Narcissistic Personality Disorder Today
Do Narcissists Hate Women?
By: Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited
I read somewhere in your web site that narcissists hate women. Nothing can be further from the truth, from my experience. All the narcissists in my life ADORED women, they were addicted to women, they worshipped women. My ex-husband couldn't live without women - many women.
Narcissists abhor and dread getting emotionally intimate. The cerebral ones regard sex as a maintenance chore, something they have to do in order to keep their source of Secondary Supply. The somatic narcissist treats women as objects and sex as a means to obtaining narcissistic supply.
Moreover, many narcissists tend to engage in FRUSTRATING behaviours towards women. They refrain from having sex with them, tease them and then leave them, resist flirtatious and seductive behaviours and so on. Often, they invoke the existence of a girlfriend/fiancée/spouse (or boyfriend/etc. – male and female are interchangeable in my texts) as the "reason" why they cannot have sex/develop a relationship. But this is not out of loyalty and fidelity in the empathic and loving sense. This is because they wish (and often succeed) to sadistically frustrate the interested party.
This pertains ONLY to cerebral narcissists, but NOT to somatic narcissists and HPDs (Histrionic Personality Disorder) who use their BODY, sex and seduction/flirtation to extract narcissistic supply from others.
Some narcissists are raised by weak or inaccessible mothers and harsh, rigid, or sadistic fathers. They tend to bond with males in male settings (army, sports, police, bodybuilding, the Catholic Church) and to seek empathy, warmth, support, secure friendship, and love among their male peers. This macho bonding masks repressed and latent homosexual tendencies, the result of incestuous or simply pathologically excessive love towards the father (or father figure). Terrified of these homosexual tendencies, these narcissists are besieged by feelings of guilt (towards their mothers with whom they compete for the father's affection) and inadequacy (they can never quite measure up to the father's standards). They become extreme and virulent misogynists. By hating women and defying them - they hate and defy life itself (women being the givers of life). They thus deny their effeminate self and exercise their self-destructive impulses.
Narcissists are misogynists. They team up with women as mere sources of SNS (secondary narcissistic supply). The woman's chores are to accumulate past NS and release it in an orderly manner, so as to regulate the fluctuating flow of primary supply. Otherwise, cerebral narcissists are not interested in women. Most of them are non-sexual (engage in sexual acts very rarely, if at all). They hold women in contempt and abhor the thought of being really intimate with them. Usually, they choose submissive women, well below their level, to perform these functions. This leads to a vicious cycle of neediness, self-contempt (“how come I am dependent on this inferior woman”) and contempt directed at the woman. Hence the abuse. When primary NS is available – the woman is hardly tolerated, as one would reluctantly pay the premium of an insurance policy.
The narcissist does regard the "subjugation" of an attractive woman to be a source of narcissistic supply.
It is a status symbol, proof of virility and masculinity and it allows him to engage in "vicarious" narcissistic behaviours (=being a narcissist through others, transforming others into tools at the service of his narcissism, into his extensions). This is done by employing defence mechanisms such as projective identification. Many of my FAQs and the essay are dedicated to these issues.
To re-iterate, Primary Narcissistic Supply (NS) is ANY kind of NS provided by others who are not "meaningful" or "significant" others. Adulation, attention, affirmation, fame, notoriety, sexual conquests – are all forms of NS.
Secondary NS emanates from people who are in CONSTANT, repetitive or continuous touch with the narcissist. It includes the important roles of narcissistic accumulation and narcissistic regulation, among others. (See the essay for more).
The narcissist believes that being in love IS actually going through the motions and pretending. To him, emotions are mimicry and pretence.
He says: "I am a conscious misogynist. I fear and loathe women and tend to ignore them to the best of my ability. To me they are a mixture of hunter and parasite."
Most male Narcissists are misogynists. After all, they are the warped creation of a woman. A woman gave birth to them and moulded them into what they are: dysfunctional, maladaptive, emotionally dead. They are angry at this woman and, by implication, mad at all women.
The narcissist's attitude to women is, naturally, complex and multi-layered but it can be summarized using four axes:
The narcissist divides all women to saints and whores. He finds it difficult to have sex ("dirty", "forbidden", "punishable", "degrading") with feminine significant others (spouse, intimate girlfriend). To him, sex and intimacy are mutually exclusive rather than mutually expressive propositions. Sex is reserved to "whores" (all other women in the world). This division provides for a resolution of his constant cognitive dissonance ("I want her but...", "I don't need anyone but..."). It also legitimizes his sadistic urges (abstaining from sex is a major and recurrent narcissistic "penalty" inflicted on female "transgressors"). It also tallies well with the frequent idealization-devaluation cycles the narcissist goes through. The idealized females are sexless, the devalued ones – "deserving" of their degradation (sex) and the contempt that, inevitably, follows thereafter.
The narcissist believes firmly that women are out to "hunt" men and that this is almost a genetic predisposition. As a result, he feels threatened (as any prey would). This, of course, is an intellectualization of the real, absolutely opposite, state of things: the narcissist feels threatened by women and tries to justify this irrational fear by imbuing women with "objective" qualities which make them, to his mind, ominous. This is a small detail in a larger canvass of "pathologizing" others as a means of controlling them. According to the narcissist’s scenario, once the prey is secured – the woman assumes the role of a "body snatcher". She absconds with the narcissist's sperm, she generates an endless stream of demanding and nose dripping children, she financially bleeds the men in her life to cater to her needs and to the needs of her dependants. Put differently, she is a parasite, a leech, whose sole function is to suck dry every man she finds and Tarantula-like decapitate them once no longer useful. This, of course, is exactly what the narcissist does to people. Thus, his view of women is a projection.
