Understanding Narcissism

Understanding Narcissism
“The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as Godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotionless and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.”
– Sam Vaknin

1.) Introduction – Narcissistic Personality Disorder
2.) Rational Narcissism aka Achievement-Based Narcissism
3.) The Birth of the Narcopath
4.) Dealing With A Narcopath
5.) In Closing / Relevant Reading

1.) Introduction – Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

All people with narcissistic personality disorder are narcissists, but not all narcissists
have a personality disorder. A healthy dose of narcissism is a performance-enhancer, for it improves one’s effectiveness by amplifying their self-love, confidence and boldness. However, it seems to be a common misconception that the promotion of narcissism is tantamount to the promotion of narcissistic personality disorder. This is false, and nought but an ignorant layman’s understanding of narcissism fallaciously manifesting as a false equivalence.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a coping mechanism developed in childhood to deal with neglect, rejection or cruelty (eg: bullying) from one’s parents. Narcissistic personality disorder is superlative to the nth degree, the most extreme version of narcissism, rather than the healthy self-assured confidence that comes as a by-product of talent and achievement.

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a developmental disorder ingrained into a child by the inability of a parent to validate them, or reward their accomplishments. Everything the child does is scrutinised and rejected, the child is constantly berated and denied their basic need for love.

The child’s accomplishments are typically deemed insufficient, for example if the child achieves a perfect score on an exam or comes first place in a race, this perfection is apathetically expected rather than emotionally rewarded. In a narcopath’s childhood achievement was met by indifference, with anything other than exceptionalism being seized by the parent as an opportunity to degrade them. The parental approval and joy quintessential to achievement was absent, whilst degradation and indifference reigned supreme – this is the crucible in which a narcopath is forged.

This is further exacerbated when the narcopath has a sibling who is incessantly rewarded whilst they are incessantly punished, this is narcopathy on the part of the parent exercising this behaviour, an NPD strategy known as triangulation.

What sets the NPD apart from the narcissist is that the rejection caused by the parent at a young age leaves them incapable of forming pair-bonds, this inability to pair-bond from there on becomes an empathy disorder dressed in ego. The narcopath is effectively a synthetic psychopath, narcopathy is always socialised. Had their parents been good people, they would not have developed an empathy disorder, which is really no more than a coping mechanism developed by a helpless creature that the needs the resources of an abusive one.

2.) Rational Narcissism aka Achievement-Based Narcissism:

Achievement-based narcissism is distinct from narcissistic personality disorder in much the way stoicism is distinct from psychopathy. Although a stoic and a psychopath may both seem cold, one can pair bond and the other cannot. Likewise despite the NPD and narcissist demonstrating a penchant for egotism, one can pair bond whilst the other cannot.

Successful people with the self-esteem that comes with it, are to one degree or another, narcissistic. And it is precisely this which distinguishes them from NPDs, they are narcissistic by degree – not in totality. If one attained a ridiculous amount of success, it is feasible they could become as narcissistic as the NPD – but this is uncommon and thus unrepresentative of achievement-based narcissism.

Unlike the NPD, your typical narcissist does not deify themselves as infallible, indubitable or indissoluble, but rather, they see themselves as above average, superior. And if they earn more than most people, are smarter than most people, and are in better health than most people, is this not true? Narcissism and elitism go hand in hand, for narcissism is a natural byproduct of success.

Much unlike the NPD, the successful are narcissistic because they have worked intelligently, and by the trial of their mettle they have achieved. NPDs are delusional individuals who deified themselves to cope with the onslaught of emotional abuse they received from their parents in childhood. Already now you should be beginning to understand the different shades of narcissism; you have the tangibly successful who are narcissistic by recognition of their superiority, and the delusionally damaged who have lived in a self-inculcated fantasy since youth.

Achievement-based narcissism is healthy and comes from a positive place, whilst narcissistic personality disorder is a coping mechanism born from a negative place. Unlike the achievement-based narcissist, the NPD is oft sadistic. The power that comes from sadistic exploitation is quick and dirty junk food for the insatiable vacuum that represents the NPD’s horrible childhood.

People like to use the term “narcissist” as a throwaway insult, but know this – not all narcissism is equal. Some is healthy, born of superior performance and achievement, the other is dysfunctional, born of a terrible and abusive childhood. To combine these distinctions under one umbrella would be to disingenuously misrepresent the spectrum of narcissism, and anybody interested in narcissism would as such do well to ingrain this distinction into their cranium.

3.) The Birth of The Narcopath:

The NPD constructs a false sense of self to counteract the heartbreaking treatment they received from their parent. In truth the NPD is a victim, but a dangerous one at that. It is unwise to show the NPD the pity and sympathy customarily doted to a victim, for the NPD will see this as weakness and exploit it duly.

The vacuum left by unbetrothed love in the NPD’s formative years is insatiable and unfillable. NPDs tend to be the offspring of other NPDs, or individuals with affective empathy disorders (of which there is a numerous and colourful range of diagnoses). Any love or sympathy the NPD receives as an adult serves merely as a form of ego validation, it is not sentimentally received or appreciated in the way the empath intended.

