Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
View Profile
« February 2003 »
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
How I Became a Narcissist
Friday, 28 February 2003
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
Thursday, 27 February 2003
Wasted Lives
I think a lot about the desultory waste that is my biography. Ask anyone who shared a life with a narcissist, or knew one and they are likely to sigh: "What a waste". Waste of potential, waste of opportunities, waste of emotions, a wasteland of arid addiction and futile pursuit.

Narcissists are as gifted as they come. The problem is to disentangle their tales of fantastic grandiosity from the reality of their talents and skills.

They always tend either to over-estimate or to devalue their potency. They often emphasize the wrong traits and invest in their mediocre or (dare I say) less than average capacities. Concomitantly, they ignore their real potential, squander their advantage and under-rate their gifts.

The narcissist decides which aspects of his self to nurture and which to neglect. He gravitates towards activities commensurate with his pompous auto-portrait. He suppresses these tendencies and aptitudes in him which don't conform to his inflated view of his uniqueness, brilliance, might, sexual prowess, or standing in society. He cultivates these flairs and predilections which he regards as befitting his overweening self-image and ultimate grandeur.

A slave to this pressing need to preserve a fake and demanding self, I dedicated years to commerce. I projected the spectre of a rich man (I never came close) of great power (I never had) and multitudinous connections throughout the world (mostly shallow and ephemeral). I hated every minute of wheeling and dealing, of cutting throats and second guessing, of the nauseatingly boring repetition that is the essence of this world. But I kept on trudging, unable to forsake the fear and adulation and media attention and frivolous gossip that gave me sustenance and constituted my very self-worth.

It took a catastrophic, Job-like, turn of events to wean me from this self-made dependency. Having emerged from prison, with nothing but the proverbial shirt on my back, I finally was able to be me. I finally decided to partake of both the joys and the successes of writing, my true skill and knack. Thus, I became an author.

But, the narcissist, no matter how self-aware and well-meaning is accursed.

His grandiosity, his fantasies, the compelling, overriding urge to feel unique, invested with some cosmic significance, unprecedentedly bestowed - these thwart the best intentions. These structures of obsession and compulsion, these deposits of insecurity and pain, the stalactites and stalagmites of years of abuse and then abandonment - they all conspire to frustrate the gratification, however circumspect, of the narcissist's true nature.

Consider, yet again, my writing. I am at my most effective when I write "from the heart", about my personal experiences and in athoughtful-reminiscing mode. But, to my mind, such style serves the purpose of showcasing my sparkling intellect and my remarkable brilliance poorly. I need to impress and inspire awe more than I need to communicate with my readers and affect them. I act the academic which my laziness and sense of entitlement and lack of commitment prevented me from being. I am looking, once more, for a short cut.

I am blind to the fact that my prolix and babblative prose inspires more ridicule than awe. I ignore my incomprehensibility and the irritation I provoke with my moribund vocabulary, convoluted syntax and tortured grammar.

I present my half-baked ideas, based on a shaky and fragmented foundation of knowledge haphazardly gleaned, with the certitude of confidence of an authority - or a trickster.

Tis a waste. I have written heart-rending short fiction and powerful poetry.

I have touched the hearts of people. I have made them cry and rage and smile. But I have laid this part of my writing to rest because it does injustice to my grandiose perception of myself. Anyone can write a short story or a poem. Only the few - the unique, the erudite, the brilliant - can comment on the Measurement Problem, analyse Church-Turing machines and use words such as "atrabilious", "sesquipedalian" and "apothegm". I count myself among those few. By doing so, I betray my inner sanctum, my real potential, my gift.

This betrayal and the helpless rage that it provokes in one, if you ask me, is the very essence of narcissism.

Posted by samvak at 3:17 PM CET
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
The Entitlement of Routine
I hate routine. When I find myself doing the same things over and over again, I get depressed. I oversleep, over-eat, over-drink and, in general, engage in addictive, impulsive and compulsive behaviours. This is my way of re-introducing risk and excitement into what I (emotionally) perceive to be a barren life.

The problem is that even the most exciting and varied existence becomes routine after a while. Living in the same country or apartment, meeting the same people, doing essentially the same things (though with changing content)- all "qualify" as stultifying rote.

I feel entitled to more. I feel it is my right - due to my intellectual superiority - to lead a thrilling, rewarding, kaleidoscopic life. I feel entitled to force life itself, or, at least, people around me - to yield to my wishes and needs, supreme among them the need for stimulating variety.

This rejection of habit is part of a larger pattern of aggressive entitlement. I feel that the very existence of a sublime intellect (such as myself) warrants concessions and allowances. Standing in line is a waste of time best spent pursuing knowledge, inventing and creating. I should avail myself of the best medical treatment proffered by the most prominent medical authorities - lest the asset that is I be lost to Mankind. I should not be bothered with proofreading my articles (or even re-reading them) - these lowly jobs best be assigned to the less gifted. The devil is in paying precious attention to details.

