Why must a narcissist always win?
Why must a narcissist always be right or at least proven right ultimately, if not immediately?
Why must a narcissist always prevail in any situation?
Argument, fight, conflict, a campaign.
Why must a narcissist have the upper hand? Why must he be the winner, rendering all others losers? Why must he accept the surrender and subjugation and submission of others as so many trophies or offerings to a merciless God?
Why does a narcissist insist on climbing to the top of the totem pole? Why does he have to form the tip of the pyramid? Why does he have to ride on top of the hierarchy?
I think he got the picture.
But before we go into the multifarious and various psychological reasons and dynamics for these two facets of grandiose narcissism, before we go there, a few service, inevitable service announcements.
My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. I'm on the faculty of SIAS-CIAPS, International Advanced Professional Studies, Toronto, Canada, Cambridge United Kingdom, Outreach Program in Blago, Nigeria.
But until 2022, when Russia had decided to invade Ukraine, I served as a visiting professor of psychology in Southern Federal University, a very respected university, even internationally. It's on the Shanghai 500 list and so on.
So I served as a visiting professor of psychology there. It's in Rostov-on-Don in the Russian Federation. And this year is my anniversary. I started there in 2017 and I was let go, having actually resigned in 2022. Five years, five good years, I must say.
So as a token of nostalgia or gratitude, I'm not quite sure.
You can download a few of my lectures in Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don Russian Federation, a few of the lectures I gave there.
In 2017, between 2017 and 2019, all you have to do is go to the description, which is still under the video, by the way, go to the description and click on the download link.
But here's a warning. It's a 40 GB file. That's 40 GB. It's a ginormous file and you may wish to not do it on your smartphone, but rather on a laptop or a PC or something a bit more sturdy than a smartphone. It includes multiple lectures that I gave at the university.
As a visiting professor of psychology, I'm also going to post a few photos of that period on my Instagram today. And I hope you enjoy.
During the pandemic, I was unable to travel to Russia, so I continued to give lectures, but I did it via video recordings, via video link.
Some of these lectures are available on my YouTube channel. And all you have to do is search the channel and use the keyword "Gostov" or the keyword "and/or" the keyword "university".
Another service announcement. Yesterday, I gave an interview. It's one of the best I've ever given on victims and victimhood, but in a totally new way, totally new perception and a new light.
I think there are many insights there that have escaped all of us, myself included, for many, many years.
And at any rate, I think it would be thought-provoking, challenging, infuriating and controversial.
So why not go there?
Yesterday, I uploaded the video of the interview. It's titled "New Light on Victims of Narcissistic Abuse". The interviewer was Maisie Nelson.
Knock yourself out, enjoy it.
I believe that you'll find a lot of food for thought.
Yes, my "Nothingness" channel. I have multiple channels. One of them is the "Nothingness" channel. It includes a new philosophy of countering narcissism via nothingness. And I'm uploading them there regularly.
A few days ago, I uploaded a video titled "The Field Theory of Consciousness", which may appeal to those of you who have a twin education in the exact sciences and in psychology.
I'm actually marrying, I'm combining quantum mechanics and psychology, information theory and psychology, in a way which I hope may catch your fancy.
So that's the end of the service announcements.
And now let us head right into today's topic.
Why does the narcissist insist on winning every battle and on always being right?
Narcissists and psychopaths interact not with you. They interact with the game that they are playing with you.
For example, the narcissist does not interact with his intimate partner. He interacts with a shared fantasy.
The psychopath does not interact with his victims. He interacts with his goals and with a core artistry that he surrounds his victims with.
It's an immersive experience. The victims are steeped in the narcissist and psychopaths' virtual reality.
So this is a very important point to keep in mind. It's not personal in a way. It's like, you know, the mafia hitman, I'm going to kill you, but it's not personal. It's only business.
And because you're my friend, I'm going to kill you for free.
So narcissists and psychopaths interact with the game, not with the players.
There is no intimacy in this game, no trust. There's no holding of social skills.
Most of these insights I gained from my wife, Lydia Rangeloska, who is a counselor in narcissistic abuse, and a coach and counselor in narcissistic abuse. She drew my attention to this, that games, even games children play, generate the first experiences of intimacy, requires a modicum of trust and honed social skills. This is all wasted on the narcissist or the psychopath.
