P r e s e n t s....

  NPD SOUP
 

Dr. Sam Vaknin

Stimulating Intellectual Insight 


 

About Dr. Vaknin  and His Works

Table of Contents

Decompensation
Introspection
Why does He Keep Coming Back?  
Acting Civil, Saying Goodbye
Avoiding Pain
Prevalence of NPD
Long-term Planning
Love and Being Loved
Closure
The Narcissist's Body
Narcissists and Age
An Object Relations Approach to Understanding Unusual Behaviors and Disturbances
Retraumatizing the Victims
The Silent Treatment (Withholding)
Sexual Perversions and Deviance (Paraphilias)
Slip-ups
Personality Disorders in the Professions
Pregnancy and Control
Alloplastic Defenses and Magical Thinking
Perceiving Others
Sources of Supply
The Eye of the Psychopathic Storm
Splitting and Choice
Personality Traits or Styles and Personality Disorders
Toxic Relationships
Long Relationships
Nature or Nurture
The Kaleidoscopic Narcissist
Periodic Generosity
The Mystery Man
Sex as a Source of Supply
Predicting and Retrodicting the Worst
Validation and Healing
Magical Thinking and Shared Psychosis
Brain Abnormalities and Mental Health Disorders
Competitiveness

Decompensation

Narcissism is a primitive (early life) defense mechanism. It is one of many deployed by the narcissist to prevent his personality from disintegrating (a state known as psychosis). The others are splitting, projection, projective identification, intellectualization, rationalization, denial and so on.

Under severe stress and duress, these defense mechanisms crumble. This is called decompensation.

At first, decompensation leads to acting out - outbursts, childish behavior, criminal activities, atypical substance abuse or reckless behavior, violence.

But if the stressful situation is prolonged and with no end in sight, psychotic micro-episodes are common and they may last from a few minutes up to 4 days each.

About Dr. Vaknin  and His Works

Introspection

Narcissists are incapable of introspection. This inability to "watch themselves from the outside" is what often gets them into trouble. Only when the narcissist goes through a massive life crisis (divorce, death in the family, near death experience, bankruptcy, incarceration, abuse, humiliation, exile, etc.) - only then does he begin to reflect on his life and on himself.

But, even then, narcissists are interested in getting things "back to how they were" - not in changing.

Moreover, knowing something is not transformative. You've got to feel it, too (to have an "emotional correlate" amounting to an "insight"). 

About Dr. Vaknin  and His Works

Why does He Keep Coming Back?

Narcissists act (or refrain from acting) based solely on the availability of narcissistic supply (or lack thereof). If the narcissist keeps coming back - he does so because he is convinced that there is narcissistic supply to be obtained - or because he has yet to secure an alternative source of supply.

Narcissistic supply is about attention, however thwarted and depraved. Adversity, intrigue, fighting, notoriety, infamy, quarrelling, active rebuffing - all constitute narcissistic supply. If ignored consistently for a sufficiently long time, though, the narcissist is likely to let go, if he is not vindictive.

All past sources "qualify" for "re-activation" once the narcissist's supply has been depleted and no other sources are in sight. Only past sources who made it unequivocally clear that they will allow no further contact are "exempt". But this is very rare. Even a divorce is not the end of the relationship with the narcissist. There is common property, common children, the occasional phone conversation, mail to be forwarded, etc.

Sources of primary supply are ranked by social status, fame/celebrity, wealth, power/influence, etc. Narcissistic supply emanating from a top politician or the CEO of a large company far outweighs anything offered by the neighborhood grocer.

Spouses or girlfriends provide secondary supply and, as sources, they are utterly interchangeable. Their role is to "accumulate" information about past supply and release it to the narcissist when supplies are low ("remember how famous you were in 1985?", "remember how you won the tournament?"). This is called "regulation" of narcissistic supply.

Thus, to recap, reversion to old sources of secondary supply is automatically triggered when the narcissist's supply has been depleted and no other sources are in sight.

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Acting Civil, Saying Goodbye

The narcissist acts civil only towards potential sources of narcissistic supply. If your narcissist believes that you may supply him in the future - he will not devalue and discard you and will make the separation as courteous as possible. If he judges you to be "useless" as far as future narcissistic supply goes - he will likely dump you, discard, devalue and even purposefully hurt you in the process.

