Cerebral vs. somatic narcissists

cerebral_narc somatic_narc
Either of these narcs are poison–run away as fast as you can. The chihuahua is probably okay.

I’m in a blah, uncreative mood tonight and can’t think of anything to write about (I had an irritating day and just want to read), so tonight I’m just going to post this interesting article by Sam Vaknin here where he describes the differences between the two types of narcissists: cerebral and somatic. Either type can be malignant or non-malignant. I haven’t really covered the two types of narcissists in much depth before, so this should take care of that oversight.

My mother is a somatic narcissist, histrionic type. They are prone to over the top dramatic behavior, shallow sexual relationships, and tantrums. If my daughter is a narcissist, then she would also be a somatic histrionic type (which can be confused with Borderline PD, which she may actually be). Female narcissists are probably more likely to be somatic (vain, preening, overly concerned with appearance and/or health) but both types can be found in either gender. Most gay male narcissists I’ve met are of the somatic type, but that doesn’t mean most gay narcissists are necessarily somatic. I’ve know one or two cerebral ones too.

Here is that article.

Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hide: Cerebral vs. Somatic Narcissist

Narcissists are either cerebral or somatic. In other words, they either generate their Narcissistic Supply by applying their bodies or by applying their minds.

The somatic narcissist flaunts his sexual conquests, parades his possessions, exhibits his muscles, brags about his physical aesthetics, youthfulness, sexual prowess or exploits, and is often a health freak and a hypochondriac. The somatic narcissist regards his body as an object to be sculpted and honed (via extreme diets, multiple cosmetic surgeries, bodybuilding, or weightlifting). When coupled with psychopathic tendencies, the somatic appropriates other people’s bodies and treats these as “raw materials” to be dismembered, tampered with, altered, invaded, or otherwise abused.

Somatic narcissists are often portrayed as sex addicts or histrionic. But really they derive their narcissistic supply not so much from the sex act as from the process of securing it: the conspiracies and assignations, the chase and conquest, the subjugation and habituation of their targets, and even from dumping and discarding their prey, once having extracted the attention and admiration they had sought. These extracurricular activities endow them with a sense of omnipotence and all-pervasive control. Their sway over their paramours and would-be lovers proves to them (and to others) their uniqueness, desirability and irresistibility.

The cerebral narcissist is a know-it-all, haughty and intelligent “computer”. He uses his awesome intellect, or knowledge (real or pretended) to secure adoration, adulation and admiration. To him, his body and its maintenance are a burden and a distraction.

Both types are auto-erotic (psychosexually in love with themselves, with their bodies and with their brain). Both types prefer masturbation to adult, mature, interactive, multi-dimensional and emotion-laden sex.

The cerebral narcissist is often celibate (even when he has a girlfriend or a spouse). He prefers pornography and sexual auto-stimulation to the real thing. The cerebral narcissist is sometimes a latent (hidden, not yet outed) homosexual. [Interesting.]

The somatic narcissist uses other people’s bodies to masturbate. Sex with him – pyrotechnics and acrobatics aside – is likely to be an impersonal and emotionally alienating and draining experience. The partner is often treated as an object, an extension of the somatic narcissist, a toy, a warm and pulsating vibrator.

It is a mistake to assume type-constancy. In other words, all narcissists are BOTH cerebral and somatic. In each narcissist, one of the types is dominant. So, the narcissist is either OVERWHELMINGLY cerebral – or DOMINANTLY somatic. But the other type, the recessive (manifested less frequently) type, is there. It is lurking, waiting to erupt.

The narcissist swings between his dominant type and his recessive type. The latter is expressed mainly as a result of a major narcissistic injury or life crisis.

I can give you hundreds of examples from my correspondence but, instead, let’s talk about me (of course…:o))

I am a cerebral narcissist. I brandish my brainpower, exhibit my intellectual achievements, bask in the attention given to my mind and its products. I hate my body and neglect it. It is a nuisance, a burden, a derided appendix, an inconvenience, a punishment. Needless to add that I rarely have sex (often years apart). I masturbate regularly, very mechanically, as one would change water in an aquarium. I stay away from women because I perceive them to be ruthless predators who are out to consume me and mine.

