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Raw Concepts: Ego Math, Net Narcissistic Supply

In response to this post, reader 691 posted this comment. I address it in pieces below:

I think you might be projecting your understanding of narcissism onto the their psychology. Just as narcissists have a superficial charm, they also may have a superficial understanding of narcissism and of how they fit the diagnosis.

I’m confused. Isn’t that exactly what I said? Maybe my intent wasn’t communicated clearly enough? I’m not sure exactly what I said you’re trying to refute here. However I’m totally open to the possibility that maybe I wasn’t clear in my writing, so if indeed that was the case, then let me make it clear now, what you describe is exactly what I was trying to actually warn others against: Not to project their understanding of narcissism onto the narcissist. Not to think that because you have a thorough understanding of what a narcissist is, that the narcissist themselves has as deep an understanding of the term when he or she uses it as well. What you as a mature, more mentally sophisticated person mean when you say “narcissist” isn’t usually the same definition the narcissist himself is using for the word. His or her definition of the word is usually far more simplistic and self-serving.

Narcissists like being called narcissists because the act of calling them out is itself narcissistic supply; it’s attention focused on them and they never stop to think through what it means.

I totally agree with this.

Secondly, most people use the N-word from a position of weakness.It’s when you have been abused, manipulated or hurt by a narcissist that you call them out on it.

Yes and no. It’s not always the case that people only call narcissists out after being abused, manipulated or hurt by them. Some people call them out on it very early on before they’re heavily invested in the relationship. Or they call them out on their narcissism in order to embarrass them in front of an audience. Unfortunately most people are too polite to do this and instead just do their best to avoid them. But I’ve been out and called out entitled girls as self-centered or entitled for trying to pull stunts that they expected to get away with just because they were female and pretty. A lot of people call out self-centered behavior (although not enough by far).

For example, a person may learn about narcissism after being burned by a few, and may end up calling out those few narcissists from a position of weakness, after they’ve already been used, sure. But once (or rather, IF) a person learns from such experiences and educates themselves and says “never again,” they won’t ever get deep in a relationship with one again, and the only time they’ll ever use the “N” word is preemptively, when they see the warning signs and call the narcissist out early before giving them the boot. From that point the word is being used from a position of strength, effectively saying, “I see through you and your bullshit and you’re never getting a chance to use me. You’re a phony, a fraud, a front, an impostor.” To a narcissist that’s a huge form of narcissistic injury, especially if this shaming happens in front of an audience.

I’ll give you an example: there is this guy who runs this blog called Arachnoid.com and he has a great series of articles about narcissism. He was the victim of a malignant narcissism (he describes it in an article) and was totally blindsided by it, and educated himself on the topic. He also currently writes about computer and science related topics. Whenever he gets angry letters from obnoxious, self-centered people trying to pull their games on him in response to one of his science articles, he would call them out and utterly dismantle them and then post his exchanges with them online afterward for people to see. He would call them out for being narcissistic, and use the word “narcissism” as well, but if you look at the exchanges he is definitely not coming from a position of weakness. He’s also definitely not giving these people narcissistic supply if you go by their responses to him. They’re obviously severely narcissistically injured by his immunity to their tactics. The coup de grace, of course, is the audience. By publishing the results of the exchange, and thereby publicly getting the last word, he’s attacked the narcissist’s public image, even if the guy is an anonymous commenter. It’s beautiful:

http://arachnoid.com/opinion/narcissist_appreciation_society.html

See, many experts advise a “No Contact” rule when it comes to narcissists. And it makes sense to a degree to advise this. They advise this because narcissists often derive narcissistic supply from any attention, negative or positive, so the sentiment is that either way as long as they get attention, they win.

I slightly disagree however, and I’ll explain why. The context is important. Every social transaction with a narcissist is evaluated using a process that I call “ego math.” Ego math is the following equation:

B + A + S – I = NS 

B = Ego Boost Derived Derived from the Transaction.