That's all there is to it. Narcissists regard other people as you might regard a faucet. As long as it spews forth water - you maintain it. Once it stops - you ignore it without giving it a second thought.

But narcissists sometimes fail to say goodbye because they find it difficult to confront their own failure. It is too painful and threatening. The narcissist is a confabulation of omnipotence and perfection built on shaky, fallacious foundations. Failure means exposure and exposure might lead to the disintegration of the entire edifice. The narcissist thus prefers to simply abandon the scene of his defeat even as he declares victory unilaterally and counterfactually.

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Avoiding Pain

Narcissists are terrified of pain. The False Self - the essence of pathological narcissism- is an elaborate, multilayered reaction to past traumas and their attendant anguish. The narcissist is conditioned by his torturous past to avoid grief at any cost - even at the cost of self-annihilation and re-invention as a narrative, a piece of fiction.

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Prevalence of NPD

The incidence of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) may be much higher than the reported figures (up to around 5% of the adult population). The reason NPD is under-reported is because narcissists rarely go to therapy, tend to charm and deceive the therapists once they do , and never admit that something is wrong with them even then.

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Long-term Planning

The typical narcissist has a short attention span and believes that the world is a random, menacing place. Catch as catch can. Carpe Diem (seize the day). The narcissist lurches at any potential source with a "charm attack" that often, alas, proves irresistible.

Very few narcissists are sufficiently cold and calculated to cultivate long-term sources of supply.

Pathological narcissism - the addiction to and pursuit of narcissistic supply to regulate a labile sense of self-worth - is not a conscious choice, or a lifestyle, or a profession. It is the quiddity (the essence) of the narcissist. Do bees plan to sting? Do tigers analyze their hunting patterns? Do mothers love their children by design? 

It just comes to the narcissist naturally.

I see a beautiful woman, who is also reasonably clever - and I want to "convert" her, to make her admire me, to cause her to spread news and views about me and "proselytize" to ever expanding circles of family and friends.

This wish is the psychological equivalent of hunger or thirst (or sex drive). It is a craving gradually translated into a plan of action.

But first comes the insatiable addiction to narcissistic supply - and only then a cognitive "blueprint" of hunting, conversion and conquest.

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Love and Being Loved

Fear of commitment ("commitmentophobia") and intimacy is one thing. Inability to love and be loved is another. All narcissists share the first. And, surprisingly, all narcissists share the second also!

The word "love" is understood by the narcissist to mean "dependence", "neediness", "ability to provide narcissistic supply", "becoming the narcissist's extension and property".

In these - distorted and sick - senses of the word, all narcissists love to be loved...

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Closure

Everyone learns from experience. The question is what is learned. The narcissist has alloplastic defenses. In other words, he tends to blame the world for failures, mishaps, problems, and defeats.

Because he has a preconceived notion of a hostile, menacing Universe - his experience only serves to fortify his prejudices. The narcissist learns nothing, forgets nothing, and forgives nothing. 

A post-mortem of a relationship conducted with a narcissist is very frustrating because it never achieves closure. The narcissist is interested exclusively in allocating blame and generating guilt - not in progressing, developing, atoning, soothing, or concluding anything.

Such exercises in futility are best avoided.

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The Narcissist's Body

Lowen in his 1983 book "Narcissism: Denial of the True Self" wrote: "Narcissists lack a sense of self derived from bodily feelings ... (T)hey deny feelings that contradict the image they seek."

The Self first coalesces around physical sensations confined to one's body, excretions, and contact with other physical entities (mainly, the mother). Freud believed that narcissists fail to learn how to shift their attentions and, later, emotions, onto external "objects" (people). Instead, their "Libido" (life and sex drive) is directed at their own body, both sexually (auto-eroticism, masturbation) and emotionally. This failure at "Object Relations" also leads to difficulties in recognizing and accepting the separateness of other people, their boundaries, and their independent emotions and needs.

I think that both Lowen and Freud are right.

However, to my mind, Freud is referring to the somatic narcissist - while Lowen deals with the cerebral one. Cerebral narcissists indeed loathe their body as a source of decay, decrepitude, disease, uncontrollable urges, and death.

