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How I Became a Narcissist
Friday, 28 February 2003
The Ghost in the Machine
I have no roots. I was born in Israel but left it many times and now have been away for five years. I haven't seen my parents since 1996. I have met my sister (and my niece and nephew) for the first time last week. I haven't been in touch with any of my "friends". I haven't exchanged one additional word with my ex after we split up. I - an award winning author -am slowly forgetting my Hebrew. I do not celebrate any nation's holidays or festivals. I stay away from groups and communities. I wonder, an itinerant lone wolf. I was born in the Middle East, I write about the Balkan and my readers are mostly American.

This reads like a typical profile of the modern expatriate professional the world over - but it is not. It is not a temporary suspension of self-identity, of group-identity, of location, of mother tongue and of one's social circle. In my case, I have nowhere to go back to. I either burn the bridges or keep walking. I never look back. I detach and vanish.

I am not sure why I behave this way. I like to travel and I like to travel light. On the way, in between places, in the twilight zone of neither here not there and not now - I feel like I am unburdened. I do not need to - indeed, I cannot - secure narcissistic supply. My obscurity and anonymity are excused ("I am a stranger here", "I just arrived"). I can relax and take refuge from my inner tyranny and from the anxious depletion of energy that is my existence as a narcissist.

I love freedom. With no possessions, devoid of all attachments, to fly away, to be carried, to explore, not to be me. It is the ultimate depersonalisation. Only then do I feel real. Sometimes I wish I were so rich that I could afford to travel incessantly, without ever stopping. I guess it sounds like escaping and avoiding oneself. I guess it is.

I do not like myself. In my dreams, I find myself an inmate in a concentration camp, or in a tough prison, or a dissident in a murderously dictatorial country. These are all symbols of my inner captivity, my debilitating addiction, the death amidst me. Even in my nightmares, though, I keep fighting and sometimes I win. But my gains are temporary and I am so tired...:o((

In my mind, I am not human. I am a machine at the service of a madman that snatched my body and invaded my being when I was very young. Imagine the terror I live with, the horror of having an alien within your own self. A shell, a nothingness, I keep producing articles at an ever accelerating pace. I write maniacally, unable to cease, unable to eat, or sleep, or bathe, or enjoy. I am possessed by me. Where does one find refuge if one's very abode, one's very soul is compromised and dominated by one's mortal enemy - oneself?

Posted by samvak at 12:29 PM CET
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I Cannot Forgive
I am cursed with mental X-ray vision. I see through people's emotional shields, their petty lies, their pitiable defences, their grandiose fantasies. I know when they deviate from the truth and by how much. I intuitively grasp their self-interested goals and accurately predict the strategy and tactics they will adopt in order to achieve them.

I cannot stand self-important, self-inflated, pompous, bigoted, self-righteous, and hypocritical people. I rage at the inefficient, the lazy, the hapless and the weak.

Perhaps this is because I recognize myself in them. I try to break the painful reflection of my own flaws in theirs.

I home in on the chinks in their laboriously constructed armours. I spot their Achilles hill and attach to it. I prick the gasbags that most people are. I deflate them. I force them to confront their finiteness and helplessness and mediocrity. I negate their sense of uniqueness. I reduce them to proportion and provide them with a perspective. I do so cruelly and abrasively and sadistically and lethally efficiently. I have no compassion. And I prey on their vulnerabilities, however microscopic, however well-concealed.

I expose their double-talk and deride their double standards. I refuse to play their games of prestige and status and hierarchy. I draw them out of their shelters. I destabilize them. I deconstruct their narratives, their myths, their superstitions, their hidden assumptions, their polluted language. I call a spade a spade.

I force them to react and, by reacting, to confront their true, dilapidated selves, their dead end careers, their mundane lives, the death of their hopes and wishes and their shattered dreams. And all that time I observe them with the passionate hatred of the outcast and the dispossessed.

The truths about them, the ones they are trying so desperately to conceal, especially from themselves. The facts denied, so ugly and uncomfortable. Those things that never get mentioned in proper company, the politically incorrect, the personally hurtful, the dark, ignored, and hidden secrets, the tumbling skeletons, the taboos, the fears, the atavistic urges, the pretensions, the social lies, the distorted narratives of life - piercing, bloodied and ruthless - these are my revenge, the settling of scores, the leveling of the battlefield.