They play the game for the game's sake. You are a participant in the game, but this is totally incidental, totally coincidental and accidental. You are replaceable, interchangeable, dispensable, fungible. Anyone would do. You just happen to be there. Mouses must win.
But the way they define winning is very unusual.
Most healthy people, most normal people define winning as a win-win situation. For example, convincing someone else that they are right. That's a win-win situation. You have converted someone to your point of view.
Narcissists and psychopaths define winning as a win-lose situation, what is known as zero game in game theory.
So if they win, you must lose. And if they win totally, you must lose totally. Winning by eradicating the competitor.
So this is the irony. Narcissists and psychopaths are not competitive. They are not in the business of competing. They are in the business of killing off the competition, eradicating the competitor. Ruining and destroying every potential for future competition.
While healthy normal people are into competing and winning, narcissists and psychopaths are into devastation. So while, let's say, a normal healthy person would consider using a handgun, a narcissist or a psychopath would immediately deploy nuclear weapons. It's total warfare and they must come out on top. They will use any means, including underhanded or even criminal methods and stratagems.
So when you are in a confrontation or a conflict with a narcissist or psychopath, assume the worst. Because they immediately default to the most extreme and radical thing at their disposal. They escalate from zero to 100 in a microsecond. From zero to hero, they go all the way, all the nine yards.
And so they are very, very dangerous in this sense because there is an inbuilt disproportionality between what is at stake and what the devices and means that they are willing to deploy.
Additionally, narcissists and psychopaths engage in something that I call preemptive winning. They anticipate conflict, confrontation, competition, and they are out to destroy you even before the thought crosses your mind of competing with them. They say he is a potential competitor. He is so because he's a potential competitor, he must be destroyed. We must eliminate.
So this is preemptive winning.
And they do this because they're terrified of being dominated or being shamed and humiliated.
Narcissism is a compensatory complex of reactions to life threatening, shame, a reservoir of shame from early childhood. Shame that is intimately linked to helplessness.
The psychopath is interested in power.
Psychopathy is about power, the gaining of power, the accumulation of power, the wielding of power and the visible effects of power on other people. Power and shame and to avoid being dominated and to avoid being shamed, narcissists and psychopaths would eliminate you just because you may have one day the potential to become a competitor or a winner.
And they can't afford this.
So a psychopath or a narcissist as a parent competes with his children and destroys them or seeks to destroy them.
Psychopath or a narcissist as a teacher would envy his students and if they excel, he would seek to ruin them or destroy them.
Anything that represents a potential for undermining the narcissist inbuilt fantastic inflated self image. Any potential for denying the psychopath, the attainment and accomplishment of his goals, such things, such people, such environments, such institutions need to be destroyed and dismantled. Break by brick, cell by cell, preemptive winning.
The narcissist is emotionally invested in being right. He must be right.
Again, there's a mistake here.
Narcissists and psychopaths are not competitive. They don't want to compete. They want to kill the competition. They want to kill the competitors.
Similarly, narcissists and psychopaths are not argumentative. They don't want to argue. They're nothing to arguing with you. They're not opinionated. They don't want to.
You're beneath them. You don't deserve. You haven't earned the right to be exposed to their august wisdom.
So it's not about being argumentative or opinionated or trying to convince or trying to dissuade or trying to persuade.
No, there's no communication here. There's no honest attempt at modifying other people's state of mind or opinions or judgments or actions or choices or decisions.
This is not politics.
Narcissists and psychopaths must be right. Not as the final outcome of an argument and not because their opinions are more convincing and more compelling than other people's.
No, they must be right via coercion. They coerce you. They are what we call heuristic.
E-R-I-S-I-C. They are heuristic.
They lecture you. They hacktor. They censor. They punish. They coerce. They compel. They threaten. They blackmail.
Until you succumb and depleted and exhausted and ruined and terrified.
You say, yes, you're right. And that's the end goal. And that's the only goal, the only aim.
Being told that he's right grants the narcissist's supply. Being told that he's right empowers the psychopath.
And so he can leverage this newfound power to obtain his goals.
Narcissists and psychopaths will confabulate in the case of the narcissist. We lie in the case of the psychopath and we invent things.
So if you ask the narcissist something and he doesn't know the answer, he will fake an answer. And the answer will be very convincing and very authoritative and with numbers and with dates and And you will be wowed. You will be wowed. You will be awed. It will be awe-inspiring.
Same with the psychopath.
