Narcissist's Interview - Excerpts Part 17
Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List Part 17
- Interview with a Narcissist
- Another One ...
- E-mail Exchange in Preparation for an Interview Granted to Bob Goodman of "Natterbox"
- Narcissism as an Adaptive Strategy
- The Zombie Narcissist
- Imitated Empathy
- Narcissism and Self-Loathing
- In Pursuit of Narcissistic Supply
- The Deception that is the Narcissist
I confined myself to short answers but they can be expanded if you wish.
Name: Sam Vaknin
E-mail: samvak @ visto.com
Q: Have you ever been published?
A: Many times.
A: In Israel, Macedonia, Russia and The Czech Republic.
Q: How long have you been a writer?
A: 20 years.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
A: My mother admired writers. She regarded and guarded books with awe and humility. She idolized the written word. It was a way for me to obtain her love and approval. So, the answer is: for as long as I can remember.
Q: What type of writing do you specialize in?
A: Very varied. Action thrillers, short fiction (post modern), economic columns in periodicals, scholarly articles in philosophy and psychology, an economics textbook and two reference books.
Q: What do you enjoy most about writing?
A: The ability to sculpt in words, to compose with the resonance of layers of meaning and associations, to see a text vibrating with the tense energy of its own implosion.
Q: What are the difficulties and challenges of being a writer?
A: Edison put it best: "10% inspiration, 90% perspiration". That - and the writer's block ...
Q: What do you know now about being a writer that you wish you knew when you first began your writing career?
A: That it does not matter what you have to say as long as you say it well. That the music is far more important than its performers and that Echo should outweigh Narcissus.
Q: How often do you write? How do you discipline yourself to write?
A: I write profusely, daily. I don't have to discipline myself. I do nothing else with the exception of rudimentary maintenance of my body. How does one observe one's breathing?
Q: How do you handle rejections from editors and/or publishers? What keeps you from being so discouraged you give up?
A: I handle them badly. I am a pathological narcissist and I am injured narcissistically when this happens. I do give up. I wrote a book of short fiction which sold well, won wide and wild critical acclaim and a prestigious award. When my second manuscript of short stories has been rejected, I gave up writing short fiction altogether. Now, that it has been accepted, I don't think I will write short fiction again.
Q: How do you improve and work on your writing skills?
A: I read. I write. I listen.
Q: Tell us the process you go through when you write.
A: I sit and type the text on a laptop. I rarely correct anything but typos. It's all in my head.
Q: Is writing frustrating at times? When is it most frustrating?
A: When I cannot write and I want to. I feel incarcerated, unable to unlock myself, claustrophobic inside my own mind.
Q: What mistakes do you see a lot of writers make with their writing career?
A: That they are trying to make a career of it. One can make a career of scribbling, not of writing. Writing is a vital function, unlike a career.
Q: What mistakes have you been with your writing career?
A: I started very late and spent years of my life on the frivolities and dumbness of the world of business, a world which rewards mediocrity and caters to those who cannot create.
Q: How do you deal with editors and/or publishers?
A: Through the phone.
Q: What has being a writer taught you about yourself?
A: That I am in need in therapy and my salvation lies in my ability to put words together so that they stick retroactively as well as prospectively.
Q: How is a writing career different from other careers?
A: It depends what one writes and what one defines as "writing". Many a manipulation of words is artisanship, not art. It is not a bad choice, economically. But when art gets involved, the emotional price is high. To review my curriculum vitae, please see here.
The ISBN of "Requesting My Loved One" is: 965-448-341-6 The ISBN of "The Macedonian Economy" is: 9989-610-01-0 The ISBN of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" is: 80-238-3384-7
An interview I gave to Mr. Mody Kreitman of Israel's leading paper, "Yedioth Aharonot":
Q: Your self diagnosis is that you suffer from malignant self love. Do you know any other businessmen who seem to have developed similar symptoms?
A: I don't think that there is a necessary connection between the vocation of the narcissist and his pathological narcissism (I am using "he" but this should well be read as both "he" and "she"). The narcissist is an automaton programmed to search for Narcissistic Supply: adulation, admiration, applause, affirmation and attention. Where these are available - you will find a narcissist lurking, waiting for his human prey. The narcissist projects a false image of his self onto others. Then, when this image is reflected back at him, he feels good, he feels reaffirmed.
Q: When and how did you reach this self diagnosis?
A: Three years ago, my world vanished. I was imprisoned, my wife left me, I became a social pariah, I lost all my money and property as well as my ability to earn money in the future (due to my criminal record). It takes a massive life crisis to penetrate the defences of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). I wanted to die, literally, I was planning it, I almost stole a gun from one of the wardens. Then I stopped and asked myself how come a person who had so many chances in life, a flourishing career, above average intelligence - how come I was where I was. I started reading, ferociously, in jail, at night, in my rare vacations. I devoured by now - three years later - more than 2000 books, articles and dissertations about the subject. I discovered that I am the victim of a pernicious condition, that my personality was "disorganized" and rigid. That I adapted badly to the demands of my environment. I met the enemy and it was I.
Q: How is this weakness or disorder apparent in your daily life and work?
A: I am vain, in pursuit of appearances rather than of substance, dangerously pretentious, pathological liar, obdurate to the point of stupidity, highly intelligent (140 IQ consistently in tests) but very unwise, shallow in everything I do, no perseverance and so on. My life is a pattern of renunciation of everything my parents stand for: petite bourgeoisie values, small town mentality, moral conservatism, family, home ownership, attachment. I have no roots. In the last 7 months I changed 3 domiciles (in 3 countries). All told, I lived in 11 countries in the last 16 years. I have no family (divorced, no children) - though I do maintain long and loyal relationships with women, no property to speak of, I am a gambler in disguise (stock options - respectable gambling), no continuous relationships with friends (but yes with my brothers), no career (impossible with such mobility) or academic degree (the Ph.D. is of the correspondence type), I served one prison term, have consistently associated with the underworld in fascination mixed with mortal fear. I do achieve things: I published books (one of my latest ones, a book of short stories, won acclaim and a prestigious award and another - dialogues about matters economic - is the "bible" of a certain government) and am in the process of publishing a few more (mostly reference), have my web sites (which, I believe contain original material in psychology, philosophy and economics), my commentaries are published in papers all over the world and I appear intermittently in the electronic media.
