Chapter 8, The Soul of a Narcissist, The State of the Art

The Emotional Involvement Preventive Measures

Chapter 8

The narcissist is typically born into a dysfunctional family. It is characterised by massive denial, both internal ("You do not have a real problem, you are only pretending") and external ("You must never reveal the family's secrets to anyone"). Such emotional illness leads to affective and other personality disorders shared by all the members of the family and ranging from obsessive-compulsive disorders to hypochondriasis and depression.

Dysfunctional families are often reclusive and autarkic (self-sufficient). They actively reject and encourage abstention from social contacts. This inevitably leads to defective or partial socialisation and differentiation, and to problems of sexual and self identity.

This monastic attitude is sometimes applied even to the extended family. The members of the nuclear family feel emotionally or financially deprived or threatened by the world at large. They react with envy, rejection, self-isolation and rage in a kind of shared psychosis.

Constant aggression and violence are permanent features of such families. The violence and abuse can be verbal (degradation, humiliation), psychological-emotional, physical, or sexual.

Trying to rationalise and intellectualise its unique position and to justify it, the dysfunctional family emphasises some superior logic it allegedly possesses and its efficiency. It adopts a transactional approach to life and it regards certain traits (e.g., intelligence) as an expression of superiority and as an advantage. These families encourage excellence - mainly cerebral and academic - but only as means to an end. The end is usually highly narcissistic (to be famous/rich/to live well, etc.).

Some narcissists, bred in such households, react by creatively escaping into rich, imagined worlds in which they exercise total physical and emotional control over their environment. But all of them divert libido, which should have been object-oriented, to their own self.

The source of all the narcissist's problems is the belief that human relationships invariably end in humiliation, betrayal, pain and abandonment. This conviction is the outcome of indoctrination in early childhood by their parents, peers, or role models.

Moreover, the narcissist always generalises. To him, any emotional interaction and any interaction with an emotional component is bound to end ignominiously. Getting attached to a place, a job, an asset, an idea, an initiative, a business, or a pleasure is certain to end as badly as getting involved in a relationship with another person.

This is why the narcissist avoids intimacy, real friendships, love, other emotions, commitment, attachment, dedication, perseverance, planning, emotional or other investment, morale or conscience (which are only meaningful if one believes in a future), developing a sense of security, or pleasure.

The narcissist emotionally invests only in things he feels that he is in full, unmitigated control of: himself and, sometimes, not even that.

But the narcissist cannot ignore the fact that there is emotional content and residual affect even in the most basic activities. To protect himself from these remnants of emotions, these remote threats, he constructs a False Self, grandiose, and fantastic.

The narcissist uses his False Self in all his interactions, getting it "tainted" by emotions in the process. Thus the False Self insulates the narcissist from the risks of emotional "contamination".

When even this fails the narcissist has a more powerful weapon in his arsenal: the Wunderkind (wonder-boy) mask.

The narcissist creates two masks, which serve to hide him from the world - and to force the world to cater to his needs and desires.

The first mask is the old, worn-out False Self.

The False Self is a special type of Ego. It is grandiose (and, in this sense, fantastic), invulnerable, omnipotent, omniscient, and "unattached". This kind of Ego prefers adulation or being feared to love. This Ego learns the truth about itself and its boundaries by being reflected. Other people's constant feedback (Narcissistic Supply) help the narcissist to modulate and fine tune his False Self.

But the second mask is as important. This is the mask of the Wunderkind.

The narcissist, wearing this mask, broadcasts to the world that he is both a child (and therefore vulnerable, susceptible, and subject to adult protection) - and a genius (and therefore worthy of special treatment and of admiration).

Inwardly this mask makes the narcissist less emotionally vulnerable. A child does not fully comprehend and grasp events and circumstances, does not commit himself emotionally, waltzes through life, and does not have to deal with emotionally charged problems or situations such as sex or child rearing.

Being a child, the narcissist is exempt from assuming responsibility and develops a sense of immunity and security. No one is likely to hurt a child or to severely punish him. The narcissist is a dangerous adventurer because - like a child - he feels that he is immune to the consequences of his actions, that his possibilities are unlimited, that everything is allowed without the risk of paying the price.


