Chapter 2, The Soul of a Narcissist, The State of the Art

Uniqueness and Intimacy

Chapter 2

Uniqueness and intimacy are strong rivals.

Intimacy implies a certain acquaintance of one's partner with privileged information. Yet, it is exactly such partially or wholly withheld information that buttresses one's sense of superiority, uniqueness, and mystery which, inevitably, vanishes with disclosure and intimacy.

Additionally, intimacy is a common and universal pursuit. It does not confer uniqueness on its seeker.

When you get to know people intimately, they all seem unique to you. Personal idiosyncrasies surface with intimate acquaintance. Intimacy makes unique beings out of us all. It, therefore, negates the self-perceived uniqueness of the truly and exclusively unique - the narcissist.

Finally, the very process of getting intimate creates (false) sensations of uniqueness. Two people getting to intimately know each other, are made unique to one another.

These traits of intimacy negate the narcissist's notion of uniqueness. Intimacy may help distinguish us to our loved ones - but it also makes us common and indistinguishable to all others. Put crassly: if everyone is distinct, then no one is unique. Widespread acts or behaviours are anathema to uniqueness. Intimacy eliminates information asymmetries, obviates superiority and demystifies.

The narcissist does his damnedest to avoid intimacy. He constantly lies about every aspect of his life: his self, his history, his vocations and avocations, and his emotions. This false data guarantee his informative lead, asymmetry, or "advantage" in his relationships. It fosters disintimisation. It casts a pall of cover up, separateness, mystery over the narcissist's affairs.

The narcissist lies even in therapy. He obscures the truth by using "psycho-babble", or professional lingo. It makes him feel that he "belongs", that he is a "Renaissance man". By demonstrating his control of several professional jargons he almost proves (to himself) that he is superhuman. In therapy, this has the effect of "objectifying" and emotional detachment.

The narcissist's behaviour is experienced by his mate as frustrating and growth-cramping. To live with him is akin to living with an emotionally-absent non-entity, or with an "alien", a form of "artificial intelligence". The partners of the narcissist often complain of overwhelming feelings of imprisonment and punishment.

The psychological source of this kind of behaviour could well involve transference. Most narcissists fall prey to unresolved conflicts with their Primary Objects (parents or caregivers), especially with the parent of the opposite sex. The development of the narcissist's intimacy skills is hindered at an early stage. Punishing and frustrating the partner or spouse is a way of getting back at the abusive parent. It is a way of avoiding the narcissistic injury brought on by inevitable abandonment.

The narcissist, it seems, is still the hurt child. His attitude serves a paramount need: not to be hurt again. The narcissist anticipates his abandonment and, by trying to avoid it, he precipitates it. Maybe he does it to demonstrate that - having been the cause of his own abandonment - he is in sole and absolute control of his own relationships.

To be in control - this unconquerable drive - is a direct reaction to having been abandoned, ignored, neglected, avoided, smothered, or abused at an early stage in life. "Never again" - vows the narcissist - "If anyone will do the leaving, it will be me."

The narcissist is devoid of empathy and incapable of intimacy with others as well as with himself. To him, lying is a second nature. A False Self takes over. The narcissist begins to believe his own lies. He makes himself to be what he wants to be and not what he really is.

To the narcissist, life is a jumbled amalgam of "cold" facts: events, difficulties, negative externalities, and predictions and projections. He prefers this "objective and quantifiable" mode of relating to the world to the much-disdained "touchy-feely" alternative. The narcissist is so afraid of the cesspool of negative emotions inside him that he would rather deny them and thus refrain from knowing himself.

The narcissist is predisposed to maintaining asymmetric relationships, where he both preserves and exhibits his superiority. Even with his mate or spouse, he is forever striving to be the Guru, the Lecturer, the Teacher (even the Mystic), the Psychologist, the Experienced Elder.

The narcissist never talks - he lectures. He never moves - he poses. He is patronising, condescending, forgiving, posturing, or teaching. This is the more benign form of narcissism. In its more malignant variants, the narcissist is hectoring, humiliating, sadistic, impatient, and full of rage and indignation. He is always critical and torments all around him with endless, bitter cynicism and with displays of disgust and repulsion.

There is no way out of the narcissistic catch: the narcissist despises the submissive and fears the independent, the strong (who constitute a threat) and the weak (who are, by definition, despicable).

Asked to explain his lack of ability to make contact in a true sense of the word, the narcissist comes up with a host of superbly crafted explanations. These are bound to include some "objective" difficulties, which have to do with the narcissist's traits, his history and the characteristics of his environment (both human and non-human).


The narcissist is the first to admit the difficulties experienced by others in trying to adapt or relate to him. To his mind, these difficulties make him unique and explain away the gap between his grandiose theories about himself - and the grey, shabby pattern that is his life (the Grandiosity Gap). The narcissist has no doubt who should adapt to whom: the world should adjust itself to the narcissist's superior standards and requirements (and, thus, incidentally, transform itself into a better place).

Inevitably, the sexuality of the narcissist is as disturbed as his emotional landscape.

We distinguish three types of Sexual Communicators (and hence, the same number of modes of sexual communications):

    1. The Emotional-Sexual Communicator - is, first, attracted sexually to his potential mate.
      He then proceeds to examine how compatible they are and only then does he fall in love and have sexual intercourse.
      He forms a relationship that is based on a perception of the other as a whole, as an amalgam of attributes and traits, good and bad.
      His relationships last reasonably long and they disintegrate as incremental changes in the psychological makeup of the two parties encroach upon their mutual appreciation and create emotional deficiencies and hunger which can be satisfied only by resorting to new partners.
    2. The Transactional Sexual Communicator - first examines whether he and the prospective mate are mutually compatible.
      If he finds compatibility, he proceeds to test the mate sexually and then forms habits, which, put together, present a fair semblance of love, though a dispassionate one.
      He forms relationships with people he judges to be reliable partners and good friends. Only a modicum of desire and passion is added to this brew - but its mettle is, usually, very strong and relationships formed on these bases are the longest.
  1. The Purely Sexual Communicator - is first, attracted sexually to his potential mate.
    He then proceeds to sexually explore and test the counterparty.
    This interaction leads to the development of an emotional correlate, partly the result of a forming habit.
    This communicator has the shortest, most disastrous relationships. He treats his mate as he would an object or a function. His problem is a saturation of experiences.
    As any addict does, he increases the dose (of sexual encounters) as he proceeds and this tends to severely destabilise his relationships.

Summary Table: Types of Communicators

Type of Communicator /


Purely Sexual



Strength of relationship

alternation, strong motivation, low stimulus threshold

emotion decays. New, strong, stimulus required

rare compatibility ensures negative results of severance of relationship

Main plane and means of examination

looks, scents, colours, voice, sex

interaction, introspection and observation

preferences, opinions, sex, future plans, conversations





Compromise zones


(fragility of relationships)


(equilibrium between emotion and compatibility upstaged during decay of relationship)


(sexual compromises do not affect compatibility and emotions)

Control, regulation and examination axes


(2 human bodies, sexual technique)


(bodily contact - another way to express emotions)


Decay pattern

Interest wanes when alternative found

Emotional predictability, ennui, decay of interest, alternative found

Change in a determining parameter of member of the couple

Plane of interaction

Conscious, bodily parameters, signal communication

Near conscious and unconscious, mixed (bodily and verbal) parameters, mixed (signal and verbal) communication

Conscious, verbal parameters, verbal communication

Types of communicators

Primary: Sexual

Secondary: Emotional

Primary: Emotional

Secondary: Sexual or Transactional (rare)

Primary: Transactional

Secondary: Sexual or Emotional (rare)


Notes to the Table:

The narcissist is almost always the Purely Sexual Communicator. This, obviously, is a gross over-simplification. Still, it provides insights into the mating mechanism of the narcissist.