The more you make the focus of your attack how butthurt you feel from how the narcissist treated you, or you are pleading to make the narcissist understand your point of view and feel empathy for you or are frustratingly trying to get the narcissist to admit he/she was wrong and apologize, this will give an ego boost. The more you try to reason, or show impotent rage and act hurt, the bigger the ego boost because you are coming from a place of weakness, like 691 says. If on the other hand, you attack the narcissist where it hurts, by attacking his image, his false self, and targeting his shame and pushing his inadequacy buttons and find a way to embarrass him, especially in front of an audience (narcissists live for the approval of strangers and acquaintances), you have minimized the amount of ego boost that can come from the confrontation.

A = Alternate Fallback Sources of Narcissistic Supply.

Narcissists like to move on to a new source of supply before letting go of old sources, just like most people like to have a new job lined up before leaving an old job, so they almost always have a love interest in their life if possible. They also like to have a circle of acolytes that they call friends, but who they really think of as an entourage or minor supporting cast or an on-call audience.

S = Current Overall Ego Strength.

Let’s say the narcissist has had a bunch of personal “wins” in life lately. He or she has gotten a new glamorous job, got a new supermodel or investment banker partner, got a raise, lost a bunch of weight, has saved a bunch of cash, got a great new haircut, just went shopping, is attending the best party of his or her life, and is feeling particularly grandiose as a result. At this point the narcissist’s ego strength is pretty high. On the other hand, say the narcissist just suffered a crushing, humiliating break up, is stalled in his or her career or worse got fired, has lost a lot of friends, is sitting home alone and lonely, had someone close to them die, or is just bummed out in general due to being recently forced to face a grandiosity gap. At this point, the ego strength will be low. At times when the narcissist is especially demoralized and has low ego strength, if a person calls them out at this time and provides negative attention, the amount of narcissistic supply derived will be at its minimum. When the narcissist is sitting on top of the world, calling him out does the opposite of the intended effect, and that is when any attention, positive or negative, still provides optimum narcissistic supply.

Take for example this scene from Mad Men, episode “Dark Shadows,” after Don torpedoes Ginsberg’s idea by not presenting it to the client, then scores a major victory when he presents only his own idea to the client and it is a hit. He just scored a major win, got a huge dose of narcissistic supply, and his ego strength was at its peak. Ginsberg calls him out while he’s still riding high off his accomplishment, and the results are disastrous for Ginsberg:

But say Don got busted right before the pitch meeting, and someone caught him trying to dispose of Ginsberg’s pitch? Say his underhanded move was exposed in front of an audience, especially an audience of people whose approval he valued? Say the cab driver saw the idea by Ginsberg that Don “accidentally” dropped in the cab, picked it up, brought it into the building, and it was sent up to the meeting room while Don was still pitching. Say Don was then forced to show the second idea, the client ends up loving Ginsberg’s idea more than Don’s and chooses it. Now say on top of that, word gets back to the people at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce about what happened with Ginsberg’s idea almost being lost and people put two and two together and realize that Don must have been trying to sabotage Ginsberg and must therefore feel threatened by his talent. So, after losing the battle of the pitches, after being publicly rejected by a client, after being publicly exposed as being desperate and threatened enough to cheat, his ego strength would be incredibly low. Say in that case, then Ginsberg, the young and up and comer who just scored a major win against him, cornered him in the elevator and called him a piece of work, in a similar way as he did in the clip. Would Don still have netted narcissistic supply from the negative attention of being called out as a narcissist? Likely not. It would likely have registered as narcissistic injury instead. It’s very much a timing issue.

INarcissistic Injury Derived from the Transaction.

I once knew a girl who had been in a relationship for years with a narcissist. We went out for drinks one night and over a few hours she described her tumultuous relationship in detail. Because people who have encountered narcissists love exchanging war stories, we exchanged a lot of war stories and details, and she told me what follows, which was very informative for me and made me realize that the No Contact Rule wasn’t airtight.

