Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Cult of the Narcissist

Like Kimmer, I like to reuse good information found on the web, but unlike Kimmer I give credit to my sources. The following article by Sam Vaknin was posted by v0xhumana on LCF.

Read it and see if it isn't a description of Kimmer. I think so.

The Cult of the Narcissist
By Sam Vaknin
Author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited"

The narcissist is the guru at the center of a cult. Like other gurus, she demands complete obedience from her flock: her spouse, her offspring, other family members, friends, and colleagues. She feels entitled to adulation and special treatment by her followers. She punishes the wayward and the straying lambs. She enforces discipline, adherence to her teachings, and common goals. The less accomplished she is in reality – the more stringent her mastery and the more pervasive the brainwashing.

The – often involuntary – members of the narcissist's mini-cult inhabit a twilight zone of her own construction. She imposes on them a shared psychosis, replete with persecutory delusions, "enemies", mythical narratives, and apocalyptic scenarios if she is flouted.

The narcissist's control is based on ambiguity, unpredictability, fuzziness, and ambient abuse. Her ever-shifting whims exclusively define right versus wrong, desirable and unwanted, what is to be pursued and what to be avoided. She alone determines the rights and obligations of her disciples and alters them at will.

The narcissist is a micro-manager. She exerts control over the minutest details and behaviors. She punishes severely and abuses withholders of information and those who fail to conform to her wishes and goals.

The narcissist does not respect the boundaries and privacy of her reluctant adherents. She ignores their wishes and treats them as objects or instruments of gratification. She seeks to control both situations and people compulsively.

She strongly disapproves of others' personal autonomy and independence. Even innocuous activities, such as meeting a friend or visiting one's family require her permission. Gradually, she isolates her nearest and dearest until they are fully dependent on her emotionally, sexually, financially, and socially.

She acts in a patronizing and condescending manner and criticizes often. She alternates between emphasizing the minutest faults (devalues) and exaggerating the talents, traits, and skills (idealizes) of the members of her cult. She is wildly unrealistic in her expectations – which legitimizes her subsequent abusive conduct.

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

Her thinking is dogmatic, rigid, and doctrinaire. She does not countenance free thought, pluralism, or free speech and doesn't brook criticism and disagreement. She demands – and often gets – complete trust and the relegation to her capable hands of all decision-making.

She forces the participants in her cult to be hostile to critics, the authorities, institutions, her personal enemies, or the media – if they try to uncover her actions and reveal the truth. She closely monitors and censors information from the outside, exposing her captive audience only to selective data and analysis.

The narcissist's cult is "missionary" and "imperialistic". She is always on the lookout for new recruits – her spouse's friends, her daughter's girlfriends, her neighbors, new colleagues at work. She immediately attempts to "convert" them to her "creed" – to convince them how wonderful and admirable she is. In other words, she tries to render them Sources of Narcissistic Supply.

Often, her behavior on these "recruiting missions" is different to her conduct within the "cult". In the first phases of wooing new admirers and proselytizing to potential "conscripts" – the narcissist is attentive, compassionate, empathic, flexible, self-effacing, and helpful. At home, among the "veterans" she is tyrannical, demanding, willful, opinionated, aggressive, and exploitative.

As the leader of her congregation, the narcissist feels entitled to special amenities and benefits not accorded the "rank and file". She expects to be waited on hand and foot, to make free use of everyone's money and dispose of their assets liberally, and to be cynically exempt from the rules that she herself established (if such violation is pleasurable or gainful).

In extreme cases, the narcissist feels above the law – any kind of law. This grandiose and haughty conviction leads to criminal acts, incestuous or polygamous relationships, and recurrent friction with the authorities.

Hence the narcissist's panicky and sometimes violent reactions to "dropouts" from her cult. There's a lot going on that the narcissist wants kept under wraps. Moreover, the narcissist stabilizes her fluctuating sense of self-worth by deriving Narcissistic Supply from her victims. Abandonment threatens the narcissist's precariously balanced personality.

Add to that the narcissist's paranoid and schizoid tendencies, her lack of introspective self-awareness, and her stunted sense of humor (lack of self-deprecation) and the risks to the grudging members of her cult are clear.

The narcissist sees enemies and conspiracies everywhere. She often casts herself as the heroic victim (martyr) of dark and stupendous forces. In every deviation from her tenets she espies malevolent and ominous subversion. She, therefore, is bent on dis-empowering her devotees. By any and all means.

The narcissist is dangerous.

Emphasis mine, and the changes from he/his to she/hers.


Yust Yucky said...

Really disturbing. Even more disturbing, we actually know somebody like this in real life -- a minister of one of the local churches. This explains a lot of stuff we've seen and heard about. Gotta think about this a while.

Great blog as always, Mariasol.

MrsMenopausal said...

Wow. Dead on.

v0xhumana said...

Yeah. Narcissists are by nature drawn to leadership roles. That's why often times you'll seem them as group leaders, managers, teachers, clergy, politicians, etc.

Thanks for reposting this, Mari. I didn't even bother to bold anything in the article because I thought it all was spot on!

mariasol said...

v0x - Thank YOU for finding the information. Yes, it's all spot on. I had problems not bolding all of it.