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Narcissists and Age

The Narcissistic and Antisocial personality disorders are so similar that many scholars and, more so, clinicians, suggested to abolish the distinction altogether. Yet, in some respects, there are differences.

Age is one of them.

The DSM IV-TR (2000) has this to say (page 704):

"By definition, Antisocial Personality Disorder cannot be diagnosed before age 18 years ... (It) has a chronic course but may become less evident or remit as the individual grows older, particularly by the fourth decade of life. Although this remission tends to be particularly evident with respect to engaging in criminal behavior, there is likely to be a decrease in the full spectrum of antisocial behaviors and substance use."

And about the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (p. 716):

"Narcissistic traits may be particularly common in adolescents and do not necessarily indicate that the individual will go on to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Individuals with NPD may have special difficulties adjusting to the onset of physical and occupational limitations that are inherent in the aging process."

The antisocial personality ameliorates with age and, very often, vanishes completely in midlife. Not so pathological narcissism. Many narcissists do get better as they mature, battered by life crises and faced with new responsibilities and new, sometimes painful, lessons.

But other narcissists only get worse. Age seems to accentuate the worst in them. I wrote about this deterioration here.

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An Object Relations Approach to Understanding Unusual Behaviors and Disturbances

This essay by Kathi Stringer surveys Object relations theory (mainly Mahler's work). I fully agree with her that this branch of psychodynamics possesses the strongest explanatory powers as far as childhood development and the emergence of psychopathology go.

The main problems with the limited versions of object relations are the neglect of all early infancy influences, bar the mother's - and the proliferation of postulated psychic structures, none of them directly observable. There isn't an agreement even as to basic terminology. Klein's "bad object" is "out thee" - Winnicott's is internalized.

Additionally, the various phases and transitions - such as Separation-Individuation - are "smooth" and do not "leave psychological traces". Melanie Klein's work with its life- long "positions" (paranoid-schizoid and, later, depressive) partly saw to that - but, even so, some scholars (Daniel Stern) dispute the entire edifice based on clinical research.

It is not even agreed that the awareness of separate objects is not an innate, born, ability. Klein - a pillar of Object Relations Theory - thought that infants are born with an ego and the immediate ability to split the world into bad and good objects. Kohut suggested that narcissism and object-love co-exist throughout life and are born - not learned - qualities. And, as many a mother would attest, most children are aware of outside object long before they are 30 days old, the end of the Autistic Phase, according to Mahler.

Classic Object Relations theory also fails to explain the Rapprochement sub-phase of the Separation-Individuation phase. What brings about the separation anxiety that drives the child back into his mother's arms and provokes in it an acute sense of object inconstancy? How does the child transit from the symbiotic omnipotent dyad, in which the mother is a mere extension - into a state of quivering hysteria? Where does the realization of separateness emanate from? The development of language skills reflect this mysterious process - they do not induce it.

Aware of these weaknesses in Mahler's work, Object Relations theorists suggested that primary narcissism has numerous roots. The omnipotence attributed to the mother-extension in the symbiotic phase is only one of them. More about this in my Primer on Narcissism.

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Retraumatizing the Victims

Regrettably, mental health professionals and practitioners - marital and couple therapists, counselors - are conditioned, by years of indoctrinating and dogmatic education, to respond favorably to specific verbal cues.

The paradigm is that abuse is rarely one sided - in other words, that it is invariably "triggered" either by the victim or by the mental health problems of the abuser. Another common lie is that all mental health problems can be successfully treated one way (talk therapy) or another (medication).

This shifts the responsibility from the offender to his prey. The abused must have done something to bring about their own maltreatment - or simply were emotionally "unavailable" to help the abuser with his problems. Healing is guaranteed if only the victim were willing to participate in a treatment plan and communicate with the abuser. So goes the orthodoxy.

Refusal to do so - in other words, refusal to risk further abuse - is harshly judged by the therapist. The victim is labeled uncooperative, resistant, or even abusive!

The key is, therefore, feigned acquiescence and collaboration with the therapist's scheme, acceptance of his/her interpretation of the events, and the use of key phrases such as: "I wish to communicate/work with (the abuser)", "trauma", "relationship", "healing process", "inner child", "the good of the children", "the importance of fathering", "significant other" and other psycho-babble. Learn the jargon, use it intelligently and you are bound to win the therapist's sympathy.