And this is very similar of what's happening with artificial intelligence chatbots like chat GPT.
When the artificial intelligence, large language model chatbots don't know the answer, they invent it.
They don't say, "I don't know." They just come up with a totally concocted, fictitious, idiotic story.
But they do so in a very authoritative manner.
So people tend to believe the artificial intelligence chatbot, which is why it should never be a part of any search engine.
Narcissists and psychopaths do the same.
Even if the outcome of lying and confabulating and inventing answers, which have nothing to do with reality, even if the outcomes are deadly, they would still do that.
They don't care about other people. They don't give a fixed lift on other people's costs, other people's pains, fears.
Nothing matters except being right and appearing to be all-knowing, omnipotent, godlike, Spartan parcel of the grandiosity, regardless of the cost to the narcissist and to his victims, to the psychopath and to his prey.
So the narcissists and psychopaths are willing to pay an exceedingly heavy price just in order to appear all-knowing, omniscient, just in order to give the impression that they have the answer.
And so they're willing to pay a personal price for this, a heavy price.
And of course, they don't mind, don't care at all if other people pay a price.
So regardless of the cost and regardless even of the benefits or of alternative courses of action, the narcissists and psychopaths don't even consider alternative ways of doing things.
This is it. They are omniscient, all-knowing. They are right. They know everything. They can learn nothing. There's nothing you could teach them. You're always wrong. They're always right.
And if this means a heavy personal toll on the narcissist and psychopath, they will pay it gladly because what's the alternative? To lose their grandiosity?
Narcissists cannot afford this mentally. They will fall apart, will disintegrate. To fail, psychopath cannot fail, cannot feel disempowered, a loser. They cannot afford this because their entire precarious personality rests on these delusions, delusions and fiction.
To maintain this, they would pay any price. They would fight any fight. They would eschew any benefit and they would ignore any alternative.
This is dirty fighting. It's a betrayal dynamic. They betray their interlocutors, their counterparties, their maids and spouses and intimate partners. It's about betrayal.
And they betray also the dynamic of human communication, of argumentation, of fairness, of referencing sources, of real knowledge. They betray all this. They betray all this in order to be right.
This dirty fighting because they are defending the fragility. They are defending their fragile, inflated, fantastic, counterfactual self-image. It's a defense of a fantasy.
In the case of the psychopath, it's a fantasy of "I am all powerful. I am godlike. I am omnipotent." In the case of the narcissist, it's "I am all knowing. I am omniscient."
And so it's a defense of their right and ability to divorce reality because they can't countenance reality. These people can't survive in reality because they're brittle. They're broken. They're damaged.
And so they construct an alternative reality and then coerce you into it.
But in order for you to collaborate with them in this alternative reality, this shared fantasy, whatever it may be, you need first to admit that you are wrong about reality and they are right.
You need to accept their supremacy as sources of knowledge, as definers of reality, as guides, as mentors.
And so you need to surrender your reality testing to them. You need to tell them, "You be my reality." Henceforth.
In other words, you need to regress. You need to infantilize.
To collaborate with the narcissists and psychopaths, you need to accept their parental role and your infantile role. You're just an infant and they know better.
This all has to do with a concept known as "boundary maintenance." Boundary maintenance is when we seek to satisfy, not optimize.
Now, I have a video on this channel, of course, because I have a video of everything. I have a video of this channel on satisficing.
But just to define it for you, satisficing is minimum investment for minimally accepted outcomes.
Like you don't go all the way. It's the path of least resistors.
You say, "Okay, that's enough. I don't want more. I'm going to do my minimum. I'm going to get my minimum and my minimum is enough for me." That is satisficing.
You don't go for the maximum and you don't go for the optimum.
And this is known as "bounded rationality."
Because it's not rational.
To not optimize and to not seek to make the best of yourself and of the situation and environment you find yourself in.
This would be rational.
Bounded rationality means limited rationality, diminished rationality.
Rationality that accepts irrationality is part and parcel of the equation.
Bounded rationality, for example, is one of the main tenets of behavioral economics, where rational agents are actually not rational. They are bounded. They are bounded rational.
So it's the same with the narcissists in the psychopath.
Had the narcissist and psychopath been committed to the truth and to reality, they would have been 10 times more efficacious, 10 times more successful, 100 times more accomplished and probably twice as happy.
And yet they choose to give up on reality. They create a narrative which has nothing to do with the world.