I have had quite a few major life crises. I got divorced, lost millions a few times, did time in one of the worst prisons in the world, fled countries as a political refugee, was threatened, harassed and stalked by powerful people and groups. I have been devalued, betrayed, denigrated and insulted.

Invariably, following every life crisis, the somatic narcissist in me took over. I became a lascivious lecher. When this happened, I had a few relationships – replete with abundant and addictive sex – going simultaneously. I participated in and initiated group sex and mass orgies. I exercised, lost weight and honed my body into an irresistible proposition.

This outburst of unrestrained, primordial lust waned in a few months and I settled back into my cerebral ways. No sex, no women, no body.

These total reversals of character stun my mates. My girlfriends and spouse found it impossible to digest this eerie transformation from the gregarious, darkly handsome, well-built and sexually insatiable person that swept them off their feet – to the bodiless, bookwormish hermit with not an inkling of interest in either sex or other carnal pleasures.

I miss my somatic half. I wish I could find a balance, but I know it is a doomed quest. This sexual beast of mine will forever be trapped in the intellectual cage that is I, Sam Vaknin, the Brain.

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye
And all my soul and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account;
And for myself mine own worth do define,
As I all other in all worths surmount.
But when my glass shows me myself indeed,
Beated and chopp’d with tann’d antiquity,
Mine own self-love quite contrary I read;
Self so self-loving were iniquity.
‘Tis thee, myself, that for myself I praise,
Painting my age with beauty of thy days.

(Sonnet 62, William Shakespeare)

Plac’d on this isthmus of a middle state,
A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d;
Still by himself, abus’d or disabus’d;
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;
The glory, jest and riddle of the world.

(Essay on Man, Alexander Pope)

29 thoughts on “Cerebral vs. somatic narcissists

  1. Sam Vaknin having sex orgies, who would have guessed that. My mother goes between the two, I think she is more cerebral. And you can’t argue with her, you can’t. She will make you feel like you are dead in the head if you do.

    My brother’s MN wife takes dirtiness to a whole new planet. When her daughter’s were small any little uncovering of their bodies she would yell and scream at them. They had to be completely covered at all times. Little girls and she was treating them like whores.

    So yes, this is informative, I can go down the list of all the narcs I know, and see them for what they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m just reading this again and I see mother as a latent homosexual, being more cerebral. I can’t tell if my brother’s wife is more somatic or cerebral. She’s kinda reverse dirty, if you know what I mean, by my upper comment, but she’s not the somatic kind as referred to in the article. She’s not all smart either, unless you count her bullying other’s at her job. She brags about how tough she is, and better than others. I know she is a narc due to other things, and I know she’s very malignant, because of other things, but its hard to tell what’s dominating.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That surprised me too. He doesn’t hold back anything. I doubt he’s doing that anymore though. It’s weird talking about his ~sex life~ on here but he’s a public figure and writes about it publicly so there’s no boundary violation.

      My mother used to walk around naked or in flimsy see through nighties – I wrote a whole article about how her body and body functions became Performance Art. It was very weird for for me when I was young. So it sounds like your brother’s MN wife is the opposite–some narcs are like that–prudish, into covering everything. Some are exhibitionist, like my mother.
      All narcs are different but they’re all basically the same


      • Yes I got the second email. Thank you.

        Thanks for that info about my mother. She is cerebral, but I’ve seen the sexual nature too, very domineering sexually over the male she is with.

        About my brother’s wife, very prudish indeed. You think it’s clean behavior, but she makes me feel like the dirty one. I call that rubbing her dirt on me. It’s strange they live with so many rules and it’s so darn hard to even go visit there too. A visit is torture. It’s the rules.

        I would let my kids go swimming in the pool. I didn’t have cover up smocks for them and would just let them play out of the pool in just their swimsuits. I had to leave the atmosphere was uncomfortable.

