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The Narcissist as Compulsive Giver

The perspective from inside the mind of a Narcissist/Psychopath

Moderators: WindSong, samvaknin

The Narcissist as Compulsive Giver

Postby samvaknin » Tue May 06, 2008 2:37 pm

By Sam Vaknin
Author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited"

To all appearances, the compulsive giver is an altruistic, empathic, and caring person. Actually, he or she is a people-pleaser and a codependent. The compulsive giver is trapped in a narrative of his own confabulation: how his nearest and dearest need him because they are poor, young, inexperienced, lacking in intelligence or good looks, and are otherwise inferior to him. Compulsive giving, therefore, involves pathological narcissism.

In reality, it is the compulsive giver who coerces, cajoles, and tempts people around him to avail themselves of his services or money. He forces himself on the recipients of his ostentatious largesse and the beneficiaries of his generosity or magnanimity. He is unable to deny anyone their wishes or a requests, even when these are not explicit or expressed and are mere figments of his own neediness and grandiose imagination.

Inevitably, he develops unrealistic expectations. He feels that people should be immensely grateful to him and that their gratitude should translate into a kind of obsequiousness. Internally, he seethes and rages against the lack of reciprocity he perceives in his relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. He mutely castigates everyone around him for being so ungenerous. To the compulsive giver, giving is perceived as sacrifice and taking is exploitation. Thus, he gives without grace, always with visible strings attached. No wonder he is always frustrated and often aggressive.

In psychological jargon, we would say that the compulsive giver has alloplastic defenses with an external locus of control. This simply means that he relies on input from people around him to regulate his fluctuating sense of self-worth, his precarious self-esteem, and his ever shifting moods. It also means that he blames the world for his failures. He feels imprisoned in a hostile and mystifying universe, entirely unable to influence events, circumstances, and outcomes. He thus avoids assuming responsibility for the consequences of his actions.

Yet, it is important to realize that the compulsive giver cherishes and relishes his self-conferred victimhood and nurtures his grudges by maintaining a meticulous accounting of everything he gives and receives. This mental operation of masochistic bookkeeping is a background process of which the compulsive giver is sometimes unaware. He is likely to vehemently deny such meanness and narrow-mindedness.

The compulsive giver is an artist of projective identification. He manipulates his closest into behaving exactly the way he expects them to. He keeps lying to them and telling them that the act of giving is the only reward he seeks. All the while he secretly yearns for reciprocity. He rejects any attempt to rob him of his sacrificial status - he won't accept gifts or money and he avoids being the recipient or beneficiary of help or compliments. These false asceticism and fake modesty are mere baits. He uses them to prove to himself that his nearest and dearest are nasty ingrates. "If they wanted to (give me a present or help me), they would have insisted" - he bellows triumphantly, his worst fears and suspicions yet again confirmed.

Gradually, people fall into line. They begin to feel that they are the ones who are doing the compulsive giver a favor by succumbing to his endless and overweening charity. "What can we do?" - they sigh - "It means so much to him and he has put so much effort into it! I just couldn't say no." The roles are reversed and everyone is happy: the beneficiaries benefit and the compulsive giver goes on feeling that the world is unjust and people are self-centered exploiters. As he always suspected.

You can learn more about me and my work here:



http://malignantselflove.tripod.com/nar ... hotos.html


http://malignantselflove.tripod.com/archive01.html (scroll down to section
titled "Sam Vaknin, NPD")

http://www.suite101.com/articles.cfm/npd (my journal)


http://malignantselflove.tripod.com/sipurim.html (short fiction)

http://malignantselflove.tripod.com/contents.html (poetry)
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Thats My Husband!!!

Postby sassysandic » Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:07 pm

I have never seen my Husband described as accurately as has been done in this article. I was confused by some of the things I had learned about npd. My Hubby did not fit all of the criteria. He is never broke, and he never uses people to achieve his own ends monitarily. So I kept asking myself if i was on the wrong course here. Maybe he isnt npd. This article has helped clarify these questions for me.
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Postby Diktynna » Sat Dec 06, 2008 3:24 pm

Every.last.word of this article is the very definition of my father. OMG. I can't believe I've found something like this!!!!
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Postby Springlight » Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:48 pm

Some really interesting stuff here...

My Grandmother is the ultimate in giving, she uses gifts and money as ultimate control over her victims. Also, being seen by members of the family and public to be endlessly giving gifts and money is her ideal smokescreen. Her entire act is built around the generous sweet little old lady act she is portraying. I have found it impossible over the years to refuse gifts from her as she is insitant and shows her nasty streak. I am accused of being ungrateful. The generosity always comes with strings attached, she uses gifts as a way of manipultion, but the main thing is the glory of thankfulness she gets from it. The adulation she demands from gifts she has given is endless, even when the gifts are totally inappropriate. Giving gifts to her victims is a way of generating attention and the gratitude she craves.

Ironically, she also has no real interest or understanding of the person she is giving the gift to. She has no idea or even cares whether the recipient will want or like the gift, but she is insitant anyway. I have seen her give gifts to people who she barely knows and bitches like hell if they dont do enough bowing and scraping.

My grandmother has my mother (her daughter) hand deliver birthday cards from her to people in the village who she barely knows. It wouldnt do for her to deliver them herself, she must have the family know that it is her generous gesture. God help them if they dont send one back.

She is so skilled in her generosity now that she even manages to give a gift with one hand and deliberately stab you in the back with the other. For example, as a wedding gift, she gave me an envelope with what I thought was a wedding card and some money in it. I opened it on my wedding day, it was a blank card with £10 note in it. She had very carefully written my name and written my husbands name, then scribbled it out. She wrote underneath...get yourself a drink.