The narcissist hates adults and is repelled by them. In his mind, he is forever innocent and loveable. Being a child, he feels no need to acquire adult skills or adult qualifications. Many a narcissist do not complete their academic studies, refuse to marry or have children, or even get a driver's license. They feel that people should adore them as they are and supply them with all the needs that they, as children, cannot themselves secure.

It is precisely because of this precociousness, the built-in contradiction between his (mental) age and his (adult) knowledge and intelligence, that the narcissist is able to sustain a grandiose self at all! Only a child with this kind of intelligence and with this kind of biography and with this kind of knowledge is entitled to feel superior and grandiose. The narcissist must remain a child if he is to feel superior and grandiose.

The problem is that the narcissist uses these two masks indiscriminately. There are situations in his life when one or both of them prove to be dysfunctional, even detrimental to his well-being.

Example: the narcissist dates a woman. At first, he makes use of the False Self in order to convert her into a Secondary Narcissistic Supply Source (SNSS) and to put her to the test (will she abandon/humiliate/betray him once she discovers that his self is confabulated?).

This phase successfully over, the girl is by now a full-fledged SNSS and is committed to sharing her life with the narcissist. But he is unlikely to believe her. His False Self, gratified by the SNSS, "exits". It is not likely to re-enter unless there is a problem with the unperturbed flow of Narcissistic Supply.

The Wunderkind mask takes over. Its main goal is to avoid or to mitigate the consequences of a certain emotional injury in the future. It permits the development of emotional involvement but in such a distorted and warped manner that this combination (Wunderkind mask in front - False Self in the background) does indeed lead to betrayal and to the abandonment of the narcissist.

The bridge connecting the two - the False Self and Wunderkind mask - is made of their common preference. They both prefer adulation to love.

Another example: the narcissist gets a job in a new workplace or meets a new group of people in social circumstances. At first, he uses his False Self with the aim of obtaining Primary Narcissistic Supply Source (PNSS) by demonstrating his superiority and uniqueness. This he does by putting on display his intellect and knowledge.

This phase over, the narcissist believes that his superiority is established, securing a constant flow of Narcissistic Supply and Narcissistic Accumulation. His False Self is satisfied and exits the scene. It will not reappear unless the supply is threatened.

It is the turn of the Wunderkind mask. Its goal is to allow the narcissist to establish some emotional involvement without suffering the results of an assured ultimate narcissistic injury or trauma. Again this underlying falsity, this infantilism, provoke rejection, the dismantling of the narcissist's social frameworks and groups, and the abandonment of the narcissist by friends and colleagues.

To summarise:

The narcissist has a post-traumatic personality with a tough, sadistic, and rigidly punishing ideal Superego (SEGO).

This contributes to the weakening and subsequent disintegration of the True Ego (TEGO).

The same pathology makes the narcissist create a "mask": the False Ego (FEGO).

Its aim is to ensure emotional autarky (self-sufficiency) and to avoid inevitable emotional injuries.

The FEGO prefers adulation, attention, or even fear to a mature adult love relationship.

FEGO is responsible to obtain PNSS and SNSS.

Adulation is secured by displaying superior qualities: intellect and knowledge, in the case of the cerebral narcissist - physical and sexual prowess in the case of his somatic counterpart.

Love and intimacy are perceived as threats by both types of narcissists.

When the target selected by the FEGO is successfully converted into a Narcissistic Source of Supply (NSS) and does not abandon ship after the first few encounters - the narcissist begins to develop a kind of emotional correlate (attachment) and there is some affective investment in the object.

But this attachment comes with a corollary: guaranteed hurt in the future. The narcissist's sadistic SEGO always attacks the object and makes it abandon the narcissist. The SEGO does it to punish the narcissist.

Anticipating this painful and (potentially) life-threatening phase, the narcissist activates another mask: the Wunderkind mask. This mask does allow for emotions to infiltrate the narcissistic fortress while maintaining impenetrable and successful defences against emotional injury.

Put together, though, these masks cause the very conflicts that they are intended to prevent, the very losses that they are intended to fend off, the very dysphoria, which they were supposed to eliminate.

