Portrait of a Narcissist as a Young Man

Abuse has many forms. Expropriating someone's childhood in favour of adult pursuits is one of the subtlest varieties of soul murder.

I never was a child. I was a "wunderkind", the answer to my mother's prayers and intellectual frustration. A human computing machine, a walking-talking encyclopedia, a curiosity, a circus freak. I was observed by developmental psychologists, interviewed by the media, endured the envy of my peers and their pushy mothers. I constantly clashed with figures of authority because I felt entitled to special treatment, immune to prosecution and superior. It was a narcissist's dream. Abundant narcissistic supply - rivers of awe, the aura of glamour, incessant attention, open adulation, country-wide fame.

I refused to grow up. In my mind, my tender age was an integral part of the precocious miracle that I became. One looks much less phenomenal and one's exploits and achievements are much less awe-inspiring at the age of 40, I thought. Better stay young forever and thus secure my narcissistic supply.

So, I wouldn't grow up. I never took out a driver's licence.

I do not have children. I rarely have sex. I never settle down in one place. I reject intimacy. In short: I refrain from adulthood and adult chores. I have no adult skills. I assume no adult responsibilities. I expect indulgence from others. I am petulant and haughtily spoiled. I am capricious, infantile and emotionally labile and immature. In short: I am a 40 years old brat.

When I talk to my girlfriend, I do so in a baby's voice, making baby faces and baby gestures. It is a pathetic and repulsive sight, very much like a beached whale trying to imitate a seaborn trout. I want to be her child, you see, I want to regain my lost childhood. I want to be admired as I was when I was one year old and recited poems in three languages to stunned visiting high school teachers. I want to be four again, when I first read a daily paper to the silent astonishment of the neighbours.

I am not preoccupied with my age, nor am I obsessed with my dwindling, fat flapping body. I am no hypochondriac. But There is a streak of sadness in me, like an undercurrent and a defiance of Time itself. Like Dorian Gray, I want to remain as I was when I became the centre of attention, the focus of adoration, the heart of a twister of media attention. I know I can't. And I know that I have failed not only at arresting Chronos - but on a more mundane, degrading level. I failed as an adult.



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APA Reference
Vaknin, S. (2008, December 25). Portrait of a Narcissist as a Young Man, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 20 from

Last Updated: July 2, 2018

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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