Narcissism FAQ: Does the Narcissist Want to be Liked?

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Question:

Does the Narcissist want to be liked?

Answer:

Would you wish to be liked by your television set? To the narcissist, people are instruments, sources of supply. If he has to be liked by them in order to secure this supply – he strives to ensure their liking. If he can only be feared – he makes sure they fear him. He does not really care either way as long as he is being attended to. Attention – whether in the form of fame or infamy – is what it’s all about. His world revolves around his constant mirroring. I am seen therefore I exist, sayeth the narcissist.

But the classic narcissist is also looking to get punished. His actions are aimed to elicit social or other opprobrium and sanctions from his environment. His life is a Kafkaesque ongoing trial and the sempiternity of the trial is in itself the punishment. A punishment (a reprimand, an imprisonment, an abandonment) serves to vindicate and validate the internal damning voices of his sadistic, ideal and immature Superego (really, his parents or other caregivers). They confirm his worthlessness. They relieve him from the burden of the inner conflict he endures while successful: the conflict between the gnawing sense of guilt and shame and the need to relentlessly secure narcissistic supply.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love, and runs the website Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited.Sam has served as the author of the Personality Disorders topic, Narcissistic Personality Disorder topic, the Verbal and Emotional Abuse topic, and the Spousal Abuse and Domestic Violence topic, Suite101.

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