Their combined actions lead to the necessity to allocate libido to FEGO to obtain new PNSS and SNSS - and the cycle begins anew.


Mental Map # 9

SEGO (ideal, sadistic, tough, punishing, offensive)
interacts with a HYPERCONSTRUCT one
of whose components is: the TEGO (really a child).
The SEGO interacts with TEGO
by exporting to the TEGO its aggression
and importing from it obsessive-compulsive behaviours.
SEGO employs EIPM to ensure punishment through loss and hurt.
Another component of the Hyperconstruct is the FEGO.
FEGO employs the intellect and an array of defence mechanisms.
FEGO imports libido from the ID (another component of the Hyperconstruct).
FEGO imports drives from the ID.
FEGO exports PNSSs and SNSSs to the OBJECTS
(partner, spouse, business, money, friends, social framework, etc.).
FEGO imports hurt-free losses from OBJECTS
(the hurt is neutralised by initiating these losses and abandonment).
FEGO ("Wonder") and TEGO ("Boy") form Wonderboy, a Mask.
The WUNDERKIND MASK deflects the hurt
provoked by the SEGO following losses and abandonment.
When PNSSs/SNSSs are lost, FEGO experiences
Loss Dysphoria and Deficiency Dysphoria.
FEGO activates the Reactive Repertoire to escape the hurt.
Libido is allocated to FEGO to look for new PNSSs and SNSSs.

But what happens if the NSSs (spouse, workplace) insist upon having a meaningful emotional involvement (e.g., the spouse insists upon being loved and upon more intimacy)?

In other words, what happens if someone close wants to penetrate the masks, to see what is (rather who is) behind them?

At this stage the Wunderkind mask is already active. It allows the narcissist to receive without giving, or investing, emotionally. But if the mask is bombarded with emotional demands from the outside, it ceases to function. It becomes a perfect child on the one hand (totally helpless and frightened) and a perfect, machine-like, genius on the other hand (with a defective reality test). The weakening of the mask permits direct contact between SEGO and object, which is subjected now to transformations of aggression.

The object is stunned by the apparently inexplicable change in the narcissist's mood and behaviour. It tries to weather the storm in the hope that this is a transient phenomenon. Only when the aggression persists does the object abandon the narcissist, thus causing a severe narcissistic injury and forcing upon the narcissist a painful transition to the new situation in which he is devoid of his SNSS. The object flees the SEGO. The narcissist is left feeling very envious of the object because she can avoid the monster that lurks inside him.

The failure of the masks means full emotional involvement, SEGO-originated aggression, and the certainty of abandonment with a full-fledged narcissistic injury, which could even threaten the narcissist's life.

Another thing to learn from this model is how the narcissist's attitude to objects changes when he senses a dwindling of the PNSS. The narcissist begins then to rely more heavily on the supply accumulated by the SNSS. He rehashes and recycles the information regarding his accomplishments and his grand moments stored in the SNSS's memory until they have lost most of their freshness and meaning.

As no new supply is forthcoming because of the gradual disappearance of PNSS, the reservoir is not replenished and becomes stale. The FEGO becomes weakened and undernourished. Its growing infirmity allows for a direct contact between SEGO and objects. This has the same consequences as before. Only this time the SEGO's aggression is directed at the TEGO as well.

SEGO and the Hyperconstruct (which is the TEGO, the FEGO, the ID, together with the Wunderkind mask) are engaged in constant, energy consuming, warfare to obtain access to objects. The Hyperconstruct gains the upper hand when the FEGO is fortified by Narcissistic Supply coming from a variety of PNSSs and SNSSs.

When SEGO wins, a deep emotional involvement is formed, anxiety is aroused because of the anticipation of the SEGO's future sadistic actions, and the narcissist engages in compulsive acts to channel the anxiety and to neutralise it. SEGO directs aggression and its transformations at the objects and they react by fighting back, injuring the narcissist in the process. Finally the objects, hurt and dejected, abandon the narcissist, or the common framework (the business, the workplace, the family unit), or change to such a degree that it amounts to emotional abandonment.

