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Narcissists Are Like Vampires
Can you compare narcissists to vampires? This might sound funny, or a little melodramatic, but the comparison is more appropriate than you might think. After all, what are vampires? Sure, they're scary things in movies that drink blood and have supernatural strength, but what are they really? They are parasitic beings that need to feed off of a host in order to survive. When they have fed on the host to where it is depleted and can no longer support them, they move on. This is very similar to how a pathological narcissist operates.
Vampires need blood in order to survive. The myths and theories about this are various, but many have to do with the fact that they are undead and therefore have no way of making or using their own blood. This is similar to why narcissists must feed off of other people as well.
Pathologically narcissistic people live in a world of internal negativity and abuse. They have no way to create "good feelings" of their own. They have no way to validate themselves or build self-esteem. The only way they can counteract their feelings of self-hatred is to create a false self with characteristics they believe to be positive and absorb the positive feelings this false self extracts from people. People may admire, respect or envy the false self of the narcissist and though this satisfies the narcissist superficially, it's a poor substitute for real self-esteem and validation because the narcissists knows these things are not earned, that they are based on something that does not exist.
Ironically, narcissists often insist that other people are fake in their admiration or support of them. This is because narcissists know that whatever admiration or positive regard they are given is actually for the false self, and therefore has been tricked out of people, rather than given honestly. This causes them to say that people are being fake. It isn't exactly a projection, per se. It's more that they are telling on themselves. They're saying, "You don't really feel this way about me" but what they mean is, "You can't feel this way about the real me because you don't know the real me." In other words, they think people's emotions are a manipulation because they are based on something that is a manipulation itself. People don't know that, of course, but the narcissist does.
When people find out, they withdraw their support and admiration and the narcissist's negativity has been validated. They can now claim that they knew it all along, and that it is their trust which has been violated. They probably really do feel hurt by this discovery and subsequent withdrawal of positive feelings. Narcissists feel deep shame and hatred for who and what they are, and the only way they can try to counteract this is by pretending they have qualities they don't really have in order to feel superficial admiration from others that they know is stolen. It's really a sad situation, when you think about it.
They also know that the positive qualities themselves that they are portraying are stolen. The false self is a fraud. It's the narcissist's fantasy of what they wish they were and most of the qualities portrayed are things they admire in others that they have attempted to "acquire" but were unable to do so. So, like a kid playing dress up, they fake it in order to receive the attention or recognition for them that the people they envy receive. This is another way they are parasitic, like a vampire. Pathologically narcissistic people have little to no identity. They are like water, or wax conforming to the shape of whatever container it's put into. They are mimics, imitating the personalities they see and that they admire. Often times this is someone they actually know, but it can also be a character in a book, movie or TV show, a famous person, a great thinker or anyone else they wish they could be like. They are usually a pale imitation, and they know it.
Narcissists are pathologically envious, and they often latch onto people and things in an attempt to "absorb" things that they want. For example, if their partner is a great writer, they may read everything the partner writes and start writing themselves. Their partner may misunderstand this as the narcissist taking an interest in them, but that is not what it is. It is an attempt to absorb some of the partner's talent - and most importantly, the recognition and special status that they believe comes with it. However, it is of course not possible to do this, and the narcissist inevitably becomes frustrated, especially because they have no patience to actually learn a skill or wait for results. They may accuse the other person of attempting to sabotage them, of believing they are better than the narcissist and of being jealous because they secretly know the narcissist is better at writing than they are. In reality, it is the narcissist who feels this way and very likely the narcissist is trying to sabotage the partner in an attempt to take the real or imagined spotlight away from them.
Having failed in their attempt to leech the person's talent away from them, the narcissist may begin to degrade their partner's ability, or to blatantly sabotage their partner's efforts. These are not people who can be happy for others. Everything is a competition and all they can do is burn with envy that someone has something they don't. Whatever it is, it becomes a constant reminder to the narcissist of their failure and worthlessness. If they cannot acquire it, they will attempt to ruin it so that nobody has it. They would rather see it destroyed than see it belong to someone else.
The parasitic nature of the pathological narcissist is evident in everything they do. You may notice that you are exhausted after dealing with a narcissist. There is a reason for that. Narcissists are empty. They feed off of other people's energy, their emotions, their drives. They cannot survive without doing this, and they need a constant stream of it. Truly like a vampire, it is a matter of life and death.
Narcissists have no way to prop themselves up, to soothe themselves. Without other people to either feed them positive feelings or carry the load by taking abuse so the narcissist can vent their delusional self-hatred, they will not survive. Decompensation follows and then possibly suicide. So they hang on, draining people of their energy and good qualities and their ability to care until there is nothing left. The person stops caring, stops reacting, stops feeding their energy to the narcissist. With nothing left to take, the narcissist often loses interest and moves on.
Luckily for you, that's not the end of the story. Without someone constantly depleting you, you can rebuild. Without someone sucking all of your life force out every second, you can put it toward your goals, your dreams and your talents. And remember, there is another thing narcissists have in common with vampires: they have to be invited in.