She had been gathering red flags about him for a while, and was starting to see through his bullshit, but she kept giving him passes and when she noticed a lot of his phoniness and that he was an imposter about a lot of things, to be nice she let a lot of things slide and didn’t call him on incongruities she noticed. One thing she noticed was that he like to fancy himself an intellectually and spiritually superior person, but when she would borrow his books and read them and try to discuss them with him, he didn’t really know much about the books, or he had only the most superficial understanding of the themes and messages. Sometimes he had less than a superficial understanding, and was outright wrong about what the books were about. He apparently skimmed and half-assed enough just to be able to be pretentious and quote, look smart, impress people (especially people who hadn’t read the book and couldn’t expose his intellectual or spiritual deficiencies). He absorbed nothing of substance and gained no insight from things he read, he just used them as fantasy fuel. She mentally collected a checklist of all the ways he was a fraudulent impostor, all the ways in which the false, idealized self he presented didn’t match up with his drab reality, and started noticing all the things he was insecure about when he let the mask slip and let his low self-esteem leak into his conscious awareness.

So one day, he did something so heinously disrespectful involving cheating (and it wasn’t the first time) that she finally snapped and lost it. They got into an argument and she let go of everything she had been holding in. Normally when they had arguments, she made them about trying to make him understand her feelings, get empathy from him, save the relationship, show how hurt and jealous she was about his cheating.

This time was different. She had no desire to save the relationship or make him understand her pain. She didn’t care about salvaging anything. She said she lost it so badly, all she wanted to do was hurt him and hold nothing back.  She told him off about all the ways he was a narcissist. But she didn’t use any language that could be ambiguously reinterpreted in a positive fashion. She didn’t say “Oh you hurt me so bad. How could you!? I loved you so much, and you used me.” That would register as narcissistic supply to him. She didn’t say “You asshole.” A lot of narcissists love being called assholes and wearing the title as a badge of honor. Look at Tucker Max. She didn’t call him a jerk. After all, chicks are known to dig jerks, so he could have taken that as acknowledgment that he was a player. She didn’t call him a narcissist, because many laypeople don’t really understand the full meaning of the term in any depth.

No, what she did was different. She used targeted, specific attacks at his image (which is all a narcissist really cares about) using words that could only be interpreted badly (like “bitch”, which no man can spin into a positive) and brought up specific embarrassing instances to back her case up. She screamed things like “You are such a loser, that’s why you cheated on me with a young dumb girl who doesn’t know any better because she’s too stupid to ever figure out what a fraud you are the way. You know I wasn’t fooled by your bullshit anymore and it burns you up I can see the real you. You try to front like you’re rolling in dough but you have to borrow everything from me and your credit cards are all maxed out. You think I haven’t noticed the collection calls? You’re a phony. Like when we all went to dinner with my friends and family and you tried to front like you were some baller and show off by paying and your card was declined? [She knew this incident really embarrassed him] Nobody believed your bs story about it being some bank mistake, they were all laughing about it after and telling me to dump your ass for being a phony scrub. [She told me that her friends didn't actually say this, but she was just angry and was specifically targeting things she knew were his sore spots]. You’re always lying and manipulating to cover up what a loser you are, but everyone eventually figures it out!” Then she delivered the killing blow, and attacked his most prized aspect of his false self: “And that’s why you can’t even understand those books you try to read and pretend to know so much about.”

She said at that point, he flew across the room in a blind rage and wrapped his hands around her neck, insane with fury. She said she was scared for her life like never before. She said she broke away just before he managed to squeeze, and he was so emotional he was sobbing with rage, something she had never seen before. She scrambled out of there relatively unharmed, but no one can say that he netted narcissistic supply from that negative attention.

The reason why has to do with the concept of shame, which I’m going to discuss in more depth in later posts. Shame and guilt are used interchangeably by many people, but their very different things. Shame is feeling bad about what you are, your very identity, and the main remedy for it is to cover up and conceal what one is. Actions don’t matter, because to a shame-based person actions don’t change one’s identity. For example, materialism and snobbery are shame-based vices. If a materialist, snobby person were to own a crappy, old rusty Dodge, he would not stop feeling bad about it because it’s a Dodge. Let’s say this Dodge was overhauled to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars so that every last thing about the inside of the car was top notch. It could actually outperformed every other car on the road. He still would be focused on the fact that it’s a Dodge and not a Mercedes. How well it performed or how dependable it is would still be what mattered least. He’d rather have a shiny new gas guzzling Mercedes Benz SUV that was a lemon on the inside yet still impressed people on the outside. A shame-based person’s main concern is impression management rather than actual performance. Even when they care about performance, they only care about it to the extent