I lance them - the high and mighty and successful and the happy people, those who possess what I deserve and never had, the object of my green eyed monsters. I inconvenience them, I make them think, reflect on their own misery and wallow in its rancid outcomes. I coerce them to confront their zombie state, their own sadism, their unforgivable deeds and unforgettable omissions. I dredge the sewer that is their mind, forcing to the surface long repressed emotions, oft suppressed pains, their nightmares and their fears.

And I pretend to do so selflessly, "for their own good". I preach and hector and pour forth vitriolic diatribes and expose and impose and writhe and foam in the proverbial mouth - all for the greater good. I am so righteous, so true, so geared to help, so meritorious. My motives are unassailable. I am always so chillingly reasoned, so algorithmically precise. I am a the frozen wrath. I play their alien game by their very own rules. But I am so foreign to them, that I am unbeatable. Only they do not realize it yet.

Posted by samvak at 12:28 PM CET
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Pseudologica Fantastica
In "Streetcar Named Desire", Blanche, the sister in law of Marlon Brando, is accused by him of inventing a false biography, replete with exciting events and desperate wealthy suitors. She responds that it is preferable to lead an imaginary but enchanted life - then a real but dreary one.

This, approximately, is my attitude, as well. My biography needs no embellishments. It is chock full of adventures, surprising turns of events, governments and billionaires, prisons and luxury hotels, criminals and ministers, fame and infamy, wealth and bankruptcy. I have lived a hundred lives. All I need to do is tell it straight. And yet I can't.

Moreover, I exaggerate everything. If a newspapers publishes my articles, I describe it as "the most widely circulated", or "the most influential". If I meet someone, I make him out to be "the most powerful", "most enigmatic", "most something". If I make a promise, I always promise the impossible or undoable.

To put it less gently, I lie. Compulsively and needlessly.

All the time.

About everything. And I often contradict myself.

Why do I need to do this?

To make myself interesting or attractive. In other words, to secure narcissistic supply (attention, admiration, adulation, gossip). I refuse to believe that I can be of interest to anyone as I am. My mother was interested in me only when I achieved something. Since then I flaunt my achievements - or invent ones. I feel certain that people are more interested in my fantasies than in me.

This way I also avoid the routine, the mundane, the predictable, the boring.

In my mind, I can be anywhere, do anything and I am good at convincing people to participate in my scripts. It is movie-making. I should have been a director.

Pseudologica Fantastica is the compulsive need to lie consistently and about everything, however inconsequential - even if it yields no benefits to the liar. I am not that bad. But when I want to impress - I lie.

I love to see people excited, filled with wonder, bedazzled, dreamy, starry eyed, or hopeful. I guess I am a little like the myth spinners, legend tellers and troubadours of yore. I know that at the end of my rainbow there is nothing but a broken pot. But I so want to make people happy! I so want to feel the power of a giver, a God, a benefactor, a privileged witness.

So, I lie. Do you believe me?

Posted by samvak at 12:27 PM CET
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Portrait of the Narcissist as a Young Man
Abuse has many forms. Expropriating someone's childhood in favour of adult pursuits is one of the subtlest varieties of soul murder.

I never was a child. I was a "wunderkind", the answer to my mother's prayers and intellectual frustration. A human computing machine, a walking-talking encyclopedia, a curiosity, a circus freak. I was observed by developmental psychologists, interviewed by the media, endured the envy of my peers and their pushy mothers. I constantly clashed with figures of authority because I felt entitled to special treatment, immune to prosecution and superior. It was a narcissist's dream. Abundant narcissistic supply - rivers of awe, the aura of glamour, incessant attention, open adulation, country-wide fame.

I refused to grow up. In my mind, my tender age was an integral part of the precocious miracle that I became. One looks much less phenomenal and one's exploits and achievements are much less awe-inspiring at the age of 40, I thought. Better stay young forever and thus secure my narcissistic supply.

So, I wouldn't grow up. I never took out a driver's licence.

I do not have children. I rarely have sex. I never settle down in one place. I reject intimacy. In short: I refrain from adulthood and adult chores. I have no adult skills. I assume no adult responsibilities. I expect indulgence from others. I am petulant and haughtily spoiled. I am capricious, infantile and emotionally labile and immature. In short: I am a 40 years old brat.

When I talk to my girlfriend, I do so in a baby's voice, making baby faces and baby gestures. It is a pathetic and repulsive sight, very much like a beached whale trying to imitate a seaborne trout. I want to be her child, you see, I want to regain my lost childhood. I want to be admired as I was when I was one year old and recited poems in three languages to stunned visiting high school teachers. I want to be four again, when I first read a daily paper to the silent astonishment of the neighbours.