And so they are not efficient in the world, ultimately.
And so this is bounded rationality.
The narcissist says, "If I obtain narcissistic supply, if I'm told that I'm right, even if this leads to bad outcomes, even if it denies me the possibility of realizing my potential and self-actualizing, even if it isolates me from the world and from reality and impairs my ability to act in reality and on reality in order to obtain favorable outcomes, even if it disables me, even if this need to win and need to be right, even if they disable me, make me an invalidate me, even then it's good enough for me. I'm satisfied. I'm not seeking the optimum. I'm not optimizing. I'm satisfying."
And this is, of course, bounded rationality.
The narcissist and the psychopath fully accept impaired reality testing as the trade-off.
They say, "If we don't give up on reality in part or in whole, it's going to be painful. It's going to be shameful. I won't be able to live with myself. I need to give up on reality. And I'm strong enough to give up on reality because I'm God-like. I'm the creator of worlds. I can create another reality which will be as valid, as resourceful, as gratifying, as efficient, as real reality.
So the narcissist doesn't hesitate to invite you into his reality, the shared fantasy, because he believes that his reality is actually superior to other people's reality, the common reality. He believes that he can improve on reality.
So narcissists and psychopaths give up on reality consciously and knowingly get themselves steeped in or immersed in a fantasy because they believe that the whole world should adapt to them.
Reality as it is now sucks, is imperfect, dysfunctional, stupid. Had they been given the chance, they would have designed a far better reality.
And so they're doing it for you. It's a favor they're doing you. You have to accept that they're always right. You have to let them win all the time because in return they're giving you the world, a new world, a brave world, a world where you can prosper and thrive, unlike in the reality that all other people share.
Isn't this enormous konokupia, a gift of unprecedented proportions? You should be grateful. And if you're not, then you should be punished. And in grace should be punished.
The narcissism and psychopaths approach to "I must win, I must be right" has to do, of course, with catastrophizing.
The alternative to being right, the alternative to winning, is dying. Dying either emotionally and mentally or physically even.
So they must win. It's a dichotomous view of the power matrix.
If I don't win, if I fail to win, if I'm not right, if I'm proven wrong, then I will have transitioned from an exploiting superior being to an exploited inferior creature.
It's all or nothing. And this is, of course, splitting. All or nothing thinking.
Either I'm right or I'm a zero. Either I win or I'm dead. Exploited, humiliated, shamed, shunned. I must win.
Winners take all. As a winner, I'll be accepted. As a winner, I will have power. As a winner, I'll be respected. People respect me. As a winner.
If I'm always right, I'll be looked up to. People will cherish me, seek my advice.
In both cases, if I win and if I'm right, I will have acquired power over people. Power that will let me prevent the most adverse outcomes because I see a catastrophe coming. Everyone is against me. Everyone hates me. There's some paranoia, paranoid ideation.
And so I need in this hostile jungle world, I need all the tools. And I need to subjugate other people. I need them. I need them to be submissive to me. I need to neutralize them so that they render them riskless.
Because if they are autonomous, if people are autonomous, if they're independent, if they're agentic, they're dangerous, especially to me.
But if I keep winning over them, if I keep proving myself right, if I keep proving them wrong, ultimately they will accept my authority and give in to me and succumb, thereby reducing the risk to me substantially and my anxiety as well.
Catastrophizing anxiety and a false decontinence view of the power matrix between people. The whole world is a war, a battle, and you need to win or be extinguished.
There's a lot of reframing going on.
When the narcissist fails to be right, he self-supplies, he self-deceives. He says to himself, "I have won. I have been proven right. I have been vindicated." Or it's only a question of time, time until I am proven wrong, until I am vindicated, until I have won.
He lies to himself. He tells himself stories, narratives, to convince himself that, you know, he is right. People maybe are too stupid to realize it, take some time, but he is right. He has won.
Maybe other people think they have won, but that's because they don't see the big picture, or that's because they miss information, they lack information.
If they had all the information, they would have seen that he had won. This is self-supply and self-deception, and it's a desperate reaction to catastrophizing, to anxiety, to fear. Fear of life itself.
Ultimately, the need to win, and the need to be right all the time, is a rejection of life and everyone in it, because it's the only safe way to survive being a narcissist or a psychopath.
Only safe way. The alternative is to fragment and break apart and be no more.