Guilt is feeling bad about specific things you did, rather than about who you are, and the main remedy for it is atonement and taking actions toward restitution. A guilt-based person wouldn’t mind a fancy car that was also dependable, but if his only choices were a solid, dependable car that wasn’t fancy and wouldn’t impress anyone or an impressive, fancy car that was undependable and performed terribly, he would choose the former. Actions and results matter more to him than impressing people. Guilt is a more highly evolved trait than shame.

The problem many people do when confronting narcissists is they try to use guilt. This is because they are mature and more evolved and operate out of guilt.  So when they call out the narcissist, they focus on the narcissist’s actions. But narcissists don’t feel guilt, they only feel shame. Shame is the key component of narcissism and all narcissists are shame-based. They only care about criticisms of their actions to the extent that such actions reveal how defective their identity is and threatens their image. Whether their actions are moral or immoral, productive or lazy, effective or ineffective, all that is only relevant to the extent that such actions are exposed and how the image benefits or suffers as a result. That’s why during earlier arguments when this girl used to call her ex a liar, a cheat, and bring up all the ways his actions were hurting her, all her negative attention did was provide him narcissistic supply. However in the last argument, when she focused the attention on how the ways his very self and his very identity were defective and how his false, idealized outer image was actually transparent to the people most worth impressing and everyone could actually see the defective self he was trying to cover up, he totally lost it.

Even when she did criticize his actions, she went from criticizing them for guilt reasons to criticizing them for shame reasons. Before she would have said, “You cheated, and it really hurt me. It was wrong to do. It’s evil, and you’re an asshole for doing so.” Now she switched it to, “You cheated, and it’s because you’re a loser with no money, no career, no accomplishments but your dick. You cheated because you know a woman who’s going places and is a real catch like me is always going to see through you eventually and you needed someone new, young, and stupid enough to not see through your bullshit.” And so on and so on. Everything was about what he was rather than what he did. And even when it was about what his actions, it was only about them to the extent that they revealed what  he secretly feared he was: a defective loser.

This was a shame-based attack. It’s the only type of confrontation that can disarm a narcissist. For example, ridicule is a shame-based attack. A lecture is a guilt-based attack. Guilt-based attacks can work on a narcissist, but usually only when there is an audience. For example if there is an audience of people who the narcissist wants to impress and get admiration from and recruit/keep as acolytes, giving them a guilt-based attack in front of such people will embarrass the narcissist and make him feel shame, plus the audience will no longer admire him and he will lose all that potential narcissistic supply, which will cause even more narcissistic injury. Appearing moral can still be important to narcissists and other shame-based people, even though actually being moral isn’t important at all.

[If you want to read more about shame, check this post. Also, it has a pretty good chart that drives home the differences between shame and guilt pretty effectively.]

Now here is a real interesting paradox, something I call The Narcissistic Guilt Paradox. If you keep repeatedly trying to guilt a narcissist by pointing out how terrible his actions are, but you never shame them by attacking what actually matters to them, their image, you not only have no negative effect on them, but you actually end up enhancing their image and feeding their narcissism. Why is this? Because they start to think, “Wow, if I can really do all these terrible, terrible things and get away with it with my image still pristine, then I really must be intrinsically great. My identity, my false idealized self, must be so awesome and bulletproof that nothing I do, no matter how shitty it is, can lower my perceived value.” It’s one thing if you do everything right and treat everyone good and you walk away with a good image. Anyone can do that. But someone who can do a lot of evil things and treat people shitty and still walk away with a good image? By the narcissists warped private logic, the intrinsic value of such a person must truly be great.