Entitlement is sometimes justified in a Picasso or an Einstein. But I am neither. My achievements are grotesquely incommensurate with my overwhelming sense of entitlement. I am but a mediocre and forgettable scribbler who, at the age of 39, is a colossal under-achiever, if anything.

Of course, the feeling of supremacy often serves to mask a cancerous complex of inferiority. Moreover, I infect others with my projected grandiosity and their feedback constitutes the edifice upon which I construct my self esteem. I regulate my sense of self worth by rigidly insisting that I am above the madding crowd while deriving my narcissistic supply from this very thus despised source.

But there is a second angle to this abhorrence of the predictable. As a narcissist, I employ a host of Emotional Involvement Prevention Mechanisms (EIPM). Despising routine and avoiding it is one of these mechanisms. Their function is to prevent me from getting emotionally involved and, subsequently, hurt. Their application results in an "approach-avoidance repetition complex". The narcissist, fearing and loathing intimacy, stability and security - yet craving them - approaches and then avoids significant others or important tasks in a rapid succession of apparently inconsistent and disconnected behaviours.

Here is a partial (and truncated) list of other EIPMs. In this text - "objects" means "others".

From "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited":

"Emotional Involvement Preventive Measures

Personality and Conduct

Lack of enthusiasm, anhedonia, and constant boredom.
A wish to "vary", to "be free", to hop from one subject matter or object to another.
Laziness, constantly present fatigue.
Dysphoria to the point of depression - leads to reclusiveness, detachment, low energies.
Repression of the affect and uniform emotional tint.
Self-hatred disables capacity to love or to develop emotional involvement.
Externalised transformations of aggression:
Envy, rage, cynicism, vulgar honesty
(all lead to dis-intimization and distancing and to pathological emotional and sexual communication)...
Narcissistic compensatory and defence mechanisms: ...
Grandiosity and grandiose fantasies
(Feelings of) uniqueness
Lack of empathy, or the existence of functional empathy, or empathy by proxy
Demand for adoration and adulation
A feeling that he deserves everything ("entitlement")
Exploitation of objects
Objectification/symbolization (abstraction) and
Fictionalisation of objects
Manipulative behaviours
(Using personal charm, ability to psychologically penetrate the object, ruthlessness, and knowledge and information regarding the object obtained, largely, by interacting with the object)
Intellectualisation through generalization, differentiation and categorization of objects.
Feelings of omnipotence and omniscience.
Perfectionism and performance anxiety (repressed).
These mechanisms lead to emotional substitution (adulation and adoration instead of love),
to the distancing and repulsion of objects,
to dis-intimization (not possible to interact with the "real" Narcissist).
The results:
Narcissistic vulnerability to narcissistic injury
(More bearable than emotional vulnerability and can be more easily recovered from)
"Becoming a child" and infantilism
(The narcissist's inner dialogue: No one will hurt me, I am a child and I am loved without any reservations, judgement, or interests)
Such expectations for unconditional love and acceptance do not exist among adults and they constitute a barrier to mature, adult relationships.
Intensive denial of reality
(perceived by others as innocence, naivete, or pseudo-stupidity).
Constant lack of confidence concerning matters not under full control leads to hostility towards objects and towards emotions.
Compulsive behaviours intended to neutralize a high level of anxiety and compulsive seeking of love substitutes (money, prestige, power)...

Instincts and Drives

Sexual abstinence, low frequency of sexual activity lead to less emotional involvement.
Frustration of emotional objects through sex avoidance encourages abandonment by the object.
Sexual dis-intimization by preferring autoerotic, anonymous sex with immature or incompatible objects
(who do not represent an emotional threat or demands).
Sporadic sex with long intervals and drastic alterations of sexual behaviour patterns.
Dissociation of pleasure centres:
Pleasure avoidance (unless "for and on behalf" of the object).
Refraining from child rearing or family formation.
Using the object as an "alibi" - extreme marital and monogamous faithfulness, to the point of ignoring all other objects leads to object inertia.
This mechanism defends the Narcissist from the need to make contact with other objects.
Sexual frigidity with significant other and sexual abstinence with others.