She harrassed my mother because I didnt ring her and thank her for the card. She didnt actually come to the wedding, but told the entire village that she had been so generous and given me a large wedding gift. Of course she never said how much or about the card. By the time I got back from honeymoon, my mother was begging me to call her. So, to ease my Mum's suffering I called and thanked her. She never mentioned the honeymoon, she told me that she couldnt remember how much she had given me and asked me to remind her, so through gritted teeth I told her. It was a short conversation, she was just glory hunting.

Every year, I get a christmas card, just addressed to me and not my husband, but she goes out of her way to send one to his family, even though she doesnt even know them. Its all part of her show...

Her PR machine is working overtime to promote herself as a generous, kind hearted wonderful grandmother. Scratch the surface or try and refuse a gift from her and she gets nasty and you see the real woman.
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mother in law

Postby sadie81 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:50 pm

springlight..... your mother just might be my mother in law. haha! this is an exact description!
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Some understanding into his NPD

Postby controlled11yrs » Tue May 12, 2009 9:14 pm

My sometimes ex because I can't help but feel dependent on him and fused to him some how. Anyways, as he gave me $ 500 dollars for a car to drive his son to and from school, doctors, grandparents etc.. This was given about seven or eight yrs ago and after two children of our own and fully being the only person involved in his family eg;taking care of his grandparents running aronds etc. as I really didn't mind as his fathers mother I love so very much and passed away two and a half yrs ago I still get from him how self centered I am and how ungratefull I am and that I owe him because I wasted 11 years of his life. I do not know how that works when I was just 18 and took on rasing his son and shut myself into his secculed world untill now at almost 30. Still struggling to figure out how to cope with all this. I also think more psycologists should be aware of this because as we went to a relationship counsler I was totally castrated and found to be "impulsive". Unless he really knew all along what his problems are but fails to share that information with either one of us. He also did not and does not know the truth as I was fully instructed on how to act and what to and not to say at our sessions.
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Location: Pretty nice Pa


Postby Rainbows End » Wed May 13, 2009 1:02 am

Dr. V. thank you so much for your post. It is uncanny how closely you described my boss. She even started an office weekly donation for birthdays, weddings, births, speeding tickets, etc. She, of course, was in control of the "fund." She knew who gave, and who did not. What is really weird is that we are paid biweekly.

I have mentioned that she uses the poor pity me routine to a level a two year old would envy. I do beleive she is a true sociopath, yet has learned these N behaviours to be accepted and more to the point to be considered a god. What a very sorry existence. My understanding of the joyless existense of these N's, P's, etc has finally allowed me to start forgiving them. Not that I trust them, or feal any compassion for them. I, as a feeling being, cannot imagine the hell they live in. It is this understanding that allows me to heal. Forgiveness is actually a means for a victim to heal. It is not acceptance or validation of the perpertrator's action.

Thank you - your posts are most helpful.

God bless.
Rainbows End
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Postby wouldbe » Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:45 am

This was my last relationship. I'm a little dumbfounded. Only, he'd make promises to give or do great things, and spend huge amounts of time planning these great things, but rarely coming through with them, if they were something actually needed. The end result was that I was endlessly dependent on him to finish doing things for me that I never asked him to do, but waited for him to do because it would have hurt him so much if I went elsewhere. And then I was being a selfish narcissist (in his mind) for, in the end, expecting him to follow-through on anything.

At other times, he'd buy really inappropriate gifts, and if I didn't accept, I was being an ingrate (and a cruel ingrate)...
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Re: The Narcissist as Compulsive Giver

Postby shellshockella » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:53 pm

Yup! My PM also does that! Fake giving, that always has hideous strings attached--like it's bait. And usually, she finds a way to take back whatever was given anyway, so you just get stuck in the boobytrap wondering, hey, what happened to that Twinkie that was just here a minute ago? And why is my foot stuck?

I also know someone who is a fulltime martyr. I never recognized it as a from of subtle aggression, but I see it now. You can't get anywhere near her without walking away apologizing, and feeling guilty for something. It's like you call to say hello, and the first thing you hear is,"Oh! You finally decided to call me!" She has the upper hand over you the moment you enter her zone. I used to feel sorry for her and do all kinds of favors for her because I felt so bad that she seemed always to have hurt feelings. Now I see that those "hurt feelings" were manufactured. What a loser.
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Re: The Narcissist as Compulsive Giver

Postby adelerob » Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:32 am

At my father's recent 80th birthday which Mum (NP) naturally thought was a waste of time etc etc etc , my sister provided a lovely cake. Mum cut it into peices and gave it all away to neighbours, the workers on the neighbours fence etc before Dad or we children and partners had a chance to have any. When one of the workers refused a piece she wasf angry and haughty. The same happened when one of the neighbours refused to let her feed their dogs with old bones. However she does not and never has given anything to her children or other family. Once I got a birthdya present of a pair of cheap undies shoved into a postal bag. She is unaware of any inappropriateness. She will never change and it is only recently that I have realised what is wrong with her - such a relief. My sister and brothers waiver between amusement at her tall tales and anger at the selfishness. It is a lonely world having one of these as a parent so I am very happy to find others in the same boat.
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Re: The Narcissist as Compulsive Giver

Postby KatDBell » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:33 am

My father has been my NMs servant and follows all orders. Their son was GC and My NM still has a covert sexual relationship w/ him-i think he is 44 and has a mail order chinese wife. She made sure she paid for the most expensive schools for GC, i did not get so much as a knit hat for Xmas. I put myself thru college and grad school, one failed marriage-both marriages by J of P. Now she gives $1500 to each of my twin sons for their birthday!!! extravagant gift giving to prove how dedicated of a grandmother she is!!!
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