Dr. Vaknin is author of of the informative book, Malignant
Self Love - Narcissism Revisited. He also edits various mental
health categories on Open Directory, Suite101, Go.Com and
SearchEurope.com. While his doctorate is not in mental health,
this well-informed author clearly did his homework and writes from
experience. Dr. Vaknin's CV is published
here. His book, and much more, is available in hard copy or
download on his main
EDITED 2/09. Unfortunately, while the content itself stands on its own
in helping people understand narcissism, the writer's credibility may
For example, see here:
NARCISSIST, THE ABUSER
The Narcissist induces hate. We hate the perpetrator of abuse also
because he made us hate ourselves. Trying to avert the ultimate act of
self-hatred, trying to avoid self-liquidation, we "kill"
ourselves symbolically by denying ourselves, our thoughts, our feelings.
It is an act of magic, a ritual of exorcism, a transubstantiation, a black
Eucharist of hate. By denying our selves we deny our only possible saviour,
our only feasible solution and absolution: our selves. We thus hope to
avoid confronting the unthinkable, feeling the impossible, committing the
irreversible. But, inevitably, it backfires. We feel rage, helplessness,
weakness and the temptation of requiting our misery once and for all.
It is more difficult to hate someone because of what he IS - than because
of what he DID.
Some non-abusers are (perhaps) deserving of a generalized sort of
repulsion or reticence (call it hate, if you wish). The abuser, in
contrast, DID things, he committed acts of abuse. He is deserving of a
focused, directed, intensive hate. This is because the abuser is
RESPONSIBLE and CULPABLE for what he did.
Philosophically, morally, ethically (and legally) we often confuse
impulses with responsibility. That we have no control diminishes our
But drives ARE controllable. So are impulses. The control can be
primitive (fear) or of a higher level (a moral conviction). Had we really
felt that the abuser had no control over what he did, we would not have
hated him. That we hate him is PROOF that he had control over his actions.
Hate is the direct reaction to culpability. Do we hate tornadoes? Do we
hate sandstorms or avalanches or death? We do not. We hate disease because
we intuitively feel that there MUST be something we can do about it. We
feel GUILTY. We hate collapsing bridges and train accidents - because they
can be PREVENTED.
Not perversely, we feel that they are EVITABLE.
We hate what could have been prevented by the exercise of judgment,
including moral judgment, emotional judgment (love) or rational one.
We never hate what no amount of judgment and distinction between right
and wrong could have prevented.
The abuser is GUILTY. He could have PREVENTED it. He KNOWINGLY did what
he did. He is CULPABLE. We hate him JUSTLY.
Here is a thought experiment:
If someone were to threaten to report the abuser to the police - would
he have still committed these acts?
The answer is no, he wouldn't have. This means that he could have
controlled his actions, given the right incentives (or, rather,
Self-hatred is a way of assuming the abuser's guilt. To a child, a
parent can never be guilty. Parents are perfect, above reproach, above
vile thoughts. It is prohibited to think badly about a parent. The child
thinks: "It must be I who is wrong and guilty and corrupt in hating
my parent. I should be ashamed of myself."
It is a conflict. It is the confusion that all victims experience.
Especially victims who have always been an extension of their parents. In
such a case, even self-hatred is no real solution.
Very often we feel that perhaps we have collaborated with the abusing
parent, seduced or tempted or angered or provoked him or her.
The crux of our problem as I see it is our inability to distinguish the
child that the abuser once was (deserving of pity and empathy) - from the
monstrous adult that the abuser became, which is deserving of
condemnation, contempt, hate, punishment, repulsion and reticence. As long
as we do not cease to confuse these two - we will be immersed in
conflict, perplexity and pain. We HAVE to sacrifice the image of our
parents if we want to get better. We have to let go. We must hate in order
to be able to love again.
We must place guilt, blame, rage, contempt firmly where they belong. We
cannot prevent PAST bad things from happening by feeling in the PRESENT.
Understanding, loving, compassion, empathy - must be directed at the
deserving. It is natural not to love an Hitler. One can HATE and detest
Hitler passionately, vehemently, wholeheartedly - and still be loving,
compassionate, full of emotions and beauty. Actually I think that hating
Hitler-like people is a PRECONDITION to experiencing true positive
If one does not hate an Hitler something is very wrong with one's
emotional equipment. If one does not despise a monster - one is INCAPABLE
of adult feelings, one's emotional intelligence is infantile and immature.
Hating an abuser - is a sign of emotional maturation, not of emotional
It is wrong to UNIVERSALIZE one's feelings. We need to SEGREGATE them,
instead. For instance: we can love our spouse WHILE hating our abusive
parent or partner. Must we love EVERYONE, all the time? Must we be so
terrified of being rejected?
The hearts of the Narcissist's victims are captivated. They love
monsters. They try to understand abusers. They make excuses for the
inexcusable. They mitigate their private holocaust. They legitimize
abhorrent crimes. They lie to themselves. They are immorally not in touch
with their real emotions. And, this way, they perpetuate their own abuse,
their own torture, they collaborate with the terrorists that are and were
their only family.
Next: LIVING WITH A NARCISSIST
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