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Victims Become Narcissists: Contagious Narcissism

Uploaded 8/31/2010, approx. 3 minute read

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

The interaction between the narcissist or psychopath and his victim is not clear-cut.

Many victims deploy narcissistic defenses, they are narcissistically injured, and they rage exactly as narcissists do.

These victims are drawn to their abusers in the first place precisely because they like to be the center of attention, and to be assured of their self-infuted uniqueness.

The narcissist is good at making his prey feel this way, special, unique, the center of the world.

Then, when the victims are devalued and discarded, they endure scarring narcissistic injury and they react with unmitigated wrath and rage.

Some people adopt the role of a professional victim. In doing so, they become self-centered, devoid of empathy, abusive and exploitative.

In other words, they become narcissists.

The role of a professional victim, a person whose existence and very identity rests solely and entirely on his victimhood, is well-researched in victimology.

He doesn't make for a nice reading.

These victim pros, victim professionals, are often more cruel, vengeful, vitriolic, lacking in compassion and violence than their abusers to start with.

They make a career of being a victim. They identify with this role to the exclusion of all else.

This is a danger that should be avoided by every victim of abuse and every survivor of abuse.

And it is precisely what I call narcissistic contagion or narcissism by proxy.

Narcissism, pathological malignant narcissism, is contagious, exactly like a disease. It can create epidemics. It can infect its victims and theyin turnbecome narcissists.

It's a little like the werewolf movies. A single bite by a narcissist can render you, the victim, a narcissist as well.

Those affected entertain the false notion that they can compartmentalize their narcissistic behavior and direct it only at the narcissist.

In other words, they trust in their ability to segregate their conduct and to be verbally abusive towards the narcissist while at the same time behaving in a civil and compassionate manner with others.

They believe they can be exploitative, vengeful and rageful with the narcissist, to act with malice where the narcissist is concerned, and at the same time behave with Christian charity towards all others.

They cling to what I call the foster theory.

They believe that they can turn on and off their negative feelings, their abusive outbursts, their vindictiveness, their vengefulness, their blind rage, their non-discriminating judgment.

But this, of course, is an illusion, a delusion. It's untrue.

These behaviors, these negative emotions, this misconduct spill over into daily transactions with innocent neighbors, colleagues, family members, coworkers or customers.

Once the victim starts to abuse he never stops. Once she confronts her abuser with counter abuse, she herself becomes an abuser and her abuse becomes indiscriminate and affects everyone around her.

One cannot partly or temporarily be vindictive and judgmental anymore than one can be partly or temporarily pregnant.

To their horror, these victims discover that they have been transmuted and transformed into their worst nightmare, into a narcissist.

They find out the hard way that narcissism is contagious and many victims tend to become narcissistic themselves, malevolent, vicious, lacking in empathy, egotistical, exploitive, violent and abusive.

Abuse and abusers breed abuse and abusers.

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