Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Narcissist as Liar and Con-man

The Narcissist as Liar and Con-man
Dr. Sam Vaknin

In "Streetcar Named Desire", Blanche, the sister in law of Marlon Brando, is accused by him of inventing a false biography, replete with exciting events and desperate wealthy suitors. She responds that it is preferable to lead an imaginary but enchanted life - then a real but dreary one.

This is where the narcissist differs from others (from "normal" people).

His very self is a piece of fiction concocted to fend off hurt and to nurture the narcissist's grandiosity. He fails in his "reality test" - the ability to distinguish the actual from the imagined. The narcissist fervently believes in his own infallibility, brilliance, omnipotence, heroism, and perfection. He doesn't dare confront the truth and admit it even to himself.

I lie to your face, without a twitch or a twitter, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. In fact, my lies are not lies at all. They are the truth, my truth. And you believe them, because you do, because they do not sound or feel like lies, because to do otherwise would make you question your own sanity, which you have a tendency to do anyway, because from the very beginning of our relationship you placed your trust and hopes in me, derived your energy, direction, stability, and confidence from me and from your association with me. So what's the problem if the safe haven I provide comes with a price? Surely I am worth it and then some.

Question:

How can I expose the lies of the narcissist in a court of law? He acts so convincing!

Answer:

The dissolution of the abuser's marriage or other meaningful (romantic, business, or other) relationships constitutes a major life crisis and a scathing narcissistic injury. To soothe and salve the pain of disillusionment, he administers to his aching soul a mixture of lies, distortions, half-truths and outlandish interpretations of events around him.

But these lies - both outright and borderline - are known to me as such. I can tell the difference between reality and fantasy. I choose fantasy knowingly and consciously - but it doesn't render me oblivious to my true condition.

The narcissist claims to be infallible, superior, talented, skilful, omnipotent, and omniscient. He often lies and confabulates to support these unfounded claims. Within his cult, he expects awe, admiration, adulation, and constant attention commensurate with his outlandish stories and assertions. He reinterprets reality to fit his fantasies.

The narcissist often pretends to know everything, in every field of human knowledge and endeavour. He lies and prevaricates to avoid the exposure of his ignorance. He resorts to numerous subterfuges to support his God-like omniscience.

The abuser's biography sounds unusually rich and complex. His achievements – incommensurate with his age, education, or renown. Yet, his actual condition is evidently and demonstrably incompatible with his claims. Very often, the abuser's lies or fantasies are easily discernible. He always name-drops and appropriates other people's experiences and accomplishments as his own.

Yet, deep inside, the narcissist is aware that his life is an artifact, a confabulated sham, a vulnerable cocoon. The world inexorably and repeatedly intrudes upon these ramshackle battlements, reminding the narcissist of the fantastic and feeble nature of his grandiosity. This is the much-dreaded Grandiosity Gap.

The False Self is nothing but a concoction, a figment of the narcissist's disorder, a reflection in the narcissist's hall of mirrors. It is incapable of feeling, or experiencing. Yet, it is fully the master of the psychodynamic processes which rage within the narcissist's psyche.

One of the most important symptoms of pathological narcissism (the Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is grandiosity. Grandiose fantasies (megalomaniac delusions of grandeur) permeate every aspect of the narcissist's personality. They are the reason that the narcissist feels entitled to special treatment which is typically incommensurate with his real accomplishments. The Grandiosity Gap is the abyss between the narcissist's self-image (as reified by his False Self) and reality.

The narcissist then resorts to self-delusion. Unable to completely ignore contrarian opinion and data - he transmutes them. Unable to face the dismal failure that he is, the narcissist partially withdraws from reality. To soothe and salve the pain of disillusionment, he administers to his aching soul a mixture of lies, distortions, half-truths and outlandish interpretations of events around him.

A Grandiosity Bubble is an imagined, self-aggrandising, narrative involving the narcissist and elements from his real life – people around him, places he frequents, or conversations he is having. The narcissist weaves a story incorporating these facts, inflating them in the process and endowing them with bogus internal meaning and consistency. In other words: he confabulates – but, this time, his confabulation is loosely based on reality.

Question:

Why does the narcissist conjure up another Self? Why not simply transform his True Self into a False one?

Answer:

The irony is that narcissists, who consider themselves worldly, discerning, knowledgeable, shrewd, erudite, and astute - are actually more gullible than the average person. This is because they are fake. Their self is false, their life a confabulation, their reality test gone. They live in a fantasy land all their own in which they are the center of the universe, admired, feared, held in awe, and respected for their omnipotence and omniscience.

The disparity between the accomplishments of the narcissist and his grandiose fantasies and inflated self-image - the Grandiosity Gap - is staggering and, in the long run, insupportable. It imposes onerous exigencies on the narcissist's grasp of reality and social skills. It pushes him either to seclusion or to a frenzy of "acquisitions" - cars, women, wealth, power.

The narcissist rarely admits to a weakness, ignorance, or deficiency. He filters out information to the contrary - a cognitive impairment with serious consequences. Narcissists are likely to unflinchingly make inflated and inane claims about their sexual prowess, wealth, connections, history, or achievements.

All this is mighty embarrassing to the narcissist's nearest, dearest, colleagues, friends, neighbours, even on-lookers. The narcissist's tales are so patently absurd that he often catches people off-guard. Unbeknownst to him, the narcissist is derided and mockingly imitated. He fast makes a nuisance and an imposition of himself in every company.