I am not preoccupied with my age, nor am I obsessed with my dwindling, fat flapping body. I am no hypochondriac. But There is a streak of sadness in me, like an undercurrent and a defiance of Time itself. Like Dorian Gray, I want to remain as I was when I became the centre of attention, the focus of adoration, the heart of a twister of media attention. I know I can't. And I know that I have failed not only at arresting Chronos - but on a more mundane, degrading level. I failed as an adult.

Posted by samvak at 12:27 PM CET
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Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hide
Narcissists are either cerebral or somatic. In other words, they either generate their narcissistic supply by applying their bodies or by applying their minds.

The somatic narcissist flaunts his sexual conquests, parades his possessions, exhibits his muscles, brags about his physical aesthetics or sexual prowess or exploits, is often a health freak and a hypochondriac. The cerebral narcissist is a know-it-all, haughty and intelligent "computer". He uses his awesome intellect, or knowledge (real or pretended) to secure adoration, adulation and admiration. To him, his body and its maintenance are a burden and a distraction.

Both types are auto-erotic (psychosexually in love with themselves, with their bodies and with their brain). Both types prefer masturbation to adult, mature, interactive, multi-dimensional and emotion-laden sex.

The cerebral narcissist is often celibate (even when he has a girlfriend or a spouse). He prefers pornography and sexual auto-stimulation to the real thing. The cerebral narcissist is sometimes a latent (hidden, not yet outed) homosexual.

The somatic narcissist uses other people's bodies to masturbate. Sex with him - pyrotechnics and acrobatics aside - is likely to be an impersonal and emotionally alienating and draining experience. The partner is often treated as an object, an extension of the somatic narcissist, a toy, a warm and pulsating vibrator.

It is a mistake to assume type-constancy. In other words, all narcissists are BOTH cerebral and somatic. In each narcissist, one of the types is dominant. So, the narcissist is either OVERWHELMINGLY cerebral - or DOMINANTLY somatic. But the other type, the recessive (manifested less frequently) type, is there. It is lurking, waiting to erupt.

The narcissist swings between his dominant type and his recessive type. The latter is expressed mainly as a result of a major narcissistic injury or life crisis.

I can give you hundreds of examples from my correspondence but, instead, let's talk about me (of course...:o))

I am a cerebral narcissist. I brandish my brainpower, exhibit my intellectual achievements, bask in the attention given to my mind and its products. I hate my body and neglect it. It is a nuisance, a burden, a derided appendix, an inconvenience, a punishment. Needless to add that I rarely have sex (often years apart). I masturbate regularly, very mechanically, as one would change water in an aquarium. I stay away from women because I perceive them to be ruthless predators who are out to consume me and mine.

I have had quite a few major life crises. I got divorced, lost millions a few times, did time in one of the worst prisons in the world, fled countries as a political refugee, was threatened, harassed and stalked by powerful people and groups. I have been devalued, betrayed, denigrated and insulted.

Invariably, following every life crisis, the somatic narcissist in me took over. I became a lascivious lecher. When this happened, I had a few relationships - replete with abundant and addictive sex - going simultaneously. I participated in and initiated group sex and mass orgies. I exercised, lost weight and honed my body into an irresistible proposition.

This outburst of unrestrained, primordial lust waned in a few months and I settled back into my cerebral ways. No sex, no women, no body.

These total reversals of character stun my mates. My girlfriends and spouse found it impossible to digest this eerie transformation from the gregarious, darkly handsome, well-built and sexually insatiable person that swept them off their feet - to the bodiless, bookwormish hermit with not an inkling of interest in either sex or other carnal pleasures.

I miss my somatic half. I wish I could find a balance, but I know it is a doomed quest. This sexual beast of mine will forever be trapped in the intellectual cage that is I, Sam Vaknin, the Brain.

Posted by samvak at 12:26 PM CET
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The Discontinuous Narcissist
"But you hate kiwi!" - protests my girl - "How can anyone detest kiwi and then eat it so eagerly?". She is baffled. She is hurt. To some extent, she is even frightened to find herself with this kiwi-guzzling stranger.

How can I tell her that, in the absence of a self, there are no likes or dislikes, preferences, predictable behaviour or characteristics? It is not possible to know the narcissist. There is no one there.

The narcissist was conditioned - from an early age of abuse and trauma - to expect the unexpected. His was a world in motion where (sometimes sadistically) capricious caretakers and peers often engaged in arbitrary behaviour. He was trained to deny his true self and nurture a false one.