Object Relations

Manipulative attitudes, which in conjunction with feelings of omnipotence and omniscience, create a mystique of immunity.
Partial reality test.
Social friction leads to social sanctions (up to imprisonment).
Refraining from intimacy.
Absence of emotional investment.
Reclusive life, avoiding neighbours, family (both nuclear and extended), spouse and friends.
The narcissist is often a schizoid (see FAQ67)
Active misogyny with sadistic and anti-social elements.
Narcissistic dependence serves as substitute for emotional involvement.
Immature emotional dependence and habit
Object interchangeability
(dependence upon AN object - not upon THE object)...
Limitation of contacts with objects to material and "objective" transactions.
The Narcissist prefers fear, adulation, admiration and
Narcissistic accumulation to love.
To the narcissist, objects have no autonomous existence except as PNSS and
SNSS (=primary and secondary sources of narcissistic supply).
Knowledge and intelligence serve as control mechanisms and extractors of adulation and attention (=Narcissistic Supply).
The Object is used to recreate early life conflicts:
The Narcissist is bad and asks to be punished anew and to have confirmation that people are angry at him.
The object is kept emotionally distant through deterrence and is constantly tested by the Narcissist who reveals his negative sides to the object.
The aim of negative, off putting behaviours is to check whether the Narcissist's uniqueness will override and offset them in the mind of the object.
The object experiences emotional absence, repulsion, deterrence, and insecurity.
It is thus encouraged not to develop emotional involvement with the Narcissist
(emotional involvement requires a positive emotional feedback).
The erratic and demanding relationship with the Narcissist is experienced as a burden.
It is punctuated by a series of "eruptions" followed by relief.
The Narcissist is imposing, intrusive, compulsive, and tyrannical.
Reality is interpreted cognitively so that negative aspects - real and imagined - of the object will be highlighted.
This preserves distance, fosters uncertainty, prevents emotional involvement and activates Narcissistic mechanisms (such as grandiosity) which, in turn, increase the repulsion and the aversion of the partner.
Sample sentences of narcissists:
"The object is not as (some trait) as the Narcissist is",
"She is boring",
"She is dangerous because she is.",
"A stable relationship cannot be formed because."
Another interpretation offered by the narcissist:
The Narcissist chose the object because of an error/circumstances/pathology/loss of control/immaturity/partial or false information, etc.

Functioning and Performance

A grandiosity shift:
A preference to be emotionally invested in grandiose professional fantasies in which the Narcissist does not have to face a practical, professionally rigorous and constant path.
The Narcissist avoids success in order to avoid emotional involvement and investment.
He shuns a success which obliges him to invest and to identify himself with some goal and emphasizes areas of activity in which he is unlikely to succeed.
The Narcissistic ignores the future and does not plan.
Thus he is never emotionally committed.
The Narcissist invests the necessary minimum in his job (emotionally).
He is not thorough and under-performs, his work is shoddy and defective or partial.
He evades responsibility and tends to pass it on to others while exercising little control.
His decision making processes are ossified and rigid
(He presents himself as a man of "principles" - usually his whimsical moods).
The Narcissist reacts very slowly to a changing environment (change is painful).
He is a pessimist, knows that he will lose his job/business - so, he is constantly engaged in seeking alternatives and constructing plausible alibis.
This yields a feeling of temporariness, which prevents engagement, involvement, commitment, dedication, identification and emotional hurt in case of change or failure.
The alternative to a spouse:
Solitary life (with vigorous emphasis on PNSS) or another partner.
This frequent change of vocations prevents the Narcissist from having a clear career path and annuls the need to persevere.
All the initiatives adopted by a Narcissist are egocentric, sporadic and discrete.
They focus on an aspect of the Narcissist, are randomly distributed in space and in time, and do not form a thematic or other continuum - they are not goal or objective oriented).
Sometimes, as a substitute, the Narcissist engages in performance shifting:
The construction of imaginary, invented goals with no correlation with the real world - and their attainment.
To avoid facing performance tests and to maintain grandiosity and uniqueness the Narcissist refrains from acquiring skills and training (driving licence, technical skills, any systematic - academic or non-academic - knowledge).
The Child in the narcissist is reaffirmed this way - because these are adult activities and attributes that are avoided.
The gap between the image projected by the Narcissist (charisma, unusual knowledge, grandiosity, fantasies) and his actual achievements - create in him permanent feelings that he is a crook, a hustler, living an unreal life in a movie-like setting.
This gives rise to ominous sensations of threat and, concurrently, to compensating feelings of immunity.
The Narcissist is forced to become a manipulator.

Locations and Environment

A prevailing feeling of not belonging and of detachment.
Bodily discomfiture
(the body feels as depersonalised, alien and a nuisance, its needs are totally ignored, its signals re-routed and re-interpreted, its maintenance neglected)
Distance from the political communities which the Narcissist inhabits (neighbourhood, city, state), his religion, his ethnic background, his friends.
He often adopts the stance of the "scientific observer".
This is Narcissistic Detachment - the feeling the Narcissist has that he is a director or an actor in a movie about his life.
The Narcissist avoids "emotional handles": photographs, music identified with a certain period in his life, places, people, mementoes and emotional situations.
The Narcissist lives on borrowed time in a borrowed life.
Every place and time period are but transitory (sufficient but not necessary) and lead to the next, unfamiliar environment.
The Narcissist feels that the end is near.
He lives in rented apartments, is an illegal immigrant in many countries, works without the necessary permits and licenses, is fully mobile on a short notice, does not buy real estate or immovables.
He travels light and he likes to travel. He is peripatetic and itinerant.
The Narcissist cultivates feelings of incompatibility with his surroundings.
He considers himself superior to others and keeps criticizing people, institutions and situations.
The above behaviour patterns constitute a denial of reality.
The Narcissist defines a rigid, impenetrable, personal territory and is physically revolted when it is breached."

