Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited~ Great Site on Narcissisism

Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited. All about narcissism, the narcissist and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) from the internet’s leading authority on narcissism, Dr. Sam Vaknin.

The narcissist is an actor in a monodrama, yet forced to remain behind the scenes. The scenes take center stage, instead.

The narcissist does not cater at all to his own needs. Contrary to his reputation, the narcissist does not “love” himself in any true sense of this loaded word.

He feeds off other people who hurl back at him an image that he projects to them. This is their sole function in his world: to reflect, to admire, to applaud, to detest – in a word, to assure him that he exists. Otherwise, they have no right to tax his time, energy, or emotions – so he feels.

According to the legend of Narcissus, this Greek boy fell in love with his own reflection in a pond. Presumably, this amply sums up the nature of his namesakes: narcissists. The mythological Narcissus rejected the advances of the nymph Echo and was punished by Nemesis, consigned to pine away as he fell in love with his own reflection – exactly as Echo had pined away for him. How apt. Narcissists are punished by echoes and reflections of their problematic personalities up to this very day.

How do I know so much about narcissism? I am a narcissist and, of course, I’ve done a lot of research on the subject.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I’m a Ph.D. My book, Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited (excerpts here), offers a detailed, first-hand account of what it is like to have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). It offers new insights and an organized methodological framework using a new psychodynamic language.

Inside my site,  and through my book, I survey the main body of research about narcissism. I warn you though, Narcissism is a slippery subject: only with great difficulty can it be captured with words. A new vocabulary had to be invented to account for the myriad of facets and appearances – false and true – of this disease.


About sweetcardomom

I am a mother, grandmother and advocate for those suffering from the torment of emotional abuse regardless of gender, or who the abuser is. Emotional abuse can come from anyone around you whether personal or professional. Parents, spouses, lovers, teachers, siblings, co-workers, bosses, and even your therapist. I am a survivor and have grown a lot during the past few months. The struggle continues and so do I. Hoping to make a difference "One Person At A Time" ~ sweetcardomom
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3 Responses to Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited~ Great Site on Narcissisism

  1. This is a really great site. Please visit and check out the excerpts from his book ” Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited” Sam’s site is chocked full of great information on Narcissist’s that we all need to know.

    Excerpts from the Archives of the
    Narcissism List
    The INDEX Be sure to check out the chapter excerpts listed on this page.

    Thank you Dr. Sam Vaknin for your work and dedication to your work on Narcissism!

  2. Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited
    Excerpts from the Archives
    of the
    Narcissism List

    Part 1 cont.

    13. Self-Defeating and Self-Destructive Behaviours

    These behaviors can be grouped by the following motivations:

    (1) The Self-Punishing, Guilt-Purging Behaviors

    These are intended to inflict punishment upon the individual and thus to provide him with relief.

    This is very reminiscent of compulsive-ritualistic behavior. The person harbors guilt. It could be an “ancient” guilt, “sexual” guilt (Freud), “social” guilt – but guilt it is. The person internalized and introjected voices of meaningful others that consistently and convincingly and from positions of authority informed him that he is no good, guilty, deserving of punishment or retaliation, corrupt. His life is thus transformed into an on-going trial. The constancy of this trial, the never adjourning tribunal IS the punishment. It is Kafka’s “trial”: meaningless, undecipherable, never-ending, without a verdict, subject to mysterious laws, and run by arbitrary judges.

    (2) The Extracting Behaviors

    People with PDs are very afraid of real, mature, intimacy. Intimacy is formed not only within a couple, but in a workplace, in a neighbourhood, with friends, while working in a team on a project. Intimacy is another word for emotional involvement which is the result of interactions in constant and predictable (safe) proximity. PDs interpret intimacy (not DEPENDENCE – but intimacy) as strangulation, the snuffing of freedom, death in installments. They are terrorized by it. Their self destructive and self defeating acts are intended to dismantle the very foundation of a successful relationship, a career, a project, a friendship. NPDs, for instance, feel elated and relieved after they unshackle these “chains”. They feel they broke through a siege, that are liberated and free at last.

    (3) The Default Behaviors

    We are all afraid of new situations, new possibilities, new challenges, new circumstances, and new demands. Being healthy, being successful, getting married, becoming a mother, or a boss – are abrupt breaks with the past. Some self defeating behaviors are intended to preserve the past, to restore it, to protect it from the winds of change, to decimate the draught through the open window of opportunity.

    14. Narcissism not Curable?

    Narcissism is a structure of the WHOLE personality. It is ALL-pervasive. It is akin to being an alcoholic but MUCH more so. Alcoholism is an impulsive behavior. Narcissists have these reckless behaviours plus hundreds of other problems. Wife beating is a behavior. Narcissists have dozens of impulsive behaviors, some of them uncontrollable (like their rage or behaviors which are the results of their grandiosity). On the other hand to be a (non kleptomanic) thief is to have a vocation – how can one compare something as superficial as a vocation to the structure of one’s personality? You CAN compare narcissism to depression or to other disorders. But not to traits or attributes that we can change at will.

    My narcissism is no more “curable” than the entirety of my personality is disposable. I AM a narcissist. Narcissism is the colour of my skin, not my choice of subjects at the university.

    15. Narcissism and Culture

    Karen Horney was amongst the first to point out that NPD is defined within a cultural context. While I know of NO culture which condones NPD – I can CONCEIVE of one. But, I think it should not matter to us. We are living in an increasingly Westernized world, we are Westerners, our problems are here and now and we label them NPD. That one culture’s problem can be another’s assets is the staff moral and cultural relativism is made of.

    What matters is CONFORMITY to norms. We define norms STATISTICALLY. We have no other choice. There is too much disparity of opinion regarding culture, the “right” norms, morality, and “proper” behavior. So, we sample the population, determine what is statistically normal (not DESIRABLE – but normal) and compare behavior patterns to these statistical benchmarks. If someone deviates from our norms – then he is a deviant, a patient, mentally sick, and so on.

    Funny that psychology started differently: by holding forth a model of the “healthy” person and comparing it to PATIENTS. In other words: psychologists defined people as patients simply because they came to see them with a complaint and did not fit an idealized model of the healthy, functional person.

    Today, the approach is culturally-sensitive. A person needs help if he does not feel well AFTER ADJUSTING for his cultural and societal idiosyncracies.

    16. The Vocations of Narcissists


    I think we are likely (or liable .. ) to find a concentration of narcissists in the media, in show business, in politics, and in academe. Did you notice how these people – literally and physically – wither away when out of touch with their sources of narcissistic supply, with their audience?

    “Narcissistic Supply” – adulation, admiration, approval, applause, attention, fame, celebrity, notoriety … in short: feedback – positive OR negative – from people. The narcissist thus sees his “False Self” – the image that he projects to others – reflected. This way he feels assured of his very own existence.

    17. Lazy Narcissists

    Narcissists are lazy because they feel entitled without having commensurate achievements. To be considerate is to invest effort, time, attention, and other resources. Why do that if, anyhow, one is entitled – and expects to cash in on this entitlement? People are sources of narcissistic supply. Narcissists feel so worthy that they pose a “take me as I am or leave me altogether” choice to the world.

    Extra effort is considered by the narcissist to be superfluous. I agree that the best way to treat a narcissist is to out-narcissize him/her. Treat it like it treats you and it will vanish in a puff of smoke quicker than a witch. Narcissists are not interested – nor are they sufficiently resilient – to face opposition, disagreement, friction, conflict, in short: negative narcissistic supplies.

  3. Excerpts from the Archives
    of the
    Narcissism List

    Part 2 cont.

    6. Narcissists Have Tables of Emotional Resonance

    Narcissists are excellent at imitating emotions. They maintain (sometimes consciously) “resonance tables” in their minds. They monitor the reactions of others.

    They see which behavior, gesture, mannerism, phrase, or expression evoke, provoke, and elicit which kind of empathic reaction from their conversant or counter party. They map these correlations and store them. Then they download them in the right circumstances to obtain maximum impact and manipulative effect. The whole process is highly “computerized” and has NO emotional correlate, no INNER resonance. The Narcissist uses procedures: this is what I should say now, this is how I must behave, this should be the expression on my face, this should be the pressure of this handshake to foster this reaction. Narcissists are capable of sentimentality – but not of (experiencing) emotions.

    7. Contradictory Behaviors of Narcissists

    To need to be loved is not synonymous to loving. The narcissist is looking for power, adulation, attention, affirmation, etc. This is called “narcissistic supply”. The narcissist experiences this as “love”. But he is incapable of giving love back, of loving. And because he is afraid of being abandoned he initiates the abandonment. It gives him a feeling that the situation is under control, that he is the one who is doing the abandoning and that, therefore, it does not “qualify” as abandonment. He brings about his own abandonment to “get it over with” and to be able to say: “I made her leave me and good riddance. Had I not acted the way I did she would have stayed on.”

    A relationship is a contract. I provide intelligence, money, insight, fun, good company, status and so on. I expect narcissistic supply in return. The contract runs its natural course until it is terminated, as all business contracts do.

    8. From “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

    VERY free translation from the French:

    “The Alchemist took in his hands one book which was brought by someone from the convoy. The book was not bound but anyway he could find the author’s name: Oscar Wilde. Leafing through the pages he came across a story about Narcissus.
    The Alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, the beautiful youth who used to daily observe his own beauty reflected in the waters of a lake. He was so blinded by his reflection that one day he fell into the lake and drowned. Where he drowned, a flower sprouted which was named after him, a narcissus. But the Oscar Wilde story did not end this way.
    According to him, after the death of Narcissus, the forest deities, the Oreads (The author is mistaken. The Oreads were mountain deities – SV), came ashore this sweet water lake and found it transformed into an urn filled with bitter tears.
    – Why are you crying? Asked the Oreades.
    – I am crying for Narcissus – the lake answered.
    – That doesn’t surprise us at all, they said. We often chased him in these woods in vain. Only you could observe his beauty closely.
    – Was Narcissus beautiful? Asked the lake.
    – And who else can know this better than you? Answered the Oreads, amazed. Didn’t he bend over your waters every day!
    The lake remained speechless for a moment. After that it said:
    – I am crying for Narcissus but I have never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I am crying for him because every time he bent over my waters, I could have seen deep in the bottom of his eyes the reflection of my own beauty.
    This is truly a nice story, the Alchemist said.”