The "modesty" displayed by narcissists is false. It is mostly and merely verbal. It is couched in flourishing phrases, emphasised to absurdity, repeated unnecessarily – usually to the point of causing gross inconvenience to the listener. The real aim of such behaviour and its subtext are exactly the opposite of common modesty.

Continue to read this article here (click on this link):

Why is there no connection between the behaviour of the narcissist and his emotions?

Answer:

A better way of putting it would be that there is a weak correlation between the narcissist's behaviour and his professed or proclaimed emotions. The reason is that his emotions are merely professed or proclaimed – but not felt.

Narcissists, like children, have magical thinking. They feel omnipotent. They feel that there is nothing they couldn't do or achieve had they only really wanted to and applied themselves to it.

The signs are here, the gestures, the infinitesimal movements that you cannot control. I lurk. I know that definite look, that imperceptible twitch, the inevitability of your surrender.

Continue to read this article here (click on this link):

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq45.html
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A few points to add to the discussion:

1. Personality disorders are unique in that they are exaggerations of traits we might all have. Example: if I carefully pack and plan for a trip including selecting which underwear I will wear every day and color coordinate my ties and socks I would not be accurately diagnosed as having an obsessive compulsive disorder. The traits observed must result in a dysfunctional impediment to carry a DSM code. If I was so careful about packing that I missed my flight (dysfunction) then we might want a diagnostic referral for me. So, it is completely possible to exhibit many of the traits of a personality disorder without meeting the diagnostic criteria.


2. If there is one personality disorder there may be more. They come in clusters. The Narcissistic Personality Disorder is part of the “B” cluster disorders. (Cluster B (the Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic Cluster) is comprised of the Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, and Narcissistic Personality Disorders.) So, if a person has one personality disorder he/she may have two or three more.

3. Obama exhibits several traits of the “B” cluster disorders but I do not think he can be seen as dysfunctional. So while a personality can be difficult and problematic it is not the same thing as being “diagnosable”.

4. I am sure we are all agreed that there is no such thing as an “In absentia” diagnosis.
5. So, in the interests of accuracy, it seems appropriate to say that Obama exhibits many of the traits associated with Cluster B (the Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic Cluster) is comprised of the Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, and Narcissistic Personality Disorders, but he probably does not fit the diagnostic criteria for any of the cluster “B” disorders. That does not mean that he is not dangerous to the public and a PITA to all who know him.

6. If one were to inappropriately do an “in absentia” diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder it would also be necessary to describe the behavior observed in Obama that is associated with the other cluster “B” disorders.

Aristotle the Hun


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wouldnt most world leaders border on narcissism. Why else would the go to such trouble to get such a thankless job.

I challenge you to explain why Obama is more fitting of this diagnosis than Bush.

Also Im curious what you diagnosis of Ann Coulter is =)

Kael

Sam Sewell said...

Well that brought a smile to my face! If you will concede that President Bush is charming, glib and charismatic I will concede that he may have a Narcissist personality style.

My intention in posting this was to debunk those claims that Obama is diagnosable. He might be a liar and a con-man but he would not qualify for a DSM code. His problem is corrupt character, not mental illness.

Who is Ann Coulter? :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh I conceed Bush is charming, glib and charismatic. Or he was I think the 8 years beat some of that out of him.

I disagree that Obama is a corrupt character but Id guess we would disagree on what defines character so its all good.

I look forward to next weeks postings. Have a good one.

Kael

K said...

Not only will Narcissists rise to power more often than others (as they will do ANYTHING for power & fame, which "normal" folks won't), but they will also sabotage any "real" people that come in their way.

This means, that the people they surround themselves with are either extreme codependents/enablers/narcissistic mirrors or dirsordered themselves. Narcissists would NEVER allow healthy, balanced people around them. These people awaken their intense anger and jealousy!

It's our call to change the system, where narcissistic traits in leaders are encouraged in many ways... (and of course its crucial to deal with ones own narcissisim adequately, so one doesn't project it away)....

austin TX personal trainer said...

Interesting commentary on Dr. Sam's article. I read another article by the same doctor; he concludes that BHO is NPD. I would agree that most leaders have a high degree of narcissism, BHO is not much different than them, and I agree that he is not diagnosable. OJ on the other hand...

jcscuba said...

Great site, got tipped to it by a friend, I could agree more about Obama being The Narcissist, as Liar and Con-man. I think of him as poser and thief.

Jimmy "The Torch" said...

Great site, got tipped to it by a friend, I could agree more about Obama being The Narcissist, as Liar and Con-man. I think of him as poser and thief.

moniquemonicat said...

Thank you for this easy to understand explanation of the Narcissist.

Can you explain the difference and/or the relationship of a sociopath and a narcissist. It seems like they are one in the same.

It appears to me Obama is both.

Aristotle The Hun said...

If there is one personality disorder there may be more. They come in clusters. The Narcissistic Personality Disorder is part of the “B” cluster disorders. So, if a person has one personality disorder he/she may have two or three more.

moniquemonicat said...

Besides narcissism being a personality disorder, it is also a deadly sin, which implies it is one of will.

“The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, ‘It is the voice of a god, not of a man!’ Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people's worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.” [Acts 12:22-23] • • • • • •
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Look to the future for Obama's fall, and what a long, steep, fatal fall it shall be.