Also, because a narcissist views everything through the prism of status and image comparison rather than right and wrong, all they care about is whether or not they appear superior in status to whoever they’re dealing with at any given time. When someone is appealing to a narcissist’s nonexistent sense of guilt, they are investing time and psychic energy to win the narcissist over to their way of thinking. The message is, “I need something from you. I need you to see the ways in which you were wrong,” which to the narcissist registers as a form of pleading and approval seeking, because you are basically asking the narcissist to validate your frustration and see your side of things in order to get closure. By making your case using facts and logic, you’re obviously invested in winning over the narcissist to your viewpoint, which to the narcissist is a form of pleading and acknowledging his or her superiority.

This is why the more you forgive a narcissist for wrongdoing and don’t shame them for it, and the more you try to make a factual case to prove a narcissist’s guilt to the narcissist, the more they are likely to view it all as ego-boosting and keep repeating and escalating the wrongdoing as a warped way to prove their own unstoppable intrinsic value to themselves.

NS = Net Narcissistic Supply.

This is the final result after all the narcissistic supply and narcissistic injury sources has been added up and subtracted. If when it’s all done net narcissistic supply is positive, then the narcissist has received an ego boost from the social transaction. If when it’s all done net narcissistic supply is negative, then the narcissist has received a bruised ego from the social transaction. It’s all about making the narcissistic injury outweigh the narcissistic supply.

To recap and summarize in a simpler way: To calculate how much narcissistic supply or narcissistic injury a narcissist is deriving from an encounter, you have to figure out how much ego boosting and  image enhancement the N is getting, then offset it by the amount of ego bruising and image ruining the N is deriving. If the former outweighs the latter, the N gets narcissistic supply and the whole thing is a worthwhile endeavor. If the latter outweighs the former, the N gets narcissistic injury, and crashes down to earth in a heap.

Of course there are two problems with all of this type of confrontation, and these two problems are why so many experts recommend No Contact as the best strategy for dealing with narcissists.

Problem 1: First, it’s very hard for most people to effectively launch a shame-based attack. This difficulty is because most people are not psychologically savvy and technically skilled enough at doing it (good shamers get that way from a lot of practice). It takes pinpoint precision to hit the proper shame targets, targets so devastating that even the narcissist’s incredible ability to reframe all negatives in a self-serving way short-circuits. Shaming is also difficult because it requires a lot less empathy than guilting, and a lot more ruthlessness. The more psychologically healthy, mature, and positive you are, the more shaming goes against your natural instincts. The girl I mentioned became more and more ruthless, and less trusting and empathetic, from being burned so much by this guy. So by the time she reached her breaking point, she reached a level of ruthlessness and a lack of empathy for him that she never thought she could have for another human being. Which directly leads up to…

Problem 2: The toll on your soul it takes to get that ruthless and lacking in empathy to the point you can beat the narcissist at his own game is tragic. To a degree, you become more narcissistic yourself. This phenomenon is called Narcissistic Contagion, and Sam Vaknin elaborates on the risks of fighting a narcissist’s fire with fire in the video below:

So I disagree that all confrontations with a narcissist are doomed to end up with an increase in narcissistic supply for the narcissist. Depending on the context and various factors, negative attention doesn’t always have to end up feeding a narcissist’s ego. However a good case can be made that it is very hard to pull off and may be a no-win situation for your soul, so for those reason No Contact is still probably the best solution for 90% of the population.

Next post, I am going to show you one of the best resources on the Internet for seeing examples of narcissists being taken down in real-life verbal confrontations using the principles I describe in this post. Can you guess what I’m talking about?

15 Responses to “Raw Concepts: Ego Math, Net Narcissistic Supply”

  1. Heywood Jablome on December 1st, 2012 at 2:56 AM

    Is your upcoming post going to reference that show “Cheaters,” perhaps?


  2. How does this fit into your view? (from Alpha Game Plan)

    “This is why it is a total waste of time to attempt talking anyone out of a situation where they are being used/abused by an individual of higher SMV. They already know the situation, they just don’t want to accept it.”

    Especially when combined with these admissions:

    “Because people who have encountered narcissists love exchanging war stories, we exchanged a lot of war stories and details”

    and

    “She had been gathering red flags about him for a while, and was starting to see through his bullshit, but she kept giving him passes and when she noticed a lot of his phoniness and that he was an imposter about a lot of things, to be nice she let a lot of things slide and didn’t call him on incongruities she noticed.”