The narcissist's is usually infantile, either because of a fixation (pre-genital or genital) or due to an unresolved Oedipal Conflict. The narcissist tends to separate the sexual from the emotional. He can have a lot of great sex as long as it is devoid of emotional content.

The narcissist's sexual life is likely to be highly irregular or even abnormal. He sometimes leads an asexual life with a partner who is merely a platonic "friend". This is the result of what I call "approach avoidance infantilism".

There are grounds to believe that many narcissists are latent homosexuals. Conversely, there are grounds to believe that many homosexuals are repressed or outright pathological narcissists. At the extreme, homosexuality may be a private case of (somatic) narcissism. The homosexual makes love to himself and loves himself in the form of a same-gender object.

The narcissist treats others as objects. His "meaningful" other performs ego substitution functions for the narcissist. This is not love. Indeed, the narcissist is incapable of loving anyone, especially not himself.

In his relationships, the narcissist is hard-pressed to maintain both continuity and availability. He promptly develops acutely felt saturation points (both sexual and emotional). He feels shackled and trapped and escapes, either physically or by becoming emotionally and sexually absent. Thus, one way or the other, he is never there for his significant other.

Moreover, he prefers sex with objects or object representations. Some narcissists prefer masturbation (objectifying the body and reducing it to a penis), group sex, fetish sex, paraphilias, or paedophilia to normal sex.

The narcissist treats his mate as a sex object, or a sex slave. Often a verbal, or emotional, or physical abuser, he tends to mistreat his partner sexually as well.

This separation of the emotional from the sexual makes it difficult for the narcissist to have sex with people that he believes that he loves (though he never really does love). He is terrified and repelled by the idea that he has to objectify the subject of his emotions. He separates his sexual objects from his emotional partners - they can never be the same people.

The narcissist is thus conditioned to deny his nature (as a Purely Sexual Communicator) and a cycle of frustration-aggression is set in motion.

Narcissists brought up by conservative parents, who castigated sex as dirty and forbidden, adopt the ways of the Transactional Communicator. They tend to look for someone "stable, to set up a home with". But this negates their true, repressed, nature.

True partnership, a veritable, equitable transaction, does not allow for the objectification of the partner. To succeed in a partnership, the two partners must share an insightful and multidimensional view of each other: strengths and weaknesses, fears and hopes, joy and sadness, needs and choices. Of this the narcissist is incapable.

So, he feels inadequate, frustrated, and, consequently, fearful that he might be abandoned. He transforms this internal turmoil into deep-seated aggression. Once in a while the conflict reaches critical levels and the narcissist has fits of rage, emotionally deprives the partner, or humiliates her/him. Acts of violence - verbal or physical - are not uncommon.

The narcissist's position is untenable and unenviable. He knows - albeit he normally represses this information - that his partner disagrees with being treated as an object, sexual or emotional. Merely gratifying the narcissist does not form an edifice for a long lasting relationship.

But the narcissist is in dire need of stability and emotional certainty. He craves not to be abandoned or abused again. So, he denies his nature in a desperate plea to cheat both himself and his partner. He pretends - and sometimes he succeeds in misleading himself into believing - that he is interested in a true partnership. He really does his best, careful not to broach touchy issues, always consulting the partner in making decisions, and so on.

But inside, he harbours growing resentment and frustration. His "lone wolf" nature is bound to manifest itself, sooner or later. This conflict between the act the narcissist puts on in order to secure the longevity of his relationships and his true character is likely more often than not to result in an eruption. The narcissist is bound to become aggressive, if not violent. The shift from benevolent lover-partner to a raging maniac - a "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" effect - is terrifying.

Gradually, the trust between the partners is shattered and the way to the narcissist's worst fears - abandonment, emotional desolation and the dissolution of the relationship - is paved by the narcissist himself!


