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Self-destructive Narcissists and Psychopaths

Uploaded 5/27/2022, approx. 42 minute read

Today, I am returning to my favorite topics, self-defeat, self-destruction, doom and gloom, hopelessness and demise, my natural habitat.

My name is Sam Vaknin, I am a professor of psychology, unluckily for you, and the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited.


Today, we are going to discuss, now on a serious note, self-destructive behaviors in a variety of settings and attached to various mental illnesses and states of mind.

Before I go there, I am available for counseling.

Down in the description, there is a link, click on it, follow the instructions, and I am all yours, at least for an hour.

The human mind is very creative, very mutable, very shape-shifting, even the human mind of healthy people.

There are numerous ways to destroy yourself, numerous ways to defeat yourself, and many of us engage in self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors, and we just don't realize it.

I will mention just a few forms of self-defeat and self-destructiveness.

A constricted life, self-denial, depression, emotional numbing, dissociation, masochism, and insecure attachment.

Actually, I am going to deal with each and every one of these things, at length, in this lecture.

But before we go there, people ask me, what happens to the narcissist when he switches from cerebral to somatic? Doesn't this solve the problem of deficient narcissistic supply?

If the narcissist fails to obtain supply as a cerebral, why doesn't he simply switch to somatic and then obtain supply?

Well, my previous video deals with the experience of collapse, and so the cerebral collapse can become somatic, but there are, of course, situations where the narcissist fails to obtain supply both as a cerebral and as a somatic.

My previous video deals with these situations.

What happens to the narcissist?

And the reason I'm mentioning it here is because the narcissist essentially self-detonates, self-destructs, as a solution to his predicament.

But watch the previous video for more details.

Generally speaking, as a masochist, they destroy and defeat themselves by behaving, for example, recklessly or thoughtlessly, by retarding and preventing intimacy, by sabotaging their careers and relationships, and by being obstructive, passive-aggressive, negativistic.

These are all narcissistic behaviors, some of them attributable to the overt narcissist and some of them to the covert narcissist.

But today we are going to discuss not only narcissists, we're going to discuss self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors, as I said, also in healthy people.


Let's start with a phenomenon of life constriction.

Life constriction is about denying yourself all kinds of things, including things, activities, and people you like. Self-denial, asceticism, abstinence, celibacy, avoiding sex or abstaining from sex is a private case of abstinence.

But we can abstain from a variety of things.

When we constrict our lives, when we narrow life, when we make it tunnel vision, when we avoid things more than we pursue things, when we withdraw, when we become hermetically sealed in a capsule or a pod or a cocoon of our own making, that is life constriction.

I want to read to you something I had written in my journal a few weeks ago.

Self-loathing, self-punitive, and terrified of failure, having performance anxiety, I have rejected, disowned, sabotaged, and avoided all aspects of life.

I have, in Cletley's words, rejected life, or in Seinfeld's words, Jeffrey Seinfeld, the psychoanalyst. I had rejected life. I had rendered myself invulnerable by being dead within and without, as a form of rigid, proud, defiant, sadistically self-denying ideology.

I continued to write in my journal, I acted entitled and contemptuous, celibacy was an expression of my contempt.

I gave up on and denied my body, my health, my home ownership, sex, romance, intimacy, all positive emotions, relationships, family of origin, having children, academic degrees, career, country, language, success, reputation, business, life, fans, and friends. Almost nothing is left. This list is so comprehensive, soil all-encompassing, that constricting life to this extent is the mental equivalent of suicide.


Now, there is a confusion between being introverted and being constricted. Constriction has to do usually with clinical depression, either in the form of dysthymia, background depression, or in the form of major depressive episodes.

There is a difference between introverts and the depressed. On the surface, they appear to be indistinguishable, but they actually have nothing in common.

I will mention just three important differences.

The introvert is egosyntonic. She feels comfortable in her own skin. She is at her best and happiest when she is all by herself, all alone. She prefers her own company to any others.

This is the introvert.

The depressive is egodystonic by definition. He is profoundly unhappy. He is dysphoric. He is anhedonic. He finds pleasure in nothing. That's the first difference.

2. The introvert never willingly socializes or mingles. You will never find the introvert frequenting clubs or attending parties. She rarely, if ever, exits home, except to go to her workplace and back.

By comparison, the depressive can be very sociable, even reckless and promiscuous. He uses interactions with other people as a form of self-soothing or self-medication.

Another difference is the rates of substance abuse among introverts is drastically lower than among sufferers of depression or anxiety.

We are beginning to see the background of self-destruction and self-defeat.

A permanent, omnipresent depression. Depression is a critical feature in self-destruction and self-defeat. Depression can come and go, as it does with healthy people, or it can be a major feature in, for example, a personality disorder or a mood disorder, a major clinical feature.

Depression is often a type of frustration. When frustrations accumulate and writ large, this leads to paralysis, owing to performance anxiety or the wish to avoid hurt and pain. And this paralysis is one of the first hallmarks of depression.