The FEGO then experiences a thorough and hazardous narcissistic injury.

To avoid the emotional consequences of a possible victory of the SEGO, the Hyperconstruct activates a series of mechanisms, attitudes, and behaviour patterns. They are all intended to assist the narcissist in "keeping his distance" in order to protect him from emotional hurt. The Wunderkind mask causes a considerable (and discernible) infantilisation of the narcissist and a gradual loss of his grasp on reality. When the objects abandon him, the narcissistic injury is thus made more tolerable.

But there is a deeply embedded conflict in the narcissist's personality.


The SEGO craves for meaningful emotional involvement. Its externalised aggression transformations are most effective precisely when the narcissist is emotionally involved. The effectiveness of its punishment is thus enhanced and the pain is bound to be larger and life threatening.

Deep inside, the SEGO "believes" that the narcissist does not deserve to live. The aggression that the narcissist transforms and stores is of lethal proportions. In his childhood, the narcissist wanted the most sacred figures in his life dead and he believes that he deserves to die for it. The SEGO is a constant reminder of this and, thus, it is the narcissist's executioner.

The Hyperconstruct is assembled by the narcissist at a very early stage in his life precisely to confront this kind of self-destructive impulse. While the self-loathing cannot be eliminated - it can at least be ameliorated and its consequences can be prevented.

The Hyperconstruct protects the narcissist from being emotionally devastated, from carrying the consequences of inevitable betrayal and abandonment too far. It achieves this by putting a distance between the narcissist and his objects so that when the predictable abandonment transpires it is less intolerable. It prevents emotional involvement to avoid potentially dangerous reactions to abandonment.

When the Hyperconstruct weakens (because of the insistence of an object to get emotionally involved), or diverted (when most of the libido is dedicated to look for PNSS), or when the PNSS reservoir is dilapidated - emotional involvement does develop together with transformed aggression directed at the object and which can be traced back to the SEGO.

The fate of the narcissist's relationships is preordained. The behavioural pair "emotional involvement-aggression" is constant and it always leads to abandonment. Only two components can be regulated in this trio (emotional involvement - aggression - abandonment) and they are emotional involvement and abandonment. The narcissist can choose to precipitate and anticipate an act of abandonment by initiating it - or he can choose to fight against emotional involvement and thus avoid being aggressive.

The Hyperconstruct does this by employing a series of ingeniously deceptive Emotional Involvement Preventive Measures (EIPM).

Emotional Involvement Preventive Measures

Personality and Conduct

Lack of enthusiasm, anhedonia, and constant boredom
A wish to "vary", to "be free", to hop from one subject matter or object to another
Laziness, constantly present fatigue
Dysphoria to the point of depression leads to reclusiveness, detachment, low energies
Repression of the affect and uniform emotional "hues"
Self-hatred disables capacity to love or to develop emotional involvement
Externalised transformations of aggression:
Envy, rage, cynicism, vulgar honesty, black humour
(all lead to disintimisation and distancing and to pathological emotional and sexual communication)
Narcissistic compensatory and defence mechanisms:
Grandiosity and grandiose fantasies
(Feelings of) uniqueness
Lack of empathy, or the existence of functional empathy, or empathy by proxy
Demands for adoration and adulation
A feeling that he deserves everything ("entitlement")
Exploitation of objects
Objectification/symbolisation (abstraction) and fictionalisation of objects
Manipulative behaviour
(using personal charm, ability to psychologically penetrate the object, ruthlessness,
and knowledge and information regarding the object obtained, largely, by interacting with the object)
Intellectualisation through generalisation, differentiation and categorisation of objects
Feelings of omnipotence and omniscience
Perfectionism and performance anxiety (repressed)
These mechanisms lead to emotional substitution
(adulation and adoration instead of love),
to the distancing and repulsion of objects, to disintimisation
(not possible to interact with the "real" narcissist).