It is this sorry paradox - the narcissist is the instrument of his own punishment - that comprises the essence of narcissism. The narcissist is Sisyphically doomed to repeat the same cycle of pretension, wrath and hatred.

The narcissist is afraid to introspect. For, had he done so, he would have discovered a both dismaying and comforting truth: he is in need of no one on a long-term basis. Other people are, to him, just short-term solutions.

Avid protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, the narcissist is expedient and exploitative in his relationships. Denying this, he often marries for the wrong reasons: to calm his troubled soul, to pacify himself by conforming socially.

But the narcissist does not need companionship or emotional support, let alone true partnership. There is no beast on earth more self-sufficient than a narcissist. Years of unpredictability in his relationships with meaningful others, early on abuse, sometimes decades of violence, aggression, instability and humiliation - have eroded the narcissist's trust in others to the point of disappearance. The narcissist knows that he can rely only on one stable, unconditional source of love and nurturance: on himself.

True, when in need of reassurance (e.g., in crisis situations), the narcissist seeks friendship. But while normal people seek friends for companionship and support - the narcissist uses up his friends the way the sick consume medication or the hungry food. Here, too, a basic pattern emerges: to the narcissist, other people are objects to be used and tossed away. Here, too, he proves discontinuous and unavailable.

Moreover, the narcissist can make do with very little. If he has a spouse - why should he seek the added burden of friends? Other people to the narcissist are what a yoke is to the ox - a burden. He cannot fathom reciprocity in human relations. He is easily bored with other people's lives, their problems and solicitations. The need to maintain his relationships drains him.

Having fulfilled their function (by listening to the narcissist, by asking his advice in an ego-inflating manner, by admiring him) - others would do best to vanish until they are needed again. The narcissist feels encumbered when asked to reciprocate. Even the most basic human interaction requires a display of his grandiosity and consumes time and energy in careful dramatic preparations.

The narcissist limits his social encounters to situations which yield net energy contributions (Narcissistic Supply). Interacting with others involves the expenditure of energy. Narcissists are willing to oblige on condition that they are able to extract Narcissistic Supply (attention, adulation, celebrity, sex) sufficient to outweigh the energy they had expended.

This "perpetuum mobile" cannot be maintained for long. The narcissist's milieu (really, entourage) feels drained and bored and his social circle dwindles. When this happens, the narcissist springs to life and, using the vast resources of his undeniable personal charm, he recreates a social circle, knowing full well that it - in due course - will also take its leave and dissolve in disgust.

The narcissist is either terrified by the thought of children or absolutely fascinated by it. A child, after all, is the ultimate Source of Narcissistic Supply. It is unconditionally adoring, worshipping and submissive. But it is also a demanding thing and it tends to divert attention from the narcissist. A child devours time, energy, emotions, resources, and attention. The narcissist can easily be converted to the view that a child is a competitive menace, a nuisance, utterly unnecessary.

These make for a very shaky foundation of marital life. The narcissist does not need or seek companionship or friendship. He does not mix sex and emotions. He finds it hard to make love to someone that he "loves". He ultimately abhors his children and tries to limit and confine them to the role of Narcissistic Supply Sources. He is a bad friend, lover and father. He is likely to divorce many times (if he ever gets married) and to end up in a series of monogamous (if he is cerebral) or polygamous (if he is somatic) relationships.

Most narcissists had a functioning parent, but one that was indifferent to them and used them for his or her own narcissistic ends. Narcissists tend to breed narcissists and perpetuate their condition. The conflict with the frustrating parent is carried forward and reconstructed in intimate relationships. The narcissist directs all the major transformations of aggression towards his spouse, partner, and friends. He hates, hates to admit it, sublimates and explodes in an occasional outburst of rage.

The more intimate the relationship, the more the other party has to lose by severing it, the more dependent the narcissist's partner is on the relationship and on the narcissist - the more likely is the narcissist to be aggressive, hostile, envious, and hating. This serves a dual function: as an outlet for pent-up aggression and as a kind of test.