        I had a friend like that once too. She would even say she had “rules”. Do guests have rules to follow? Ok, I know the normal rules that normal people with normal behaviour when visiting. But the whole time I’m around them and in their homes you feel like the axe is going to fall.

        That prudish narc I think I hate so much. They don’t keep the dirt to themselves. I always felt it was a way to torment others who didn’t act like them. But my nieces were treated like they were dirty, and their were no boundaries with someone yelling at you all the time to cover up. I just want to rant like crazy over that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • My theory about prudish narcs and also clean freak narcissists (a lot of them are either clean freaks or they’re total slobs) is that they are projecting/denying the dirt within their own souls.
          They feel dirty and disgusting or they hate their own sexuality or body, and so they try to force those around them to follow rules that make the narc feel like they have power over everyone else and at the same time makes them feel that by doing this, it absolves them or cleanses them of their own “dirt”


  2. Aw. I thought it was a riddle.
    Q. What’s the difference between a cerebral vs. somatic narcissist?
    A. One deserves to get punched in the head and the other deserves to get kicked in the balls.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. He linked this to another article that’s really interesting:
    The Narcissist as an Old Person:

    The narcissist ages without mercy and without grace. His withered body and his overwrought mind betray him all at once. He stares with incredulity and rage at cruel mirrors. He refuses to accept his growing fallibility. He rebels against his decrepitude and mediocrity. Accustomed to being awe-inspiring and the recipient of adulation – the narcissist cannot countenance his social isolation and the pathetic figure that he cuts.

    The narcissist suffers from mental progeria. Subject to childhood abuse, he ages prematurely and finds himself in a time warp, constantly in the throes of a midlife crisis. On the other hand, he is a puer aeternus, an eternal child: immature, sulking and pouting, unable to delay gratification, unwilling to commit or to assume adult roles and chores.

    As a child prodigy, a sex symbol, a stud, a public intellectual, an actor, an idol – the narcissist was at the centre of attention, the eye of his personal twister, a black hole which sucked people’s energy and resources dry and spat out with indifference their mutilated carcasses. No longer. With old age comes disillusionment. Old charms wear thin.

    Having been exposed for what he is – a deceitful, treacherous, malignant egotist – the narcissist’s old tricks now fail him. People are on their guard, their gullibility reduced. The narcissist – being the rigid, precariously balanced structure that he is – can’t change. He reverts to old forms, re-adopts hoary habits, succumbs to erstwhile temptations. He is made a mockery by his accentuated denial of reality, by his obdurate refusal to grow up, an eternal, malformed child in the sagging body of a decaying man.

    It is the fable of the grasshopper and the ant revisited.

    The narcissist – the grasshopper – having relied on supercilious stratagems throughout his life – is singularly ill-adapted to life’s rigors and tribulations. He feels entitled – but fails to elicit Narcissistic Supply. Wrinkled time makes child prodigies lose their magic, lovers exhaust their potency, philanderers waste their allure, and geniuses miss their touch. The longer the narcissist lives – the more average he becomes. The wider the gulf between his pretensions and his accomplishments – the more he is the object of derision and contempt.

    Yet, few narcissists save for rainy days. Few bother to study a trade, or get a degree, pursue a career, maintain a business, keep their jobs, or raise functioning families, nurture their friendships, or broaden their horizons. Narcissists are perennially ill-prepared. Those who succeed in their vocation, end up bitterly alone having squandered the love of spouse, off-spring, and mates. The more gregarious and family-orientated – often flunk at work, leap from one job to another, relocate erratically, forever itinerant and peripatetic.

    The contrast between his youth and prime and his dilapidated present constitutes a permanent narcissistic injury. The narcissist retreats deeper into himself to find solace. He withdraws into the penumbral universe of his grandiose fantasies. There – almost psychotic – he salves his wounds and comforts himself with trophies of his past.

