Me as a baby wearing pink
Know thy self
Seagull gliding in the sky
Stream with white narcissus flower on the bank

basics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Can Narcissists love other people?

"NARCISSISTS ARE PEOPLE WHO never learned to make it on their own. Except for their fantasies of perfection, envy of others who have what they lack, and unacknowledged fears of humiliation, they are empty on the inside. They have no real Self to bring to a relationship with another person, but they desperately need someone else to join them in their emptiness and help them maintain emotional equilibrium. The ideal candidate is someone willing to become an extension of the Narcissist's fragile ego, to serve as an object of admiration, contempt, or often enough both. The sign over their door ought to read: Abandon Self All Ye Who Enter Here." Hotchkiss (pg. 121)

It doesn't sound good so far does it?

The problem is that Narcissists don't know the true meaning of "others" people are mere objects to them at best extensions of themselves. Morrison explains that Freud theorised"A person may love:-

(1) According to the narcissistic type:
(a) what he himself is (i.e. himself),
(b) what he himself was,
(c) what he himself would like to be,
(d) someone who was once part of himself
(2) According to the anaclitic (attachment) type:
(a) the woman who feeds him,
(b) the man who protects him." (pg. 33)

Throughout their life time most people will alternate between the two methods of object choice, often exhibiting a preference for a particular type. Narcissists have a tendency to select a partner according to the narcissistic type - as you can see this choice is all about their image.

In normal relationships partners are able to genuinely appreciate the others separateness having mutual regard for each others boundaries, feelings and needs. Hotchkiss explains the "Fusion Delusion" that occurs in relationships with Narcissists. When "two such lovers connect, the goal for one - and often enough for the other as well - is complete and total merger, the obliteration of one partner's autonomy in the service of the other's narcissism." (pg. 122) A power struggle ensues to see which one can bend the other to meet their needs.

Non-Narcissists that tend to attach themselves to narcissistic people may have been conditioned to accept such behaviour as a result of exposure to Narcissistic parents.

Narcissists can be experts in manipulation and seduction of the opposite sex. Lowen defines seduction as a "false statement or promise to get another person to do what he or she would not otherwise do. The promise can be explicitly stated, or it can be implied. Psychopathic swindlers openly promise something they have no intention of giving. But most seductive ploys involve promises that are not clearly stated." (pg. 102). For a Narcissist seducing someone in to having sex with them reinforces their view of themselves as special and powerful - they have won control over the "object".

He explains that "Narcissists use sex as a substitute for love and intimacy" (pg. 123). Some are very good at knowing how to pleasure their partner e.g. being able to maintain an erection for as long as is required for their partner to orgasm. They've spent time learning the techniques they use because the better they get the more narcissistic supplies they are bound to secure, the more powerful they feel.

Narcissists tend to make poor lovers long term. To them it is a mechanical act; it doesn't really require true intimacy just physical closeness. Usually in order for a partner to experience "mind blowing" orgasms they need to feel connected to their lovers own sexual excitement and feelings of love. Narcissist's don't have these passionate feelings they've spent so much effort repressing them. A Narcissists orgasms are not intense as a result. Some even prefer pornography and masturbation to sex.

To Narcissists commitment is akin to castration. They don't want intimacy because that leads to people knowing their faults and insecurities. On the other hand they will be keen to show that they are capable of living a normal life and having a relationship with someone but this will depend on the person. "His own self-image requires that other people also see the love object in an idealized way. Toward that end, he must select someone who is beautiful, intelligent, accomplished, or otherwise widely recognized as exceptional. The Narcissist hopes to commandeer those admirable qualities that he or she lacks, acquiring "gilt" by association." Hotchkiss (pg. 124)

Narcissists demand adulation and respect from their partner. They have a belief in their absolute uniqueness and as such they want to be the only important thing to the person they "love". Even if they have had children Narcissists often expect their partners to choose them above their offspring. They can be extremely competitive with their children who they see as challengers for their partner's attention.

If you're in love with a Narcissist you might have heard them say "You don't really love me" and on some level they're right because the person you fell in love with was their false Self. To love them would mean you have to love all of them good and bad. To love them is to accept that the Narcissist doesn't know the meaning of love which comes as a result of not being loved by their parents for who they truly are. For this reason they don't know how to receive love or how to give love - they merely act it out to get the narcissistic supplies they need. They see love as twisted and they don't want it from you, they want your admiration and respect. Their relationships are filled with conflicts as a result.

Nobody likes to think they give love to receive love but for a person to be in love with a Narcissist it is necessary to deny their own feelings and to accept that they can never have that which they defiantly seek to give the Narcissist - love. Denial of feeling is the road to insanity.

What feelings do they have?

Shame - for their weaknesses. When their weaknesses are brought to their attention it shatters their grand illusions of themselves.

Envy - for others who have what they don't, who are skilled at what they are not, who can feel what they don't, who are happy just being themselves.

Entitlement - to special treatment and having all their needs and wants met at the instant they need them to be met.

Fear - of being unworthy, being humiliated, being rejected and or abandoned.

Any good feelings they have are linked to how others perceive them. Without an audience to play to they can become bored and despondent. It's almost as if they cannot bear to spend time on their own for fear of their own thoughts betraying their omnipotence.

Do they love themselves?

No, not really. They love the image of themselves. Narcissists have learnt through their parents and others that they can only be respected, admired or "loved" if they put on an image of perfection. For the most part this is understandable, how often have they been treated badly or abandoned by someone who says "I love you"?

They invest in their image at the expense of their Self. They don't deal with their true emotions or the source, deny that they have any problems, place their health and well-being at risk through impulsive/addictive behaviour, open themselves up to revenge from people they have hurt, only invest in others on a superficial level to extract narcissistic supplies, often initiate their abandonment by people who care about them if they get too close and they are dependant on others to regulate their self-esteem. Does this sound like the behaviour of someone who loves themselves or who has due regard for their own well-being?

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Last updated: 30th April 2008

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