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The Music of the Narcissist's Emotions

Uploaded 2/27/2017, approx. 6 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

I feel sad only when I listen to music. My sadness is then tinged with the decomposing sweetness of my childhood.

So sometimes I sing or I think about music and it makes me unbearably maudliver.

I know that somewhere inside me there are whole valleys of melancholy, oceans of pain, but they remain untapped because I simply want to live, to survive.

I cannot listen to music, any music, for more than a few minutes. It is too dangerous.

I cannot breathe.

But this is the exception. Otherwise, my emotional life is colorless and eventless, as rigidly blind as my disorder, as dead as me.

I feel rage, of course. I feel hurt and inordinate humiliation and fear.

This is a very dominant, prevalent and recurrent use in the canvas of my daily existence.

But there is nothing except these atelistic gut reactions.

There is nothing else there, at least not that I am aware of.

Whatever it is that I experience as emotions, I experience in reaction to slights and injuries, real and imagined.

My emotions are all reactive, not active.

I feel insulted, so I sulk. I feel devalued. I rage. I feel ignored. I pout. I feel humiliated. I lash out. I feel threatened. I fear. I feel adored. I bask in glory. I am virulently envious of one and all.

This is my palette.

I can appreciate beauty.

But in a cerebral, detached, cold and mathematical way, most of the time I have no sex drive that I can think of.

My emotional landscape is dim and gray, as though observed through a thick mist in a particularly dreary day, through my glass darkly.

I can intelligently discuss other emotions which I never experience, like empathy or love, and that is because I make it a point to read a lot and to correspond with people who claim to be experiencing them.

Thus, I gradually form and form working hypotheses as to what people feel.

It is pointless to try to really understand emotions, but at least I can predict or better predict people's behavior.

These models that I construct, these databases that I am mass, help me cope with the world and render it less capricious, less arbitrary, less ominously incomprehensible.

I am envious of people, but I am not envious of people who feel.

I disdain feelings and emotional people, because I think that they are weak and vulnerable, and I deride and decry human weaknesses and vulnerabilities and fragility.

Such derision makes me feel, of course, superior and is probably the ossified remains of a defense mechanism, gun berserk or wry.

But there it is. This is I, and there is nothing I can do about it.

And to all of you who constantly talk about change, there is nothing I can do about myself, and there is nothing you can do about yourselves, and there is nothing anyone can do for you, either.

Psychotherapy and medications are concerned with behavior modification, not with real healing.

These disciplines are preoccupied with proper adaptation, because maladaptation is socially costly.

Society defends itself against misfits like me by lying to them.

The lie is that change and healing are possible.

They are not. You are what you are, period.

Go live with it.


So here I am, an emotional hunchback, a fossil, a human caught in amber, observing my environment with the dead eyes of a calcium insect.

We shall never meet amicably, you and I, because I am a predator and you are the prey, because I do not know what it is like to be you, and I do not particularly care to know, because my disorder is as essential to me as your feelings are to you.

My normal state is my very illness. I look like you, I walk the walk, I talk the talk, and I and my ilk deceive you magnificently, and sometimes with pleasure, statistically.

But more often it is not out of the viciousness of our hearts. It is simply because this is the way we are, like a virus or a tiger. We devour, that is our nature.

I have emotions, and they are buried in a pit down below. All of my emotions are procedurally negative. They are vitriol, the not for internal consumption type.

I cannot feel anything, because if I open the floodgates of this cesspool, this cesspool of my psyche, I will in all probability drown, and I will carry you with me.

And all the love in this world, and all the crusading women who think that they can fix me by dueling out the saccharine compassion and revolting understanding, and all the support and the holding environments and all the textbooks, all of these cannot change one aorta in this maddening, self-imposed verdict, knitted out by the most insanely obtusely, statistically harsh judge.

This harsh judge is me.

Of course, narcissists have emotions. All human beings have emotions. It is how we choose to relate to our emotions that matters.

The narcissist tends to repress his emotions so deeply that for all practical purposes they play no conscious role in his life and conduct, though they play an extraordinarily large, unconscious role in determining both life and conduct.

Like everyone else, the narcissist goes through a cognitive phase, which allows him to conceptualize, contextualize and identify physiological reactions and behavioral patterns, and label them. He labels them as emotions.

But unlike healthy people, narcissists, having labeled these physiological reactions, having labeled these behavioral patterns, do not experience these emotions at all.

In other words, the narcissist deduces the existence of emotions in others and in himself by gathering data and then analyzing their meaning and significance. It's a big data operation.

He uses his intellect to answer the question, what is happening? What is happening to me? What is happening to others?

He has no experiential correlates. He does not experience these emotions in others because he has no empathy. He does not experience these emotions in himself because probably owing to past traumas, he has repressed them so effectively as to permanently block access to them.

An narcissist is, of course, aware of his thoughts. He knows that everyone calls these physiological and behavioral responses feelings, so he makes use of his common vocabulary just in order to communicate, but it does not reflect his inner landscape.

Everyone goes through a cognitive phase when they emote.

Normal, healthy people are usually not cognizant or only deeply aware in passing of these underlying cognitions, these thoughts.

Normal people fully experience their emotions.

In contradistinction, narcissists and psychopaths are aware only of their cognitions. They do not experience emotions. They have no emotional correlates. They are emotionless thinking machines.

Hence, my proposal 20 years ago, to consider narcissists and psychopaths as the first true forms of artificial intelligence.

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