    9. Narcissism’s Gifts to Humanity

    Narcissism is an awesomely powerful drive, force, compulsion. I know that when I get the urge to impress someone there is VERY little I won’t do. It gets you places, though. Narcissism may be responsible for many scientific, literary, artistic and political achievements.

    A wise person, whom I hold in high respect (not idealizing, just respecting) once made two pertinent (I think) observations:

    1. That perhaps narcissism is bad for the individual but good for the community.

    2. That acts of self destruction may actually be acts of liberation from unwanted situations in life.

    10. Narcissists and Manipulation


    Narcissists are adept at manipulating what I call their Narcissistic Pathological Space (country, family, friends, colleagues, workplace). They are excellent imitators (Zelig-like types, chameleons). In the workplace they will project work ethic and the sharing of basic goals in a team work. To their spouse they will reflect “love”, to their colleagues – collaboration and mutual respect. Scratch the surface though and out springs the ever-youthful narcissist: indignant, rageful, vengeful, dangerous, painful.

    11. Narcissist Employer

    To a narcissist-employer, his “staff” are secondary sources of narcissistic supply. Their role is to accumulate the supply (in humanspeak, remember events that support the grandiose self-image of the narcissist) and to regulate the narcissistic supply of the narcissist during dry spells (simply put, to adulate, adore, admire, agree, provide attention and approval, and so on, in other words, serve as an audience). The staff (or should I say “stuff”?) is supposed to remain passive. The narcissist is not interested in anything but the simplest function of mirroring. When the mirror acquires a personality and a life of its own, the narcissist is incensed. He may even fire the employee (an act which will help the narcissist recover his sense of omnipotence).

    An employee’s presumption to be his employer’s equal (friendship is possible only among equals) narcissistically injures the narcissist. The narcissist is willing to accept the employee as an underling, whose very position as such serves to support his grandiose fantasies. But the grandiosity rests on such fragile foundations, that any hint of equality, disagreement, or of his needs (for a friend, for instance) threatens the narcissist profoundly. The narcissist is exceedingly insecure. It is easy to destabilize his impromptu “personality”. His reactions are merely in self-defense.

    Classic narcissistic behavior is when idealization followed by devaluation. The devaluating attitude develops as a result of disagreements OR simply because time has eroded the employee’s capacity to serve as a FRESH source of supply.

    In time, the employee is taken for granted by the narcissistic employer, and becomes uninspiring as a source of adulation, admiration and attention. The narcissist needs new thrills and stimuli.

    The narcissist is notorious for his low threshold of resistance to boredom. He exhibits impulsive behaviors and has a chaotic biography precisely because of his need to introduce uncertainty and risk to what he regards as “stagnation” or “slow death” (=routine). Even something as innocuous as asking for office supplies constitutes a reminder of this deflating, hated, routine.

    Narcissists do many unnecessary, wrong and even dangerous things in pursuit of the stabilization of their inflated self-image.

    Narcissists feel suffocated by intimacy, or by the constant reminders of the REAL, nitty-gritty, world. It reduces them, makes them realize the “grandiosity gap” (between their self image and reality). It is treated as a threat to the precarious balance of their personality structures (mostly “false” and invented).

    Narcissists will forever shift the blame, pass the buck, and engage in cognitive dissonance. They “pathologize” the other, foster feelings of guilt and shame in the other, demean, debase and humiliate the other, in order to preserve their sense of grandiosity.

    Narcissists are pathological liars. They think nothing of it because their very self is FALSE, an invention.

    Here are a few useful guidelines:

    1. Never disagree with your narcissist-employer or contradict him.

    2. Never offer him any intimacy.

    3. Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements, or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on).

    4. Never remind him of life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity (these are the BEST art materials ANY workplace is going to have, we get them EXCLUSIVELY, etc., etc.).

    5. Do not make any comment which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self image, omnipotence, judgment, omniscience, diagnostic capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence. Bad sentences start with: “I think you overlooked … made a mistake here … you don’t know … do you know … you were not here yesterday so … you cannot … you should …(perceived as rude imposition, narcissists react very badly to restrictions placed on their omnipotent freedom) … I (never mention the fact that you are a separate, independent entity. Narcissists regard others as extensions of their selves, their internalization processes were screwed up in their formative years and they did not differentiate objects properly)…”.

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