of the purest grade. It also alienates them, turns them into hostile witnesses or even enemies and stalkers.
Thus, through the agency of my hapless and helpless victims, I bring upon my head a recurrent torrents of wrath and punishment.
This animosity guarantees my unraveling, my failure, outcomes which I avidly seek in order to placate my inner chastising and castigating voices, what Freud called the sadistic superego.
The narcissist concludes, similarly, I am a fiercely independent person, this is known in psychological jargon as counterdependent, but my independence, my autonomy is a pathological variant.
I want to be free to frustrate myself by inflicting mental havoc on my human environment, including and especially, my nearest and dearest.
This way I secure and incur their inevitable ire.
I am in my comfort zone. Getting attached to or becoming dependent on someone, in any way, emotionally, financially, hierarchically, politically, religiously or intellectually, means surrendering my ability to indulge my all-consuming urges, to ferment, to feel like God, to be ruined by the consequences of my own evil actions.
Concludes the narcissist.