Posted by samvak at 3:16 PM CET
Post Comment | Permalink
Grandiosity Deconstructed
Sometimes I find myself bemused (though rarely amused) by my own grandiosity. Not by my fantasies - they are common to many "normal people".

It is healthy to daydream and fantasize. It is the antechamber of life and its circumstances. It is a process of preparing for eventualities,embellished and decorated. No, I am talking about feeling grandiose.

This feeling has four components.


I believe that I will live forever. "Believe" in this context is a weak word. I know. It is a cellular certainty, almost biological, it flows with my blood and permeates every niche of my being. I can do anything I choose to do and excel in it. What I do, what I excel at, what I achieve depends only on my volition. There is no other determinant. Hence my rage when confronted with disagreement or opposition - not only because of the audacity of my, evidently inferior, adversary. But because it threatens my world view, it endangers my feeling of omnipotence. I am fatuously daring, adventurous, experimentative and curious precisely due to this hidden assumption of "can-do". I am genuinely surprised and devastated when I fail, when the Universe does not arrange itself, magically, to accommodate my unlimited powers, when it (and people in it) does not comply with my whims and wishes. I often deny such discrepancies, delete them from my memory. As a result, my life is remembered as a patchy quilt of unrelated events.


Until very recently I pretended to know everything - I mean EVERYTHING, in every field of human knowledge and endeavour. I lied and invented to avoid proof of my ignorance. I pretended to know and resorted to numerous subterfuges to support my God-like omniscience (reference books hidden in my clothes, frequent visits to the restroom, cryptic notation or sudden illness, if all else failed). Where my knowledge failed me - I feigned authority, faked superiority, quoted from non-existent sources, embedded threads of truth in a canvass of falsehoods. I transformed myself into an artist of intellectual prestidigitation. As I advanced in age, this invidious quality has receded, or, rather, metamorphosed. I now claim more confined expertise. I am not ashamed to admit my ignorance and need to learn outside the fields of my self-proclaimed expertise. But this "improvement" is merely optical. Within my "territory", I am still as fiercely defensive and possessive as I have ever been. And I am still an avowed autodidact, unwilling to subject my knowledge and insights to peer scrutiny, or, for this matter, to any scrutiny. I keep re-inventing myself, adding new fields of knowledge as I go: finance, economics, psychology, philosophy, physics, politics... This crawling intellectual annexation is a round about way of reverting to my old image as the erudite "Renaissance Man".


Even I - the master of self-deception - cannot pretend that I am everywhere at once in the PHYSICAL sense. Instead, I feel that I am the centre and the axis of my Universe, that all things and happenstances revolve around me and that disintegration would ensue if I were to disappear or to lose interest in someone or in something. I am convinced, for instance, that I am the main, if not the only, topic of discussion in my absence. I am often surprised and offended to learn that I was not even mentioned. When invited to a meeting with many participants, I assume the position of the sage, the guru, or the teacher / guide whose words survive his physical presence. My books, articles and web sites are extensions of my presence and, in this restricted sense, I do seem to exist everywhere. In other words, I "stamp" my environment. I "leave my mark" upon it. I "stigmatise" it.


There is another "omni" component in grandiosity. The narcissist is an omnivore. It devours and digests experiences and people, sights and smells, bodies and words, books and films, sounds and achievements, his work and his leisure, his pleasure and his possessions. The Narcissist is incapable of ENJOYING anything because he is in constant pursuit of the twin attainments of perfection and completeness. Classic narcissists interact with the world as predators would with their prey. They want to do it all, own it all, be everywhere, experience everything. They cannot delay gratification. They do not accept "no" for an answer. And they settle for nothing less than the ideal, the sublime, the perfect, the all-inclusive, the all-encompassing, the engulfing, the all-pervasive, the most beautiful, the cleverest, the richest. The narcissist is shattered by discovering that a collection he possesses is incomplete, that his colleague's wife is more glamorous, that his son is better than he in math, that his neighbour has a new, impressive car, that his roommate got promoted, that the "love of his life" signed a recording contract. It is not plain old jealousy, not even pathological envy (though it is definitely a part of the psychological make-up of the narcissist). It is the discovery that the narcissist is NOT perfect, or ideal, or complete - that does him in.

Posted by samvak at 3:15 PM CET
Post Comment | Permalink

Newer | Latest | Older