  3. Different T:

    When I say people who have dealt with narcissists love exchanging war stories, I am usually talking about when the relationship is already over, or when they already have a clue what they’re dealing with and are figuring out what to do next. It’s about learning from the experience and trying to figure out what the fuck that was you were dealing with and making sense of it so that it never happens again.

    I think you misinterpreted what I said to mean people actively being abused and currently under the thrall of narcissists love sharing and comparing war stories, therefore they get a psychological payoff from the relationship and are therefore hard to talk into leaving, because they’d rather say in the relationship and collect more war stories? Because if that’s what you think I was saying, you misunderstood me.

    The people described in the Alpha Game plan quote are people who are smack dab in the middle of the abuse and emotional terrorism. At that stage they are likely not to share the war stories and keep them to themselves because they are trying to rationalize them away. Also, they don’t want their friends and family to hate their partner or tell them to leave, so they tend to keep the abuse secret. If they do discuss the abuse, they tend to minimize how bad it is, or make excuses for why they can’t leave. In all those cases, I agree that much success won’t come from an intervention. They likely have to hit rockbottom, like any other addiction. In their case, they’re addicted to approval from a narcissist.

    To make an analogy, look at drug addicts and alcoholics. When are they most likely to share war stories and in-depth tales about their relationships to drugs and how drugs almost ruined their lives? At which point are they likely to seek help in figuring out why they were addicted and what the causes were and compare stories with others who were in the same boat? Usually when they’re clean and sober, or want to be clean and sober. Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups are all about exchanging war stories. Active addicts are too busy wrestling with their addiction to spend time trying to analyze it, aren’t motivated to trying to analyze it, and are too ashamed and unrepentant to really share their stories in depth with others in exchange for feedback.

    In the case of the girl I knew, when she had been gathering red flags about him but still totally in love. At that point an intervention would likely not have helped too much. Also, at that point she wasn’t even telling herself how bad he was, she was denying it to her very self, so she definitely wasn’t sharing war stories with others either.

    And finally, you shouldn’t always assume that someone involved with a narcissist is lower in sexual market value than the narcissist. That’s not always the case. Sure the narcissist usually believes he or she has far more sexual market value than the non-narcissist, but they usually have delusionally high self-regard and not everyone around them agrees with their self-view.


  4. I think I interpreted the Awareness hypothesis in a much stronger form than was intended. Reading back over the post it’s clear we’re much more in agreement than I initially thought.

    I like that you added a factor for “Overall Ego Strength.” Based upon personal experience, one thing that strikes me about narcissists is that sometimes they are immunized against criticism calling them out. At that moment, any attention feeds them and in fact becomes an extra layer of defense when they are not so high. It becomes part of their own sense of grandiosity that people will futily attempt to tear them down. So even when things are going just OK for them, it becomes part of their narrative and ego defense that people will attempt to tear them down. It becomes evidence for their supremacy, not their depravity. So that momentary immunization gets extended beyond what even recent events might support.


  5. You can truly,deeply hurt a Narcisist, ONLY, when you are ready to give up your relationship for good….at that moment you´ll switch in killingspree mode and nobody could stop you( already tested 2 weeks ago)


  6. “And finally, you shouldn’t always assume that someone involved with a narcissist is lower in sexual market value than the narcissist. That’s not always the case.”

    That does not matter. As you say “In their case, they’re addicted to approval from a narcissist.”

    So the question is why. This ties back into the primacy of emotions or internal states or dopamine or whatever you base it on next.

    To clarify with an example, you say the girl was “still in love” while gathering red flags.


  7. See, to me, based on the link, it looks more like arachnoid is the narcissist. At the very least, he has a vastly inflated ego of and has a false sense of “I am a great programmer doing this maganimous work and giving away my awesome programs for free”, and yet can’t understand why the users are such stupid narcissistis and can’t do what he asks. I’m not surprised; it’s the typical programmer-lack-of-empathy, which I mean in the sense of “cannot adopt the perspective of others.”

