The Cyber Narcissist

To the narcissist, the Internet is an alluring and irresistible combination of playground and hunting grounds, the gathering place of numerous potential Sources of Narcissistic Supply, a world where false identities are the norm and mind games the bon ton. And it is beyond the reach of the law, the pale of social norms, the strictures of civilized conduct.

The somatic finds cyber-sex and cyber-relationships aplenty. The cerebral claims false accomplishments, fake skills, erudition and talents. Both, if minimally communicative, end up at the instantly gratifying epicenter of a cult of fans, followers, stalkers, erotomaniacs, denigrators, and plain nuts. The constant attention and attendant quasi-celebrity feed and sustain their grandiose fantasies and inflated self-image.

The Internet is an extension of the real-life Narcissistic Pathological Space but without its risks, injuries, and disappointments. In the virtual universe of the Web, the narcissist vanishes and reappears with ease, often adopting a myriad aliases and nicknames. He (or she) can thus fend off criticism, abuse, disagreement, and disapproval effectively and in real time ? and, simultaneously, preserve the precarious balance of his infantile personality. Narcissists are, therefore, prone to Internet addiction.

The positive characteristics of the Net are largely lost on the narcissist. He is not keen on expanding his horizons, fostering true relationships, or getting in real contact with other people. The narcissist is forever the provincial because he filters everything through the narrow lens of his addiction. He measures others ? and idealizes or devalues them ? according to one criterion only: how useful they might be as Sources of Narcissistic Supply.

The Internet is an egalitarian medium where people are judged by the consistency and quality of their contributions rather than by the content or bombast of their claims. But the narcissist is driven to distracting discomfiture by a lack of clear and commonly accepted hierarchy (with himself at the pinnacle). He fervently and aggressively tries to impose the "natural order" ? either by monopolizing the interaction or, if that fails, by becoming a major disruptive influence.

But the Internet may also be the closest many narcissists get to psychodynamic therapy. Because it is still largely text-based, the Web is populated by disembodied entities. By interacting with these intermittent, unpredictable, ultimately unknowable, ephemeral, and ethereal voices ? the narcissist is compelled to project unto them his own experiences, fears, hopes, and prejudices.

Transference (and counter-transference) are quite common on the Net and the narcissist's defence mechanisms ? notably projection and projective identification ? are frequently aroused. The therapeutic process is set in motion by the ? unbridled, uncensored, and brutally honest - reactions to the narcissist's repertory of antics, pretensions, delusions, and fantasies.

The narcissist ? ever the intimidating bully ? is not accustomed to such resistance. Initially, it may heighten and sharpen his paranoia and lead him to compensate by extending and deepening his grandiosity. Some narcissists withdraw altogether, reverting to the schizoid posture. Others become openly antisocial and seek to subvert, sabotage, and destroy the online sources of their frustration. A few retreat and confine themselves to the company of adoring sycophants and unquestioning groupies.

But a long exposure to the culture of the Net ? irreverent, skeptical, and populist ? usually exerts a beneficial effect even on the staunchest and most rigid narcissist. Far less convinced of his own superiority and infallibility, the online narcissist mellows and begins ? hesitantly ? to listen to others and to collaborate with them.

First published in my
"Narcissistic Personality Disorder"
Topic Page on Suite 101

About The Author

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory Bellaonline, and Suite101 .

Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com; palma@unet.com.mk

In The News:


Forbes

StubHub Increases Sales By Playing To A Simple Game Of Psychology With "All ...
Forbes
If you don't believe me, ask yourself when someone came up with the idea to charge $19.99 as opposed to $20.00. Somewhere someone figured out that the psychology of seeing “19” or “under $20” as a way to make you more likely to make the purchase, ...


About the author
BBC News
Tom is a Lecturer in Psychology and Cognitive Science for the Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK. He is the co-author of the bestselling popular science book Mind Hacks and writes for the award-winning blog Mind Hacks which reports ...


Slate Magazine (blog)

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Slate Magazine (blog)
Facebook and the dating site OkCupid have each recently admitted to running secret experiments on their users. Facebook loaded some users' news feeds with more negative posts from their friends and family to see if it would make them less happy and ...
OKCupid looking like OKStupid as backlash hits over social experimentsTech Times

all 22 news articles »

Christian News Network

Ohio State Psychology Course Teaches Christians Are Dumber Than Atheists
Christian News Network
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Students in an Ohio State University psychology class are being taught that atheists have higher IQs than Christians, according to a report from a college watchdog organization. Campus Reform notes that a question from a recent online ...
Ohio State University teaches Christians are stupider than atheistsPatheos (blog)

all 6 news articles »

New sports psychology course available on IOC Athlete MOOC!
Olympic
By following five short talks exploring the fascinating topic of sports psychology, participants will gain an understanding as to the power of a robust mindset and the profound impact that psychology has on a sporting performance. Integrating real ...