The narcissist is putting meaningful people in his life to a constant test: will they accept him "as he is", however obnoxious? In other words, do people love him for what he really is - or are they infatuated with the image that he so elaborately projects? The narcissist cannot understand - or believe - that as far as normal people go, the difference between who they "really" are and their public persona is negligible. In his case, the gap between the two is so substantial that he resorts to extreme means to ascertain which of the two do people around him really love - or, rather, who is it that they profess to love: the False Self or the real person.


The fact that people choose to hang on to their relationships with him, despite his intolerable behaviour, proves to the narcissist his uniqueness and superiority. The narcissist's aggression thus serves to reassure him.

When he doesn't have access to willing victims, the narcissist indulges in fantasies of unmitigated aggression and sadism. He might find himself identifying with figures of outstanding cruelty in human history or with periods, which represent peaks of human degradation.

So, the narcissist's intimate relationship are fraught with ambivalence and contradiction: love-hate, well-wishing and envy, fear of being abandoned with a wish to be left alone, control-freakery and paranoid fears of persecution. The narcissist's psyche is torn in an all-pervasive conflict which never ceases to torment him, regardless of external or extenuating circumstances.

Mental Map # 1

Bad, unpredictable, inconsistent, threatening object leads to defective internalisation (introjection of bad objects) and to an unresolved Oedipal Conflict.

Damaged object relations aggression, envy, hatred
Low self-esteem
Fear that these emotions will erupt
Narcissistic defence mechanisms
Repression of all emotions, good and bad (the self as object)
Compensatory functions
Redirection of negative emotions at the self
Grandiosity, fantasies
Avoidance of emotional situations
Uniqueness, demands adulation, "I deserve" (entitlement)
Intellectual compensation, exploitativeness, envy, lack of empathy, haughtiness
Objectification of the OTHER
Formation of False Self (FS)
Defective interpersonal relationships (transference relationships)
Narcissistic Supply Sources (NSS)
Fear that the (potentially) meaningful other (external reinforcement of FS):
1. Will invoke deep emotions and provoke negative ones
2. Fear of abandonment (result of malnourished True Self - TS)
3. Narcissistic vulnerability: True Self (TS)
a. Negation of uniqueness
b. Ego hurt when abandoned
Anhedonia and dysphoria
Feeling of annulment, disintegration (of TS)
Fear of exposure, condemnation, persecution (FS)
Ego-dystonia (stress)

The above mental map includes three basic building blocks of the soul of a typical narcissist: the True Self, the False Self and the Narcissistic Sources of Supply.

Appendix: Libido and Aggression

Narcissism is a direct result of the aggression the narcissist experienced in early life. To better understand the narcissist's intimate relationships, we must first analyse this facet of narcissism: aggression.

Emotions are instincts. They form part of human behaviour. Interactions with other people provide a framework, an organisational structure into which emotions fit nicely. Emotions are organised by object relations to the libido (the positive pole) or to aggression (which is negative and associated with hurt).

Anger is the basic emotion underlying aggression. As it fluctuates, it is transformed. Janus-like, it has two faces: hatred and envy. The libido has sexual excitation as its basic emotion. It is an ancient tactile remembrance of the mother's skin and the wholesome feeling and smell of her breasts that provoke this excitement.

So important are these early experiences, that an early age pathology of object relations - a traumatic experience, physical or psychological abuse, abandonment - move aggression to a dominant position over the libido. Whenever aggression rules over libidinal drives, we have a psychopathology.

The emotional twins - libido and aggression - are inseparable. They characterise all references of the self to an object. A world of emotionally-invested object relations is formed with each such reference.

The dynamic unconscious is made of basic mental experiences, which are really dyadic relations between self-representations and object representations in either of two contexts: elation or rage.

A subconscious fantasy of merging or unification of the self and the object prevails in symbiotic relationships - both in euphoric moods and in aggressive and wrathful ones.