    For example, the key to the first exchange is the meaning of “data folder” and what the user should have to do to back it up. Obviously the user, as most users, doesn’t know the difference between program files and data files, nor should he have to. Why is there no way to back up (an obviously important function that anyone will need to do) without having to root around in the file system through arcane directories that are hidden by default anyway?

    Stupid user, how does he not know that C:Documents and Settings….PLCash isn’t the same as C:Program FilesPLCash?! Especially since, again, only the latter will be visible to the user by default.

    But no, he says that isn’t the problem: “The problem was not that he was confused. The problem was that he took the position that my program was defective.”

    WTF? HDP alert. Where does the guy say or imply that the program is defective? Another thing programmers don’t understand: your program isn’t interesting to them, *the problem they are trying to solve* is what is interesting to them. He just wants his damn data to show up! The user even says, “I never even mentioned anything being “broken”.”

    Hence, many programmers are notoriously bad at designing usable programs, reward themselves for writing clever code (at the expense of whoever has to come along later to clean up after it), all the while trundling along wearing the battle scars of unnecessarily damaging usability flaws (what Unix/Linux user hasn’t irrevocably trashed data due to rm weirdness?) as medals of honor, and blaming the user for their ignorance, apathy, and stupidity. As though they themselves were expected to understand every part of their car before they stepped in and started to learn how to drive, for example.

    Most user problems are the developer’s fault: their job is to understand the user’s needs, and they didn’t do it right, or at all, but rather decided to satisfy themselves first.

    He even says, “Software vendors will doubtless say, “You can’t talk to customers like that! How can you stay in business?” My answer is that I have no customers and I’m not in business. Before downloading free programs, people should understand how freeware works, and when they clearly don’t, I ask them to read my article about freeware.”

    Yes, I am a software developer. I release free programs as well, and take user feedback and issues they have through the lens of “I can make my program better” and not this crazy “personal attack on my skills” nonsense.

    The more I read, the more I see what an arrogant douchebag this guy is. Look at Regular Expressions. Someone tries to help and instead of saying, “thanks, I took that into account,” he basically says “what do you think I’m a moron? I’m a programmer, of course I know that, you have nothing to teach me you ignorant swine.” Again, the guy just wants his problem solved, but arachnoid treats it as an assault on his ego. He is the exact kind of developer I hate working with, an arrogant self-absorbed know-it-all.

    Phew!


  8. Is it me or do narcissist discussions encourage narcissism lol.

    Posted on an earlier thread, just wondering whether there are alternatives to going to qualified people and paying the £60+ an hour sort of rate.


  9. See, to me, based on the link, it looks more like arachnoid is the narcissist. At the very least, he has a vastly inflated ego of and has a false sense of “I am a great programmer doing this maganimous work and giving away my awesome programs for free”, and yet can’t understand why the users are such stupid narcissistis and can’t do what he asks. I’m not surprised; it’s the typical programmer-lack-of-empathy, which I mean in the sense of “cannot adopt the perspective of others.”

    I think there is a definite case to be made that he has a lot of the issues you say. Some of the people he responded to were actual jerks, but some of them may not have been. But I think that serves to illustrate the narcissistic contagion warning I was talking about, and that Vaknin explains in that video clip about how trying to beat narcissists at their own game often makes you more narcissistic overall and to everyone.


  10. Indeed, I later thought, perhaps his battles left him too scarred, as you’ve mentioned the contagiousness of narcissism. I agree the “you’re a hypocrite” writer was dopey; I was specifically taken aback by the other exchanges with the users in “Where is my data” and “Regular expressions”.

    So, to be more clear, by HDP I meant “highly defensive person.” I simply didn’t see the users as being that obnoxious: maybe “Please let me know your appreciation” was borderline, yet to me, given the rest of the post it simply appeared as non-native English weirdness as opposed to an actual search for praise. He starts off with, “I have used your fantastic PLCash app”! Having been scarred perhaps he’s simply far too quick to see the worst in people right away. He says as much as well, vis-a-vis the housewife from hell.