But frustration also yields aggression. That is the Donald frustration-aggression hypothesis of 1939. So ironically and counterintuitively, frustration can, on the one hand, lead to paralyzing depression. And on the other hand, it can lead to aggression and even violence.

Men tend to externalize the aggression, while women tend to internalize and self-direct it.

Depressed men, for example, tend to become antisocial, secluded, and even violent. In contrast, depressed women typically self-trash, sexually or otherwise.

Depression is a rejection of life. It's a rejection of happiness. It's embracing misery. It is commonly believed that depression has biochemical roots, even genetic roots.

There is this myth that depression is out of our control, that it's a form of a bodily disease or illness. And it does have, of course, these elements.

There is a somatic background, a body background to depression.

But depression is sometimes a choice. Some people reject happiness and embrace misery happily. And they belong to one of three groups.

Number one, masochist. The masochist has been taught from an early age to hate herself, to consider herself unworthy of love and worthless as a person. And yes, you can change the pronouns. When I use herself, you can think himself. When I use she, you can think he. And when I use he, you can think she.

I hope we dispense with this endless line of questioning. For convenience sake, I'm going to sometimes use one gender and sometimes another.

The truth is that in reality, all mental health disorders are equally distributed among the genders.

So the masochist has been taught to consider herself as lowly.

And so, consequently, she's prone to self-destructive, punishing and self-defeating behaviors.

Though capable of pleasure and possessed of social skills, the masochist avoids or undermines pleasurable experiences.

The masochist does not admit to enjoying himself. The masochist seeks suffering, pain in relationships, in situations, and he rejects help. And he resents people who offer help. The masochist actively renders futile attempts to assist or to mitigate or to ameliorate or to solve her problems and predicaments.

And these self-punitive behaviors are also cathartic. They're self-purging. They intend to relieve the masochist of overwhelming pent-up anxiety.

Masochist conduct is equally aimed at avoiding intimacy and its benefits, companionship and support.

So this is the first group of people who seek self-destruction.


The second group are the eternal victims. Victimhood can become an identity. You've all heard of victimhood movements and identity politics.

So victimhood can become an identity. It can become an organizing principle, an explanatory principle that endows the world and your life with meaning and predictability. It's a pernicious poison.

Surviving abuse is an accomplishment, and victims are proud of this accomplishment. They're emotionally invested in their victimhood, and they are loathe to relinquish the foundation of their fragile and labile self-esteem or newly acquired self-esteem.

They mistakenly identify their victimhood with their worthiness or worth. They're worthy, they're good, and only as long and as far as their victims, as they continue to be victims.

And when they're victims, they also garner sympathy and attention. Some victims regard themselves as damsels in distress or sleeping beauties, priestesses awaiting rescue by a night in a shining armor, or in a fabulous, mythical, morally righteous, grandiose morality play or narrative.

There's nothing more dangerous than victimhood as a way of life because it leads to self-inflicted, self-defeat and self-destruction.

And finally, there's a third group. Those who are used to the familiar, addicted to the comfort zone.

For example, being a victim. Being a victim can become a profession of sorts.

The abused know the ropes of abuse, the unspoken rules, the codes of conduct, and so they are adept at predicting and foreseeing forthcoming maltreatment.

The victims of abuse evolve coping strategies and manipulative techniques in order to adapt to and survive in toxic environments. They feel threatened when they are not in a toxic environment. They feel that in non-abusive situations with nice people, they don't know what was going to happen. They're waiting for the other shoe to drop because they don't have a clue about this kind of good people.

They are not in their comfort zone. Their comfort zone is being in pain, being hurt, feeling bad, being mistreated.


There is another aspect of the narcissist, for example, is behavior, which makes the narcissist oblivious to cues, information, and events in his immediate environment.

His single-minded, solipsistic focus on extracting narcissistic supply from existing and potential sources blinds him to everything else and everyone else around him. It's a form of a comfort zone.

The narcissist's comfort zone is the mine where he mines narcissistic supply. He is underground in the mine and he believes that's the world and he doesn't want to exit the mine. He doesn't want to see the sun. He doesn't want to enjoy life. He doesn't want to pick up a flower or smell it because he's inside the mine and he knows every vein and every wall and every canary.

Narcissists are so obsessed with supply that they fail to notice when people around them conspire to take advantage of them and cheat them. It's that bad.

The pathetic narcissist drones on endlessly and self-aggrandizingly as his intimate partner aggressively flirts with another man and then departs with her new conquest on an assignation.

The narcissist keeps lecturing and showing off even as his audience smirks and mocks the bumbling fool for his clownish mannerisms or when his interlocutors are bored out of their collective mind.

In a desperate attempt to impress people, the narcissist shares ideas, classified information, proprietary data that is then plagiarized or stolen or used against him. The narcissist is utterly unaware of anything else but the compulsive pursuit of his next fix of attention and mostly imagined and delusional adulation.

And this one-track mindedness is the undoing of the narcissist.

Defenseless, driven, the narcissist opens himself up to attack, to harm, to hurt, to pain, to humiliation, to shame, to defeat, that sometimes threatens and undermines his very survival, for example, in the process of narcissistic mortification.