Above all - do not be assertive, or aggressive and do not overtly criticize the therapist or disagree with him/her.

I make the therapist sound like yet another potential abuser - because in many cases, he/she becomes one as they inadvertently collude with the abuser, invalidate the abuse experiences, and pathologize the victim.

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The Silent treatment (Withholding)

The silent treatment (Patricia Evans calls in withholding) is intentional and intended to punish the partner for a transgression.

Resuming the conversation as though nothing happened is due to the internal needs of the narcissist and especially his need for renewed narcissistic supply. Being a control freak, the narcissist determines the timing of everything: when to have sex, when to talk, when to go on a vacation, etc. You have no right to retaliate for his behavior because you do not exist as a separate entity with your own views, boundaries, emotions and needs. At best the narcissist considers you a wayward child in need of disciplining. At worst, you are no more than an implement, or an extension of the narcissist.

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Sexual Perversions and Deviance (Paraphilias)

Paraphilias (sexual deviance) are very common among narcissists and, more so, among psychopaths. (They) usually reflect an utter inability to recognize other people's boundaries by seeking to merge with them and thus control them. The narcissistic psychopath also expresses his auto-eroticism (self-infatuation) in group sex, homosexuality, or incest. Hence, the psychopath's need to idealize you - in effect, he is idealizing and idolizing himself.

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Slip-ups

Have you tried acting not yourself for ten minutes? One hour? One month? How about all your life? 

In the initial phases of acquaintance, the narcissist/psychopath is forced to act NOT himself.

He is forced to appear to be charming, attentive, warm, emotional, caring, compassionate, empathic, helpful, accepting, understanding, encouraging, open, and reasonable.

It is a major acting job, performed exquisitely by a master thespian. It is intended to captivate the (often one-person) audience into submission and addiction and to convert her into a source of narcissistic supply, or money, or into an accomplice. To sweep her off her feet, the narcissist/psychopath first has to transmutate - very much as aliens put on human forms in sci-fi movies.

But it is a very taxing and tedious transformation.

So, there are slip-ups. Occasional revealing sentence fragments, the odd gesture, a frightening glimpse of the real and lurking predator - so contrary to all appearances hitherto that the victims deny it and repress it out of consciousness.

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Personality Disorders in the Professions

In a study titled "Mental disorders common among military personnel" published by the American Journal Psychiatry 2002; 159: 15761583, the authors conclude:

"The researchers stress that the findings do not indicate that mental disorders are more common among members of the military than the general population, rather they provide an estimation of how common such conditions are in a generally young, healthy population."

In other words, the authors claim that prevalence of mental health disorders in the military is not higher than among the relevant age and socio-economic groups in the general population. But the  military - and police officers - are under much tighter scrutiny and cannot avoid contact with the medical profession, as other narcissists and antisocials do.

My personal impression - based on correspondence with thousands of affected people - is that there are clusters of certain personality disorders in certain professions: corporate management, politics, show business, teaching, the courts, law enforcement, the military, the media, the clergy and other professions that guarantee regular narcissistic supply.

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Pregnancy and Control

The relationship of the narcissistic/psychopathic parent to his child (ren) is very complex and rife with conflicts.

On the one hand, children are the ideal sources of narcissistic supply. On the other hand, they compete with the parent for attention and resources. Many somatic narcissists hop from one "romantic" relationship to another.

Impregnating the woman is a classic method of "controlling" and "binding" her down. The narcissistic psychopath aware of the shallowness and transience of his own simulated emotions - attributed the same fleetingness to his partner. Saddled with a baby, she is unlikely to vanish on him. The fetus is thus his mother's ballast and guardian o her chastity and fidelity.

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Alloplastic Defenses and Magical Thinking

Alloplastic defenses are an integral and important part of most personality disorders (and all Cluster B PDs). Yet, personality disorders are frequently co-morbid with other mental health disorders where autoplastic defenses are more prominent. Additionally, magical thinking - common to Cluster B PDs and to the Schizotypal PD - often intervenes.

Narcissists think: "I am immune, I am untouchable, nothing can happen to me, I am a perfectly functioning machine". It is like an incantation.