    A rare minority of narcissists accept their fate with fatalism or good humour. These precious few are healed mysteriously by the deepest offense to their megalomania – old age. They lose their narcissism and confront the outer world with the poise and composure that they lacked when they were captives of their own, distorted, narrative.

    Such changed narcissists develop new, more realistic, expectations and hopes – commensurate with their talents, skills, accomplishments and education. Ironically, it is invariably too late. They are avoided and ignored, rendered transparent by their checkered past. They are passed over for promotion, never invited to professional or social gatherings, cold-shouldered by the media. They are snubbed and disregarded. They are never the recipients of perks, benefits, or awards. They are blamed when not blameworthy and rarely praised when deserving. They are being constantly and consistently punished for who they were. It is poetic justice in more than one way. They are being treated narcissistically by their erstwhile victims. They finally are tasting their own medicine, the bitter harvest of their wrath and arrogance.

    Interview granted to Harmony (India), February-March 2011

    The first thing that occurs to me when thinking of aging is a gradual change in one’s physical structure that is apparent to others, and to oneself of course. Now what precisely do we mean by aging, or getting old or older, in terms of the mind or psyche?

    “Old” is commonly thought of as an adjective which bundles together objective physical and mental changes (for the worse); growing dysfunctions in a variety of areas of life; and cultural and social norms and prejudices that together constitute a pernicious stereotype. Reality, however, is more complex. Aging has its positive sides: perspective and experience tend to reduce anxiety and increase efficacy; a life-long worth of networking provides enhanced access to a variety of societal and economic benefits; an extended family generate emotional (and, at times, economic) succor; as leisure time increases, one can cater to one’s hobbies and fulfil one’s dreams; and so on. These largely positive “externalities” are often ignored and the undeniably negative dimensions of aging are sensationally emphasized.

    What major kinds of fear(s) are associated with aging in its psychological sense that you just explained? (also tell a bit about the root cause of those fears)

    It is of course the fear of Death that wears a thousand guises. “Aging” is the name we give to the cumulation of irrefutable proofs that we are mortal. So, when we fear physical decrepitude, mental deterioration, illness, loss of capacities, social ostracism, and other less than savory facets of growing old, what we actually dread is our very end. The promise of an afterlife doesn’t really fool anyone, including the most devout believers. No one wants to die and no one wants to be reminded constantly of the transience of his existence. Old-age is also a time of soul-searching and tallying: dreams unfulfilled; wishes denied; fantasies which have remained exactly that; wrong turns and erroneous decisions; remorse, regret, and heartbreak. The knowledge that there is no second chance imbues one’s last years with tragedy.

    Please tell our readers a little about what narcissism is, its key personality features, and why some people develop such personalities? (Also tell who/which profession’s people etc is more prone to developing narcissism)

    Pathological narcissism is a pattern of thinking and behaving in adolescence and adulthood, which involves infatuation and obsession with one’s self to the exclusion of others. It manifests in the chronic and compulsive pursuit of personal gratification and attention (narcissistic supply), social dominance and ruthless personal ambition. The narcissist constantly brags; is insensitive to others; lacks empathy; is hypervigilant (spots slights and insults in every utterance and beahvior); and is excessively dependent on others to meet his/her responsibilities in daily life. Possessed of a grandiose and inflated fantasy of himself (the False Self), the narcissist feels entitled to special treatment regardless of his actual accomplishments, or lack thereof.

    Pathological narcissism is at the core of the narcissistic personality disorder. As distinct from healthy narcissism which we all possess, pathological narcissism is maladaptive, rigid, persisting, and causes significant distress, and functional impairment.

    Pathological narcissism is a reaction to prolonged abuse and trauma in early childhood or early adolescence. The source of the abuse or trauma is immaterial – the perpetrators could be parents, teachers, other adults, or peers. Pampering, smothering, spoiling, and “engulfing” the child are also forms of abuse. There may be a genetic component in the make-up of the narcissist which predispose him to his pathology.