But my "achievements" are ephemeral. They do not last because I am never there to follow up on them. I lose interest very quickly, move physically and disconnect emotionally. Another area of dysfunction is my sexual life. To my parents sex was ugly and dirty. My rebellion led me to experience orgies and group sex, on the one hand - and (most of the time) asceticism. In between bouts of promiscuity (once a decade for a few weeks, after major life crises) I engage in sex very very rarely (despite long-term relationships with women). My sexual non-availability is intended to frustrate women who are attracted to me. I use the fact that I have a girlfriend as an alibi to avoid contact with women. I am a conscious misogynist: I fear and loathe women and tend to ignore them to the best of my ability. To me, they are a mixture of hunter and parasite. Of course, this is not my STATED position (I am truly a liberal - for instance, I will not dream of depriving women of their career opportunities or suffrage). This conflict between the emotional and the cognitive leads to express hostility in my encounters with women, which they detect, in some cases. Alternatively, I "desexualize" them and treat them as functions.
Q: What can change your situation? have you improved your situation?
A: Research shows that psychodynamic therapies (such as psychoanalysis) are rather helpless in coping with NPD. Behaviourist therapies do succeed to modify certain behaviour patterns. Overall, I haven't improved one iota in my 37 years. Jail, exile, bankruptcy, divorce, mortal danger - NOTHING changes me. In a perverted way, I am "proud" of it. You must understand that personality disorders have a function. They develop because the child is exposed to repeated traumas. His way of defending himself is by constructing a "False Self" to take on the flack. The child mentally deflects his traumatic experiences to the False Self. Because it is impossible for him to love the abusing and dangerously unpredictable parents or caregivers - he directs his love at himself. Hence pathological (or secondary) narcissism. I must emphasize, though, that this is a psychodynamic (object relations) view. There are other schools in psychology and they have other explanations.
Q: Is your narcissism your own doing or do you think that there external causes as well?
A: See above.
Q: Do you blame other factors for your fall?
A: No, my fall, is entirely, directly and indirectly related to the fact that my personality is inflexible. This rigidity means that I have pre-set, immutable, invariable reactions to changing situations. Of course, very often my reactions are counter-productive. I am self-destructive and my behaviours are self-defeating. I hate myself so much that I am content only when I suffer and on the verge of complete devastation. It is a common mistake to believe that understanding something is halfway to curing it. I understand pathological narcissism as very few people do. I correspond with psychologists and psychiatrists all over the world, giving them advice on this subject. Yet, even if I am fully aware that my actions will cause me great, irreversible, harm - I cannot change my course, I cannot avoid committing these tragic errors. I want to be constantly punished. It was Kafka who understood that a continuous trial is the worst possible punishment. Believe me, my jail period was nothing compared to the five years that my criminal trial lasted. Similarly, a personality disorder is very much an on-going Kafkaesque trial. No one - least of all the accused - knows the charges or when the trial is going to be over. It is a daily Chinese torture.
Q: Are you in touch with your family? What do they advise you to do?
A: I haven't seen my parents for almost three years. Immediately after I was released from prison I had to flee Israel because of the combined pressures of both my creditors and the State of Israel. I talk to them (to my family) rarely by phone. There is not a lot of advice they can give me. Even as a small kid with big eyeglasses and a big IQ, I was alien to them. I did not belong. They were afraid of me, repelled by me, they wanted me to disappear, like nightmares do. At least this is how I felt. Ever since then I found myself in dozens of unprecedented or very rare situations in which NO ONE could give me any reasonable advice, let alone my parents. I am in touch with my brothers, especially with the youngest, Sharon. The difference between us is 16 years and, in some respects, I am like a father figure to him. He is a very talented painter and illustrator.
Q: What do you miss most in Israel?
A: Nothing. It always was by far the most unpleasant place I know and it is getting worse daily, I am being told.
Q: Can you describe your appearance nowadays? How is your health?
A: I look exactly as I did when I was Bar Mitzvah. I refuse to grow up (though I did get much fatter). I have no children, am not married, don't have a driver's licence. These are things grown-ups do. I am a Wunderkind and I am simply afraid of losing this (by now, imaginary) title by growing up. I am rather healthy, except some minor problems. Because I do not exercise, I don't have one muscle in my flabby body (except my brain, of course :o)))
Q: What does money mean to you?
A: Safety, the ability to extract Narcissistic Supply by showing off, the ability to do what I really want which is to accumulate knowledge and to use it to impress everyone. I don't like the process of making money. It is tiresome, repetitive and does not involve the intellect too rigorously. Every idiot can make money, most of them do and, from my experience, most of those who do are not bright, to use a very restrained British understatement. Now I don't have a penny - but I know how to make money and I made money a few times in my life. There is nothing to it.
Q: Your biggest regret? Any other big mistakes?
A: My life is a series of mistakes. Almost all my moves have been mistakes, some of them big mistakes. I apply a mechanism called "cognitive dissonance" to this. Normally, it is very difficult to continue to live with so many errors, misses, near-misses and with so much resulting ruin. But in my case I just tell myself that this is the way I WANT to live: turbulently, vicissitudinally, crazily, unpredictably, dangerously. It is true, though, that my life is the most interesting I ever came across. I have done almost anything one can think of and have been almost everywhere. This is fun, though the price in personal stability and development is steep.
Q: Your worst moment since you left Israel 2 years ago?
A: A few months ago, I had to run away from a certain country, where I lived. I became very very famous in that country as a harsh critic of the economic policies of the then incumbent government. I had to leave my house, my girlfriend, my clients and - above all - my fame, my celebrity, my Narcissistic Supply, in a matter of days. The ruling party (former communists) sent messengers to me who warned me that I will be punished for my heretical views soon. Indeed, a business associate of mine, an Israeli, was placed under investigative detention for 118 days. Two weeks after his arrest I left the country in great fear. The moments at the airport on the way out ("Will they arrest me or not?"), landing in a totally foreign land, rearranging the jigsaw puzzle of my life, this felt bad. I am not a normal person with a normal life. If I disappear one day, it will be weeks before anyone notices and even then, I don't think anyone will do anything about it.
Q: Your biggest pay-day or finest moment?
A: I had many. Of lately, it happened in the same country that I mentioned above. I was invited to lecture at a student gathering. By that time, my face was in every paper, TV station and magazine. People were speculating whether I am a spy, an emissary of the American Government or a Mossad agent. I gave a rousing, revival-type, speech. The crowd was ecstatic. It was the first time I experienced the intoxicating power of politics. It was great, I enjoyed every second.
Q: How would you describe your home and standard of living?