But there is also the opposite kind of magical thinking.

Instead of saying "I am perfect - but the Universe (or God) is against me", people with developed magical thinking might think: "I attract bad luck, I am a magnet for mishaps and bad fortune". But, in both cases, it is the Universe, or God, or Society, or Something Outside the patient that is to blame for the patient's misfortune. The patient's failures and misadventures are none of his responsibility or fault. He is - in both cases - passive, the victim of a persecutory world.

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Perceiving Others

Narcissistic psychopaths have no friends, or lovers, or spouses, or children, or family - they have only objects to be manipulated. Narcissists have no problem perceiving ideas (many narcissists are intellectually gifted). But they do have a problem perceiving other people's ability to conceive of ideas, to have their own needs, emotions, and preference. Wouldn't you be startled if your television set suddenly informed you that it would rather not work on a Sunday? Or if your vacuum cleaner wanted to befriend you?

To narcissists, other people are instruments, tools, sources - in short: objects. Objects are not supposed to have opinions or to make independent choices and decisions - especially if they don't comply with the narcissist's worldview or plans, or if they do not cater to his needs.

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Sources of Supply

Narcissists feel so bad when abandoned or confronted - this is called narcissistic injury or narcissistic wound - that it prompts them either to coerce you back into an imagined relationship (stalking) - or to delete you altogether from their mind and history (discard and devalue).

Yet, compelled by their addiction - by the inexorable need to regulate their labile sense of self-worth - narcissists cannot remain for long without sources of narcissistic supply. So they move on to the next source in lightning speed.

But Narcissists/Psychopaths rarely abandon a source of supply. He may be keeping you on ice, part of his "stable", a reserve - and will re-emerge when he is in need of a dose of narcissistic supply and all other sources have been depleted.

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The Eye of the Psychopathic Storm

Contrary to misinformed opinion, all narcissists and psychopaths maintain a stable island in their otherwise tumultuous lives. It could be a job, a mother, an ideology, an imagined lover (erotomania), a collection, a hobby, an object (car or house), or even a pet.

Stalking is about maintaining this "eye of the storm" and about possessing it. The stalker exerts control over the prey's life by intruding and, thus, by intimidating. To him, fear equals possession and possession equals "love". Being ambivalent about women, the stalker has swings between the Saint and the Whore views of womanhood.

To the sick mind of the stalker, a "no" is never a "no". It is proof that you want further contact or that you don't know what is good for you or that you want him so much that you are denying it or that it is actually a yes.

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Splitting and Choice

Splitting involves no choice. It is an automatic defense in which bad traits are attributed to a "bad object" (devaluation) and "good qualities" to a "good object" (idealization).

Writing off a narcissist or a psychopath is a personal, deliberate, cognitive choice. Society, at large, does not "give up" on them. It offers them therapy, rehabilitation, medication, jobs, and community services. But each individual must makes decision whether to invest in a narcissist or a psychopath - or in someone who is neither. Some people prefer the former.

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Personality Traits or Styles and Personality Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision [Washington DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000] defines "personality" as:

"enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself exhibited in a wide range of important social and personal contexts."

The difference between having a personality and having a personality disorder is not in degree - but in flexibility. Personality disorders are rigid patterns of perceiving and reacting to people and to events. It takes concerted and intensive intervention (therapy and medication) to alter them (even to an imperceptible degree). As a result of this pathological straitjacket, people with personality disorders are dysfunctional. "Normal" personalities adapt much faster and more easily to changes in external circumstances, to new demands, new people and new situations.

Patients with personality disorders share certain characteristics:

1. Except those suffering from the Schizoid or the Avoidant Personality Disorders, they are insistent and demand preferential and privileged treatment. They complain about numerous symptoms, though they frequently second guess the diagnosis and disobey the physician, his treatment recommendations and instructions.

2. They feel unique, are affected with grandiosity and a diminished capacity for empathy. Consequently, they regard the physician as inferior to them, alienate him and bore him with their self- preoccupation.

3. They are manipulative and exploitative, trust no one and find it difficult to love or share. They are socially maladaptive and emotionally labile.