Anger has evolutionary and adaptive functions. It is intended to alert the individual to a source of pain and irritation and to motivate him to eliminate it. It is the beneficial outcome of frustration and pain. It is also instrumental in the removal of barriers to the satisfaction of needs.

As most sources of bad feelings are human, aggression (in the form of rage) is directed at (human) "bad" objects - people around us who are perceived by us to be deliberately frustrating our wishes to satisfy our needs. At the furthest end of this range we find the will and wish to make such a frustrating object suffer. But such desire is a different ball game: it combines aggression and pleasure, therefore it is sadistic.

Rage can easily convert to hatred. There is a wish to control the bad object in order to avoid persecution or fear. This control is achieved by the development of obsessive control mechanisms, which psychopathologically regulate the repression of aggression in such an individual.

Aggression can assume many forms, depending on the sublimatory venues of the aggressive reaction. Biting humour, excessive candour, the search for autonomy and personal enhancement, a compulsive effort to secure the absence of any kind of outside intervention - are all sublimations of aggression.

Hatred is a derivative of anger which is intended to facilitate the destruction of the bad object, to make it suffer and to control it. Yet, the process of transformation alters the characteristics of rage in its manifestation as hatred. The former is acute, passing and disruptive - the latter is chronic, stable and connected to character. Hatred seems justified on the grounds of revenge against the frustrating object. The wish to avenge is very typical of hatred. Paranoid fears of retaliation accompany hatred. Hatred thus has paranoid, sadistic and vengeful characteristics.

Another transformation of aggression is envy. This is a greedy wish to incorporate the object, even to destroy it. Yet, this very object which the envious mind seeks to eliminate by incorporation or by destruction is also an object of love, the object of love without which life itself will not have existed or will have lost its taste and impetus.

The narcissist's mind is pervaded by conscious and unconscious transformations of enormous amounts of aggression into envy. The more severe cases of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) display partial control of their drives, anxiety intolerance and rigid sublimatory channels. The magnitude of hatred in such individuals is so great, that they deny both the emotion and any awareness of it. Alternatively, aggression is converted to action or to acting out.

This denial affects normal cognitive functioning as well. Such an individual has intermittent bouts of arrogance, curiosity and pseudo-stupidity, all transformations of aggression taken to the extreme. It is difficult to tell envy from hatred in these cases.

The narcissist is constantly envious of people. He begrudges others their success, or brilliance, or happiness, or good fortune. He is driven to excesses of paranoia, guilt, and fear that subside only after he "acts out" or punishes himself. It is a vicious cycle in which he is entrapped.

The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines envy as:

"A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck."

And an earlier version (The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary) adds:

"Mortification and ill-will occasioned by the contemplation of another's superior advantages."

Pathological envy - the second deadly sin - is a compounded emotion. It is brought on by the realisation of some lack, deficiency, or inadequacy in oneself. It is the result of unfavourably comparing oneself to others: to their success, their reputation, their possessions, their luck, their qualities. It is misery and humiliation and impotent rage and a tortuous, slippery path to nowhere. The effort to break the padded walls of this self-visited purgatory often leads to attacks on the perceived source of frustration.

There is a spectrum of reactions to this pernicious and cognitively distorting emotion:

Subsuming the Object of Envy through Imitation

Some narcissists seek to imitate or even emulate their (ever changing) role models. It is as if by imitating the object of his envy, the narcissist becomes that object. So, narcissists are likely to adopt their boss' typical gestures, the vocabulary of a successful politician, the dress code of a movie star, the views of an esteemed tycoon, even the countenance and actions of the (fictitious) hero of a movie or a novel.

In his pursuit of peace of mind, in his frantic effort to alleviate the burden of consuming jealousy, the narcissist often deteriorates to conspicuous and ostentatious consumption, impulsive and reckless behaviours, and substance abuse.