A: I live in rented apartments and make sure that there is hot water in each and every one of them (rare, in this part of the world).
Q: Did you make new friends in the East?
A: Yes, a few. Some of them became ministers and influential media personalities. In Eastern europe, age is no obstacle. There are prime ministers aged 31 and ministers aged 27. Actually, I am probably called by them, behind my back, "The Old Man". Many of these friends were my students or young professionals I collaborated with. I like to play the "guru", the "Teacher". This is a superb Source of Narcissistic Supply.
Q: You became very famous at an early age and now you keep a low profile. Is it more difficult for someone with your narcissism to no longer be in the public eye?
A: Israel has no monopoly on the public eye. I am sure that you noticed that other countries emulated and imitated Israel: they also have papers and TV stations :o))) Since the age of 16, there has not been a week without my presence in some country's media. It is true, no longer in Israel. Ask the creditors why. You witnessed how much I hesitated before I agreed to give you this interview and how many conditions you had to agree to.
Q: What is your current occupation?
A: Unemployed. The crisis in Eastern Europe is ominously severe and is only going to get worse. People have no use for financial consultants. They are looking for bread.
Q: What do you think your sympathizers mostly say of you?
A: That I am viciously intelligent.
Q: What would your enemies would say?
A: That I am intelligently vicious.
Q: What is more difficult; to be on the run or to do business in Eastern Europe?
A: These are two sides of the same coin. Only people on the run do business in Eastern Europe. On the other hand, all East European businessmen are on the run. There is no such thing as "business" in Eastern Europe, not yet, at least, not where foreign presence is weak. "Business" here means extracting money and concessions from corrupt officials or collaborating with organized crime. Sooner or later, the "business" implodes and all those involved have to escape. There is great mobility in this part of the world :o)))
Q: Why the particular interest in Eastern Europe?
A: It is the Wild West, only it is in the East. There is gold in the streets. This gold stinks, but the less sensitive can make a lot of money. It is exciting. Where else would you have a chance to witness capitalism in the making? It is like a time machine, unreal: old fashions, old thinking, old habits, old-fashioned gangsters. Eastern Europe is a Hollywood movie set. In this environment I can distinguish myself as a pre-eminent and prominent economic wise man. What can I be in Israel? Here the very fact that I know English gives me a competitive advantage.
Q: Are you in touch with the Israeli Business community in the East? What do you make of them? Is it possible to do business in Eastern Europe? Are you still in touch with Shabtai Kalmanovich?
A: Slowly, slowly ... No, yes, no. Regarding the second question: the recipe is contacts. Find the right local partner, make sure that you have something to offer which would please the authorities, be slimy, be morally "flexible", protect yourself, draw first. Remember all the westerns that you have seen as a kid. Imitate John Wayne but make sure that the local sheriff and some local businessmen are on your side. East Europeans are the cheapest commodity on earth. Be large, spend, give gifts, invite, host. It will pay back.
Q: Do you follow the news in Israel? What do you make of the business environment here? Any changes since you left? Chances of coming back?
A: I do not follow the news in Israel and except to see my family, I will come back only if I have no other choice. I don't like the place or the people particularly.
Q: Did you join the Moonies? Did you meet reverend Moon?
A: I never joined the Moonies (official name until recently: "The Unification Church"). I did join one of the academic organization supported by them, the "Professors World Peace Academy" (PWPA). I even became the head of the Israel branch of the PWPA. In 1993 I headed a group of influential Israelis (politicians, media people, businessmen, lawyers) in a one month, fully paid, seminar in New York in which we all learned about the organization and theology of the church from the inside. We met Moon's number two, Rev. Kwak. Of course, I know all the top people there, especially in the media (they own "The Washington Times" and "The Middle East Times" among others). Disregarding their recruiting methods (which are nowhere near as monstrous as portrayed in the media) - these people do a good job for humanity and peace. In PWPA they brought together Israeli and Arab scholars. Long before anyone mentioned the "p-word" (peace) I met Jordanian, Syrian, Egyptian, Iranian, Iraqi and Palestinian politicians and academics and was able to explain to them Israel's point of view. We even published resolutions together. We became close. The church is part of my on-going fascination with religious institutions. I spent a good part of 1982-3 getting to know the Jesuit Order, for instance. I visited its facilities, slept in its dormitories. Once, I even uttered the Jewish "Food Greeting" (Birkat Hamazon) and a congregation of Catholic bishops said "Amen" after me and ate. This was surrealistic. This is life: adventure, the unexpected, the spectacular, the amazing, the dangerous. My life is a movie and I am the director. When I am 90, alone in a drab hospital room, no one will visit me, not even my children, if I have any. In this solitude, I will turn off the lights and screen the movie of my life. And it had better be a good one. I don't want to be bored in my own movie. I prefer not to live at all.
il Exchange in Preparation for an Interview Granted to Bob Goodman of "Natterbox"
These are the contents of unedited transcripts of e-mail exchanges between myself and Bob Goodman.
Q: Narcissism is a very misunderstood term. In the popular lexicon, it seems to be used interchangeably with self-confidence or self-absorption. How do you define narcissism?
A: Narcissism (rather, pathological narcissism) is the absence of a functioning self (or, to be more precise, Ego). It is the constant dependence upon other people to gain self-esteem, to regulate a sense of self-worth and to gain self-confidence. Narcissism is, therefore, other-absorption rather than self-absorption. The narcissist is attuned to input (real or perceived) from other people because in the absence of such constant feedback it feels annulled, non-existent, void (and in many respects, he is). I use he, though everything I say here applies equally forcefully to women. The narcissist constructs an elaborate, largely fictitious, grandiose image of himself (the False Self). He then hurls it at people and monitors their every reaction. Reactions that conform to the information contained in the False Self generate a flooding sensation of omnipotence, omniscience, brilliance and perfection. Reactions that negate the False Self cause narcissistic injury - a terrible, insupportable, excruciating agony. The narcissist administers mental painkillers to himself by discounting ("devaluing") the source of the hurtful reaction, by dismissing the reaction itself, or by altering the False Self to conform to it - in short, by activating a mechanism known as "cognitive dissonance".
Q: Is there such a thing as healthy narcissism, and at one point would you say that narcissism enters the realm of pathology?