But the narcissist does all this because that's his comfort zone.

Narcissism is a good case because all narcissists, even high functioning narcissists, even so-called productive narcissists, all narcissists without any single exception end badly. All of them destroy themselves and everyone and everything around them. All of them enter the twilight of the gods, go to the demo and never exit.

So it behooves us us to delve a bit deeper into the differences between narcissism and masochism.

The true self of some narcissists is masochistic, actually, the inner child is masochistic.

This child, inner child, seeks to recreate the maternal abuse and rejection in the narcissist-adulter relationships, approach, avoidance, repetition, compulsion, and other repetition compulsions.

I discuss these at length in other videos.

On the face of it, the narcissist re-enacts the unresolved conflicts with his primary object, typically a mother.

And there is this misplaced hope of obtaining a different outcome each and every time, resolving the new conflict in an adult relationship, painlessly and favorably, finally being loved and accepted unconditionally.

But in reality, the masochistic narcissist chooses in a made selection process, a broken made selection process. He chooses damaged, dysregulated partners. These partners are guaranteed to cause him life-threatening agony because hurt people hurt people. These partners dump him cruelly and sadistically, cheat on him, betray him, these partners deem anything and anyone preferable to the narcissist's injurious and ostentatious absence and rejection.

And so the narcissist recreates the conditions for his own self-defeat and self-destruction by, for example, choosing, repeatedly choosing the wrong intimate partners or business partners.

The masochistic and self-destructive narcissist uses the twin defense mechanisms of projection and introjective identification to coerce his intimate partners to abandon him, traumatically, exactly as his mother did.

Painful love is the comfort zone of the narcissist, the only kind of attachment and bonding that he recognizes. We're going to discuss it at length when I get to the part about insecure attachment.


And so, ineluctably, the intimate partner betrays the narcissist somehow, cheats on him, discards him, whatever.

The painful part is now out of the way. The demons of the past have been exercised. Mother's egregious maltreatment is validated yet again and legitimized. All women are like mother. All women treat me the same. She is not a monster. I am the bad and lovable object who is justly punished.

Ironically, as the curtains descend on the end play drama, the narcissist is available to settle into a long-term relationship with a very woman who had wronged and paid him so, only to find out, in most cases, that she is long gone, unnerved and freaked out by the creepy nature of the narcissist's nauseatingly sick mind games and asphyxiating power plays.

So, the narcissist converts negative emotions such as envy into enjoyable experiences by confecting them with a conviction of his own superiority.

In other words, he invests emotionally in his negative emotions because they make him feel superior. He gets used and attached to his negative emotions. He renders them pleasurably habit-forming.

Negative emotions lead to conflicts with other people and sometimes to an internal dissonance. At any rate, negative emotions are a seriously bad recipe for life. They drive the narcissist inexorably into the corner, isolated more and more, frightened out of his mind within the absence of supply, falling apart, disintegrating, self-defeat, self-destruction wrought by and brought on by the narcissist's own delight at his self-implosion.

And within this comfort zone, the narcissist actually enjoys being envious of others, for instance. He derives masochistic solace from being the butt of injustice, being discriminated against and even from being an underachiever or a loser. These are all good reasons to be envious and to maintain the high moral ground.

The narcissist's inner dialogue goes something like this. I am superior to everyone but this is exactly why I'm left behind. Society rewards mediocrity. Society dreads true genius and integrity such as mine. This is a material complex. It's especially pronounced in conditions of deficient narcissistic supply.


Now, I've been talking about the narcissist, but I'm sure many of you recognize yourselves in all these dynamics. We all harbor, we all shelter a small narcissist inside ourselves. We all have healthy narcissism which can go easily malignant and awry.

Many of us have an insecure attachment style. An insecure attachment style often leads to the expression of narcissistic defenses. In other words, we use narcissism to defend against the uncertainty and the pain involved in insecure attachment.

Attachment disorders, attachment dysfunctions are common and prevalent in cluster B personalities, narcissists, psychopaths, borderlines, histrionics, but they are also pretty common among healthy people and they elicit these behaviors because these attachment dysfunctions are very traumatic.

In early childhood, you may have been exposed to what Andre Green called a dead mother, mother who is absent, selfish, instrumentalizing, parentifying, pampering and spoiling, a mother who did not allow you to fully separate, an individually.

Not everyone becomes a narcissist when exposed to such defective and deficient motherhood, but the traces of such bad parenting are always there lurking in the shadows, penumbral waiting to erupt, even in healthy people.

Most of us don't dare to verbalize or even think about our childhood this way.

As Boris called it, the unthought known.

Instead, what we do is we resort to emotional thinking.

Many people cathect emotionally invest in death and aggression. This is known as destrudo, the opposite of ludo.

And so many people dedicate their lives to material goods, which are essentially embodiments and reifications of death. They are dead objects. Many people are emotionally invested in money. Money and material goods are dead. We place them over and above our relationship with live people because we are terrified of live people. They can hurt us.