Heterosexual narcissists desire women as any other red-blooded male does (even more so due to the special symbolic nature of the woman in the narcissist's life – humbling a woman in acts of faintly sadomasochistic sex is a way of getting back at mother). But he is frustrated by his inability to meaningfully interact with them, by their apparent emotional depth and powers of psychological penetration (real or attributed) and by their sexuality. Their incessant demands for intimacy are perceived by him as a threat. He recoils instead of getting closer. The cerebral narcissist also despises and derides sex, as we said before. Thus, caught in a seemingly intractable repetition complex, in approach-avoidance cycles, the narcissist becomes furious at the source of his frustration. Some of them set out to do some frustrating of their own. They tease (passively or actively), or they pretend to be non-sexual and, in any case, they turn down, rather cruelly, any attempt by a woman to court them and to get closer.
Sadistically, they tremendously enjoy their ability to frustrate the desires, passions and sexual wishes of women. It endows them with a feeling of omnipotence and with the pleasing realization of malevolence. Narcissists regularly frustrate all women sexually – and engage in frustrating significant women in their lives both sexually and emotionally. Somatic narcissists simply use women as objects and then discard them. The emotional background is identical. While the cerebral narcissist punishes through abstention – the somatic narcissist penalizes through excess.
The narcissist's mother kept behaving as though the narcissist was and is not special (to her). The narcissist's whole life is a pathetic and pitiful effort to prove her wrong. The narcissist constantly seeks confirmation from others that he IS special – in other words that he IS. Women threaten this. Sex is "bestial" and "common". There is nothing "special or unique" about sex. Women are perceived by the narcissist to be dragging him to their level, the level of the lowest common denominator of intimacy, sex and human emotions. Everybody and anybody can feel, copulate and breed. There is nothing to set the narcissist apart and above others in these activities. And yet women seem to be interested ONLY in these pursuits. Thus, the narcissist emotionally believes that women are the continuation of his mother by other means and in different guises.
The narcissist hates women virulently, passionately and uncompromisingly. His hate is primal, irrational, the progeny of mortal fear and sustained abuse. Granted, most narcissists learn how to suppress, disguise, even repress these untoward feelings. But their hatred does swing out of control and erupt from time to time. It is a terrifying, paralysing sight. It is the true narcissist.
To live with a narcissist is an arduous and eroding task. Narcissists are atrabilious, infinitely pessimistic, bad-tempered, paranoid and sadistic in an absent-minded and indifferent manner. Their daily routine is a rigmarole of threats, complaints, hurts, eruptions, moodiness and rage. The Narcissist rails against slights true and imagined. He alienates people. He humiliates them because this is his only weapon against the humiliation of their indifference.
Gradually, wherever he is, the Narcissist’s social circle dwindles and then vanishes. Every narcissist is also a schizoid, to some extent. A schizoid is not a misanthrope. He does not necessarily hate people - he simply does not need them. He regards social interactions as a nuisance to be minimized.
The Narcissist is torn between his need to obtain narcissistic supply (monopolized by human beings) - and his fervent wish to be left alone. This wish is peppered with contempt and feelings of superiority.
There are fundamental conflicts between dependence and contempt, neediness and devaluation, seeking and avoiding, turning on the charm to attract adulation and being engulfed by wrathful reactions to the most minuscule "provocations". These conflicts lead to rapid cycling between gregariousness and self-imposed ascetic seclusion.
Such an unpredictable but always bilious and festering atmosphere is hardly conducive to love or sex. Gradually, both become extinct. Relationships are hollowed out. Imperceptibly, the Narcissist switches to a non-sexual co-habitation.
But the vitriolic environment that the Narcissist creates is only one hand of the equation. The other hand is the woman herself.
As we said, heterosexual narcissists are attracted to women, but simultaneously repelled, horrified, bewitched and provoked by them. They seek to frustrate and humiliate them. Psychodynamically, the Narcissist probably visits upon them his mother's sins - but such an instant explanation does the subject great injustice.
Most narcissists are misogynists. Their sexual and emotional lives are perturbed and chaotic. They are unable to love in any true sense of the word - nor are they capable of developing any measure of intimacy. Lacking empathy, they are unable to offer to the partner emotional sustenance.
Do Narcissists miss loving, would they have liked to love and are they angry with their parents for crippling them so?
To the Narcissist, these questions are incomprehensible. There is no way they can answer them. Narcissists never love. They do not know what is it that they are supposedly missing. Observing it from the outside, love seems to them to be a risible pathology. They equate love with weakness. They hate being weak and they hate and despise weak people (and, therefore, the very old and the very young). They do not tolerate what they consider to be stupidity, disease and dependence - and love seems to encompass all three. These are not sour grapes. They really feel this way.
Narcissists are angry men - but not because they never experienced love and probably never will. They are angry because they are not as powerful, awe inspiring and successful as they wish they were and, to their mind, deserve to be. Because their daydreams refuse so stubbornly to come true. Because they are their worst enemy. And because, in their unmitigated paranoia, they see adversaries plotting everywhere and feel discriminated against and contemptuously ignored.
Many of them (the “borderline” Narcissists) cannot conceive of a life in one place with one set of people, doing the same thing, in the same field with one goal within a decades-old game plan. To them, this is death. They are most terrified of boredom and whenever faced with its daunting prospect, they inject drama into their life, or even danger. This is the only way some of them can feel alive.
The Narcissist is a lonely wolf. He is a shaky platform, indeed, on which to base a family, or future plans.
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