A: Narcissism is an integral part of our development as humans. A residue of it survives well into adulthood. It is essential, it keeps us alive. It drives us to achieve things and to seek the approval of other humans. It helps us bond with significant others, motivates us to raise children, to consume, to study, to explore, to discover, to invent, to innovate. It is a powerful engine of human personal progress. Pathological narcissism has very little to do with healthy narcissism. It thrives on ANY kind of attention, even on a negative one (infamy, fear, hatred) and from ANYONE (the narcissist has no significant or meaningful others in his life). It is disconnected from reality (fails the reality test). The False Self is... well ... false. It is a concoction, a distorted invention, replete with magical thinking and ideas of reference. It leads to dependence rather than to inter-dependence, to conflict rather than to collaboration, to sadistic behaviours rather to tender emotions. It is a malignant form of narcissism because it takes over the host and then kills it.
Q: You write that a person suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder is deeply determined to think of his personality as unique. Yet those with NPD share a common , and sometimes readily identifiable, set of traits. Can you discuss some of those traits, and explain why they add up to a personality disorder--rather than simply a personality?
A: The last part is easy. Pathological narcissism is self-defeating and self-destructive on a consistent and long term basis. A pattern of behaviours, cognitions and emotions that leads one away from happiness is a personality disorder - not a personality. Narcissists are often dysphoric and (as recent research demonstrates) ego-dystonic (or, in plain English, they are often sad and malcontent). Their lives are a mess and often characterized by frequent losses (divorces, dismissals, failures, conflicts with authorities and the law, bankruptcies and so on). Hence the word "disorder". It is indeed comic that narcissists should think about themselves as unique. They are the most rigid, predictable and automatic group of humans I know. I think the DSM-IV (the bible of the psychiatric profession published in 1994) summed it up very nicely: A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements). Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions). Requires excessive admiration. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes. Criteria Quoted from: American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Q: You wrote: "Pathological narcissism has very little to do with healthy narcissism. " But aren't they both from the same source? You seem to be saying that the desire for approval, which in the case of healthy narcissism, is a kind of glue that helps create and cement relationships, becomes so overpowering as to destroy them altogether.
A: Both healthy and pathological narcissism are part of the same developmental phase. But while the former is not concerned primarily with others - the latter is absolutely other-directed. Healthy narcissism is what we call "self love", "self esteem" and "self worth". It is a constant, it requires no regulation and it is attuned to reality. It does not fluctuate with input from the outside. Pathological narcissism is everything that healthy narcissism is not. It is derived exclusively from the outside, it fluctuates widely and it is self destructive and self defeating because it gauges reality very poorly. Additionally, very often, it is connected to strong masochistic urges and to a punishing, sadistic, immature and rigid super-ego (=conscience).
Q: You wrote: " It is a malignant form of narcissism because it takes over the host and then kills it." You make NPD sound like a kind of parasite, both in the way the disorder impacts the narcissist himself, and in the parasitic attitude the narcissist then takes towards others.
A: Indeed. Pathological narcissism is parasitism. It is the unabashed, ruthless and unscrupulous exploitation of others (as sounding boards, as accumulators of past glories, as servants, as extensions of the narcissist). The narcissist idealizes, then uses, then devalues, then discards. He is the epitome of the society of waste and consumerism - with other humans as the raw materials. The narcissist colonizes, then abandons. His are viral qualities: he leverages the hosts' own assets to infect and manipulate the host. And pathological narcissism is a viral process: normal development is thwarted by the invasion and takeover of rigid defence mechanisms.
Q: In your book, "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited", you coined a whole new lexicon to describe the mechanics of NPD. Did you find that the existing psychological language fell short?
A: Pathological narcissism has been a neglected subject until the late 1970s. Even then it was the reserve of arcane psychoanalysis. With the introduction of the DSM III definition of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), pathological narcissism broke into the open. But the body of knowledge and research is still woefully inadequate and I found it so lacking that I had to invent my own language, to some extent. But the lacuna is not merely an issue of language. I believe that pathological narcissism underlies many other mental health disorders and pathologies. It can give us the first, important, clue to a unified theory of dysfunction.
Q: In addition to the metaphor of narcissists as drug addicts seeking a fix, you often use terms culled from economics to describe psychological dynamics: narcissists overinvest, devalue, attempt to gain strategic advantage, etc. Are there other ways in which your background in economics informs your psychological theories?
A: Surprisingly, these terms are borrowed, not mine. Devaluation, narcissistic supply - are not my inventions (what a narcissistic injury!). But, of course, economics, physics and philosophy (my fields) inform and form my world of metaphors. Fortunately, I am also a published author of short fiction (in Hebrew) and I even write poetry - so, I am not as dry as one might fear. But there is another angle to it: The Narcissist does view the world solely in economic and contractual terms. Deprived of access to his own emotions, the narcissist is a diligent student of other people's behaviour patterns. This is how he get his behavioural cues and clues. The narcissist is a phenomenologist and, as one, his is a cold, detached, observational world in which people transact rather than interact. To the narcissist, people are reducible codes and self interest and contract making are the twin keys to their deciphering. The narcissist behaves this way in his own life. He contracts with others, he measures their performance, protests violations, threatens litigation or sanctions. The narcissist is a businessman who is constantly trading bits of his life against narcissistic supply.
Q: You wrote: "Fortunately, I am also a published author of short fiction (in Hebrew)..." Can you speak a little about the subject matter and themes of your short stories?
A: The specific short stories that were published (and won the 1997 Ministry of Education's prize - talk about poetic injustice...) - were written in Jail. I was in the throes of psychological gangrene induced by a severe narcissistic injury. I have been teleported unsuccessfully, disintegrating in mid space into a million sizzling molecules, that was the feeling. I tried to recompose myself but there was nothing there except a life threatening vacuum. So, I regressed. I went back to my childhood and recreated my life, year in and year out, pain by pain, an inventory of humiliation and maltreatment, abuse and self-abuse, self loathing and self destruction. My mother, my wife, my life - a series of ambering ruins, not a pleasant landscape to behold. I wrote these stories as I do everything else: systematically, cold bloodedly, in a the calculating manner of an automaton. I shut the pain away and weighed words the way a physicist measures resonance and amplitude. Only once did it get out of control. I had a flashback of a violent scene between my parents (which I had repressed remarkably). I was frightened as a little kid would. At other times I cried silently. It was cathartic, no doubt - as efficient as any therapy and by far cheaper.
Q: I've seen "Malignant Self Love" described in some contexts as a self-help book. Often in this genre, we see authors who have triumphed over some personal adversity and wish to help others do the same. But your approach is quite different. You write that your discovery of your own NPD "was a painful process which led nowhere. I am no different--and no healthier--today than I was when I wrote this book. My disorder is here to stay, the prognosis poor and alarming." Do you see it, then, as more a work of self-literacy than self-healing?