Thus, owing to this hurt aversion, people place a premium on self-sufficiency, independence, personal autonomy and unbridled, asocial or antisocial self-efficacy.

People frequently self-parentify or become sexually autoerotic. These are all forms of constriction. These are all forms of withdrawing from life into the shrine of dead objects, Netflix, cats, money, cars, smartphones, even social media, which is not social and is not media.

So, we as a society and as individuals in this anomic civilization, we increasingly destroy ourselves by empowering ourselves, actually.

When you become too empowered, you reject life itself. People can love only dead mothers, so they try to turn other people into dead mothers, killing the mother figure in order to be able to love her.

So, I've discussed the processes of snapshotting, introjection, merger fusion, extension in other videos.

People have a dead, inert, non-interacting mute introjects, and that makes it very difficult for them to distinguish the outside from the inside, external from internal objects.

And this is common, beginning to be common, terrifyingly, also among healthy people.

And the reason this is beginning to be common is trauma. Many, many otherwise totally functional and totally healthy people are experiencing trauma. The environment is traumatic, climate change, wars, pandemics. Other people are traumatizing. There are tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of refugees internally displaced from abusive relationships.

I had to coin the phrase narcissistic abuse in 1995, because it was relatively new.

And so, a huge number of people had been traumatized by other people, or by the civilization they live in, or by history, or by the gender wars.

And so, we live in a post-traumatic world.

There are new directions in the study of trauma. We are beginning to reconceive of personality disorders as post-traumatic conditions.

And we realized that externalized trauma, externalized PTSD, results in acting out or in experiential avoidance.

While internalized PTSD leads to emotional dysregulation, flashbacks, not emotional flashbacks, there's no such thing, but flashbacks, real ones, revividness, emotional numbing, reduced to inappropriate effect display, and emotional detachment.

But one of the most dangerous, pernicious, and destructive effects of trauma is dissociation. We are beginning to live in a world where forgetting is the main escape hatch. The main way to cope with reality is to forget it and forget all about it.

Structural dissociation has to do with trauma. Dissociation is an integrative deficit. It's not a defense. It's a symptom.

Integration and adaptive behavior depend on synthesis, on being able to associate all the components and experiences and functions into meaningful, coherent mental structures, both episodically and across time, schemas.

And integration and adaptive behavior depend on this synthesis, but also on the realization of things, realizing things, analysis, assimilation via personification and presentification, bringing past and future to bear on the presence, mindfulness, reflexivity.

So integration is a complex process, and any hitch and glitch and bug in it usually leads to dissociation. Dissociation has many forms, amnesia, depersonalization, which is a failure in personification, semantic, not episodic memory.

Trauma reduces integrative capacity. In pre-morbid and subclinical personalities, with low integrative capacity, it leads to dissociation. The dissociative parts, because dissociation breaks us apart. Dissociation creates self-states.

Again, the terrifying thing is that this kind of discourse used to be limited to mentally ill people, but today we are using it more and more with perfectly healthy and functional people who walk into our clinics, because they are desperate and despondent and unable to function, dysfunctional, because they're falling apart. And they're falling apart because the stressors, the tensions, the anxiety are beginning to overwhelm even perfectly adaptable functional people.

The dissociation creates self-states, parts, and these parts vary in degree of intrusion and avoidance of trauma-related cues, affect regulation, psychological defenses, capacity for insight, response to stimuli, body movements, behaviors, cognitive schemas, attention-attachment styles, sense of self, self-destructiveness, promiscuity, suicidality, flexibility and adaptability, daily life, structural division, autonomy, number of subjective experiences, etc.

So, dissociation affects absolutely everything, and it can push us, it does push us to self-defeating and self-destruction, which is all pervasive.

Dissociation leads to dissociative symptoms like amnesia, numbness, impaired thinking, loss of skills, needs, wishes, fantasies, loss of motor functions or skills, loss of sensation.

And so, it has a massive impact on our ability to survive in an environment, especially an ever-changing environment.

Freud and Klein have suggested that healthy narcissism is somehow related to the self-regarding life force that they called libido.

Together, they counter and deflect the death drive, the thematic drive or instinct. They redirect the death impulse at outside objects.

Pathological narcissism accomplishes exactly the opposite. It nourishes and nurtures the death wish.

That is why everyone should be exceedingly terrified by the rising tide of narcissism among various population cohorts, especially the young.

We can group self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors according to the underlying motivation.

One group is reckless, impulsive and intermittent explosive. These are rage-related behaviors. Impulsive people act first and consider their options and their actions later. They are impaired. They're deficient, lacking, have an absent impulse control.

In other words, they have no self-control.

In some mental empathologies, cluster B, dramatic, erratic personality disorders, mood disorders, other disorders, in these pathologies, unfulfilled or suppressed urges, drives and impulses, give rise to extreme anxiety and stress.

If you deny yourself, if you betray yourself, if you don't allow yourself to manifest and to express, you develop anxiety. Develop anxiety because you perceive unconsciously that you are becoming your own worst enemy.

