Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anatomy of Malignant Narcissism

Anatomy Of Malignant Narcissism: Filling in the Gaps

In 1970, Otto Kernberg coined the term, "malignant narcissism"; he pointed out that the antisocial personality was fundamentally narcissistic and without morality. Malignant narcissism includes a sadistic element, creating, in essence, a sadistic psychopath. In this essay, "malignant narcissism" and psychopathy are employed interchangeably. 

Imagine, as an abuse survivor of someone with malignant narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder, giving your life over to a psychopath, and doing it with trust and a firm belief in his authority. What if said psychopathic conman, was advising victims? It seems absurd, that an abuser would advise the abused. It seems even more absurd, that the abused would take the advice to heart. Yet it happened to me, till I got wise to it and learned more about this disorder, and its largely superficial resemblance to narcissistic personality disorder, or garden variety "narcissism".

Psychopaths are known to be grandiose, to distort reality, to be contemptuous of human beings, and to be completely without conscience . To ask such a malignant narcissist for advice is to suffer life consequences. Are his words really full of "truth" and "insight" and "care" for the victims?

Recently, I came across the following exchange in part 40 of the psychopath's "narcissism list":

Why do his victims feel they are turning into narcissists themselves?

Narcissism is contagious. The narcissism creates a "bubble universe", similar to a cult. In this bubble, special rules apply.
These rules do not always correspond to outer reality.
Using complex defence mechanisms, such as projective identification, the narcissist forces his victims - spouse, mate, friend, colleague - to "play a role" assigned to him by "God" - the narcissist.
The narcissist rewards compliance with his script and punishes any deviation from it with severe abuse.
In other words, the narcissist CONDITIONS people around him using intimidation, positive and negative reinforcements and feedback, ambient abuse ("gaslighting"), covert, or controlling abuse, and overt, classical abuse.
Thus conditioned, the narcissist's victims gradually come to assimilate the narcissist's way of thinking (follies a-deux) [sic] and his modus operandi - his methods.
You can abandon the narcissist - but the narcissist never abandons you.
He is there, deep inside your traumatic memories, lurking, waiting to act out. You have been modified, very much like an alien snatching bodies.

Here is a perfect example of why it is dangerous to listen to the distorted, grandiose, psychopathic musings of a self-proclaimed "expert" on narcissism.
1)The psychopath misinterprets the question. He doesn't interpret it as fear and concern. He presumes that the victims have become like their tormentor. There is no ability even to relate to the question- without empathy*, he cannot see what the real question is.

2) Narcissism is not contagious. Any lax behaviour may lead to disinhibiting behaviour in others, and that's a valid psychological construct. If a narcissist sneezes, does that mean you're going to catch N germs? If you think about it, his statement isn't even within the grasp of reality or logic. It's nigh impossible to "catch" narcissism.

3) Some pathologically disordered narcissists and psychopaths create a cult like atmosphere: in this "cult" there is pressure to conform after manipulating your reality. You may find yourself doing things you normally wouldn't. Part of it is due to disinhibiting behaviour. The rest is due to groupthink (simplistically speaking) and brainwashing and subtle forms of intimidation which include guilt-making and shunning.

They are not "forcing" you into a role- they are enforcing the role they presume everyone plays. They are not capable of distinguishing between their delusions and a human being standing before them. Again, it is grandiose of a psychopath to think that they have the power to force you into a "role" and that it is a given that it is always successful.

4)There is no such animal as the "inverted narcissist". The only ones who totally buy into the cult leader's reality, and usually become his handmaidens and henchmen, are not inverted narcissists. They are just like the leader, only he is more adept at getting and keeping power than they are- kinda like 'Dr Evil' and 'Mini-Me'. They are just 'Mini-Me's' and their use of and dependence on each other is reciprocal.

5)He misuses the term "folies a deux" (and misspells it), which is reserved in psychiatric diagnoses for a shared psychosis (very rare)- which means neither person is in touch with reality. From his distorted apprehension, this would mean that the victim becomes the pathological narcissist. If there's any "projective identification" going on here it is the psychopath's, who believes that everyone is really just like him; there is also massive grandiosity in that he believes he has the power to self-replicate by transforming others into carbon copies of himself and his world.

6)If you take a good look at the paragraphs you can see that they are only loosely associated. In terms of underlying logic, we are the ones filling in the gaps. It is all smoke and mirrors. There is only significance without substance in his facile claims.

* cf. this distorted definition of 'empathy'- "We are coached to feel guilt and pain when we inflict suffering on another person. Empathy is an attempt to avoid our own self-imposed agony by projecting it onto another." S Vaknin

1) The psychopath, incapable of empathy, doesn't understand the question.
2) He is convinced that everyone is just like him.
3)He is convinced that he has the godlike power to transform anyone.
4) He is convinced that he has the godlike power to force anyone to do his bidding.
5)He is convinced that he has dominion over (and dominates) all things, including human beings.
6) He is convinced that he is successful in all his ventures. 


~~ As a detective he is useless: the evidence suggests to him that he can make anyone like he is-that he has the power; but in truth, he believes that everyone is like him and he seeks to enforce that delusion- he has no power but it is imperative to do whatever it takes to sustain the delusion. And so he brags to feed his narcissism.

~~ His thoughts, and offerings (including facts), are loosely associated and impressionistic, with no real substance or basis in reality. They depend far more on impression and impressing than on fact and logic. This suggests there is a true cognitive deficit in thinking, and the usual psychopathic agenda, embroidered throughout with histrionic morbidity. 


a)The outcome of the psychopath's grand delusions is that he confuses followers in a cult with narcissists, and survivors with narcissists.

b)If he does not understand the question, then he is incapable of an answer grounded in reality. Given his inability to understand, especially a "feeling" question, we need to take care to question a malignant narcissist's credibility.

c) To listen to and believe the ramblings of a psychopath is dangerous for victims/survivors. It is to invite the psychopathic unreality into our psyches and lives. A psychopathic world is a totalitarian world.

He has no perception of us as human beings. He believes we are all like him. He believes that we cannot be healed, and has even said so. He cannot understand the question. And, therefore, any answers he gives are inadequate, incompetent, fraudulent, and serve only his delusions and beliefs.

He is not capable of anything else. He is emotionally and cognitively handicapped. He is not capable of cogent or coherent thought or speech. (cf.Hervey Cleckley's thoughts on semantic aphasia in his seminal work,  'Mask of Sanity')

Anyone who, having been disoriented once, believes him, as he glibly throws some impressive concepts and 'facts' into the mix (they' are also good at snow jobs- wouldn't know parsimony in thought if they fell over it), becomes enthralled again to the totality of psychopathic distortion; they are misled and misdirected away from their inherent integrity and their strivings- their human uniqueness, and especially their very real suffering, deleted. He has no conception of humanity and no understanding of himself- he can only tell us what he wants himself to hear. Moreover, he enjoys pulling the wool over our eyes, this 'duping delight'. This is not even a question of hatred towards him.
He is a psychopath, a common conman, and he thinks and acts like one. It is pervasive.

So. Question, challenge, be aware, and beware the con.

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