A: I never described "Malignant Self Love" as a helpful work. It is not. It is a dark, hopeless tome. Narcissists have no horizons, they are doomed by their own history, by their successful adaptation to abnormal circumstances and by the uncompromising nature of their defence mechanisms. My book is a scientific observation of the beast coupled with an effort to salvage its victims. Narcissists are absent minded sadists and they victimize everyone around them. Those in contact with them need guidance and help. "Malignant Self Love" is a phenomenology of the predator, on the one hand and a vindication and validation of its prey, on the other.
Q: The subject of the 11 months you spent imprisoned in Israel is, I'm sure, fodder for an entire interview, but can you briefly discuss the circumstances?
A: I was imprisoned in 1995 for stock manipulation and grand fraud. The real story is more complex, as usual. I did criminally manipulate the price of stocks. But there are a few caveats: I took over a government owned bank. Together with a few partners I came to own c. 80% of it. When I began to attend the shareholders meetings, I discovered to my horror that c. 200 million USD of the loans on its books were dud. The money was siphoned off to cronies of the then socialist ruling party. I took the government to court and won the first two rounds. I was on the verge of dislodging the government from the bank completely and exposing massive fraud and corruption. But I was running short on money. The ruling party sent two "new partners" to me. They bought some of the shares from me. Then they began to pressurize and threaten me. I felt that I had to manipulate the price of the stock to get rid of them (at the right, high, price they sold out to another broker). THERE WAS NO DAMAGE TO THE PUBLIC because I owned all the free-floating stocks (together with my "new partners"). Suddenly, these two turned up as state witnesses and testified against me. They were rewarded with positions in the government and in state industry. Together with 2 others I was sentenced to 3 years in prison. The others were pardoned. I served 11 months of my sentence and was released on good behaviour. Using complicated legal techniques I attacked the President of the Supreme Court and forced him into civil proceedings in his own court. He didn't like it. This is why I served the sentence and the others didn't. He sentenced me AFTER I sued him! So much for judicial impartiality. The case is very well known in Israel. Many lawyers and law professors couldn't face the injustice. Following my prison term I was appointed research assistant in the Faculty of Law in Tel Aviv University (as a prisoner!). This is one of the two chapters in my life of which I am most proud. Upon my release, I left Israel never to return and proceeded to Macedonia. When I arrived there more than two years ago it was a corrupt country, ruled by unreformed communists. I organized lectures, seminars and media events in which I protested against the conduct of the government. I swept the youth and became a real danger to the regime. Following life threats and the arrest of one of my collaborators I fled Macedonia. There is a happy ending, though: the ruling party was ousted in the October elections. One of the ministers is my former student. The Prime Minister has invited me to serve as his personal consultant. I made the mistake of accepting his offer - and, here I am, back in Macedonia. Until the next conflict ... :o)))
Q: You've written that as a prisoner, you began to study your fellow inmates and came to see yourself in them. At the time, did that recognition take you by surprise?
A: Not really, I have a long history of associating with criminals and personal brinkmanship. All my adulthood I have been a vicarious delinquent, observing with awe and admiration and humour the circles I moved in. What did astonish me was the close resemblance of narcissism and addictive behaviours (drugs, gambling, etc.). It was then that it dawned on me that narcissism was an addiction (to narcissistic supply).
Q: Do you remember any specific prisoners with whom you found something in common?
A: I befriended all the murderers without exception. There is something profound and occult in breaking this frontier taboo - I have the same feeling about incest. I am attracted to these people not because I have anything in common with them - but because I strive to understand them. It is through human wreckage that I hope to reconstruct "being human". Devoid of empathy, I need sharp, unmitigated, grotesque and horrific experiences to jolt me into a vague recognition of the denominator common to myself and to all "others". This, by the way, is an important strand in psychology: it is through the study of aberrations, deviations, perversions and pathologies that it strives to fathom "normal" human nature.
Q: Where did the idea for your Web site, where you first published your theories on NPD, come from, and how has it evolved?
A: I did not believe then - nor do I believe now - that any publisher would have published my writings. I come on too strongly, I am uncompromising, politically very incorrect. Publishers are commercially motivated and politically constrained. Is it a coincidence that the Internet and e-books evolved in tandem with desktop publishing? It is a revolt against the publishing establishment. The website - and the printed edition that followed - were acts of desperation. But, in hindsight, it was a blessing. My site has 1500 impressions (=c. 400 new readers) DAILY (c. 140,000 readers accessed it in the last 12 months). I have a discussion group with 420 members. My book is being sold through Barnes and Noble. I am content. At the beginning, I simply translated my jailhouse notes, taken from a worn out cardboard-bound notepad. Then, as people kept writing to me (I get c. 20 letters daily) asking the same questions over and over again, I came up with the "Frequently Asked Questions" sections (all 67 of them). Then I noticed that my list-members were especially attached to certain messages asking me to re-post them to the list from time to time. I collected them in 27 (soon to be 28) "Excerpts from the Narcissism List" pages. So, you see, the site developed by default and in response to pressures by my "customers". I want to emphasize that only the print edition of the book costs money. The rest - the full text of the book, the discussion group (5-7 daily articles) - are free of charge.
Q: You wrote: "I never described "Malignant Self Love" as a helpful work. It is not." And you also wrote: "So, you see, the site developed by default and in response to pressures by my "customers". You are a self-professed narcissist, and you warn your readers that narcissists are punishing, pathological, and not to be trusted. Yet hundreds of readers or customers seem to be looking to you for help and advice on how to cope with their own narcissism or on their relationship with a narcissist. I'm struck by a kind of hall-of-mirrors effect here. How do you reconcile these seeming contradictions?
A: Indeed, only seeming. I may have mis-phrased myself. By "helpful" I meant "intended to help". The book was never intended to help anyone. Above all, it was meant to attract attention and adulation (narcissistic supply) to its author, myself. Being in a guru-like status is the ultimate narcissistic experience. Had I not also been a misanthrope and a schizoid, I might have actually enjoyed it. The book is imbued with an acerbic and vitriolic self-hatred, replete with diatribes and Jeremiads and glaring warnings regarding narcissists and their despicable behaviour. I refused to be "politically correct" and call the narcissist - "other-challenged". Yet, I am a narcissist and the book is, therefore, a self directed "J'accuse". This satisfies the enfant terrible in me, the part of me that seeks to be despised, abhorred, derided and, ultimately, punished by society at large.