Instantly catering to these pressing wishes, drives, is the only way to alleviate and ameliorate these inexorably mounting inner volcanic pressure to mitigate the anxiety.

Following impulsive acts, any kind of impulsive act, cheating, spending, shopping, promising, traveling, binge eating, whatever, following these impulsive acts, there is an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame usually in healthy people, definitely, even in borderlines, for example, and it is followed by purging and penitent behaviors, penance, like acting extra nice to a cheated spouse or forced vomiting in bulimia or working hard to make up for profligacy.

And this leads to a restoration of inner peace and homeostasis, balance, and a cathartic feeling of having attained a state of clean slate, at least until the next transgression, mind you.

Many people describe this as a pseudo or quasi-religious experience. It has a lot in common with mystical experiences.

So reckless impulsive acts lead afterwards to a cathartic, almost religious experience of expiation, exparigation. And this is addictive. These cycles are addictive. They are very self-destructive and self-defeating, but they are addictive.

Impulsivity has another critical function, the regulation of mood, self-esteem, fluctuating self-confidence and one's sense of self-worth, regulating these via the restoration and buttressing of grandiosity.

The cheating spouse, for example, affirms his irresistibility, the shopaholic, her omnipotence and wealth, the kleptomania, her invincibility and luck getting away with it. The forbidden, the risky, the illicit nature of most impulsive acts and behaviors only adds to this mystical aura of uniqueness. This magical elevation to a god-like status of invisibility feels like a euphoric high. It's very addictive, as are all the impulsive behaviors.

Recidivism is guaranteed. There's no agreement or rule of vow that can prevent the impulsive person from repeating impulsive acts.

Impulsive acts.

Again, let's consider narcissism. The narcissist's impulse control is compromised by his negative emotions, especially his rage aggression and his envy. He feels ruled by these emotions and driven to act. He has, in other words, an external locus of control.

Narcissists are used to being controlled from the outside, starting with their abusive parents, the overbearing and non-pervasive and infinitely demanding false self, and the addiction to narcissistic supply and the sources of supply, other people.

Narcissists regulate themselves from the outside. They outsource their internal functions, especially ego-boundary functions.

And so, no wonder that the narcissist feels more at home with negative emotions and finds them way more accessible to him than positive ones.

Ironically, the narcissist who considers himself godlike and omnipotent and superior is actually a slave. He's a slave to external circumstances and feedback from his human environment. He derives this very sense of cohesion, identity, and being from his importance and dependence.


Another group of self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors are the self-punishing guilt purging behaviors. These are intended to inflict punishment.

I will use the example of the narcissist again, but all of you can find yourselves in what I'm saying. These behaviors are common also among healthy people and becoming more and more common by the day, regrettably.

But let's again use the narcissist as a punching bag.

Self-punishing guilt purging behaviors are intended to inflict punishment on the narcissist, to instantly soothe the narcissist, to relieve him of his overwhelming anxiety, to restore his sense of reasserted, omnipotent control over himself, his environment, and his life.

And so, by preempting society's punitive measures, by self-flagellating, the narcissist is actually saying, if I'm to suffer unjustly, it will be only by my own hand and no one else's because I am in charge and I'm in control.

Self-punishing guilt purging behaviors are very reminiscent of compulsive rituals.

The narcissist sometimes feels guilty, though lacking self-awareness, he rarely knows why. And he often believes himself to be the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice. His guilt is diffuse. It's not the kind of guilt healthy people experience. It's more like unease, this dim, uneasey stirrings could be also anticipatory.

The narcissist foresees a retribution for his abusive misconduct towards others or for his consummation flaunting of authority.

So, anticipatory. Or they could be an ancient early childhood guilt, a kind of sexual guilt, according to Freud, or a social guilt.

In his infancy, the narcissist had internalized and introjected the voices of meaningful and authoritative other people, parents, role models, peers. And these people consistently and convincingly judged him to be no-good. Bad, blameworthy, deserving of punishment, or retaliation, corrupt, helpless.

The narcissist self-destruction validates these introjects, these inner voices, these internal objects.

The narcissist is actually saying, you have been right all along. I'm really hopeless and I'm going to prove it to you by destroying myself.

The parents of the narcissist teach their offspring to expect only conditional, transactional love. The child is supposed to render a service or to fulfill the parents' wishes in return for affection and compassion and attention and emotion.

And so, inevitably, the child is hurt. He feels that he's betraying himself and failing his parents and he reacts with rage to this unjust predicament and mistreatment with no-good.

And mistreatment with no recourse to the offending parent, because the child cannot attack the parent. The child cannot even think bad things about the parent. The child is dependent on the parent for his or her life. She can't afford to be critical. So, she has no recourse to the offending parent.

This fury that the child experiences is directed outwards at other people who stand in for the bad parents, or it's directed inwards.

The former solution, externalizing aggression, yields a psychopath or a passive-aggressive.

The latter solution, internalizing aggression, yields a depressive person or a masochist.

And similarly, with an unavailable parent, the child's reserve of love can be directed either inwards at himself and yield a narcissist, or outward towards other people and create a codependent.