    Can aging narcissists hope for returning to a normal life with some kind of therapy, counseling, or just social support? (tell briefly about what works for making narcissists get to normal thinking and behavior)

    How can a narcissist return to a “normal” when – by the very definition of his disorder – he has never had a normal life and is utterly incapable of one? Narcissists are mentally-ill. Pathological narcissism cannot be ”healed”, or “cured”. Only certain attendant mental health problems – such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder – can be ameliorated or controlled with medication. Additionally, particularly abrasive, grating, or antisocial behaviours can be modified using talk therapy (cognitive-behavioral being the most successful).

    What are the major signs obvious to the family or loved ones of an aging narcissist that help them identify his/her emotional crisis so as to seek therapeutic help?
    Narcissists rarely seek therapeutic help and they definitely do not listen to advice of any kind. The narcissist constantly consumes (really, preys upon) adoration, admiration, approval, applause, attention and other forms of Narcissistic Supply. When lacking or deficient, a Narcissistic Deficiency Dysphoria sets in. The narcissist then appears to be depressed, his movements slow down, his sleep patterns are disordered (he either sleeps too much or becomes insomniac), his eating patterns change (he gorges on food or is avoids it altogether).

    He is constantly dysphoric (sad) and anhedonic (finds no pleasure in anything, including his former pursuits, hobbies, and interests). He is subjected to violent mood swings (mainly rage attacks) and all his (visible and painful) efforts at self-control fail. He may compulsively and ritually resort to an alternative addiction – alcohol, drugs, reckless driving, shopaholism.
    How do you think an aging narcissist need to be treated at home and in workplace to ensure his emotional wellbeing?

    Avoid all contact with the narcissist in your life. All other advice is spurious and erroneous. Narcissists cannot be “fixed” and, if you do not keep absolute distance, will ruin your life thoroughly. To believe that one can affect the narcissist’s wellbeing is malignant optimism, a manifestation of the rescue fantasies that are so common among co-dependents.

    Finally Sam, what are some of the healthy things or activities that an average narcissist should engage in for living positively?

    Narcissists cannot live positively. They are other-destructive, self-destructive, and self-defeating. They are a menace to themselves, to their nearest, and to society at large. They are like drug addicts in that they compulsively and ruthlessly pursue narcissistic supply (attention and adulation). But, unlike substance abuse, narcissism is an all-pervasive and malignant problem that invades and infects all the dimensions of the narcissist’s existence. Narcissists are recidivistic, incorrigible, intractable, and hopeless cases.

    Dear God in heaven, this is tragic. I worry about dying like this sometimes, but I know it won’t happen now. But for narcissists, it’s like they annihilate themselves and die utterly alone in the world.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I remember reading somewhere that Narcs look unusually young for their age as a result of life’s wears and tears showing on their face. I wonder if there’s a tipping point where one month they’re all “Aw shucks Bart” and the next they come limping in like Grandpa Simpson with an onion on their belt spewing past days of glory.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That could be true Sinderella. My mother always looked very young for her age until about 10 years ago, when she began to look old but in the creepy way of someone who’s had too many facelifts. From a distance, she looks young and fit, but when you get up close, her face is a tight mask that hardly appears human.
        I think narcs can look young for years and suddenly, almost overnight, fall apart and become old.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. At my bible study last night, we read the second half of the first chapter of Romans. It was all about narcissism. We weren’t talking of narcissism, but that whole section of scripture blew me away. It covered both the cerebral and somatic varieties, and that this is the sin nature of man. It seemed to talk of the spectrum of narcissism, in that sometimes God has given them over to a differing spirit because God is holy, so he has to look away. That is once they have reached that certain level.

    I get the feeling that God has pulled away, and He is not even working in their lives to try to save them. There is no God present with them, and I think that is why they seem to walk around with this evil, and some have said that the evil presence is there so much, quite unlike a regular sinner.

    I knew my own mother was spooky, and that’s why I have this great enveloping fear that I carry with me always. This might be off topic, but this I have just been made aware of. This probably belongs in the spooky post. But its food for thought.