4. Disturbed cognitive and, mainly, emotional development peaks in adolescence.

5. Personality disorders are stable and all-pervasive not episodic or transient. They affect all the dimensions of the patient's life: his career, his interpersonal relationships, his social functioning.

6. Though the patient is sometimes depressed and suffers from mood and anxiety disorders - defenses - splitting, projection, projective identification, denial, intellectualization - are so strong, that the patient is unaware of the reasons for his distress. The character problems, behavioral deficits and emotional deficiencies and instability encountered by the patient with personality disorder are, mostly, ego-syntonic. This means that the patient does not, on the whole, find his personality traits or behavior objectionable, unacceptable, disagreeable, or alien to his self.

7. The patient is prone to suffer from other psychiatric disturbances, both personality disorders and Axis I disorders ("co- morbidity"). Substance abuse and reckless behaviors are also common ("dual diagnosis").

8. Defenses are alloplastic: patients tend to blame the external world for their misfortune and failures. In stressful situations, they try to preempt a (real or imaginary) threat, change the rules of the game, introduce new variables, or otherwise influence the external world to conform to their needs.

9. The personality-disordered are not psychotic. They have no hallucinations, delusions or thought disorders (except those who suffer from a Borderline Personality Disorder and who experience brief psychotic "microepisodes", mostly during treatment). They are also fully oriented, with clear senses (sensorium), good memory and general fund of knowledge.

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Toxic Relationships

Many things bind people together: love, fear of abandonment, pity, memories (nostalgia), or dependence.

With the exception of love, the other motivations I mentioned are shaky and unhealthy grounds for a long-term relationships.

But easier said than done. You evidently KNOW that you should let him go - but you do not FEEL it. What you feel is possessiveness, pity, (abandonment) anxiety, and the risk of losing your emotional investment (in the "rescue" operation).

The fact that you had bailed out of previous relationships demonstrates a PATTERN of instability in your relationships. You seem to knowingly commit yourself to unsustainable liaisons, predicting full-well their ultimate demise. These are self-defeating behaviors.

Such deep set issues require protracted professional help.

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Long Relationships

The longer the relationship with a secondary source of narcissistic supply and the bigger the number of common "possessions" (children included) - the more vigorously the narcissist's attempts to reinstate the relationship and the more firmly the former source is included in the narcissist's stable of default sources (to whom he turns in dry spells).

This is because the longer the relationship, the more data is stored by the secondary source of supply regarding the narcissist's past moments of "glory" and the more she is able to help the narcissist regulate his labile sense of self-worth.

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Nature or Nurture?

No one - not even the most avowed genetic determinist - says that genes shape 100% of the personality. It is the interplay between genes and environment that molds the person. Genes are like a blueprint, the layout, a series of POTENTIALS.

What is done with these potentials is up to us. How a person is brought up is AT LEAST as important as his or her heredity. It is the interaction that matters. Upbringing and life's experiences forge the brain (the "plastic brain") more than any gene or combination of genes do.

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The Kaleidoscopic Narcissist

Why can't two or more "sides" co-exist in the same person? We all - normal and abnormal - have aspects of personality that are contradictory and that manifest or are expressed only in particular circumstances: the timid mother fighting for her children, the assertive business tycoon who is shy with women, etc.

We all present a facade when we meet new people - it is called a "persona", our public face. We all - normal and deranged - appear different in intimate circumstances. Most of us alternate between moods, aspects of personality, behavior patterns. There is nothing unusual in that.

On the contrary:

Narcissists are distinct because theirs is a RIGID (False) Self that is eerily fixed, regardless of events, circumstances, and new experiences. Actually, this is the clinical definition of a personality disorder.

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Periodic Generosity

The narcissist's bouts of periodic generosity have nothing whatsoever to do with you. Whenever he needs to fine tune his wavering sense of self-worth and to buttress his self-image as a giving, caring, and kind person - he is out to buy you something new or fix the house. You are sources of secondary narcissistic supply - mute witnesses to his largesse and big-heartedness. You are nothing more than that - the human equivalents of tape recorders. The sole justification for your existence is to attest to his magnanimity. Hence also his disappearances (when supply is plentiful).