Elsewhere I wrote:

"In extreme cases, to get rich quick through schemes of crime and corruption, to out-wit the system, to prevail, is thought by these people to be the epitome of cleverness (providing one does not get caught), the sport of living, a winked-at vice, a spice."


Destroying the Frustrating Object

Other narcissists "choose" to destroy the object that gives them so much grief by provoking in them feelings of inadequacy and frustration. They display obsessive, blind animosity and engage in a compulsive acts of rivalry often at the cost of self-destruction and self-isolation.

In my essay "The Dance of Jael", [Vaknin, Sam. After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. Prague and Skopje, Narcissus Publications, 2000 - pp. 76-81] I wrote:

"This hydra has many heads. From scratching the paint of new cars and flattening their tyres, to spreading vicious gossip, to media-hyped arrests of successful and rich businessmen, to wars against advantaged neighbours.

The stifling, condensed vapours of envy cannot be dispersed. They invade their victims, their rageful eyes, their calculating souls, they guide their hands in evil doings and dip their tongues in vitriol (The envious narcissist's existence is) a constant hiss, a tangible malice, the piercing of a thousand eyes. The imminence and immanence of violence. The poisoned joy of depriving the other of that which you don't or cannot have.


From my essay, "The Dance of Jael":

"There are those narcissists who idealise the successful and the rich and the lucky. They attribute to them super-human, almost divine, qualities

In an effort to justify the agonising disparities between themselves and others, they humble themselves as they elevate the others. They reduce and diminish their own gifts, they disparage their own achievements, they degrade their own possessions and look with disdain and contempt upon their nearest and dearest, who are unable to discern their fundamental shortcomings. They feel worthy only of abasement and punishment. Besieged by guilt and remorse, voided of self-esteem, perpetually self-hating and self-deprecating - this is by far the more dangerous species of narcissist.

For he who derives contentment from his own humiliation cannot but derive happiness from the downfall of others. Indeed, most of them end up driving the objects of their own devotion and adulation to destruction and decrepitude

Cognitive Dissonance

But the most common reaction is the good old cognitive dissonance. It is to believe that the grapes are sour rather than to admit that they are craved.

These people devalue the source of their frustration and envy. They find faults, unattractive features, high costs to pay, immorality in everything they really most desire and aspire to and in everyone who has attained that which they so often can't. They walk amongst us, critical and self-righteous, inflated with a justice of their making and secure in the wisdom of being what they are rather than what they could have been and really wish to be. They make a virtue of jejune abstention, of wishful constipation, of judgemental neutrality, this oxymoron, the favourite of the disabled."

Avoidance - The Schizoid Solution

And then, of course, there is avoidance. To witness the success and joy of others is too painful and too high a price to pay. So, the narcissist stays away, alone and incommunicado. He inhabits the artificial bubble that is his world where he is king and country, law and yardstick, the one and only. The narcissist becomes the resident of his own burgeoning delusions. He is happy and soothed.

But the narcissist must justify to himself - on those rare occasions that he does catch a glimpse of his internal turmoil - why all this hatred and why the envy. The object of envy and hatred has to be magnified, glorified, idealised, demonised or elevated to superhuman levels to account for the narcissist's strong negative emotions. Outstanding qualities, skills and abilities are imputed to it and the object of these emotions is perceived to possess all the traits that the narcissist would have liked to have but doesn't.

This is very different from the purer, healthier, forms of hate directed at an object, which is genuinely - or is genuinely perceived to be - ominous, dangerous, or sadistic. In this healthy reaction, the properties of the hated object are not ones the person doing the hating would have liked to possess!

Hatred is thus used to eliminate a source of frustration, which sadistically attacks the self. Jealousy is aimed at another person, who sadistically - or provocatively - prevents the jealous self from obtaining what it desires.


next: Chapter 3, The Soul of a Narcissist, The State of the Art

APA Reference
Vaknin, S. (2009, February 3). Chapter 2, The Soul of a Narcissist, The State of the Art, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Last Updated: July 5, 2018

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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