The results:
Narcissistic vulnerability to narcissistic injury
(more bearable than emotional vulnerability and can be more easily recovered from)
"Becoming a child" and infantilism
(the narcissist's inner dialogue: "No one will hurt me",
"I am a child and I am loved unconditionally, unreservedly, non-judgementally, and disinterestedly")
Adults don't expect such unconditional love and acceptance
and they constitute a barrier to mature, adult relationships.
Intensive denial of reality (perceived by others as innocence, naivete, or pseudo-stupidity)
Constant lack of confidence concerning matters not under full control
leads to hostility towards objects and towards emotions.
Compulsive behaviours intended to neutralise a high level of anxiety

and compulsive seeking of love substitutes (money, prestige, power)


Instincts and Drives

The Cerebral Narcissist

Sexual abstinence, low frequency of sexual activity lead to less emotional involvement.
Frustration of emotional objects through sex avoidance encourages abandonment by the object.
Sexual disintimisation by preferring autoerotic,
anonymous sex with immature or incompatible objects
(who do not represent an emotional threat or pose demands).
Sporadic sex with long intervals and drastic alterations of sexual behaviour patterns.
Dissociation of pleasure centres:
Pleasure avoidance (unless "for and on behalf" of the object)
Refraining from child rearing or family formation
Using the object as an "alibi" not to form new sexual and emotional liaisons,
extreme marital and monogamous faithfulness,
to the point of ignoring all other objects leads to object inertia.
This mechanism defends the narcissist from the need to make contact with other objects.
Sexual frigidity with significant other and sexual abstinence with others.

The Somatic Narcissist

The somatic narcissist treats others as sex objects or sex slaves or masturbatory aides.

High frequency of unemotional sex, lacking in intimacy and warmth.

Object Relations

Manipulative attitudes, which in conjunction with feelings of
omnipotence and omniscience, create a mystique of infallibility and immunity.
Partial reality test
Social friction leads to social sanctions (up to imprisonment)
Refraining from intimacy
Absence of emotional investment or presence
Reclusive life, avoiding neighbours, family (both nuclear and extended), spouse and friends
The narcissist is often a schizoid
Active misogyny (women-hatred) with sadistic and anti-social elements
Narcissistic dependence serves as substitute for emotional involvement
Immature emotional dependence and habit
Object interchangeability
(dependence upon ANY object - not upon a specific object).
Limitation of contacts with objects to material and "cold" transactions
The narcissist prefers fear, adulation, admiration and narcissistic accumulation to love.
To the narcissist, objects have no autonomous existence except as PNSSs and SNSSs
(Primary and Secondary Sources of Narcissistic Supply).
Knowledge and intelligence serve as control mechanisms and
extractors of adulation and attention (Narcissistic Supply).
The object is used to re-enact early life conflicts:
The narcissist is bad and asks to be punished anew
and thus obtain confirmation that people are angry at him.
The object is kept emotionally distant through deterrence
and is constantly tested by the narcissist who reveals his negative sides to the object.
The aim of negative, off-putting behaviours is to check whether
the narcissist's uniqueness will override and offset them in the mind of the object.
The object experiences emotional absence, repulsion, deterrence and insecurity.
It is thus encouraged not to develop emotional involvement with the narcissist
(emotional involvement requires a positive emotional feedback).
The erratic and demanding relationship with the narcissist
is experienced as an energy-depleting burden.
It is punctuated by a series of "eruptions" followed by relief.
The narcissist is imposing, intrusive, compulsive and tyrannical.
Reality is interpreted cognitively so that negative aspects,
real and imagined, of the object are highlighted.
This preserves the emotional distance between the narcissist and his objects,
fosters uncertainty, prevents emotional involvement
and activates narcissistic mechanisms (such as grandiosity)
which, in turn, increase the repulsion and the aversion of the partner.
The narcissist claims to have chosen the object because of an error/circumstances/
pathology/loss of control/immaturity/partial or false information, etc.