    In any case, the messages seem provoke a disproportionately hostile response, and the poison of such defensiveness is that it creates a vicious cycle, where the other party then becomes confused and offended themselves because of the unexpected lashing out, and things only cascade from there. To wit, “If you didnt want to help you should have just said so” and “It just was my opinion. Maybe you know everything in this world but I’m an ordinary user with no idea about you” – to me they both read as, whoa, chill out man.

    Perhaps this piece will be interesting (or sound eerily familiar): http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Ma.....This-Artic.

    Anyway, I also later realized that what I said about “using the computer” fits nicely into the means/ends disconnect you’ve mentioned elsewhere: for users, the computer is the means to an end, i.e. solving their problem, versus to many computer people, using the computer is enjoyable for its own sake.


  11. I think I interpreted the Awareness hypothesis in a much stronger form than was intended. Reading back over the post it’s clear we’re much more in agreement than I initially thought.

    Okay, that’s good. I was worried maybe my last post was so badly written that it was conveying the exact opposite of what i meant.

    You can truly,deeply hurt a Narcisist, ONLY, when you are ready to give up your relationship for good….at that moment you´ll switch in killingspree mode and nobody could stop you( already tested 2 weeks ago)

    I agree with you on killingspree mode. A lot of people in an N’s life, when they finally do break, break in very extreme ways. That’s what happened to that girl I know.

    Is it me or do narcissist discussions encourage narcissism lol.

    Yes, indeed.

    Posted on an earlier thread, just wondering whether there are alternatives to going to qualified people and paying the £60+ an hour sort of rate.

    Three routes I’d highly recommend are finding a spiritual outlet that isn’t rigid and dogmatic and encourages introspection and discourages ego. Avoid spiritual materialism. For me it was Buddhism and meditation. Second, read a lot of good self-help books. The key is GOOD self-help books, things that really challenge you, make you feel uncomfortable, spur you to change on the inside and not just on the outside, etc. Third, hang out with people who make you feel good, flaws and all. Not people who make you feel good because they feed your ego or because of sex, drugs, partying, alcohol, money. People who make you feel good because they see your flaws and never make you feel shame over them. Getting rid of as many toxic people as you can, even if its just the frenemies and Debbie Downers, etc. goes a long way.

    Anyway, I also later realized that what I said about “using the computer” fits nicely into the means/ends disconnect you’ve mentioned elsewhere: for users, the computer is the means to an end, i.e. solving their problem, versus to many computer people, using the computer is enjoyable for its own sake.

    I love the means/ends disconnect in general. It often explains so much and applies to so many scenarios.


  12. Guilt.

    The reason narcissist gets narcissist supply from guilt, is because the one accusing assumes the role of the victim, and the narcissist is given the power role.

    The narcissist is unable to grasp the guilt and has no empathy, so all there is for them is the power roleplaying.

    In my two relationships with narcissists, whenever they were in fault and I wanted to go over what they did, they would stretch these conversations for hours, evading the issues, but still engaging. They wanted the frame. The frame was broken when I got enraged and called them degrading names (that took me years to figure, fuck you, codependence). Then they would break and try to fix things.


  13. Yohami, when you say the narcissist gets supply from guilt, I’m assuming you mean from inducing it in other people? Not from feeling it themselves (since I think you’d agree with me that Ns don’t feel true guilt, only shame sometimes masquerading as guilt)?

    I’m pretty sure that’s what you meant but I wanted to make sure it was clear to others reading along too.

    That paragraph about just wanting the frame is so dead on too.


  14. Sorry, I meant when you put them in a situation where they should feel guilt – in the form of showing them how you feel because of something they did wrong.

    If you’re their victim, that means they are in power.

    They will try to circle around the issues so nothing they did can be interpreted as they being bad persons, and that anything you felt is your own fault because you’re weak and defective, but they will try to keep the victim/power frame intact. They are strong, and you’re weak. That’s what’s feeding them.


  15. Ah I get it. You mean the narcissist gets supply from any attempts by you to guilt them. Yes, I agree, because they are guilt proof. They are incapable of feeling bad about their actions (guilt). They’re only capable of shame, feeling bad about their inherent identity and image. That’s why, like you say, the derision and attacking works better, because those are shame-based attacks.