And all these choices, all these choices of one thing in common, they regard personal growth and development. They are self-amilitating in the sense that the child cannot become and realize his potential. He cannot self-actualize. He cannot actually create a self.

In all four ways, the adult plays the dual roles of a punitive parent and an eternal child who is unable and unwilling to grow up for fear of incurring the wrath and abandonment of the parent with whom he had merged so thoroughly early on.

The battle goes on. It's a civil war between parent interjects and the inner child.

The narcissist's life is transformed into an ongoing trial. The constancy of this trial, the never-ending tribunal, is the punishment. It is a Kafkaesque process, meaningless, undecipherable, never-ending. It leads to no verdict.

Even the charge sheet, even the accusations are not clear. It is subject to mysterious and fluid rules and presided over by capricious, shape-shifting, ever-changing set of judges.

So the narcissist masochistically frustrates his deepest desires and drives. He neglects his affairs. He procrastinates, develops perfectionism. He obstructs his own efforts, sets himself up for failure, alienates his friends and sponsors, provokes figures of authority to punish him, to demote him, to ignore him. Actively, six of his friends and sponsors actively seeks and solicits disappointment, failure, maltreatment. He relishes his victim status. He's martyred them. He incites anger or rejection, bypasses or rejects opportunities and engages in excessive self-sacrifice.

In their seminal book, Personality Disorders in Modern Life, Theodore Millon and Roger Davies described the diagnosis of masochistic or self-defeating personality disorder found in the appendix of the DSM Edition III text revision.

But it was excluded from the DSM IV.

While the narcissist is rarely a full-fledged masochist, many narcissists exhibit some of the traits of this proposed and now abandoned personality disorder.

So these are the self-punishing and self-purging behaviors.

There's another group of self-destructive behaviors. These are the depressive, fanatic, death wish behaviors.

Unloved by his labile, self-centered, immature and capricious parents, the depressive or the fanatic narcissist comes to regard herself as unlovable in principle, as unloved by one and all. If she cannot be loved, especially by her own parents, if she is never to experience being loved, she prefers to die. Rendered incapable of intimacy, of mutual trust and of a mature reciprocation of love, such a person seeks to destroy the very object that causes her such pervasive frustration herself. Habits such as these substance abuse, reckless behaviors, these are mere manifestations of lethal self-loathing and self-directed rage. Mood disorders are common there with the preponderance of depressive episodes and dysthymia. Outright suicide is uncommon, but there are many ways to commit suicide. Bodily suicide is in the minority.

Most people commit mental or psychological suicide.

And then another group of self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors are the extracting behaviors.

People with personality disorders are very afraid of real, mature intimacy. Intimacy is formed not only within a couple, but also in the workplace, in a neighborhood, with friends, community and while collaborating on a project. Intimacy implied weakness, vulnerability. It's another word for emotional involvement. It's a result of interacting with others in a constant and predictable safe propinquity.

Patients with personality disorders interpret intimacy as weakness, co-dependence, emotional strangulation, the sloughing of freedom, kind of death in installments. They're terrorized by intimacy. They avoid it and to avoid it, their self-destructive and self-defeating acts are intended to dismantle the very foundations of a successful relationship. They undermine and sabotage their relationships, their careers, a project or a friendship.

Mastershes, more specifically, feel elated and relieved after they unshackle themselves from these chains. They feel that they had broken through a siege. They're liberated, free at last.

They dread abandonment. They have abandonment anxiety.

And in order to preempt it exactly like borderlines, they very frequently abandon first.

Then there are the default behaviors.

We are all to some degree, inertial. We're all afraid of new situations, change, new opportunities, new challenges, new circumstances, new demands, new. We are afraid of the new.

Being healthy, being successful, getting married, becoming a mother, becoming someone's boss, this entails abrupt breaks with the past. Some self-defeating behaviors are intended to preserve the past, to restore the past, to protect the past from the winds of change, to self-deceptively skirt and avoid and shun promising opportunities while seeming to embrace them.

And finally, I think finally, there are the frustrating, sadistic, negativistic, passive aggressive behaviors which all lead to self-defeat, self-destruction. Frustrating one's nearest and dearest has the dual advantage of simultaneously satisfying masochistic and sadistic urges.

When you frustrate people habitually, when you hurt them sadistically or otherwise, you're hurting yourself, you're destroying your environment and all your potential, so it's masochistic, but you're also being a sadist.

By withholding love, sex, intimacy, and the fulfillment of other people's desires and needs, for example, to be parents, you torment these people, even as you obstruct, obstruct your own gratification, and this enhances and buttresses fantasies of omnipotence, not only in narcissists.

Self-sabotage, self-defeat, self-denial, self-destruction, martyrdom and victim stance.

Frustrating others, they serve to prevent the forming of attachment and intimacy and the potential for ultimate hurt and pain as these may dissolve.

It's about cowardice, it's craven, it's the fear of ultimate pain and hurt that dictates to you to avoid life, but life is about loss and suffering and pain and hurt. These are the engines of growth and personal development.