Q: While you say your work is not helpful, don't you feel that at least the "victims" of narcissists might be helped? After all, you're giving away all the trade secrets.
A: The victims of narcissists have rarely become victims randomly. It is very akin to an immunological response: there is a structural affinity, an inexorable attraction, an irreversible bonding and an ensuing addiction far stronger than any substance abuse. I, therefore, am doubtful not only with regards to the prognosis of a narcissist - but also with regards to the healing prospects of those exposed to his poisoned charms. The Inverted Narcissist (a sub-species of codependent who is specifically attracted to narcissists) - ARE narcissists, kind of mirror narcissists. As such, they are no less doomed than the "original".
Q: How old are you?
A: On April 2000, I will be 39.
Q: What did your parents do professionally?
A: My mother was all her life a wife to both my father and to her house. As a consequence, she had very little time left for us, her children. She was also fighting what I now know to have been severe mental disorders. Later in life, she healed spontaneously and developed a minor career as a caretaker - looking after the disabled and the geriatric. My father - a clinically depressed person if I ever saw one - climbed the corporate ladder to become a regional construction site manager. But he was never too gregarious or obedient and so, hated by the management and admired by very few co-workers for his professionalism - he was booted out. He spent 8 years wallowing in self pity until he found a menial job in a warehouse, way beneath his qualifications. He likes it there. It validates his view of himself as a martyr.
Q: How big was your family growing up--how many brothers and sisters?
A: I have three brothers and one sister, all younger than I. To most of them - those who did not detach on time - I have been a destructive influence.
Q: What was your family's attitude toward religion?
A: My parents vacillated between ridicule and disdain and bouts of devoutness. On the average, we were a mildly traditionalist family: selectively observing a few religious commandments and rites. Two of my brothers flirted with fundamentalist Judaism (less derogatorily known as Orthodoxy) only to come a full circle to being dedicated atheists. I am agnostic. I simply don't know and I do not waste my time on questions which are, in principle, non-answerable.
Q: You mentioned a marriage that fell apart while you were in prison. How long were you married for? Are you and your ex-wife in touch?
A: I met Nomi in 1987, she married me (her idea - I punished her by ruining the wedding) in 1990, we got divorced in 1996. Last time I really spoke to her was a few minutes after our divorce ritual in which I participated as a prisoner. I have met her again in order to sell our car. That was it - I never saw her since, nor have I spoken to her, nor do I have any information about her whereabouts.
Q: Has it been hard for you to make a living since your conviction and prison sentence?
A: On the very contrary - the most difficult period has been between my arrest and my release from jail. Immediately upon my release, I left Israel, landed in Eastern and Central Europe and lived happily ever after, money included.
Q: Prior to your trial, conviction, and process of self-discovery, when your business ventures were going well, what did you imagine your life was going to be like?
A: I am a man whose central dream came true. Even as an infant I used to imagine the internet. It had no name, no technical specifications, no being. But I knew what it will do for me: it will give me access to unending libraries, gigantic storehouses of data, to free everything - books, music, movies. I couldn't wait. I collected every shred of evidence that my dream was becoming true. And it did and here I am, happy as a lark to have lived in this terrible and magnificent century. Through the gate of my laptop screen, I submerge in the warm waters of knowledge. What a cool, dazzling feeling!!! I know you will find it incredible but this has been the central hope, driving force and aspiration of my life - this and a side daydream of becoming a monstrously vicious dictator, feared by all, loved by none, almighty and held in awe.
Q: I understand you're something of a nomad now, hopping from country to country and job to job. Do you ever long for a more settled existence?
A: Never (shudder) - you are describing a morgue, a cemetery. My life is colourful, adventurous, impossible, cinematic. Sure I pay a price - who doesn't? Is there no price to be for a sedentary, predictable, numbing existence? When one is 90 years old, all that is left is memories. You are the director of the movie of your life - a 70 years long movie. Now, sit back and begin to watch: is it a boring film? would you have watched it had it not been yours? If the answers are negative and positive, respectively - you succeeded to live well, regardless of the price you paid.
Q: You must have served in the Israeli army. How did you find that?
A: I served more than three years in the Israeli army. Halfway through I became a famous national figure which allowed me to manipulate the army command, my co-soldiers and the army structures to accommodate themselves to my "special needs". The first half was a voyage of discovery of "what's out there" - Israel, guys, gals (no sex), the company of others. The second half was an hallucinatory and umitigated ego trip.
Q: Your parents were immigrants from Turkey and Morocco, yes? When had they come to Israel?
A: Both emigrated to Israel in the early 50s. My mother was a child and her family escaped growing anti-Semitic sentiments in the predominantly Moslem population of Turkey. My father escaped his family: a tyrant, drunkard of a father and a submissive mother, tortured by her inebriated husband. He left Morocco in his early teens, illicitly, by sea.
Q: You wrote: "I served more than three years in the Israeli army. Halfway through I became a famous national figure." Was your fame at this time based on your business success?
A: Oh, no (laughing). I did own at the time 25% of a retail outlet which sold computerized astrological predictions to the gullible, using the state of the art monsters which then passed for computers. But I became famous first as a "genius" physicist and philosopher of science. There were later waves of fame: as an angry member of the Sephardi minority, as the right hand of a Jewish billionaire, as a stockbroker and, finally, as a criminal.
Q: You wrote: "Being in a guru-like status is the ultimate narcissistic experience." I'm still curious, though, what your attitude is toward your "customers." It's clear you appreciate the attention from them, but do you consider them foolish for seeking advice from a narcissist such as yourself?
A: I am by far the most intelligent person I know, so, the deep seated belief that others are bumbling, ineffectual fools is a constant feature of my mental landscape. But seeking advice from a narcissist about narcissism doesn't sound foolish to me - IF the consumer applies judgement and his or her knowledge of narcissism and its distortions to the advice received.
Q: Where did you receive your undergraduate and graduate education?
A: I commenced my academic studies at the age of 9 in the Technion - Israeli Institute of Technology in Haifa. I studied 8 semesters (mainly physical sciences) but did not complete my degree. I obtained my Ph.D. in "Pacific Western University" (Encino, California and Geneva, Switzerland) in a distance learning program. The subject of my dissertation was "Time Asymmetry" but my doctorate is in philosophy (a Ph.D. in philosophy as a major and physics as a minor).
Q: Do you think NPD is more widespread than most people belief?
