Narcissism FAQ: Is the Narcissist Ever Sorry

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Question:

Doesn’t the Narcissist EVER feel sorry for his “victims”?

Answer:

The narcissist always feels bad. He experiences all manner of depressive episodes and lesser dysphoric moods. He goes through a full panoply of mood disorders and anxiety disorders. He experiences panic from time to time. It is not pleasant to be a narcissist.

But he has a diminished capacity to empathise, so he rarely feels sorry for what he does. He almost never puts himself in the shoes of his “victims”. Sure, he feels distressed because he is intelligent enough to realise that something is wrong with him in a major way. He compares himself to others and the outcome is never favourable. His grandiosity is one of the defence mechanisms that he uses to cover up for this disagreeable state of things. But its efficacy is partial and intermittent. The rest of the time, the narcissist is immersed in self-loathing and self-pity. He is under duress and distress most of his waking life. In a vague way, he is also sorry for those upon whom he inflicts the consequences of his personality disorder. He knows that they are not happy and he understands that it has something to do with him. Mostly, he uses even this to aggrandise himself: poor things, they can never fully understand him, they are so inferior. It is no wonder that they are so depressed.

When confronted with major life crises (a traumatic divorce, a financial entanglement, a demotion) – the narcissist experiences real, excruciating, life-threatening pain. This is the narcissist’s “cold turkey”, his withdrawal symptoms. Narcissistic Supply is, like any other drug, habit forming (psychologically). Its withdrawal has broad implications, all severely painful.

Only then is the answer be unqualified, unequivocal and unambiguous: yes, the narcissist is in pain – when devoid of his stream of adoration and other positive reinforcements.

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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