In the case of the narcissists, such behaviors uphold this sense of superiority, uniqueness and omnipotence.

Only the strongest can overcome and vanquish desires, urges, needs and emotions that easily overwhelm lesser mortals.

The narcissist adheres to his idiosyncratic brunt of ascetic religion in which he is both God and worshiper.

Self-denial is proof of superiority.

The narcissist's inner monologue goes, I reject everything that matters to other people, everything that is deemed valuable, worthwhile, meaningful and desirable. I don't need any of these things, I'm above this. I hold the weaklings who succumb to their emotions and drives in contempt.

Nothing they have and nothing they can attain is of any value to me.

It is all meaningless.

The narcissist devalues these people, they are commoners.

The average Joe, the pedestrian, the routine, the animalistic, sex, bestial, socially conformist, they're all beneath the narcissist. He's above the frame, he's the next stage in evolution and so he constricts his life.

He denies himself, he isolates himself even when he's surrounded by thousands of people. He becomes so self-sufficient that there is no self.

So this self-defeating, self-denying and self-destructive behaviors and choices engender narcissistic supply, self-supply because they support, demonstrate and prove the superhuman nature of the narcissist.

His utter titanic independence of society, of nature, of others in interpersonal relationships is a form of reactance or defiance.

That's why narcissists are on the cusp of psychopathy.

When narcissism supplies in short supply, embarking on the path of self-negation is an efficacious shortcut to obtaining and securing supply. I've dealt with it in my previous video.

At the very least, denying yourself draws astounded attention to the narcissist.

People either admire or decry the narcissist and is again the focus and the center of everyone's attentions and ministrations.

The negativistic passive-aggressive personality disorder is not yet recognized by the DSM committee. It makes its appearances in Appendix B of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual titled Criteria Sets and Axes provided for further study.

Covert narcissists are definitely passive-aggressive and negativistic.

Some people are perennial pessimists and they have negative energy and negativistic attitudes.

They say good things don't last, it doesn't pay to be good, the future is behind me. These are automatic negative thoughts and not only do these people disparage the efforts of other people, but they make it a point to resist demands to perform in the workplace and in social settings.

They revel in frustrating people's expectations and requests, however reasonable and minimal they may be.

Such people regard every requirement and assigned task as impositions. They reject authority, they resent authority figures such as bosses, teachers, parent-like spouses, they feel shackled and enslaved by commitment and theythat bind them in any manner.

Passive aggression, passive aggressiveness, wears a multitude of guises.

Procrastination is a form of passive aggression, malingering, perfectionism, forgetfulness, neglect, truancy, intentional inefficiency, stubbornness, outright sabotage.

This repeated and inadvertent misconduct has far-reaching effects not least upon the passive-aggressive person.


Consider the negativist in the workplace. He or she invests time and efforts in obstructing their own chores and in undermining relationships, but these are self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors. They wreak havoc throughout the workplace or the workshop or the office and then this person gets fired or demoted or not promoted or gets no raise. Who suffers ultimately? Who's paying the price for these forms of egregious misconduct?

People diagnosed with negativistic, passive-aggressive personality disorder resemble narcissism in some important aspects.

Despite the obstructive role they play, passive-aggressives feel unappreciated, underpaid, cheated, misunderstood, discriminated against. They are the eternal victims, some paternal martyrs. They chronically complain, whine, carp, criticize. They blame their failures and defeats. On other people, they have alloplastic defenses, exactly like the narcissists. They pose as martyrs and victims of a corrupt, inefficient and heartless system. They're prone to conspiracy theories. They have an external locus of control.

Passive-aggressive people sulk. They give the salient treatment in reaction to real or imaginary slights. They suffer from ideas of reference, referential ideation. They believe themselves to be the butt of derision, contempt, gossip and condemnation. These people are mildly paranoid. The world is out to get them and this explains their constant personal misfortune.

In the words of the DSM, these people may be sullen, irritable, impatient, argumentative, cynical, skeptical and contrary. These people are also hostile, explosive. Many of them lack impulse control and sometimes they're reckless, bullies. Many of them.

So inevitably, passive-aggressive people are envious of the fortunate, the successful, the famous, the superiors, those in favor that they're happy. Same goes for covert narcissists.

Covert narcissism is a marriage between passive aggression and narcissism.

These people vent this venomous jealousy, envy, openly and defiantly, whenever they're given the opportunity.

But deep at heart, deep inside, passive-aggressive people are craving their cowards. When they are reprimanded, they immediately revert to begging forgiveness, kowtowing, mardelaire, protestations, turning on their charm, promising to behave and perform better in the future, begging for forgiveness again.

When the narcissist truly needs and wants something or someone, it is experienced by the narcissist as a challenge to his omnipotent self-sufficiency, unbridled freedom of action and entitlement.

So the narcissist resents this challenge. Consequently, it is perceived as profound narcissistic injury to need anyone, to want something or someone, to love. Love is narcissistic injury.