Having invented himself, the narcissist sees no problem in re-inventing that which he designed in the first place. The Narcissist is his own creator.

Hence his grandiosity.

Moreover, the narcissist is a man for all seasons, forever adaptable, constantly imitating and emulating, a human sponge, a perfect mirror, a non-entity that is, at the same time, all entities combined.

The narcissist is best described by Heidegger's phrase: "Being and Nothingness". Into this reflective vacuum, this sucking black hole, the narcissist attracts the sources of his narcissistic supply.

To an observer, the narcissist appears to be fractured or discontinuous.

Pathological narcissism has been compared to the Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly the Multiple Personality Disorder). By definition, the narcissist has at least two selves. His personality is very primitive and disorganized. Living with a narcissist is a nauseating experience not only because of what he is - but because of what he is NOT. He is not a fully formed human - but a dizzyingly kaleidoscopic gallery of mercurial images, which melt into each other seamlessly. It is incredibly disorienting.

It is also exceedingly problematic. Promises made by the narcissist are easily disowned by him. His plans are ephemeral. His emotional ties - a simulacrum. Most narcissists have one island of stability in their life (spouse, family, their career, a hobby, their religion, country, or idol) - pounded by the turbulent currents of a dishevelled existence.

Thus, to invest in a narcissist is a purposeless, futile and meaningless activity. To the narcissist, every day is a new beginning, a hunt, a new cycle of idealization or devaluation, a newly invented self.

There is no accumulation of credits or goodwill because the narcissist has no past and no future. He occupies an eternal and timeless present. He is a fossil caught in the frozen lava of a volcanic childhood.

The narcissist does not keep agreements, does not adhere to laws, regards consistency and predictability as demeaning traits. The narcissist hates kiwi one day - and devours it passionately the next.

Posted by samvak at 12:26 PM CET
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The Sad Dreams of the Narcissist
I dream of my childhood. And in my dreams we are again one big unhappy family. I sob in my dreams, I never do when I am awake. When I am awake, I am dry, I am hollow, mechanically bent upon the maximization of Narcissistic Supply. When asleep, I am sad. The all-pervasive, engulfing melancholy of somnolence. I wake up sinking, converging on a black hole of screams and pain. I withdraw in horror. I don't want to go there. I cannot go there.

People often mistake depression for emotion. They say: "but you are sad" and they mean: "but you are human", "but you have emotions". And this is wrong.

True, depression is a big component in a narcissist's emotional make-up. But it mostly has to do with the absence of narcissistic supply.

It mostly has to do with nostalgia to more plentiful days, full of adoration and attention and applause. It mostly occurs after the narcissist has depleted his secondary source of narcissistic supply (spouse, mate, girlfriend, colleagues) for a "replay" of his days of glory. Some narcissists even cry - but they cry exclusively for themselves and for their lost paradise. And they do so conspicuously and publicly - to attract attention.

The narcissist is a human pendulum hanging by the thread of the void that is his False Self. He swings between brutal and vicious abrasiveness - and mellifluous, saccharine sentimentality. It is all a simulacrum. A verisimilitude. A facsimile. Enough to fool the casual observer. Enough to extract the drug - other people's glances - the reflection that sustains this house of cards somehow.

But the stronger and more rigid the defences - and nothing is more resilient than narcissism - the bigger and deeper the hurt they aim to compensate for.

One's narcissism stands in direct relation to the seething abyss and the devouring vacuum that one harbours in one's true self.

I know it's there. I catch glimpses of it when I am tired, when I hear music, when reminded of an old friend, a scene, a sight, a smell. I know it is awake when I am asleep. I know that it subsists of pain - diffuse and inescapable. I know my sadness. I have lived with it and I have encountered it full force.

Perhaps I choose narcissism, as I have been "accused". And if I do, it is a rational choice of self-preservation and survival. The paradox is that being a self-loathing narcissist may be the only act of self-love I have ever committed.

Posted by samvak at 12:25 PM CET
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Why do I Write Poetry?
They say, with a knowing smile: "If he is really a narcissist - how come he writes such beautiful poetry?".

"Words are the sounds of emotions" - they add - "and he claims to have none". They are smug and comfortable in their well classified world, my doubters.

But I use words as others use algebraic signs: with meticulousness, with caution, with the precision of the artisan. I sculpt in words. I stop. I tilt my head. I listen to the echoes. The tables of emotional resonance. The fine tuned reverberations of pain and love and fear. Air waves and photonic ricochets answered by chemicals secreted in my listeners and my readers.