    Oh, and we have an MN in the group too, and she kept trying to veer off topic the whole time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Joan, I just read the first chapter of Romans. I almost didn’t believe it until I read it (I read the Bible much less than I should and do have some issues with it, tbph–I have written about those issues before–see the “My Story” in the header and scroll down to the articles on my spiritual growth). And wow, you were not kidding. It does sound like narcissists at some point made a choice to turn away from God (or the way I see it, a turning away from goodness, because there are many good, non-narcissist, empathic people who are atheist or agnostic– and also a turning toward worship of the self, in which they made themselves into gods)— I think the Bible here is referring to people who make the choice of narcissism, and put their own needs and desires ahead of all others, including God himself.

      It’s hard for me to understand a God who would allow a person to go on living, but basically they are destined for hell, with no hope of redemption before death. I’m not even sure I accept the idea of hell, although it’s entirely possible (and some people belong there) …that’s what came across in the Romans story. That God had given up on those people and would not offer them a second chance? Well, why not just let them die and go to hell then? I thought God was all forgiving. If a person has their soul seared (becomes a narcissist) it almost seems like they no longer have free will and cannot make the choice to do the right things and treat others well. Why would God take away a living person’s free will? Because it almost seems like narcissists have none, since there are some who desire to heal but simply cannot and they suffer so much because they cannot. That just seems cruel if God turns his back on them. I still pray for them and hope God listens.

      As for the MN in your Bible study group, narcissists can be religious too. Watch out for the ultra-pious, they are probably the most likely to be using this as a mask. Narcs use religion as a way to superficially cloak their malignancy. You see it all the time in big religion. I would think most “celebrity” preachers like Joel Osteen (who I also wrote about here: https://luckyottershaven.com/2014/12/04/joel-osteen-worships-himself/ and almost all the televangelists, are on the narcissism spectrum.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know, and its like God sat down and had a talk with me, while the others were simply talking about the sin nature of man. It says in verse 20 that they are without excuse, we have to make that choice. I don’t think this applies to our children though, there is a promise somewhere else where God will be after them forever and forever no matter what they do. I can’t find that verse anymore.

        I also don’t know why He doesn’t just let them to die. Yes, I know about some MN Christians, I’ve met them, I know they are just using religion to cloak their malignancy

        Liked by 1 person

        • Interesting. I’m not sure exactly what this means, I’ll have to read that verse myself. To be honest though, even though it’s in the Bible, I don’t really like the God depicted in it sometimes, especially in the Old Testament. (Don’t even get me started on that). God incarnated as Jesus has the most appeal to me, with a compassionate, charitable, loving and accepting but still very just nature, but the God of the old Testament, I am sorry, seems quite psychopathic to me much of the time. I find that God frightening and intimidating rather than comforting and loving, like Jesus.
          I like Psalms and Proverbs though, even though they’re in the old Testament.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Lucky Otter, what better place to play mind-games on people. Among a Bible congregation, the chances of a narc to be discovered for the vile piece of drek he or she really is, is quite minimal – since Godly people tend to blame themselves and are generally clueless to the wolves’ mindset. Church is a safe place for narcs to operate – unlike the barroom, where a narc might get his face punched in.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LOL I agree! A narc at a bar will definitely get what he deserves, while at church a narc could be running the whole thing.

          Fortunately, the church I’ve been attending (a Catholic church) seems to be narc-free so far. I’m new there so I don’t know everyone yet but have been going to the RCIA classes (to become Catholic) and the priest is a doll and so is everyone else in the class. I don’t see any red flags in that group.
          But yes, I agree with what you said. I’ve been to other churches where narcs abounded. I didn’t last long in those.


  5. Sorry, I read your story part of your blog last night. I’m no preacher, and I don’t profess to know everything. What I am saying is that God can simply speak to us, and that is what happened. Jesus shows compassion for sure, I just love it. I am at a loss too, I don’t understand completely why He doesn’t save narcs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe we’re not supposed to understand…but we sure do try!

      I still think there’s a possibility they are here as teachers. As weird as that sounds.


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