Gay Marriage and the Political Psychology of Disgust
National Journal
To gain a better understanding of this complicated and still-emerging science, I called Kevin B. Smith, a psychology professor at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln). Smith is a frequently cited researcher on this topic and is the coauthor of ...

and more »

Social psychology studies lead to coveted international award
UQ News
A focus on the psychology behind group dynamics, social identity and discrimination has led to the prestigious Kurt Lewin Medal for a University of Queensland researcher. Professor Jolanda Jetten, from UQ's School of Psychology, received the award from ...


USA Women's Rugby Coach/Sport Psychologist Has City Roots
DNAinfo
an assistant clinical professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is Sport Psychology Consultant/Skills Coach for the USA Women's Rugby team, which is competing in the Women's Rugby World Cup in France. Here he poses for a photo with scrum ...


Dunstable Today

Novel leanings of the chemist who turned to psychology
Dunstable Today
Former Dunstable pharmacist and psychologist Gerald Fox – who's just penned his first psychological thriller - says his next work may well be a Carry On style comedy. The man who bought Herington Pharmacies in 1965 claims he has enough material from ...


Toronto Star

Psychologists Find a Surprising Thing Happens to Kids Who Read Harry Potter
Mic
The news: Harry Potter's greatest feat might not have been defeating Voldemort, but teaching young people around the world to battle prejudice. At least that's the finding of a new paper in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, which claims reading ...
Reading Harry Potter Reduces Prejudice, Makes You More Tolerant Of MinoritiesMedical Daily
Accio Tolerance! 12:52pm ETThe Week Magazine

all 44 news articles »
Google News

Emotional Intelligence: The Basics

There's so much talk about emotional intelligence and how it... Read More

Treatment Modalities and Therapies

Narcissism constitutes the entire personality. It is all-pervasive. Being a... Read More

Is China Testing Bio Weapons on Its Own People?

Well the conspiracy theorists are out in full force I... Read More

The Mind, Information, and Attitude

Information is flowing to us at a great rate. The... Read More

Artificial Intelligence - What Have We Learned Through Natural Ignorance?

During the late '80s and early '90s, I had the... Read More

The 5 Hindrances of the Mind: Are They Blocking Your Self-Esteem?

The issue of self-esteem is perhaps one of the greatest... Read More

The Cultural Narcissist - Lasch In An Age Of Diminishing Expectations

"The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by... Read More

Fallacies About the Inner Child

Over the past 10 years I have helped individuals who... Read More

Hypnotic Myths

Even though hypnosis has been around officially since the 1700s... Read More

Solution Focus Process: Solution Talk vs. Problem Talk Pt 2

It is crucial that interviewing with helpee progress toward solutions.... Read More

What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a medical condition. It is... Read More

Psychological Tips for Effective Studying

STUDY STRATEGIES* Revise regularly- Revision should be continuous if you... Read More

Morality As A Mental State

INTRODUCTIONMoral values, rules, principles, and judgements are often thought of... Read More

Panic Attacks: Effective Ways to Cope

Jill is a 21 y/o college student who used to... Read More

Narcissism, Substance Abuse, and Reckless Behaviours

Pathological narcissism is an addiction to Narcissistic Supply, the narcissist's... Read More

Anti-Social Behaviors and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Anti-social behaviors are common with ADHD individuals. About 60% of... Read More

Insighting Human Behavior thru Gravity Wave Simulations of the Moon

Every police officer will tell you that when there is... Read More

What is the Treatment for Bipolar Disorder?

How do we treat bipolar disorder? Specifically, how do we... Read More

Fairies and Mental Health

Schizophrenics hallucinate alternate realities. People who claim to have been... Read More

Achieving an Ambidextrous Mindset

History lends us an ideal of ambidexterity: Leonardo da Vinci,... Read More

Get Out of Jail Free: Stop Being Defensive

When Marcus and Sally first met they immediately felt like... Read More

Split Personality - A Myth or a Reality?

IntroductionIn this world today, there are a lot of unbelievable... Read More

Human Psychological Issues in the Recruitment of Suicide Bombers

Swedish Scientists did a study and found that young men... Read More

The Essence of Being Human

What does it mean to be Human? Well if you... Read More

A Case for Multiple Intelligences Based Classroom Instruction

Although many high school age students tend to think and... Read More