The narcissist then rejects and abuses the very things and the very people. He saw craves, he frustrates himself, he inevitably ends up experiencing recurrent losses, frustrations and mortifications. He convinces himself that people are evil and envious and that the world is a hostile jungle, undeserving of him.

But actually, he is creating the preconditions and the conditions for his own downfall. The narcissist's reactions are misperceived by other people as self-destructive and self-defeating, when in effect they are meant to preserve and buttress grandiosity, anarchic liberty, sadistic superiority and nihilistic cynicism, as well as the inner equilibrium that these afford the narcissist.

The narcissist says, I need no one, I need nothing. Look how I willingly discard and trash everything that you, my inferior mediocre peers, hold dear and essential. What you hold dear and essential is my trash. Why? Because I'm a free man and this is the beginning of transition from narcissism to psychopathy.

Such overt, humiliating disdain and contempt. These are tinged with the form of mild, taunting sadism.

The narcissist and similar personalities, dark personalities, they say, easy come, easy go. I'm happy go lucky. I accomplish all things effortlessly and this facility renders everyone and everything worthless, dispensable, interchangeable.

You're not worth my investment.

Intimacy, sex, money, career, family, celebrity, they are easy come, easy go. I just couldn't care less about what you care about most and burning it all to the ground to communicate to you that you are slaves to society and that I hold you in contempt because I'm the master of my life.

I'm my best source of self-supply.

You have no hold over me because I do not need you. I do not want anything you can possibly possess or wish to share with me. I do it my way or the highway.

Of course, these are all mere defensive and compensatory projections. We all know that. Deep inside the narcissist is hollow. It's a void. It's an emptiness. He knows he's in theory.

And so it's a desperate attempt by the narcissist to pretend that he's in control of his own decline, collapse and defeat, which are to a large extent inevitable.

But it is also a rigid immutable ideology akin to the mores of the hereditary aristocracy in times gone by. By God, you know, noblemen in previous centuries, they held in a binding disdain the commoners in their existence. Work was despicable.

Labor, thrift, sexual exclusivity, commitment to family and church, leisurely, hedonistic idleness, slacking, in a way, was elevated and normative.

The ideal among these grandiose psychopathys was to become a childless bachelor, a gentleman of leisure, or a gifted amateur.

As Eric Byrne noted in the founding text of transactional analysis, human relationships are games people play.

There are two types of people adamantly and proudly refuse to partake of such luddic exchanges, refuse to participate in the games that people play, the narcissist and the psychopath. They would not play sex or intimacy or family, you know, and the decline to play business or friendship.

And of course, the rejected parties walk away, they revert to other partners. Who is losing? Who is on the receiving side of this contempt?

You know, ultimately, the narcissists and psychopaths end up in ruins. This is self-inflicted loss. And it warps and thwarts and stuns the minds and lives of the narcissist and the psychopath.


In his seminal survey of grandiose psychopathy, The Mask of Sanity, Harvick likely branded it, as I said, rejection of life itself.

The only game the narcissist would participate in is, let us all pretend that this is for real, a delusional shared fantasy, with limited longevity and guaranteed expiry.

The psychopaths only concession to the only concession to human intercourse is a zero sum. Let's play my game. You give it all, and I take everything you have, and then some.

These are not games anyone would play.

Ultimately, people wise up to the narcissist and the psychopath and they just turn their backs.

Again, as the inimitable Harvick likely had observed in 1942, psychopaths and narcissists reject life itself by refusing to participate in it and by mocking it.

The nihilistic acts of self-destruction are driven by a proud ideology of defiance, contumaciousness and reactance. Their self-defeat signals their profound contempt for other people, for authority, for society, for everything that everyone holds dear.

It's opting out. It's not a cop-out even, it's just opting out.

Narcissists and psychopaths consider themselves superior, unique and therefore entitled, including entitled to not be.

They disdain mediocrity, shipple reflexes to obey, trust and follow.

Narcissists and psychopaths are contrarians. They act against all norms, subvert all expectations and reject all the attributes of civilized coexistence and collaboration. They smugly and ostentatiously trample upon the rewards, incentives and inducements that reality has to offer.

What is love to them? Family, careers, safety, reason, that's for the low, low, broad, low lives.

When these people do pursue anything that is deemed conformant and sublimated, socially acceptable, they take great care to do it their way.

In the most extravagant, antisocial, reckless, callous, ruthless, merciless and shocking manner, psychopaths and narcissists consider being hated and feared a badge of honor.

They strive to be an enigma to the great unwashed, teeming masses. Being widely misunderstood is the coveted pinnacle of their accomplishments.

What others consider a wasted, abandoned, sad life.

Narcissists and psychopaths see as poking society's collective eye with a triumphant middle finger.

They prevail by refusing to play the game and by aggressively upturning the social tables in everyone's temples.

The devastation of their own lives is a statement of how little they value the lives and toils of others.

But it is also a said testament to enormously wasted potential, which could have been leveraged and put to good use.

But wrong upbringing and wrong environment condition all of us to take it upon ourselves, to punish ourselves one way or another.

No one is exempt, not even you.

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