I know beauty. I have always known it in the biblical sense, it was my passionate mistress. We made love. We procreated the cold children of my texts. I measured its aesthetics admiringly. But this is the mathematics of grammar. It was merely the undulating geometry of syntax.

Devoid of all emotions, I watch your reactions with the sated amusement of a Roman nobleman.

I wrote:

"My world is painted in shadows of fear and sadness. Perhaps they are related - I fear the sadness. To avoid the overweening, sepia melancholy that lurks in the dark corners of my being - I deny my own emotions. I do so thoroughly, with the single-mindedness of a survivor. I persevere through dehumanization. I automate my processes. Gradually, parts of my flesh turn into metal and I stand there, exposed to sheering winds, as grandiose as my disorder.

I write poetry not because I need to. I write poetry to gain attention, to secure adulation, to fasten on to the reflection in the eyes of others that passes for my ego. My words are fireworks, formulas of resonance, the periodic table of healing and abuse.

These are dark poems. A wasted landscape of pain ossified, o f scarred remnants of emotions. There is no horror in abuse. The terror is in the endurance, in the dreamlike detachment from one's own existence that follows. People around me feel my surrealism. They back away, alienated, discomfited by the limpid placenta of my virtual reality.

Now I am left alone and I write umbilical poems as others would converse.

Before and after prison, I have written reference books and essays. My first book of short fiction was critically acclaimed and commercially successful.

I tried my hand at poetry before, in Hebrew, but failed. Tis strange. They say that poetry is the daughter of emotion. Not in my case.

I never felt except in prison - and yet there, I wrote in prose. The poetry I authored as one does math. It was the syllabic music that attracted me, the power to compose with words. I wasn't looking to express any profound truth or to convey a thing about myself. I wanted to recreate the magic of the broken metric. I still recite aloud a poem until it SOUNDS right. I write upright - the legacy of prison. I stand and type on a laptop perched atop a cardboard box. It is ascetic and, to me, so is poetry. A purity. An abstraction. A string of symbols open to exegesis. It is the most sublime intellectual pursuit in a world that narrowed down and has become only my intellect."

Posted by samvak at 12:24 PM CET
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A Great Admiration
To paraphrase what Henry James' once said of Louisa May Alcott, my experience of genius is small but my admiration for it is, nevertheless, great. When I visited the "Figarohaus" in Vienna - where Mozart lived and worked for two crucial years - I experienced a great fatigue, the sort that comes with acceptance. In the presence of real genius, I slumped into a chair and listened for one listless hour to its fruits: symphonies, the divine Requiem, arias, a cornucopia.

I always wanted to be a genius. Partly as a sure-fire way to secure constant narcissistic supply, partly as a safeguard against my own mortality. As it became progressively more evident how far I am from it and how ensconced in mediocrity - I, being a narcissist, resorted to short cuts. Ever since my fifth year I pretended to be thoroughly acquainted with issues I had no clue about. This streak of con-artistry reached a crescendo in my puberty, when I convinced a whole township (and later, my country, by co-opting the media) that I was a new Einstein. While unable to solve even the most basic mathematical equations, I was regarded by many - including world class physicists - as somewhat of an epiphanous miracle. To sustain this false pretence, I plagiarized liberally. Only 15 years later did an Israeli physicist discover the (Australian) source of my major plagiarized "studies" in advanced physics. Following this encounter with the abyss - the mortal fear of being mortifyingly exposed - I stopped plagiarizing at the age of 23 and has never done so since.

I then tried to experience genius vicariously, by making friends with acknowledged ones and by supporting up and coming intellectuals. I became this bathetic sponsor of the arts and sciences that forever name drops and attributes to himself undue influence over the creative processes and outcomes of others. I created by proxy. The (sad, I guess) irony is that, all this time, I really did have a talent (for writing). But talent was not enough - being short of genius. It is the divine that I sought, not the average. And so, I kept denying my real self in pursuit of an invented one.

As the years progressed, the charms of associating with genius waned and faded. The gap between what I wanted to become and what I have has made me bitter and cantankerous, a repulsive, alien oddity, avoided by all but the most persistent friends and acolytes. I resent being doomed to the quotidian. I rebel against being given to aspirations which have so little in common with my abilities. It is not that I recognize my limitations - I don't. I still wish to believe that had I only applied myself, had I only persevered, had I only found interest - I would have been nothing less of a Mozart or an Einstein or a Freud. It is a lie I tell myself in times of quiet despair when I realize my age and compare it to the utter lack of my accomplishments.