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The Mystery Man

The narcissist likes to have a double (or triple) life. Being a man of mystery enhances his grandiose sense of self-importance, omnipotence, and omnipresence. It also caters to his paranoia and to his insatiable need to control others. By withholding information about himself, the narcissist feels secure, immune, and protected. He maintains the initiative and can impose his agenda simply by being unpredictable. It is a form of covert abuse.

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Sex as a Source of Supply

To the narcissist, sex is just another source of supply. It has no "extra dimensions" which set it apart from non-sexual narcissistic supply. It has no emotional complement or correlate. It is just a thing one has to do either to maintain a secondary source of supply (in the case of cerebral narcissists) - or to obtain primary supply (in the case of a somatic narcissist).

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Predicting and Retrodicting the Worst

Narcissists are paranoid and paranoids assume the worst as a matter of course. Hence their persecutory delusions, ideas of reference, constant sense of foreboding, superstitions, magical thinking and so on. They firmly believe that the world is a hostile place, out to get them, to humiliate and mock them and to deny them what they are entitled to by right of mere existence.

This negativity permeates every interaction in the narcissist's life and colors both his cognition and his affect (emotional makeup). Narcissist tend to exaggerate, retrodict and predict the direst things, complain and whine incessantly, and expect the most terrible outcomes, events, and reactions. Ironically, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their obnoxious personality and intolerable conduct bring about the very calamitous results they so dread.

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Pedophilia and Sexual Abuse

Many pedophiles are turned on by tales of child sexual abuse. The more gruesome the details - the bigger the turn-on. Pedophilia - and most forms of sexual deviance (paraphilias) - are about control, not about sex. Afraid to face a mature love object, the infantile pervert opts to direct his attentions to the pliable, the young, the gullible, the vulnerable, the wounded, and the mentally ill. This, of course, inevitably involves sadism disguised as "love".

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Validation and Healing

The most critical element in the arduous process of post-traumatic healing is VALIDATION. The harrowing experiences of the victim need to be acknowledged and the victim must be embraced ("mirrored" and "held"). It is the denial of the victim's ordeal that does the most damage - far more than the trauma itself!!!

Healing time is considerably reduced with validation - regardless of who does the validating (therapist, good friend, family, colleague, neighbor). Alas, few therapists are sufficiently empathetic and knowledgeable to be of meaningful and long-term help. Moreover, society at large is antithetic to the victim's inevitable demands of compassion and resources. The therapist often reflects the community's recoil.

Things are gradually improving, though - not because the number of narcissists is on the rise (it is not), but because awareness - both public and professional - is growing. The media picked up the subject of narcissism, corporate malfeasance and greed brought narcissists to everyone's attention, the Internet made feasible the speed-of-light dissemination of knowledge and swapping of personal experiences. Narcissists find it harder to conceal their disorder and to manipulate and con others.

About Dr. Vaknin  and His Works

Magical Thinking and Shared Psychosis

Magical thinking is typical of the narcissist - he feels invulnerable, part of a cosmic scheme, immune to punishment, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent,. has ideas of reference, persecutory delusions, and so on. But this propensity rarely deteriorates to occult beliefs and superstitions (as it does in the Schizotypal Personality Disorder).

Of course, if pretending to believe in esotericism guarantees him narcissistic supply - the narcissist would do it instantly. If he can brainwash his mate, spouse, or partner into believing it as well (as a manipulative ploy) - he would not hesitate. It is all part of the follies-a-deux, the psychosis shared by the narcissist and the other member of the couple.

About Dr. Vaknin  and His Works

Brain Abnormalities and Mental Health Disorders

Brain abnormalities - physiological as well and biochemical - have long been associated with the Antisocial and Borderline personality disorders.

The problem is that no one can determine cause and effect:

Are the brain abnormalities caused by the psychological disorders - or do they cause the psychological disorders?

As many of the neurological anomalies are spotted in medicated people - it is often difficult to disentangle the effects of the medication from other factors.

About Dr. Vaknin  and His Works

Competitiveness

Narcissists are compulsively competitive because their grandiose fantasies are unrealistic and unattainable. They must have the last word and the upper hand - or risk experiencing the excruciating grandiosity gap (the abyss between reality and the False Self- image). Emotionally, they cannot afford to be "defeated" and thus "humiliated". Too much rides on it - the very precarious balance of their personality.

About Dr. Vaknin  and His Works

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