A: When one is preoccupied with NPD - it is only natural to see pathological narcissism everywhere. I think that NPD is as rare as the APA makes it out to be - less than 1% of the adult population. But narcissistic TRAITS are very common, very widespread and form part and parcel or even the foundation stone of many other mental health disorders. Many otherwise healthy or normal people display clear narcissistic characteristics and behaviours. I believe that up to 10-15% of the adult population is affected.
Q: I understand you're a big Kafka fan. Throughout his work, there's a sense of doomed grandiosity; his case will never be resolved; and he will never gain entrance to the castle. (your response?)
A: Kafka's greatest lesson to us, students of human nature, is that we are all on trial, that the verdict is irrelevant, that we are guilty and that the trial itself - its interminable length, its capriciousness, its nightmarish quality - is our punishment. But Kafka poses a dilemma to your average narcissist. He lived abjectly and miserably. There is the suffering of being a Kafka and the suffering of NOT being a Kafka (i.e., of being a nobody) - which is preferable?
Q: Are there other writers who have influenced your writing?
A: Not many. Poe, O. Henry, Saki, authors of short fiction. I read voraciously - but I forget almost everything I read immediately, fiction and non-fiction alike. I also forget completely everything I WRITE!!! It is a terrible sense of waste. Very frustrating.
Q: You've written that narcissists suffer from terrible bouts of depression (or dysphorias) when they are running short of narcissistic supply. How do you cope with these periods?
A: These dysphorias are always reactions to the diminishment of narcissistic supply. Such diminishment can be the result of the objective disappearance or attrition of sources of supply - or of the devaluation of trustworthy and available ones. In the past I used to react by frantically groping for new sources of supply. Lately, I react by withdrawing completely from the world while I try to cultivate new sources of supply which will not require contact with humans in the flesh (this interview, my mailing list, my sites, my books, my articles, other interviews). The older I become, the more my schizoid features emerge at the expense of my narcissism. I might end up being a bitter recluse. My political columns are definitely authored by a cantankerous hater and despiser of Mankind (see: http://www.ce-review.org/authorarchives/vaknin_archive/vaknin_main.html).
Q: You characterize NPD as a "post-traumatic" disorder. What similarities - and differences - do you find between NPD and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
A: I don't recall having characterized NPD as PTSD (though there is always a PTSD-like phase in the traumas endured by the narcissist in his formative years). I may have, but I don't think such a comparison is entirely convincing. NPD is ubiquitous, all-pervasive and other-orientated. PTSD is none of these. But I did say that the VICTIMS of narcissists suffer from PTSD. The differences between PNSD (Post Narcissist Stress Disorder) and PTSD are superficial - victims of narcissists have no flashbacks and the like. But the core of both reactive patterns is one and the same. Living or interacting with a narcissist - even for a short duration - is often a most harrowing experience.
Q: In "Malignant Self Love", you write: "The Narcissist does his damnedest to avoid intimacy. He constantly likes about every aspect of his life: his self, his history, his vocation and avocations, his emotions. This false information and the informative asymmetry in the relationship guarantee his informative lead, or "advantage." It seems from this statement that Narcissist is poker-faced card player who refuses to show is hand. In light of these statements, should your remarks in this interview be taken with a grain of salt? ?
A: Is this interview intimate in any sense of the word? I wasn't aware of it. To me, this is the exchange of bits and bytes for a mutual benefit. I fill in the forms (=respond to your questions) - you get to add an interview to your site. A transaction. BUT Your question IS pertinent because the narcissist is a pathological liar - that is a liar who lies for no discernible gain Additionally, the narcissist suffers from cognitive distortions. He views the world in a unique manner, imbues it with transcendent meaning, populates it with creatures of his psyche, re-orders it in accordance with his highly idiosyncratic scheme of things, attributes to people motives they never had, lashes out against the inhabitants of his paranoia and so on. In short, the narcissist is more often in the fantasy land of his grandiosity than with us, here, on earth. I did my best not to lie in this interview (it takes a conscious effort on my part). I cannot spot the cognitive distortions, needless to add.
Q: You didn't say that NPD is the same as PTSD. But you did characterize NPD as a "post traumatic" disorder, i.e., one caused by trauma. Do you think there are certain kinds of traumas that result in NPD, or are there certain kinds of people whose reaction to trauma results in NPD?
A: NPD is a new phenomenon. It was first recognized as an autonomous mental health disorder in 1980 (DSM III). There is almost no research about any aspect of pathological narcissism: epidemiology, aetiology, dynamics, prognosis, nothing. Most of my correspondence has been with victims of narcissists or people who have been interacting with them. Thus, I studied narcissism both first hand (I am a narcissist) and second hand. But the first sample - myself - is quite biased and the second one both biased and unreliable. Narcissists tend to deceive their environment, including by massively and frequently re-authoring their life narrative a biography. But, I think that the following common strands are rather "safe": Narcissists grow up in emotionally dysfunctional (though not necessarily abusive) families - no unconditional love, no validation, no affirmation, insecure parents, emotional lability of family members, capriciousness and unpredictability of conduct and a perturbed process of socialization and so on. Narcissists have been either utterly ignored, neglected, misunderstood and abused in childhood - or pampered, dotted upon and stifled in their formative years Narcissists are often the off spring of narcissistic parents (narcissism breeds narcissism). There are more male narcissists than female ones. That just about sums up what we know today about the aetiology of narcissism.
Q: Can you recall any specific instances of discrimination or oppression that you or your family members faced as Sephardim? ?
A: It was not state policy, there was no Israeli apartheid. But it was in the air, in the fact that we lived in segregated neighbourhoods, in linguistic ghettos. We rarely inter-married and Ashkenazi officials always made disparaging remarks about Sephardim and their (lack of) culture in public. It was in the humiliating forming Israeli anti-Sephardi slang, in the fact that - barring some token Sephardim - there were none in any elite: the military, the political, the academic, the literary. In other words, it was a glass ceiling put very low.
Q: You've spoken of many events in your life: serving in the Israeli Army, running a computerized astrology business, gaining notice in physics and philosophy, working with a billionaire, receiving your PHD, marrying and divorcing, and becoming a stockbroker and later a criminal. Can you provide a chronology of these and other key events?