Functioning and Performance

A grandiosity shift:

A preference to be emotionally invested in grandiose career-related fantasies
in which the narcissist does not have to face practical, rigorous and consistent demands.
The narcissist avoids success in order to avoid emotional involvement and investment.
He shuns success because it obliges him to follow through
and to identify himself with some goal or group.
He emphasises areas of activity in which he is unlikely to succeed.
The narcissist ignores the future and does not plan.
Thus he is never emotionally committed.
The narcissist invests the necessary minimum in his job (emotionally).
He is not thorough and under-performs, his work is shoddy and defective or partial.
He evades responsibility and tends to pass it on to others while exercising little control.
His decision-making processes are ossified and rigid
(he presents himself as a man of "principles" - usually referring to his whims and moods).
The narcissist reacts very slowly to a changing environment (change is painful).
He is a pessimist, knows that he will lose his job/business -
so, he is constantly engaged in seeking alternatives and constructing plausible alibis.
This yields a feeling of temporariness, which prevents engagement, involvement,
commitment, dedication, identification and emotional hurt in case of change or failure.

The alternative to having a spouse/companion:

Solitary life (with vigorous emphasis on PNSS) or frequent changes of partners.
Serial vocations prevent the narcissist from having a clear career path
and obviate the need to persevere.
All the initiatives adopted by the narcissist are egocentric, sporadic and discrete
(they focus on one skill or trait of the narcissist, are randomly distributed in space and in time,
and do not form a thematic or other continuum - they are not goal or objective oriented).
Sometimes, as a substitute, the narcissist engages in performance shifting:
He comes up with imaginary, invented goals with no correlation to reality and its constraints.
To avoid facing performance tests and to maintain grandiosity and uniqueness
the narcissist refrains from acquiring skills and training
(such as a driver's licence, technical skills, any systematic - academic or non-academic - knowledge).
The "child" in the narcissist is reaffirmed this way - because he avoids adult activities and attributes.
The gap between the image projected by the narcissist
(charisma, unusual knowledge, grandiosity, fantasies)
and his actual achievements - create in him permanent feelings that he is a crook,
a hustler, that his life is unreal life and movie-like (derealisation and depersonalisation).
This gives rise to ominous feelings of imminent threat and, concurrently,
to compensatory assertions of immunity and omnipotence.
The narcissist is forced to become a manipulator.

Locations and Environment

A feeling of not belonging and of detachment
Bodily discomfiture (the body feels as depersonalised, alien and a nuisance,
its needs are totally ignored, its signals re-routed and re-interpreted, its maintenance neglected)
Keeping his distance from relevant communities

(his neighbourhood, coreligionists, his nation and countrymen)

Disavowing his religion, his ethnic background, his friends
The narcissist often adopts the stance of a "scientist-observer".
This is narcissistic detachment -
the feeling that he is a director or an actor in a movie about his own life.
The narcissist avoids "emotional handles":
photographs, music identified with a certain period in his life,
familiar places, people he knew, mementoes and emotional situations.
The narcissist lives on borrowed time in a borrowed life.
Every place and period are transitory and lead to the next, unfamiliar environment.
The narcissist feels that the end is near.
He lives in rented apartments, is an illegal alien, is fully mobile on a short notice,
does not buy real estate or immovables.
He travels light and he likes to travel.
He is peripatetic and itinerant.
The narcissist cultivates feelings of incompatibility with his surroundings.
He considers himself superior to others and keeps criticising people, institutions and situations.
The above behaviour patterns constitute a denial of reality.
The narcissist defines a rigid, impenetrable, personal territory
and is physically revolted when it is breached.



The narcissist does get sometimes emotionally attached to his money and to his belongings, though.

Money and possessions represent power, they are love substitutes, they are mobile and disposable on short notice. They constitute an inseparable part of a Pathological Narcissistic Space and are a determinant of FEGO. The narcissist assimilates them and identifies with them. This is why he is so traumatised by their loss or depreciation. They provide him with the certainty and safety that he feels nowhere else. They are familiar, predictable, and controllable. There is no danger involved in emotionally investing in them.

Suzanne Forward distinguishes the narcissist from the sadist, the sociopath and the misogynist with respect to their attitudes towards women. She says that the narcissist "goes through" many women in order to replenish his SNSS (to convert her words to my terminology).