I keep persuading myself that many a great man reached the apex of their creativity at the age of 40, or 50, or 60. That one never knows what of one's work shall be deemed by history to have been genius. I think of Kafka, of Nietzsche, of Benjamin - the heroes of every undiscovered prodigy. But it sounds hollow. Deep inside I know the one ingredient that I miss and that they all shared: an interest in other humans, a first hand experience of being one and the fervent wish to communicate - rather than merely to impress.

Posted by samvak at 12:23 PM CET
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The Anxiety of Boredom
I often find myself worried. I say "find myself" because it is usually unconscious, like a nagging pain, a permanence, like being immersed in a gelatinous liquid, trapped and helpless. Perhaps the phrase I am looking for is the DSM favourite "All-pervasive". Still, it is never diffuse. I am worried about specific people, or possible events, or more or less plausible scenarios. It is just that I seem to constantly conjure up some reason or another to be worried. Positive past experiences have not dissuaded me from this pre-occupation. I seem to believe that the world is a cruelly arbitrary, ominously contrarian, contrivingly cunning and indifferently crushing place. I know it will all end badly and for no good reason. I know that life is too good to be true and too bad to endure. I know that civilization is an ideal and that the deviation from it are what we call "history". I am incurably pessimistic, an ignoramus by choice and incorrigibly blind to evidence to the contrary.

Underneath all this is a Great Anxiety. I fear life and what people do unto each other. I fear my fear and what it does to me. I know I am a participant in a game whose rules I will never know and that my very existence is at stake. I trust no one, I believe in nothing, I know only two certainties: evil exists and life is meaningless. I am convinced that no one cares. I am a pawn without a chessboard with the chess players long departed. In other words: I float.

This existential angst that permeates my every cell is atavistic and irrational. It has no name or likeness. It is like the monsters in every child's bedroom with the lights turned off. But being the rationalizing and intellectualising cerebral narcissist that I am - I must instantly label it, explain it, analyse it and predict it. I must attribute this poisonous cloud that weighs on me from the inside to some external cause. I must set it in a pattern, embed it in a context, transform it into a link in the great chain of my being. Hence, diffuse anxiety become my focused worries. Worries are known and measurable quantities. They have a mover which can be tackled and eliminated. They have a beginning and an end. they are tied to names, to places, faces and to people. Worries are human - anxiety divine. I thus, transform my demons into notation in my diary: check this, do that, apply preventive measures, do not allow, pursue, attack, avoid. The language of human conduct in the face of real and immediate danger is cast as blanket over the underlying abyss that harbours my anxiety.

But such excessive worrying - whose sole intent is to convert irrational anxiety into the mundane and tangible - is the stuff of paranoia. For what is paranoia if not the attribution of inner disintegration to external persecution, the assignment of malevolent agents from the outside to the turmoil inside? The paranoid seeks to alleviate his voiding by irrationally clinging to rationality. Things are so bad, he says, mainly to himself, because I am a victim, because "they" are after me and I am hunted by the juggernaut of state, or by the Freemasons, or by the Jews, or by the neighbourhood librarian. This is the path that leads from the cloud of anxiety, through the lamp posts of worry to the consuming darkness of paranoia.

Paranoia is a defence against anxiety and against aggression. The latter is projected outwards, upon imaginary other, the agents of one's crucifixion.

Anxiety is also a defence against aggressive impulses. Therefore, anxiety and paranoia are sisters, the latter but a focused form of the former. the mentally disordered defend against their own aggressive propensities by either being anxious or by becoming paranoid.

Aggression has numerous faces. One of its favourite disguises is boredom.

Like its relation, depression, it is aggression directed inwards. It threatens to drown the bored in a primordial soup of inaction and energy depletion. It is anhedonic (pleasure depriving) and dysphoric (leads to profound sadness). But it is also threatening, perhaps because it is so reminiscent of death.

I find myself most worried when I am bored. It goes like this: I am aggressive. I channel my aggression and internalise it. I experience my bottled wrath as boredom. I am bored. I feel threatened by it in a vague, mysterious way. Anxiety ensues. I rush to construct an intellectual edifice to accommodate all these primitive emotions and their transubstantiations. I identify reasons, causes, effects and possibilities in the outer world. I build scenarios. I spin narratives. I feel no more anxiety. I know the enemy (or so I think). And now I am worried. Or paranoid.

Posted by samvak at 12:23 PM CET
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