A: The exact chronology is available here:
Q: I want to try and get a better understanding of your prison sentence. According to the Jerusalem Post, you, Nessim Avioz, and Dov Landau owned an investment consulting firm. The firm owned a majority stake in the Agriculture Bank, which it hoped to unload. The firm convinced two customers to buy stock from the Agriculture Bank with false assurances that it was profitable. The firm proceeded to purchase for the customers more than twice the number of shares they had requested, overdrawing their accounts. The customers then demanded that the excess shares be sold. To avoid losing money on that sale, the firm artificially inflated the stock price. This artificial inflation was achieved when the firm placed a large buy order for the stock, which was "disguised as several small orders from different banks," according to the Post. Could you comment on the Post's account of the events?
A: I have nothing to add to my version already given to you.
Narcissism is an adaptive defence mechanism. I adopted it because it worked. I am not worried at all: the minute it loses its utility, it will vanish. The second its dysfunctional disadvantages outweigh its adaptive advantages - it will hurt badly and I will get rid of it.
This means that the constant hurt that you are experiencing now is the shedding of your defence mechanisms, the transition from the larval stage to a higher order of things.
This persistent feeling of hurt is an alarm signal, telling you that your defence mechanisms are no longer working, that some Trojan horse penetrated your defences, that dysfunction far outweighs function, and that you have to re-adjust your mental jigsaw puzzle.
Defence mechanisms are viruses. They have no genetic material of their own. They infiltrate your cells and make use of YOUR DNA and use YOU for food. Getting rid of them entails a full blown process of DISEASE. Dis-ease. Hurt, pain, temperature, spasms, tears.
This is all in YOU. It has little to do with the real world. Reality is composed of hurtful and joyous things. If you are capable of noticing only the hurtful things - this is because you are using an emotional filter. It is a membrane generated by the slow death of your defence mechanisms, it is scar tissue as your wounds are healing. There is an interim stage where you are no longer in possession of your defences and not yet endowed with your scar tissue. The transparency in between is the filter that makes you see only the bad and the cruel and the shoddy and the shady and the dead.
This is a journey no one can take with you. Part of your healing is to fully assimilate the sad, terrifying realization that we are alone - always, completely and irrevocably. This does not mean that we cannot try to help each other. Nor does it mean that such help can never be effective. On the contrary, the only redeeming feature of human life is our ability to share it through empathy. BUT, it does mean that we must never be dependent. That we must travel our road by ourselves, at our own pace, in accordance with our handicaps and talents, as we deem fit. At the end of this path, only we await ourselves. When we finally meet ourselves, at the end of this course of tortuous obstacles - life begins.
We all live lives different from the lives that we could have lived had we made different choices. Another husband, another town, another job - and our lives would have been completely different. This is the stuff of many movies.
Normal people don't know what it is like to be a narcissist. Are they missing anything? Sure they do.
I don't know what it is like to love and empathize. Am I missing anything?
Sure I do.
This is the human predicament. We are finite creatures in an infinitely varied world.
Narcissists are adept at imitating emotions. If narcissistic supply can be obtained by imitating empathy, compassion, caring, and understanding - the narcissist will immediately become THE most empathic, caring, compassionate and understanding person in the world. But he does not genuinely experience any of this.
Of course, it is morally preferable to extract narcissistic supply from others by helping them, caring for them and empathizing with them - then by tormenting them or brutalizing them. It is a discovery I have made for myself. I implement this new found knowledge. I derive narcissistic supply from my readers and, in return, I do my best to help and express empathy.
Some narcissists indeed have problems with their body. They depersonalize - they do not feel connected to their body or or have wrong body self-perceptions. But many don't. I tend to agree that the first step on the road to self-acceptance and self-love should have to do with he narcissist's body. Self loathing is often "somatized", felt as a physical, or sexual issue by the narcissist.
NPD being ALL-pervasive INCORPORATES these attitudes (of self-loathing and self-destruction) gradually as well. Self defeating and self destructive behaviours are INSTRUMENTS in the service of NPD (as is the intellect, for instance).
They might have separate psychodynamic origins, though. Maybe the same phenomena (abuse) gave rise to both the NPD and the self destructive behaviours, but the NPD took over. It is an ORGANIZATIONAL principle. It is a form of (dis)organization of the ENTIRE personality and all behaviours (including self destructive ones) are PART OF the personality (even if it is disordered).
I think that I AM NPD. I have a disordered personality. I AM disordered. The level of organization of my personality is low. There is NOTHING outside my disorder. It colours all my life. In the words of the DSM: it is ALL-PERVASIVE.
You think that I have a personality and that only CERTAIN aspects of it are disordered.
The DSM, of course, supports my contention:
NPD - as defined there - is ALL pervasive. The disorder IS the patient.
ALL my varied reactions to this persistent, cruel, and recurrent abuse have COALESCED into the NPD. It's like a dynamic pattern of reactions - the very definition of the concept of "personality".
I think the differences between love and infatuation are both objective and subjective.
Objective - for instance, in the duration of the relationship. Infatuation is short term. If it last for years, perhaps it is love (or obsession).
Subjective - I think the emphasis in love is much less on the sexual dimensions and more on the emotional and companionship dimensions.
So, I used the word "love" above judiciously. I was referring to very long term relationships. The length of time and the number of tests the relationship withstood do not seem to diminish the uncertainty experienced by the narcissist. He is forever waiting for the axe to fall.
Narcissists are forever in pursuit of narcissistic supply. They know no past or future, are not constrained by any behavioural consistency, "rules" of conduct, or moral considerations. You signalled to him that you were a willing source - and he extracted his supply from you. This is a reflex. He would have reacted absolutely the same way to any other source. If what is needed to obtain supply from you is intimations of intimacy - he will employ them liberally.
Reactions that tend to increase your functionality and your awareness of reality (reality test) are healthy. It would be advisable to act to minimize the dissonance and the resulting anxiety and unease. This can be achieved by abandoning him emotionally, as well as physically.
This is the most prominent "emotion" narcissists experience: the fear of being "exposed". They feel that they are elaborate deceptions, intricate concoctions, stage-plays, movies, facades, Potemkin humans. That any minute, the "real thing", the "real intellectual", the "real person" will come and denude them, reveal to the world what they are: that they are NOT. Non-beings. Willing themselves into delusional existence, the nightmares of deranged inner divinities.
Let me tell you two secrets:
One, there are no "real" things, or people, or intellectuals. You are as real as it gets.
Two, You are so transparent that you do not have to fear exposure.
Staff, H. (2008, December 8). Narcissist's Interview - Excerpts Part 17, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/malignant-self-love/excerpts-from-the-archives-of-the-narcissism-list-part-17