The narcissist lives with his spouse only as long as she fully caters to his narcissistic needs through accumulation and adoration. The narcissist's misogyny and his sadism are a result of his fear of being abandoned (the recreation of earlier traumas) and not the result of his narcissism. A narcissist with an ideal, sadistic, rigid, primitive, and punishing Superego inevitably becomes antisocial and lacking in morals and in conscience.

Here lies the difference. The narcissist treats women the way he does in order to weaken them and to make them dependent on him so as to prevent them from abandoning him. He uses a variety of techniques to undermine the sources of his partner's strengths: her healthy sexuality, supportive family, thriving career, self-esteem and self-image, sound mental health, proper reality test, good friends, and social circle.

Once deprived of all these, the narcissist remains his partner's only available source of authority, interest, meaning, feeling and hope. A woman thus denuded of her network of support is highly unlikely to abandon the narcissist. Her state of dependence is fostered by his unpredictable behaviours, which cause her to react with fear and phobic hesitation.

The narcissist needs women and that's why he hates them. It is his dependence on women that he resents and detests. The misogynist hates women, humiliates them, scorns them and despises them - but he does not need them.

One last point: sex leads to intimacy. However minimal this intimacy is, the narcissist is bound to experience as abandonment every interruption of a sexual relationship. He feels lonely and annulled. This has to do with the absence of the SNSS's defining look. The longing is so great that the narcissist is driven to finding a substitute. This substitute is another SNSS.

Each narcissist has a profile of his preferred SNSS. It reflects the predilections of the narcissist and the matrix of his pathological needs. But a few things are common to all potential women SNSS:

They must not be garrulous, they must be slow, inferior in some important respect, submissive, with an aesthetic appearance, intelligent but passive, admiring, emotionally available, dependent and either simple or femme fatale. They are not the narcissist's type if they are critical, independently thinking, demonstrate superiority, sophistication, personal autonomy, or provide unsolicited advice or opinions. The narcissist forms no relationships with such women.

Having spotted the "right profile", the narcissist sees if he is sexually attracted to the woman. If he is, he proceeds to condition her using a variety of measures: sex, money, assumption of responsibilities, fostering sexual, emotional, existential and operational uncertainties (followed by bouts of relief on her part as conflicts are resolved), grandiose gestures, expressions of interest, of need and of dependence (mistakenly interpreted by the woman to mean deep emotions), grandiose plans, idealisation, demonstrations of unlimited trust (but no sharing of decision making powers), encouraging feelings of uniqueness and of pseudo-intimacy, and childlike behaviour.

Dependence is formed and a new SNSS is born.

The last phase is the SNSS transaction. The narcissist extracts from his partner adulation, narcissistic accumulation and submissiveness. In turn, he undertakes to continue to condition his partner using the same measures. Concurrently, he activates the Wunderkind mask in anticipation of abandonment.

In this sort of relationship, the narcissist does not ensure stability, emotional or sexual exclusivity, or emotional and spiritual sharing. He is not intimate with his partner and there is no real exchange of trust, information, experience, or opinions. Such relationships are limited to sexual compatibility, common decision-making, long-term planning, and common property. Narcissists rarely have children with their spouses - rather they make children for their spouses.

All this leads to the inevitable: a dilapidation of the energy of the SNSS (who keeps giving of herself emotionally without receiving much in return), pain and hurt, the end of sexual and emotional exclusivity and abandonment.

The narcissist always prefers a woman to any other type of SNSS (example: to business). She requires less long-term investment and is easier to "train". Moreover, she is often motivated to be conditioned. She wants to supply the narcissist and, thus, to keep the flame burning.

The world of business, in contrast, is indifferent to the narcissist and to his often marginal activities. Additionally, women are far better at reliably regulating the narcissist's flow of Narcissistic Supply.

Both functions (stabilisation-accumulation and adulation) are thus found in one and the same NSS - a woman. This allows the narcissist to focus his efforts on a single object. Naturally, this creates greater dependence and greater risk of abandonment but the savings in energy are worth it as far as the narcissist is concerned.


next:  Chapter 9, The Soul of a Narcissist, The State of the Art

APA Reference
Vaknin, S. (2008, November 7). Chapter 8, The Soul of a Narcissist, The State of the Art, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Last Updated: July 5, 2018

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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