An NPD is a narcopath (a comorbid psychopathic grandiose narcissist), narcopaths do not feel empathy. A narcissist on the other hand merely has an elevated sense of self, a lack of humility if you will, but this alone does not signify an inability to sympathise. I refer to NPDs as narcopaths, for the absence of empathy customary to the NPD is tantamount to psychopathy, albeit, an egotistical variation on the phenomenon. All narcopaths are egotists, but not all psychopaths are egotists.

The narcopath cannot love for they bare no sentimental appreciation for vulnerability, perceiving only weakness in that which they cannot emote. Like a destructive child they cannot enjoy the flutter of a butterfly, but rather, the butterfly drawing people’s attention away from them would cause anger, compelling them to crush it.

And yet if you were to tell the narcopath they could not love, you would be met by nothing but narcissistic injury. Indignance, histrionics, victim playing and gaslighting, a grand display of anger where they highlight their best points whilst contrasting them with your worst. The narcopath is not above bringing out their highlight reel with your skeleton closet, making comparisons, and then trying to sell this as a fair and accurate interpretation of reality.

The narcopath would deny their inability to love, because to tell a narcopath they are incapable of something is to harm the very pride they subsist on. Narcopaths are broken people due to the mental abuse inflicted on them by their parent(s), yet at the same time they are dangerous people – I will repeat myself for clarity’s sake: narcopaths do not sentimentally appreciate sympathy, they desire it only so they can use it as a way to malignantly exploit the sucker naive enough to care.

4.) Dealing With A Narcopath:

Narcopaths are very unemotional and unconcerned with others, their emotional capacity is restricted to a solipsistic viewpoint.

For example, they do not feel concern for others – but rather they become bothered if someone useful to them is unavailable. To be concerned would be to emotionally care for the missing person, to be bothered is to be annoyed by the absence of a person. This is a subtle yet distinct variation, and people uneducated in these matters oft mistake this bothersomeness for caring, which the narcopath predictably exploits in their feeble attempt to appear empathic. Narcopaths are emotional people, but only when they are bothered by something, not when you are.

Typically the narcopath is angry, or feeding their narcissistic supply by ridiculing people. Narcopaths can be funny people, and this makes sense in so much as humour is based upon the ridicule and degradation of an out-group in order to amuse an audience. You will see here on a non-sexual level that this penchant for schadenfreude is a form of soft-sadism (and is typically, likewise mirrored in the bedroom).

Ridicule makes the narcopath feel superior to the out-group whilst feeding them the validation of the in-group, further bolstering feelings of superiority. Because the narcopath is conflict-seeking rather than conflict averse, they are destructive personalities that feed on the chaos and misery of others, again a manifestation of their latent sadism.

Realise when dealing with a narcopath that everything goes through a filter of ego – this is both the narcopath’s greatest strength and weakness – a double-edged sword if you will. The narcopath is psychologically high in attack, but low in defence. Unlike a stoic who is immovable, the narcopath is easily moved – although they will typically attempt to shut you down before you can damage them too much.

If you were to observe a battlefield with a narcopathic combatant, you would see their strategy is to achieve a quick victory by overwhelming their adversary. By merit of their strong attack they often manage this, although it should be noted this strategy is as much a form of defence as it is an attack. If you mirror the narcopath’s strategy by overwhelming them, they will lose all sense of sanity and allow themselves to be carried off by childish rage rather than maintain the elitist decorum typical of a well-fed narcopath.

Unlike psychopaths, narcopaths excel at destroying but are inept at enduring, such is their achille’s heel – their susceptibility to narcissistic injury. The propensity for lèse-majesté in the narcopath is pronounced and profound. Narcopaths do not respond to reason once the ego fires up, although they have no qualms with exploiting yours.

The best way to deal with a narcopath in their manic phase is to insult and undermine them, amplify their thirst for conflict, question their credibility, mock them and generally degrade their very essence. Although this sounds extreme, literally nothing else will allow you to permeate the raw power of their childish stubbornness.

To get through to them you must resort to narcissistically injuring them. They won’t like you for this, but they probably don’t really like you anyway – so who cares? And although they may not like you for this, they will respect it, and perversely what a narcopath can respect, they can like. If you cannot offend a narcopath, they cannot respect you. This is extreme yet necessary, as at their core these individuals are bullies, and the only way to win the respect of a bully is to degrade them by showing them you’re better at being them than they are.

5.) In Closing / Relevant Reading:

Curious to see how narcissistic you are? You can take this test to get a rough idea. A high narcissism score on this test is not indicative of narcopathy, merely narcissism, but a high narcissism score combined with a high psychopathy score is. This test does not seek to measure sadism, but if you get a high psychopathy and narcissism score, I can infer with 99% confidence that due to comorbidity you are sadistic.

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Relevant Books:

Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited
The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty